Friday, January 30, 2015

Over the hill

On the LAST DAY OF MY 30s (sniff, sniff) I'm feeling kind of sentimental, so thought I'd reflect on LIFE and lessons and what I've discovered about myself, not in any particular order: 

Let me preface this by saying I fully admit that I'm INCREDIBLY picky, to the point of annoying. Aaron is a very patient man.
• Bleu cheese tastes like mold, beets taste like dirt, any kind of pepper automatically ruins a dish for me. I don't see the point in celery. (Does it even have a flavor?) Same with lettuce. I like carrots but can't stand cooked carrots. Peas, too. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to kiwi after my lips turned black one day after eating it, which makes me sad because I like the flavor of kiwi (Aaron and I were working at the paper at the time and he asked if I had been chewing on a pen - totally freaked me out). Pineapple is the best fruit, followed by red grapes, cuties/Sumo oranges (and regular ones, but only if they're not too dry), Honeycrisp or SweeTango apples, then just about all berries. Bananas are good, too, but they can't be too green or too brown. I honestly don't know how people can eat squid with those long disgusting tentacles, or oysters (they taste like phlegm to me), or octopus (ewww!). I do, however, really like salmon (not too fishy tasting), scallops (not too rubbery), and lobster. I never order lobster, though, because I don't want to work so hard to get to the meat. (Screw that. I'm a lazy eater.) I like my eggs scrambled. I'd rather have a grilled chicken sandwich with mushrooms and cheese or a juicy cheeseburger than a juicy steak - medium well or well done. People who eat rare meat are a mystery to me. I love pasta salad, chowmein hot dish, and corn on the cob. I can't handle spicy food (anyone who knows me well knows this.) Sriracha is totally off limits, same with jalapeƱos. I don't like mustard. Or honey. Or horse radish. Or certain BBQ sauce. I LOVE teriyaki, ketchup, salsa, queso, pico, and guac. And feta, olives, corn, tomatoes, hummus, and falafels. I think I would be just fine vacationing in Greece. I'm weird about texture, so potstickers are kinda slimy to me, but you almost can't go wrong with fried rice and egg rolls. I peel the skin off fried chicken. I try not to eat much bread. My favorite Italian dish is good ol' spaghetti and meatballs. I don't like nuts in desserts. I have a serious sweet tooth but feel satisfied with just one bite or two, and am grateful that Aaron feels the same way so we can share. I like licorice (esp Australian), Twizzlers, and the brand you can buy at Menards. I even like black licorice. Jelly Bellys are delicious—just not the popcorn flavored ones—other favorites are Heath bars (toffee!), and pretzel M&Ms. My favorite desserts = warm chocolate chip cookies, Special K bars, banana cream pie, tiramisu, and apple pie a la mode. The best candy in the world is Lunds & Byerly's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. I don't like regular roasted coffee. When I order a fancy coffee (which I do way too often) I prefer Starbucks over Caribou, iced skinny vanilla latte—even in winter. I think I could eat Chipotle carnitas tacos with a side of rice once or twice a week for the rest of my life. Fresh squeezed lime juice makes Mexican food taste better (lemons are a poor substitute). Freshly sliced deli ham is perfectly good on its own. Wheat Thins and hummus are a great snack, so is Angie's Boomchickapop popcorn and sherbet. I like ice in my water, out of a glass rather than a water bottle. If I'm only going to have one beer, I want it to be a GOOD craft beer rather than a watered-down light beer. Whiskey is disgusting. A margarita on the rocks is refreshing on a hot day. Reisling is my favorite wine (I switched for awhile to Sauvignon blanc and switched back). I don't care for red wine. If I'm ordering a drink at the bar, I'll probably order a Captain Diet.        

• Always hold the door open for the person behind you. It says a lot about your character. I can't tell you how many times I'm following someone into a building after getting off the bus and the person in front of me lets the door close in my face. Really? Would it kill you to leave your hand on the door ONE SECOND LONGER?!? And the people who breeze through the door that someone else is holding open, so rude. At least say thank you.

