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:

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy! :) (Pictures)

Aidan’s here! YAY!!! That was a bit of drama. The airport was crowded in theSouthwest line, but we’d gotten there early so whatevs. Plus Aidan’s flight was delayed so double whatevs. They had a separate line for the UAs, and I learned that on a regular day, about 10 UAs come through. During the Christmas season, about 200 UAs go through! Aidan was the only one on his flight, though. The ticket agent let us both go to meet him (which they sometimes do if you ask nicely–but the rules are that only ONE parent can meet the unaccompanied minor which annoys me because the first thing Aidan does after he hugs me is ask for Adam on the times they don’t let him wait with me). Because of his flight delay, we had to move from gate to gate trying to figure out where he was coming in. I was freaking out. But we got him and all was well. And as always, someone came up to me and complimented me on how well-behaved and polite Aidan was on the plane. I have a good little boy. :)

Aidan's Here!

After getting lost on the way from the airport, and then a Target run, we finally made our way home. Aidan was super excited so he didn’t go to bed ’til late, then he was up early the next day…. MY BIRTHDAY!

I slept until about 10:30ish or so, then came into the living room in a haze. Adam and Aidan were both staring at computers, but they saw me and gave me big big smiles and hugs. Then Aidan made this for me:

Birthday Cake
Toy Melissa & Doug birthday party set

And Adam got me this:

Birthday Present from Adam
Martin backpack guitar. It’s small and light and I can learn to play guitar for real this time! It also smells amazing.

We went to Naperville, where we hung out at Anderson’s Bookshop (I really do love that place) and we met my friend Theresa and her family and we ate dinner at Five Guys.

Prune Faced!
Aidan at Five Guys

Then we had dessert at Cold Stone Creamery. After the two families parted ways, Adam, Aidan, and I drove around and looked at some lights on houses, then we headed home and watched Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol. It was a WONDERFUL birthday! I’m 35 now, and I have a feeling life’s about to get even more awesome!! :)

I had a little bit of eBay drama as well. I looked on Adam’s wishlist and saw it on eBay… the price was too good to be true. The seller had 100% feedback, though, so I wasn’t worried. I ordered it and paid right away. Then, after not hearing from the seller at ALL, I went to her profile. Her feedback had plummeted to 76%! I looked a few days later, it was down to 50%. Now I was getting concerned, but I knew that eBay had that buyer protection thing going on. So, after seven days and after contacting the seller, I opened a case. Still no info from the seller, her feedback was in the TOILET. I went today, and her feedback was -2. I have NEVER heard of that before! But there it was. And she was no longer a registered user. I ended up getting refund from eBay though, so YAY for buyer protection. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting that gift for Adam, but I think that what I got in place of it will make him happy.

So, it’s way after midnight, so that means THREE days until Christmas!!! :) YAY!! Here is my all-new to do list.

01. Go to grocery store to get wax paper, powdered sugar, shredded cheese, gravy, green beans, and a triple berry torte. Oh yes.
02. Read A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens.
03. Bake cookies with Aidan!!
04. ……

Wait, what? That can’t be it. It really can’t. Oh well. I’ll take it. Because yup, cards are all sent, presents wrapped (except for a few that might or might not be coming still), shopping’s done, menu’s planned, place is pretty clean (just needs to be straightened up). This is good. :)

In about ten hours, my friend Deborah is bringing a kitty cat for us to watch for a few days. The cat’s name is Snowball, but she’s a black cat! I’ve met her before, but she is shy. I’m sure that Helena and Crookshanks will be happy to have her, but she might not be so happy to have THEM. I hope it goes well. And I hope she doesn’t destroy the tree!

I need to get to bed. I have a kitty to welcome tomorrow. ‘TIl next time!

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Twelve Days Left! (Pictures)

I can’t believe it. Only 12 days until Christmas. Where did the time go? The days go so quickly anymore. Aidan will be here in six days!! So exciting! It’ll be his first Christmas in Chicago! I really hope it won’t be too cold to take him to Chriskindlmarket, Navy Pier, and stuff like that. But we’ll have fun watching holiday programs and baking cookies, so no matter what, we’re going to have a good time. Santa specifically requested chocolate chip cookies, so we have to make sure some are waiting for him Christmas Eve. (Plus I want to eat some, too!)

