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Hibernation (Rambling, Long, Pictures, Survey)

The holidays are winding down. Aidan will be going back to Ohio soon. :( And all that’s left is the cold winter months. Is it any wonder that I feel less inclined to go anywhere or do anything except curl up with a blanket, an electric heater, and a large stack of books and read and sleep? Ack.

Today is Aidan’s birthday. My little boy is seven. Last night he told me he wouldn’t stop cuddling with me until he turned ten. So I guess I have three years to soak up all the cuddles and cheek holds. Right now, that little guy who was just a tiny newborn is now sitting beside me playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii and loving it. He’s a night owl just like I am, and he is a funny eater like me. We both latch on to something we like and we can eat it over and over and over and over without getting tired of it. He’d prefer to wear pajamas and hang out all day than run all over the place. He reads like a maniac. He loves Disney. And spaghetti. He’s such an amazing, incredible child.

We had a wonderful Christmas! We spent the week leading up to it trekking to the UPS store to pick up many packages, and we got our ham from Honey Bear Hams. It was amazing and delicious! Holy cow it was good! I got two pounds, and I am freezing one pound while we plow through the rest. It’s expensive but SO WORTH IT. Guess what I’ll be getting for Easter! Yum. When we got to the store, the bear was out waving, and the place was so festive and bustling. The owner gave Aidan a free stuffed Honey Bear! They had samples out and snacks. It was a fun trip. Christmas Eve, I made chocolate-cherry truffle cake, sugar cookie cutouts, and chocolate chip cookies.

Christmas Cookies! Chocolate-Cherry Truffle Cake

I also made part of the Christmas dinner so Christmas day would be more about relaxing than rushing. AND IT WAS! We didn’t have to go anywhere! Adam was the first one up, then I got up about 830 or so. We had to get Aidan up at 930 because we were too excited! Aidan was so excited and happy with his presents!

Aidan on Christmas Morning
Still a bit sleepy, though.

We had a good Christmas. I got Planet Earth on Blu-ray Disc™ (oh yeah!), The Boondock Saints, and Sleeping Beauty as well. Wii Fit Plus, gift card to Barnes & Noble, shirts and sweaters, more Wii games, pots and pans, The Sims 3 World Adventures, Kit’s Desk (American Girl), The Game of Things, tea from Lupicia, the new Enya CD, a Proofreading Exercise book, so much stuff that I’m not even remembering! But the best was that my little boy was here with me!

The food was yummy and seems like making Christmas dinner was way less stressful than making Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe because I did some of it the night before. Hmmm.

Anyway, the rest of break has been relaxing. Reading a lot (for my birthday I scored $75 in bookstore giftcards!), hanging with Aidan, cat sitting, all that good stuff. The other day, we lost Helena! I’d thought she’d gone in Aidan’s room to sleep, but nope. Crookshanks was pacing and wailing like his cat world was ending. That’s when I realized she was missing. Snowball was out and about, which should have been my first clue that something was off. She’d been mostly hanging out in my room under the bed. We figured that Helena was hiding (there are a lot of hiding places here) from Snowball and that she’d come out when she was ready. Then I heard a big catfight from above and instantly knew that Helena had somehow gotten upstairs with Stinky and Stinky was unhappy about it. I found her hiding behind a counter and lured her out by banging a spoon on a can, picking her up and bringing her back downstairs where she ran back inside her true home. Silly kitty.

Little Helena

I don’t know when I’ll get time/inspiration to journal again, so I’m gonna do my 2009 Wrap Up stuff here:

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Another Christmas Survey!

YAY!

This survey was originally two surveys. I first filled them out two years ago. This year, I am combining them and making a new survey.

Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate.

Does Santa wrap your presents or leave them naked under the tree?
These days, he wraps or uses gift bags.

Do you hang mistletoe?
No.

When do you put up your decorations?
Close to December, or in December. This year, I started on November 21.

Favorite holiday memory as a child?
One Christmas, a bunch of family members had come over in the evening to hang out and play and stuff. A bad snow storm hit and everyone was stranded. The cousins all got to cram into my and my sister’s bedrooms and we stayed up pretty late. That was the year I got the Lights Alive toy. Anyone remember that toy? Then another favorite was Aidan’s first Christmas–he came into the room, saw all the toys, smiled and clapped his little hands. It was adorable.

When did you learn the truth about Santa?
What, that he’s awesome? Gosh, I was a little girl.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Lights, then beads, then the other ornaments.

Snow: love it or hate it?
I’m not into snow so much.

Can you ice skate?
Sort of.