• Give people the benefit of the doubt. 

• Kill 'em with kindness. 

• Watch how people treat their servers (and their mom). It's all about respect.

• Shoes can make or break an outfit, but put practicality over vanity, esp during Minnesota winters.

• Drive slowly through parking lots.

• Smile. It will make you feel better.

• Write thank-you notes. 

• Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

• Instead of "divide and conquer," think "we're all in this together."

• Be on time for wedding ceremonies. Trust me. I know how embarrassing it can be when you walk in right before the bride walks down the aisle.

• Be open minded. Try to see both sides of the story before passing judgement.

• Be kind. 

• Be thankful. 

 • Be honest.

• When it stops being fun or enjoyable, it's probably time to do something else.

• Return calls, return emails, return tennis balls, return clothes that don't fit right, Return of the Mack. "Once again, top of the world ..."  

• Be a lover, not a fighter.

 • Smoking is gross, littering is selfish, sunblock is essential, tanning beds are evil, underwires are necessary, nail polish is a rare treat on my fingers, a MUST on my toes. [Naked toes look manly to me.] Why do so many close-talkers have bad breath? People should be able to wear whatever they want to the beach. It's their prerogative. I don't see how an overweight woman wearing a two piece or a man in a Speedo is directly affecting anyone else's life. (More power to them for being so comfortable in their own skin.) I love rides at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks, such an easy way to instantly feel like a kid again! I try really hard to remember birthdays. I still love American Idol. My first job was at Taco Bell, followed by a card shop at the mall, then McDonald's, then the food court in college, then Chi Chi's, then the newspaper (I worked both jobs for awhile), then Jake's Sports Bar (I worked at Lillie full-time and Jake's part-time), then Applebee's in Oregon, then the magazine. I floss every single night and brush twice a day—even when I'm tipsy—but I don't like going to the dentist. I think it stems from braces for 4.5 years, faulty dental work done at the U of M, and ridiculously expensive bills. I'm proud that I breastfed Adam for seven months and Ben for a year (and I know breastfeeding isn't for everyone, and honestly don't care either way if someone feeds their child formula or breast milk). The baby stage seems like a lifetime ago. I get light headed during blood draws and have only donated blood once. I've lost interest in celebrity gossip. I wash my face with Noxzema every night. I started this skincare regimen when I working as a server, in my early 20s, and carded a woman who was 40 (so old ... gasp!).  I asked her what she used on her skin and I've been using it ever since. Music is really important to me. (There's a reason, after all, that one of my good friends calls me "DJ Jazzy Chrissy.") I make music mixes to fit special occasions. I like my snowtubing birthday tradition. I have one tattoo of a spider on my shoulder blade and would only get another one if it had REALLY significant meaning. I always get Sweet Martha's cookies at the State Fair. Speaking of the fair, I worked there one summer as a server at a place called Fran's on Machinery Hill. Fran was a crabby old lady who overcharged for everything, but I made good tips. Marriage equality is an issue near and dear to my heart. I regularly pluck my eyebrows. I have come to accept the fact that I will probably never understand the rules of football because I just don't care that much. Heavy metal music sounds like noise to me. I was on the track team in college. I don't like scary movies. I've only been to one orchestra performance, and I just didn't appreciate it for the cultural experience it was (wake me up when it's over). I LOVE going to plays, though, and hope to pass this love along to the boys. I've never been to an opera and don't feel like I'm missing out. I wish there was a dance club for the 40+ crowd. I feel insecure about my parenting skills and am constantly comparing my inadequacies to other moms. (Why did my mom have to set the bar so high?!) I am madly in love with my husband and don't, for a second, forget how lucky I am to have him in my life. I don't know how to play chess, 500, or poker. I'm terrible at shuffling cards—really, it's pathetic to watch. Public speaking makes me sweat. I've wanted to be a writer since I was nine. Pitbulls and rottweilers intimidate me, even though I know sweet ones exist. I believe in ghosts but don't ever want to see one. I really enjoyed the books "Room," "Wild," "Me Before You," "Wonder" and the Hunger Game series (among too many other books to count). I was the lead in a community theater play when I was in sixth grade. I love camping, but have never roughed it in the Boundary Waters for two reasons: I'm terrified