Red Ball

To Do List Revisited:
01. Task I’d rather not discuss online. – DONE AND DONE! And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was dreading!
02. Make doctor appointment.
03. Go to doctor (this ties in with #2).
04. Order “baby” honey ham (unfortunately, not Honey Baked–the store is too far away–but there is a Honey Bear Ham place right around the corner that has super Yelp reviews, so I’m going to go with them!). – Oh yes. I went to Honey Bear Ham, and the guy gave me a sample. HEAVEN. I pick it up December 24.
05. Clean Aidan’s room. (It’s mostly done, but I need to do a bit of rearranging and such. His room turns into a storage room when he’s gone, and I like to make it look like a bedroom when he’s here.)
06. Plan Christmas menu. (Ham is already handled.)
07. Plan Hanukkah menu? (Will ask Adam if he wants something special.) – We went to Eleven City Diner.
08. Address and mail out holiday/Christmas cards. – Most of them are done and mailed.
09. Finish Christmas shopping.
10. Wrap presents (before December 19) – Some are wrapped. Some are not. You know how it goes.
11. Mail packages (before December 15) – Yeah. That. Shipping costs = WALLET DRAINER. Part of the reason is that I’d rather go to the UPS store a block away than to the U.S. Post Office. You know the UPS store jacks up the U.S. Mail prices for convenience, but the post offices here… blah.

New Things To Do:

12. Buy groceries for Aidan’s visit and for Christmas.
13. Read A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens.
14. Project for a few friends of mine. – Sorta started.
15. Book Aidan’s return flight to OH. :( I hate doing this because I have to pay a ton of money to send him away. Worst chore ever.

I still have to get gifts for Chris & Matty and my stepfather Greg. Then I need to mail those items, and my mom’s gift as well. I’ll do that Tuesday. Tomorrow, I will go downtown and finish my shopping once and for all. Michigan Avenue, here I come! :)

Adam needs to buy stuff for EVERYONE in his family. He’d better hurry. These twelve days are going to speed by, and stuff still needs to ship!

TWELVE DAYS!!

Crookshanks

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Holiday Rambling (Pictures)

Seriously, how is it that I’m at home all day doing stuff, but the days STILL don’t seem long enough to do everything I want need to do? In addition, days go so much quicker when you’re doing stuff at home rather than being in an office. I try not to sleep in too late–I have my alarm set for 10:30am, the absolute latest I am allowed to sleep. I usually get up before then and turn the alarm off.

Maybe it’s because it’s the holiday season, it just seems like there is so much to do. Well, at least I’ve put the tree up. Funny story, that. I’ve had a tree since 2006. I got it from the free table at Zaner-Bloser. It was probably an old tree then. Crooked and threadbare, but those of you who were around then, know how much I was struggling financially. My priorities were not about getting a super amazing Christmas tree, so I made my free one work.

My Tree
The free tree in 2006. Totally crooked.

You can really see how bare it is here:

Aidan and the Tree
The free tree… and Aidan. This picture is from 2007. I can’t believe how different Aidan looks compared to then!

I put the tree up last week and just let it sit there bare. I was unhappy with it, but I figured that I’d work with it once the decorations were on it. I put the decorations on it and I was WAY MORE unhappy with it. I HATED it suddenly. I couldn’t get it to fake being straight anymore, you could see right through the thing, and then… and then… it started pitching forward. I would try to sit it up, but it began pitching forward more and more. Adam said it was fine, but I knew, in my gut, that it wasn’t. But I went back to playing Cafe World anyway. And then it happened.

THE CHRISTMAS TREE FELL OVER

Fortunately, I only lost three ornaments, and none of them were ones I were particularly attached to, but I am a little bit sad about the Harry Potter one. My Disneyland 2009 one and the golden banana ornaments were OK, and that’s all that mattered. Adam and I went out that night and I got a new tree from Target. Pre-lit, six feet, good times. Here she is:

O Christmas Tree

A tree that’s straight and full! I love it! :) So do the cats. They keep lying under it. I wonder what they’ll do when/if I put presents under it?

I also got one of those Holiday Sugar Cookie kits. It’s by Krusteaz, and it has cookie mix (enough for 5 and a half dozen… I’ll be making the half batch TYVM), cookie cutters, sprinkles, icing mix, and food coloring. Not bad for $7.50, I say. I had a hard time finding a kit. Lots to make gingerbread houses, but not to make cookies. My mom had gotten one years ago; I guess they were more abundant then. I thought I was going to have to resort to those Pillsbury cookies with the designs already in the cookie! The box is SUPER heavy! I’m going to make them with Aidan when he gets here. YAY!