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Being with loved ones.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Dutch apple pie. Gotta have the crumblies.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Wow. Traditions change so much… but probably decorating everything and looking at all the other decorations. Watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas and the Christmas Story 24 hour marathon on TBS. Eating good food. Buying Christmas candy and mint M&Ms. Sending and receiving Christmas cards. :) Need I go on?

What tops your tree?
An angel. It’s been in my life for many years.

Which do you REALLY prefer: giving or receiving?
Equal preference.

Candy canes: yummy or yucky?
I’m not a fan.

Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Both. Definitely both.

Do you believe in Father Christmas?
Yes.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?
A little bit.

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?
…about that. LOL.

What do you look forward to most at Christmas?
Gifts and food, and time off from work. Seeing people I love. Getting cards. Pretty decorations. Oh, and light traffic.

What are you doing for Christmas this year?
Visiting Aidan, giving gifts, seeing my mom, cuddling Adam…

Who do you want to kiss under the mistletoe?
Adam!

Do you take part in a secret santa?
Haven’t in a while.

Do you go to any Christmas parties?
Not really.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
Oh yes.

How early do you wake up on Christmas morning?
I usually sleep in til about 9 or 10, but this year, we’ll have to get up pretty early–we have a flight to catch!

Do you still get a stocking?
Yes. I hope Adam gets me one this year. *hint hint*

How many Christmas cards do you normally send out?
About 30ish, I suppose.

What is your Christmas wish?
That I’ll keep being this happy.

Real update soon!

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Christmas Survey!

My friend Cara sent this to me sometime last week. Now that it’s OFFICIALLY the Christmas season, here goes! I also found some questions in an old survey and added them to this one.

Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I like both, and the pretty boxes which I don’t bother to wrap as well.

Real tree or artificial?
Because I have cats, it has to be artificial.

When do you put up the tree?
I’m going to put it up this weekend! Maybe even today! There will be pictures.

When do you take the tree down?
January 6th, the official 12th day of Christmas.

Do you like eggnog?
No.

Favorite gift received as a child?
I got a lot of great gifts growing up. But the thing I remember most? My mom cooking all the food, and the Christmas that the extended family came over and got snowed in. Those memories are my favorite gifts.

Hardest person to buy for?
Adam’s parents, my step-father.

Easiest person to buy for?
Aidan, Adam, and Jen.

Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, it’s a Precious Moment ornament that plays Silent Night.

Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
Mailed, for sure!

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
N/A

Favorite Christmas movie?
A Christmas Story, followed by The Christmas List

Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Mustard/turnip greens! Dressing! Mac & cheese! Honey Baked Ham! GRAVY OVER EVERYTHING!
And Christmas cookies, and those Bing chocolate cherries, and mint M&Ms and cherry cordial Hershey’s kisses and Reese’s Miniatures.

Lights on the tree?
Yes!

Favorite Christmas song?
This is a hard one. But I like:
– Parade of the Wooden Soldiers – Harry Connick Jr
– Jesus, Born on This Day – Mariah Carey
– Jingle Bells – Andrews Sisters & Bing Crosby
– Christmas Canon and Christmas Canon Rock – Trans-Siberian Orchestra
– Christmastime – Michael W. Smith
– You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – Thurl Ravenscroft

… and many, many more.

Travel at Christmas or stay home?
This year, I’m traveling to see my little Booba! (But shhh, it’s a surprise–he doesn’t know!)

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen. And Rudolph!

Angel on the tree top or a star?
Angel.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning is what I prefer, but it depends on the situation.

Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
When people get stressed and cranky. When families manipulate. Not having enough money to give as much as I want.

Favorite ornament theme or color?
Snow people, gingerbread people, candy canes, red, silver, green.

When do you start shopping for Christmas?
A bit before Thanksgiving.

Have you ever ‘recycled’ a Christmas present?
I may have for a white elephant thing.

Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Clear.

Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Roasted turkey or chicken, dressing, mustard/turnip greens, rolls, macaroni and cheese, Honey Baked Ham, and lots and lots of gravy!

Shopping…Mall or online?
It depends. If a sight is offering free shipping, then online, because Adam is usually home to get packages. I also don’t mind going out sometimes, because the stores are so pretty.

Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?)
I have an apartment, so I only decorate inside. Adam put lights in the window, though, and I am considering decals. Also, I live in Chicago, anything outside would just get stolen.

Favorite Christmas cookie?
Sugar, and raspberry chocolate chip.

Do you own Christmassy clothing or jewelry?
I have a couple pairs of socks and a pair of earrings.

Do you believe in Santa?
Santa rocks, dude.