of being in the pitch black wilderness with all those wild animals and I don't think I could poop in a hole in the ground. I really like snowboarding with Aaron (and Jeremy) but am always thankful when we make it to our cars injury-free. I tried to learn how to knit. Same with quilting. I just wasn't that into it. I feel fortunate to have a family who genuinely enjoys being together. I'm glad my parents signed me up for swimming lessons when I was younger, but wish I had experienced the magic of summer camp. (Too expensive.) I worry on a regular basis about losing a loved one in a car wreck, to cancer or some other awful disease, or to a random accident. I think hockey fights are SO STUPID. My friends and family make me insanely happy. I love watching Adam light up when he plays basketball. I love when Ben is acting funny without realizing he's acting funny (he has comedic timing). I love when the boys do sweet things: Adam regularly makes me cards that say things like "I love you so much mom, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss" and Ben won't come downstairs in the morning until I do (he lies in bed next to me). I love that Ben isn't afraid to be his own person and do his own thing. I love that school comes easily to Adam (esp math and reading) and he has many friends. I kind of love it when the boys fight over who can sit on my lap (I have room for both). I know one day they'll be too big to sit on my lap, so I'll take what I can get now. I'm the first to admit my kids aren't perfect—you're lying to yourself if you think your kids are— but I love the people they're growing to be. My girl crushes are Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Melissa McCarthy. I mostly feel comfortable in my own skin, but still loathe one particular body part and am not opposed to cosmetic surgery. My favorite candles are from Yankee Candle Co. I worry that my car will get stuck in the car wash—this happened to my grandma when I was with her and must have traumatized me a little bit. I vote with my heart and not my wallet. I have dental anxiety. I smashed a bee stinger into my arm once when I felt something crawling under my sleeve and thought it was an ant. That hurt almost as much as a nasty toothache. (But not as much as labor.) I'm grateful that I get along with my in-laws. All of 'em. I'm starting to appreciate certain country music the older I get, just not the real twangy stuff. I have a vast collection of headbands and shot glasses. I can't fathom how anyone can hurt a defenseless child, adult, or animal. It was heart-wrenching touring the Holocaust Museum in DC. I'm grateful for the education I had. I'm grateful for the education my kids will have. (Not everyone is so lucky.) I like arts and crafts ... and Mad Libs! I had a great childhood (thanks, Mom & Dad). I'm still a little bit old-fashioned ... I don't "get"  Snapchat, still enjoy getting hand-written thank you notes in the mail, and miss the days when 20-somethings weren't glued to their phones. I love a refreshing weekend nap. I can't wait to start running again with Aaron. (Some day.) I've run 10 miles, but would love to one day run a half marathon. I wear two pairs of socks in the winter and layer, layer, layer. The Victorian era is fascinating to me, same with World War II fiction and 1920s gangster movies. I love the Olympics. I'm all about girl power and find inspiration in strong female role models. My coworkers are pretty amazing (you really get to know people when you've worked with them for a decade). I use Aveda products in the morning, totally worth the splurge just for the smell alone. I wear earrings every day, and never leave home without my Sephora lip gloss. I had two serious boyfriends, Brian (still friends) and JJ (not friends anymore) before I met Aaron. I wish I knew sign language. I look forward to my brother's ice fishing contest every winter. I don't cry easily, but I don't discourage crying. (If you feel sad, cry. Let it out. You'll feel better afterwards.) I believe that sensitive men are real men. I owned a 1987 Toyota Tercel wagon ("Big Daddy,"), a 1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (her name was "Jen," just because of the license plate), a 2003 Saturn Vue (problem child) and now a 2010 Honda CRV. I don't "get" a lot of classic art and don't pretend to. Just a little touch of cologne on men is sexy. When on vacation, I'd rather be doing some type of activity than lying on the beach. Labyrinth is one of my favorite childhood movies. "Goblin king, goblin king, wherever you may be, take this child of mine, far, far away from me!"I would be shocked if Adam and Ben didn't grow up to either hunt or fish, based on the influence of my dad and brothers. (They turned Aaron into a fisherman, but not a hunter.) I've never watched a full episode of Star Trek. I won a spelling bee in fifth grade. I feel like a lot of my writer friends won spelling