The holiday stuff is coming along. Christmas shopping is just about done, the annual newsletter is done and sent (it’s a PDF so if you’re interested, comment with your email address and if I know you, I’ll send you a copy), my Rebecca doll is in her Hanukkah dress, and the lights are in the window. Here is what else I need to do within the next week:

01. Task I’d rather not discuss online.
02. Make doctor appointment.
03. Go to doctor (this ties in with #2).
04. Order “baby” honey ham (unfortunately, not Honey Baked–the store is too far away–but there is a Honey Bear Ham place right around the corner that has super Yelp reviews, so I’m going to go with them!).
05. Clean Aidan’s room. (It’s mostly done, but I need to do a bit of rearranging and such. His room turns into a storage room when he’s gone, and I like to make it look like a bedroom when he’s here.)
06. Plan Christmas menu.
07. Plan Hanukkah menu? (Will ask Adam if he wants something special.)
08. Address and mail out holiday/Christmas cards.
09. Finish Christmas shopping.
10. Wrap presents (before December 19)
11. Mail packages (before December 15)

Saturday, we took a trip to Naperville. YAY Naperville! We did some shopping and ate dinner and went to MEIJER which is always a treat for me because I freaking love that store. Adam looked and looked and looked for a decent pair of boots. I didn’t realize guys had it so hard when it came to buying winter boots, because women’s stores are exploding with the things. He found a pair at Meijer. MEIJER. See why I love that store? They have everything!

After Naperville, we went to The Book Cellar to see a bunch of Debs talk about writing and being authors and stuff like that. Such a good time. You know me, the author fangirl, right? :) Saundra Mitchell, Aprilynne Pike, Cynthea Liu, Lara Zielin, Darcy Vance, and Kristina Springer were there. It was fun to finally meet these people who’s LJs/Facebooks/Tweets I’d been reading for months and years. And most of them recognized ME. We also had dinner with Tara O’Shea (who incidentally knows Seanan McGuire) and Amy Vincent. That was loads and loads of fun.

Being around authors always makes me think hard about writing. When it comes down to it, I choke. A LOT. I remember what it was like when I was writing ONLY YOURS. I got so much joy out of writing that book. I mean, it was just… every moment I wasn’t writing–I was ACHING to be writing. I didn’t choke back then, I just wrote. I’m trying to figure out how to get back there. In the meantime, I do the force myself to write at least 100 words if I do open the manuscript. 100 words is not a lot, and usually I end up doing ten times that once I get going. I love books, I love reading. I love that world. I want to be a part of it in someway. I know that’s where I belong. Even if I end up a copy editor for YA novels (OH PLEASE GOD THAT WOULD BE SO AWESOME), I would still be in that world.

Is it weird to be nearly 35 and still finding oneself?

I can’t believe it’s already after 1am. *sigh* Remember what I said about the days going too fast? Apparently the nights do as well. ‘Til next time.

P.S. I miss Lucy. :( A lot.

P.S.S. Does anyone remember this song?
Snowflakes falling all over town, slipping, sliding, everybody rushin’ ‘round. There’s an icy chill in the air, telling us that winter’s really here. Oh! I’m so glad that winter is here. Grab your sled and let out a happy cheer because it’s snowing, blowing, all through the day. Winter winds will surely blow all your cares away.

It popped into my head when Adam and I were driving around Naperville. I learned it in fourth grade for the Christmas program. Back then, they still called it a Christmas program. Oh, the olden days. Anyway, a quick Google search showed me that many people seemed to have learned that song when they were in fourth grade. I can still hear Mr. Zarlino teaching it to us during choir practice….

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

Holiday Wish Meme

My favorite time of the year is here again. And in 2009, I have so much to be excited about and thankful for!