What do you want for Christmas this year?
To see Aidan, no bad weather, pajamas, gift cards, a trip to Disney World, a full time job.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Finally, A Weekend! (Pictures, Long)

This will be my first full weekend in over a month. I’m so glad I like the work and the people I work with, because otherwise, working six days a week would be awful. As it is, I feel weird not going in tomorrow. If I hadn’t already turned in my time sheet for the week, I probably would reconsider and pop in for a few hours! I care that much about the work and I like the job that much. But I am tired and was encouraged by team members to take a break because I really shouldn’t work six days a week for ten weeks in a row. Plus, I got sick twice the past couple of weeks, and even though the colds were fairly minor, last Saturday, I was miserable! I came home, took medicine, fell into bed and stayed there until Sunday evening! Still, I remember last year this time, I was starting that horrific three-month sore throat. I am SO GLAD I’m not dealing with that this year!

I started to get melancholy this week, because my assignment is slated to end on November 26th. I’ve never been SAD about leaving a job before, but with this one, I really will grieve! I love the work, the culture, the commute, everything, even the six day weeks and sometimes ten hour work days. Today, some people dressed up for the holiday, and people were passing out candy, and the company bought pizza and salad and beverages for all of us to enjoy for lunch.

I leave work at the end of the day with a spring in my step, because I just spent all day working my butt off and loving every minute of it. And the thought of going back to combing the job boards, sending out a billion resumes to get maybe one or two bites, then going on interviews and doing hours of interview homework frankly depresses me. It seriously makes me want to cry.

I believe that if you put the energy out there, then something can happen with it. So this is what I’m going to put out there. I want to work full time at Schawk. I want to be a permanent employee. Everyday I go in and hope that they see something in me that makes them say “You know, this girl is good. Her attitude is awesome, and we can really tell that she cares about and likes the work. We’re going to offer her a position here because we know she’ll bring value to our team and our company.”

We’ll see what happens. I know the economy, and the reality though, and I’m going to try not to cry too much that day. In the meantime, I’m trying to enjoy the time I do have there for sure. It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life. And I mean that 100%.

Today is Halloween, and I didn’t dress up. I did wear a tee-shirt to commemorate the occasion, though.

Me on Halloween

I got a lot of compliments on my headband. :)

Adam did dress up, though. Here he is with Hector before their crazy night of Weird Chicago tours.

Halloween 2008

Helena has been a very good girl and hasn’t peed on the bed in a long time. I’m proud of her. She’s gotten used to me being gone, and I give her a little extra attention in the mornings before I leave for work which she seems to like. Some of my best evenings are when she and Crookshanks curl up beside me while I play on Flickr or something.

Honestly, though, I’m only missing one thing from my life and that’s Aidan’s hugs and kisses. It’s so hard not hearing his little voice every day and having him clinging to me and touching my cheek. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and wonder how he’s doing. The other day I was talking to him, and he said “Mommy, I was looking at the picture of you and me and Daddy and I started cwying.” I asked him why, and he said because he missed me. That’s a big void, and even though I don’t regret moving to Chicago and being with Adam, I miss my son terribly and I want need to see him soon.

Other than that, I’m really happy. And I’ve been happy for a long time now. I like working. I like coming home to Adam at the end of the day. Some nights he makes the most delicious dinners. Wednesday night, I told him I wanted something light, and he made tomato basil soup with chicken. It was perfect and amazing. Tonight, he made beef and noodles. The beef had been simmering all day in the Crock-Pot. And one day last week, he made the most delicious homemade beef stew. I have to watch so I won’t gain a ton of weight–my pants are all fitting snugly! It’s time for me to really put the Wii Fit to use.

Yes, that was a major splurge I made a couple of weeks ago! I went to Best Buy in search of a new external hard drive because my original one is almost full. Well, I found a 1T hard drive for a good price, and ventured over to the video game section. I was shaking me head at the Wii Fit towel. I mean, really? $8 for a towel because it says Wii Fit on it? And I was thinking “well, that’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Wii Fit….” then I walked out of that aisle and over to a center pallet that was stacked with Wiis and Wii Fits! I debated for about 30 seconds on getting it, then decided to go for it, and I am so glad. Working out with that thing is SO fun. I love the step aerobics and the yoga. Before I know it, I’ve clocked 35 minutes of exercise and for something like me who does NOT care for exercise, that is a big deal. Wii Fit = PURE WIN.

I’m trying to think of what else I’ve been up to besides working, resting, reading, and playing Wii Fit, and I can’t come up with a whole lot. I did finally get to read the latest Leven Thumps novel. I devoured the thing in a day and a half and was very sad when it was over. I have to wait probably at least a year for the next one!