bees. I chew Orbitz Sweet Mint gum. We had a cat named Peanut Butter growing up; best cat ever. We had a dog named Bandit; NOT the best dog ever. I'm really good at procrastinating. I wish I could personally thank the inventor of Google Maps for safely bringing me to various destinations. I concentrate better when there's some type of background noise. I hope to have a garden one day. I'm a Gophers fan by default. Sunsets, concerts, and those hold-you-for-a-minute-longer-than-is-necessary hugs make me feel alive. I love hot tubs, hot baths, hot showers. I think life is too short to have toxic people sucking you dry. I cringe when I see an aluminum can in the garbage (reduce, reuse, recycle, dammit!). Mitch Hedberg is still my favorite comedian. RIP. So glad I had the chance to see you in Seattle. I know a lot of people would disagree with me, but I don't think anyone looks good in those designer jeans with the bedazzled pockets. I like 90s R&B. I want "Until we meet again ..." on my gravestone. Little boys with 'tails'  instantly look scrappy. (Where's a scissors?!) I believe in God and an afterlife. I'd rather double date with my parents than anyone else. Certain brands are worth the investment. (Sometimes you do pay for what you get.) Even so, if you hunt hard enough, the deals can be found. I like the color turquoise. I've never been bungee jumping, cliff diving, rock climbing (other than indoors), or parasailing. It drives me crazy when women are ultra materialistic, and really drives me crazy when other women ooh and ahh over an engagement ring like the size of the diamond is somehow equivalent to how much the woman is loved. I know a lot of wealthy people whose lives are far from perfect, and a lot of those living paycheck-to-paycheck whose lives are immeasurably rich in so many other ways. I've only had a professional massage twice and a facial once. I thought 50 Shades of Grey was ok (hot sex! sex! sex!) but I didn't have any interest to read the next book in the series, and can definitely wait for the movie to come out on DVD. I wish more people understood mental illness, addiction, and the value of the elderly. My all-time favorite movie scene is the airplane scene from Bridesmaids. Sometimes I just watch that scene when I need to laugh. I like ping pong, kickball, bags, ladder golf, and creative-type board games. If I had to give myself a grade in my pool-playing abilities, I'd give myself a C+. We had a pool table when I was growing up, so I learned the basics (my parents still have one), but I never got really good at it. It's still a fun bar game, though. Same with darts. Some of my favorite concerts were Beastie Boys (I saw them three times), Prince, Soul Coughing, Cloud Cult, Dessa/Doomtree, Jay-Z, Dave Matthews and Mumford & Sons. I like playing Scrabble with Aaron and the rare occasions when we do crossword puzzles together. I have a hard time accepting compliments with a simple "thank you." (This is a very Minnesota thing.) I like the way the air smells after a hard spring rain. I think Ryan Gosling is the best looking male celebrity in Hollywood. How does Charlize Theron get that dewy glow?! She is so beautiful. Leeches, bedbugs, and woodticks freak me out. (Little vampires) I like my slender fingers. I love quotes. I've only owned one bikini my whole life and wore it when tubing down the Apple River. I don't have a knack for decorating. I wish I played volleyball or softball well enough to play competitively with Aaron. I really like starting my weekday mornings with Tabata or pilates and am grateful to my sister-in-law for introducing me to those workouts. Pictionary, Apples II Apples, Quelf, and Scattergories are fun games. I have terrible vision but I'm too chicken to get Lasik. I'm a little nervous about my first mammogram. I wish I could cook. I get by with a little help from my friends. I tried snorkeling in Mexico and it took me a LONG time to get the hang of breathing underwater. My worst nightmare would be scuba diving. Um, diving so far under the sea that you have to carry your oxygen tank with you and can't easily get to the surface if you panic? NO THANK YOU. Flying still makes me nervous, but it does get easier every time I go somewhere (on the last flight, I counted all the times/trips I've taken on a plane, and I was at 13. Aaron was at 17. I hope there's a lot more traveling in our future). The older I get, the more I want to surround myself with genuine, sincere people with good hearts. Just be real and we'll get along fine. I love parties. I love any excuse to get together with loved ones. I love people (and more specifically, my tribe; my people). I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life, even though it's kind of bittersweet saying goodbye to this one, the decade when I started working at the magazine, married my best friend, had two healthy, beautiful, kind, smart and funny kids, and "came into my own." 