My beautiful and healthy son. Aidan is at the top of his class, he has an “expansive vocabulary,” he’s friendly, popular, and kind.
My amazing husband. This man, understanding that I’d had a stressful day at work, would have my “nest” all ready for me with pillows and something sweet to drink, so all I’d have to do is come home and collapse. :)
My family.
Getting to go to Disney World AND Disneyland this year!
Getting to spend a day with Ricky Luna!
My little orange girl, Helena.
The chance to hear the music of the spellbinding S.J. Tucker, and befriend her as well.
Finally meeting Vixy after hearing Adam rave about her for years and hearing her beautiful voice in many songs.
The new friends I’ve met in the American Girl fandom. There are lots more of us than you think. ;)
The abundance and blessings that have been and keep being rained down on us.
Getting the chance to meet Meg Cabot AND Sarah Dessen this year. Plus, I got to see Laurie Halse Anderson again. ♥ And, I met (and got kissed by) Peter Yarrow, and I met Sharon Draper. *faints*
My Plurk crew. They are hilarious and fun. ♥ them!
The other new friends I met this year: Krista & Crew, Theresa, Amy R., just to name a couple.
Getting back in touch with many people from my school days. I never thought I’d hear from most of them again.
The TV show MODERN FAMILY. So hilarious.
Random Sunday trips to Naperville.
All the new music I’ve been introduced to.
My awesome friends. You guys rock!

It’s now time for the Holiday Wishes Meme. I started doing this in 2006, and I encourage you guys to do it as well.

Step One
– Make a post (public, friendslocked, filtered… whatever you’re comfortable with) to your LJ/blog. The post should contain your list of 10 holiday wishes. The wishes can be anything at all, from simple and fun (”I’d love a Snape/Hermione icon that’s just for me”) to medium (”I wish for _____ on DVD”) to really big (”All I want for Christmas is a new car/computer/house/TV.”) The important thing is, make sure these wishes are things you really, truly want.
– If you wish for real possible things, make sure you include some sort of contact info in your post, whether it’s your address or just your email address where Santa (or one of his elves) could get in touch with you.
– Also, make sure you post some version of these guidelines in your LJ, or link to this post (it’ll be public) so that the holiday joy will spread.

Step Two
– Surf around your friendslist (or friendsfriends, or just random journals) to see who has posted their list. And now here’s the important part:
– If you see a wish you can grant, and it’s in your heart to do so, make someone’s wish come true. Sometimes someone’s trash is another’s treasure, and if you have a leather jacket you don’t want or a gift certificate you won’t use—or even know where you could get someone’s dream purebred Basset Hound for free—do it.
– You needn’t spend money on these wishes unless you want to. The point isn’t to put people out, it’s to provide everyone a chance to be someone else’s holiday elf—to spread the joy. Gifts can be made anonymously or not—it’s your call.

There are no rules with this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. Just…wish, and it might come true. Give, and you might receive. And you’ll have the joy of knowing you made someone’s holiday special.

With that said, here are my wishes for 2009.

1. A gift card, or for you to make donations to, DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose focuses on education. Teachers ask for classroom project materials. We donate. The kids learn. Most of these schools are high poverty, and the teachers are already doing all they can. Any amount is welcome.

2. Donations to Paws Chicago, the shelter where we got Helena. It’s a cage-free, no-kill shelter, and they are run completely on donations; they receive no city, state, or federal funding. It’s a great place. A shelter situation is stressful for the animals involved, and every animal I came in contact with there was happy and friendly. They have an extensive screening process to make sure you’re aware of your decision and commitment, and if somehow things don’t work out, the animal always has a home at PAWS.

3. Anything from my Amazon Christmas & Birthday 2009 Wishlist.

4. Anything from my AmericanGirl.com wishlist (number 86409). I know, I’m really reaching with this one, but hey, it’s a wish meme, right? :)

5. Another trip to Disney World. Oh yes. Another pipe dream, but what’s life if you can’t dream?

6. Y’all to buy Electro Bomba!! It’s really good, I promise. Ricky Luna is super talented and his music is off the hook. If you’re unsure, my previous entry has a link for a free download sampler.

7. Gift cards to bookstores, any bookstores. I love bookstores. And books. But you already know that.

8. I also wouldn’t mind gift cards to Target, Aeropostale, Filene’s Basement, Best Buy, or Kohl’s.

9. The Princess and the Frog soundtrack. Thank you, my awesome husband!!!

10. Mickey mouse socks.

And for the things that I’d like your prayers/happy energy for:

A job that I love, that makes me feel accomplished, is reasonable and low-stress, and that pays well. Just putting the energy out there.

My friends and family to be happy and secure.

A mild winter.

Happy Holidays! It’s December now, the season really is here! YAY!

*** If you do this meme for yourself, please make sure you comment with a link to the entry, OK?

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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