Another writer friend of mine finally got a book contract, and I’m very happy for her. Out of that little group, I’m the only one who still hasn’t been published, and right now, I’m OK with that. I’m not even sure I want to pursue a writing career so much anymore. I’m getting so much joy out of the agency proofreading work, I wonder if I shouldn’t focus on that career path? We’ll see where my heart takes me. I still have the soul of a writer, and I’m always thinking of characters and making up people and scenarios in my head, so maybe it’ll come back one day. At this point, I’m at peace with where I am now, career-wise. Who knows what will happen?

A few days ago. Rosa asked me to post 7 things about myself that most people don’t know. This is going to be a challenge, as I am pretty open on my blog. But let’s see.

1. I have a terrible singing voice. I mean, it’s awful. But that doesn’t stop me from singing along with the stereo when I am home alone.

2. About twelve years ago, the house I lived in for most of my growing years was foreclosed on. I didn’t get a lot of stuff out of it, and some of that stuff includes rare 12-in. album singles with remixes of songs like Killing Me Softly by Al B. Sure and Lucky Charm by The Boys. I really, really wish I had a way to get digital copies of those songs–but the 12-in. singles were rare enough when I bought them. I’m sure it’s impossible to get them now.

3. Even though I do not like winter or the cold, I love cold-weather accessories. I have tons of scarves and hats and gloves and mittens. I like to change them up depending on my mood, and I just love the new cute ones that come out every year. Monday, when I was at Aeropostale to get a few sweaters for the upcoming winter, I started considering a new winter coat. Adam, with an exasperated look, told me that I have QUITE enough coats, thank you very much. OK, he didn’t say all that, but he did point out that I have four winter coats and I probably really don’t need a new one. But we’ll see how my coats hold up against Chicago winters. I might need to take a trip to Eddie Bauer soon. Macy’s has beautiful wool pea coats, but I really don’t want to spend $500 on a coat that may or may not keep me warm when the single digit temperatures hit.

4. I wish I had a best girlfriend. But then I wonder if I really want the time and commitment that comes with having a best girlfriend. Jen and I are pretty close–we’ve known each other since the early 1990s–but I don’t have that *best friend* who is local and who I see all the time, who I can yap on the phone with for hours and then turn around and email/IM her as soon as I hang up. It’s been so long that I’m not even sure I KNOW how to have a best friend anymore, not like I did when I was in grade school. I remember Charla and I used to get on the phone and yak yak yak for hours (13 of them once). Now, it just seems strange to call someone other than my mommy just to talk, even though when someone does catch me at a good time, it’s always great to hear from that person, and I enjoy catching up and chatting. I think every girl needs a best friend, but I guess I’m scared and not so sure how to go about it.

5. I’m generally not a phone person. I will email you long, long letters, I’ll write you letters, I’ll text you, but I’m not huge on the phone. Again, I like when people call me, but it’s hard for me to take the initiative to make the call to anyone unless I really feel driven to action. I even had a hard time calling Adam, the man I was dating, then engaged to, because I always worried about bugging him. But if someone calls me, I’m terrible about letting him or her off the phone, and we can talk for hours and hours easily. Ask anyone about my marathon phone calls with my mom. Last time it was five hours.

6. I enjoy good, long, late night conversations. I love talking to friends about anything and everything in the middle of the night, when the inhibitions are down just a bit, and we’re comfortable sharing everything.

7. I really really want to take Aidan to Disney World within the next year. Just a mommy-son trip. I know it’s probably crazy and ambitious to do a single-parent trip of that magnitude, but we both LOVE Disney World and I think the time together would be amazing. I just wish something would happen to make that a possibility very soon, before he outgrows Disney World… and hanging out with his parents. For the record, I also want to take a huge trip to Disney World with Adam, Aidan, Chris, Matt, my mom, and Adam’s mom.

Because traveling for Thanksgiving will be a logistical nightmare for me this year, Adam and I are staying in town and having Thanksgiving here. We’re going to make a turkey and stuffing, and I’ll make a bit of dressing (hopefully not as dry as I made it for Christmas–eep). I’m also making my famous macaroni & cheese and we’re having gobs and gobs and gobs of mashed potatoes. Probably some corn and/or green beans too. And a Jell-O cake for dessert! Local friends who have no other plans are DEFINITELY welcome to join us. Just RSVP to me or Adam and let us know so we can have enough food to go around.

Tomorrow is November, which means I need to start thinking about Christmas. Once Halloween is over, I feel OK thinking about it, making plans, etc. So far, I plan to fly to Columbus on Christmas to surprise my little Aidan. How much fun will that be? :) That’s all I have so far. Has anyone else started thinking about the December holidays?

I think I got everything out that’s been building up in me the past few days and/or weeks. If you read all this, thank you. ♥ I leave you with a picture of my street in Chicago. I took it as I was walking home from work one evening.

Down the Block

‘Til next time!

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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