In the words of Nietzsche: "I looked behind me, I looked before me, never before have I seen such good things together. How could I not be grateful to the whole of my life?"  

Bring it, 40. I'm ready.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Adios and vaya con dios

I stole the title of this post from one of my favorite Zac Brown Band songs, "Toes." It means "Goodbye and go with God." The rest of the song is very fitting for what I'll be doing soon ... putting my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand LIFE IS GOOD TODAY. Riviera Maya, Mexico, here we come!

I've never been on a warm-weather vacation in the winter. Ever. I've been to warm-weather destinations in spring (Daytona Beach, Florida on one spring break and South Padre Island, Texas on another), and summer (Disney World when I was in high school), and fall (California and Vegas for two friends' bachelorette parties), but never in the dead of winter, when the lack of sunshine and single-digit temps slowly start sucking your soul dry and you so miss seeing COLOR (other than dirty shades of grey and white) and you have to keep track of piles of jackets and hats and gloves and scarves at every basketball game, every restaurant outing, every trip to the mall, every school activity. (It's a small miracle every time you successfully keep track of it all.) To say I'm looking forward to this trip would be an understatement. I am OVER THE MOON EXCITED. As research shows, the anticipation of a trip is nearly as much fun as the trip itself. I truly believe that. I've been doing my 5 a.m. workout five to six days a week since Thanksgiving, I got a mani/pedi this weekend, and I used a gift card to get a spray tan yesterday. (And boy did it work. I walked into a meeting and became the center of attention for a good five minutes. "How long did it take? Where did you go? Were you naked? How did they get it so even? When can you take a shower? Did you have to wear goggles? How long will it last?") 
Answers: About an hour, from check-in to check-out. Ivy Spa. NO!! I wore an old suit. The technician was a perfectionist. The next day. No, just closed my eyes tight. If properly cared for, anywhere from 7-10 days. 

Soon I'll get to see the sun! And the beach! And my feet! And—most importantly—I'll get to experience this vacation with Aaron (our 10-year wedding anniversary is in 2015, so this was a good excuse to celebrate early) and eight of my college girls ringing in our *cough, cough* 40th birthdays. There will be 11 of us total, nine girls, two lucky guys, traveling from Green Bay, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Idaho!!! (I haven't seen T in WAY TOO LONG!) 
We have a solid group of fun can't-wait-to-party-and-soak-up-the-sun girls (and two guys) going ... leaving behind devoted boyfriends, husbands, and 14 kiddos. 

The boys will be staying with my parents, who will be driving 30 miles twice a day to drop them off and pick them up from school. I don't take their generosity for granted. It is so, so, so appreciated. My parents already have their itinerary all figured out, including a trip to the MOA for unlimited rides. (They recruited Shawn & Trish to join them.)

Speaking of the boys, I love the ages they are now (4 and 7). We can play games together as a family—Crazy 8s is a popular one right now, right up there with Trouble and Hungry, Hungry Hippo—and we can talk to them and reason with them and treat them like the big boys they are.

When they're not getting on each other's nerves, they play great together (hockey in the kitchen, basketball in the living room, wrestling, every sport imaginable when we can play outside), they astound me with how much they're learning, learning, learning (pretty soon Adam will be better than me in math), they shower me with affection and attention and compliments, they make me laugh, they make me want to be a better person, better friend, better mom, they force me to slow the fuck down and see the world from their innocent point of view (when Jeremy asked Ben if he had any girl advice for him, Ben asked "What does advice mean?" when Jeremy said "Do you have any comments that could help me with girls?" Ben asked "What's a comment?" I finally said "What would you tell Jeremy if he wanted a girl to like him?" to which Ben answered "Kiss her." There you have it, solid dating advice from a four-year-old. Just kiss her, Jeremy.) *Either Ben misunderstood the question or will be realizing very quickly that you can't go around kissing girls to get them to like you. 

Maybe, more than anything else, they remind me that the only constant in life is change, so if ya wanna hold onto a happy moment, you better hold on tight because before we know it, that moment will be a memory. And before we know it, Adam will be in second grade and Ben will be in kindergarten, and time won't stop for anyone.

Adam is playing basketball for the first time, and for a kid who naturally loves sports (a mini Aaron), I didn't realize that he could SUPER love a sport so deeply. When he gets out on the court, he lights up. I imagine it's the same way I feel—energized, happy, in my element—when I'm in certain social situations, surrounded by my favorite people. I enjoyed watching him play t-ball and soccer (not so much karate), and saw him improve by leaps and bounds in swimming lessons, but basketball is different. They don't keep score (yet), they don't call fouls (yet) or run plays (yet), but you can tell already who the kids are who "get" it and who don't. I hate to sound like I'm bragging, because no one wants to hear THAT, but Adam "gets" it. After the last game, three different parents—from the other team—made a point of coming up to him and telling him good job. He's the smallest little white kid out there, but he can hustle, he plays great defense, and he understands the game. (Some of the kids need to be reminded to dribble the ball, or pass the ball, or WHOOPS! YOUR BASKET IS THE OTHER ONE!!) He's one of three kids on his team who can make a basket, and whenever that happens, we're ALL on Cloud Nine. 

Ben likes playing basketball in the preschool gym when I pick the kids up every night, he's just too young to play on a team. Right now he's totally over his Batman obsession and is completely enthralled with the Timberwolves and Ricky Rubio. He got a Rubio jersey for Christmas and he would wear that shirt if we let him. He would sleep in it, bathe in it, sweat in it, eat in it, play in it, repeat. We make him wear a long-sleeved shirt over it (because, you know, WINTER), and without fail he will shed that long-sleeved shirt and wind up wearing a tank top by the end of the day. I believe he thinks he's a professional basketball player when he's wearing it.

Another Ben obsession is his Kindle. Adam is pretty good about regulating his play time, but Ben needs to be constantly reminded when he's played enough. For exactly that reason, I don't ever want a Wii. I know that not all video games are bad, some are educational, some encourage physical activity, yadda, yadda, yadda, but after a certain time the kids become little zombies who only talk when they're yelling at their screens. "What the heck?!" "That isn't fair!" "I PUSHED THAT BUTTON! THIS ISN'T WORKING!" (Adam at least can read the prompts on his screen. Ben just keeps swiping until he somehow gets to where he wants to go—or gets stuck and gets all whiny.) And once they start yelling at their Kindles, it's time to put them away and do something else. 

Another Adam and Ben "favorite" is air hockey. They will play whenever/wherever they can. Sometimes Ben tries to cheat, though, by moving the puck with his hands.
I recently brought Ben in for his preschool screening and he passed everything but  skipping. He flat-out refused to skip. "Would you like to skip with Mom?" the woman asked in an encouraging way. 
"No. I don't want to skip," Ben said bashfully. 
"You know how to skip, I've seen you skip," I said to him. "Just do it real quick." 
"No. I don't wanna," Ben said quietly. 
"He already passed. You don't need to push it unless you want a perfect score," the woman said. "Some parents want the perfect score; other seasoned parents don't care as much."
I must be a seasoned parent, because I definitely didn't care about the score (there are people who care what the points are? I always thought it was a pass/fail thing) and I didn't want to stress everyone out by forcing the kid to skip when I knew he could skip and he—for whatever reason—was clearly not feelin' it. (Why couldn't they have him dribble a ball instead?!) 
Anyhow, at his screening I ran into a former newspaper coworker who left the field of journalism to become a nurse. I actually went to Breezy Point with her and her husband back when I was dating JJ—another lifetime—and since that time she quit the paper, went to work in radio, returned to college for another four years, popped out four kids, changed jobs a few times, and moved twice. She wants to get together for coffee some time, but I feel like we're good now for another 12 years. 

This month I celebrated girls' Christmas with my "besties" and the kids at Meg's house (we used to exchange gifts with one another, now we have the kids draw names and exchange instead - so much fun to see them all together), celebrated my mom's birthday twice—at lunch at Washington Square in WBL and again at my sister Mary's house (when we played Suspend & went sledding), had a Haute Dish happy hour/dinner with Alex, Kelly, and J, went swimming at Nick & Ashley's apartment, took a Tabata class, went to three basketball  games (Adam) and our friend's son's outdoor hockey game (brrrr!), and tried not to lose too much sleep over getting everything done before I leave on vacation. (The LAST thing anyone should have to do when they're on vacation is worry about loose ends at work!)
Wait! Have I mentioned how excited I am?!?! ;) 

 "Home is wherever I'm with you ..."

New Year's Eve tradition - steak, ribs, mashed potatoes, games, WINE, BEER!

Ricky Rubio and Adam

Spending Adam's "suppoachlay" gift card from Auntie Trish & Uncle Shawny

The kids love these shopping carts but they're a bitch to maneuver.
I forgot to pack spare pants for Ben, so school put him in these baggy sweats. (He thought they were cool.)

Hopefully, the next time I write, I'll be able to recap my ADVENTURES IN MEXICO!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Year in Review 2014

Last year I interviewed Adam and Aaron for my "Year in Review." This year, I interviewed my mom during the holiday break. We sat by my parents' fireplace and completed this together.  

 1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Went to Chicago, hosted a nice dinner for my retired work friends 

Chrissy: Edited a travel guide, went to Chicago with my family for a travel story (and stayed within ONE PENNY of my budget!), sat underneath a waterfall, tailgated before a Vikings game. (The crazy fans ... just wow.)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Marvel: I didn't make any.
Chrissy: Yes! In November, I bought the "21 Day Fix" workout DVDs, thanks to my sister-in-law's recommendation, and I've been getting up at 5 a.m. every morning to do a workout. It's a little cardio and A LOT of strength training and I really, really like it (the variety, the intensity, the 60-second intervals with short breaks inbetween). Now that I'm getting older, I want to be strong and healthy rather than a certain number on the scale. 

3. Did anyone close to you have a child? 
Marvel: No
Chrissy: Kyle and Rachel had baby Frank

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Marvel: No
Chrissy: My friend Kylie's best friend Jen—an acquaintance—died at age 34. I think about her and her situation on a regular basis. She touched a lot of lives in the (short) time she was here. It still seems surreal.

5. Where did you travel?
Chrissy: We met our good friends from Green Bay in Wisconsin Dells this spring (it's tradition now), and this summer we went to Crivitz, Wis. (Fourth of July) and then Lake Namekagon with my immediate family. This fall, we went to Chicago (road trip!) and Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior. Our Larsmont trip was the first trip we've taken with JUST our family of four. It was so much fun.  
Marvel: I went to San Diego with three of my cousins. We went whale watching, shopping, and laughed about any and everything. I also went to Chicago and Lake Namekagon (near Hayward, Wis.) with family.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Marvel: I want to volunteer at the food shelf and find a church we like.
Chrissy: Less screen time, more quality family time. More planned-ahead (healthy) dinners. Better budgeting.

7. What dates remain etched upon your memory and why?
Nothing beyond the usual family birthdays and holidays

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Marvel: I bought some giant-sized lilies at the zoo and it was a major accomplishment getting them to grow.
Chrissy: Figuring out a work/life balance. I think this will get more and more complicated when the boys' sports require more of a time commitment. We've been able to keep it limited so far (Saturday morning swimming lessons in winter/spring, t-ball once a week in summer, Saturday morning soccer), but now that Adam is getting older, he actually has practices AND games ... and I'm sure Ben will, too.  

9. What was your biggest failure of the year?
Marvel: ?? 
Chrissy: I wanted to volunteer somewhere, and never did. I think that every year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully, no. When you have your health, you have a lot.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Marvel: I bought a coffee table from Vintage Junkie. We also bought a bigger pontoon for our boat so it can support more weight. And new carpet in the sunroom, a new door, and new windows!
Chrissy: 2010 Honda CRV (no more spontaneous Saturn Vue breakdowns!!!) and my iPhone. (How did I survive without one before?!) ha ha! 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Marvel: The doctors caring for those with Ebola

Chrissy: Anyone who did good for others without seeking recognition. "The true test of a person's character is what he or she does when no one is watching." 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Marvel: ISIS/terrorists

Chrissy: Ferguson rioters/looters. If nothing else, what happened in Ferguson sparked conversations about peaceful protests, race equality, and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day. It's easy to only see the side of the story you want to see, rather than examining the issue from BOTH sides.      
14. Where did most of your money go?
Marvel: Insurance
Chrissy: The usual: Mortgage, groceries, bills, preschool (so expensive, but so worth it!)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Marvel: Buying gifts and celebrating with everyone at Christmas
Chrissy: Every time we traveled somewhere!
16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Marvel: “Let it go" (Frozen)
Chrissy: "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea, "Happy" by Pharell (Ben loves this song), "Bangarang" (reminds me of seeing Doomtree at the State Fair), "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line & Nelly (reminds me of the boys BELTING this out from the back seat, pretty much any time they heard it), "Waves" by Mr. Probz, "Rather Be" by Clean Bandit

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Marvel: a.) Happier b.) Fatter c.) Poorer  
Chrissy: a.) Same b.) Slightly thinner and more toned c.) A little richer 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Marvel: More walking, volunteered somewhere
Chrissy: More freelance, more healthy meals

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Marvel: Less eating
Chrissy: Spent less time on FB when I should have been giving the boys my undivided attention.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Marvel: We went to our oldest son's house in Montrose for Christmas Eve with the immediate family and had a great Italian dinner; on Christmas Day Bob, my sister Karen and I saw Unbroken, and on December 27 we hosted Christmas with my side of the family ... 25 people.
Chrissy: We celebrated with friends and family throughout the month of December.

21. What was your favorite TV show?
Marvel: Call the Midwife, American Idol 
Chrissy: I don't watch much TV ... I'd say the usual, The Big Bang Theory, Parks & Rec, or Modern Family. (I did watch the first few episodes of Fargo, but it was a little too gory/violent for me.)

22. What was the best book you read?
Marvel: The Storyteller
Chrissy: Me Before You or Wonder 

23. What was the best movie you saw?
Marvel: Fury 
Chrissy: Boyhood (SO GOOD!!!)

24. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Marvel: I turned 63. We celebrated with family at Mary and Ben's house.  
Chrissy: I turned 39. A group of friends and family went snowtubing at Green Acres in Lake Elmo and then a few of us had dinner & drinks at Pinz in Oakdale. I celebrated with my "string sisters" on a separate weekend at Ward 6 on the East Side. (I made them come to MY neck of the woods!)

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Marvel: Jeans and sweaters ... just finding clothes that fit and look decent.
Chrissy: Does this change from year to year? Still not super trendy but (hopefully) not outdated!!! My young, hip coworkers keep me (somewhat) current. :)

26. Who did you miss last year?  
Marvel: My dad.
Chrissy: I miss Tonya. A lot. I miss my cousin Sara, esp. during holidays (gotta give props to Facetime, though, for keeping us "connected"!) I miss my grandma and Aaron's grandpa Lowell. 

27. Who was the best new person/new people you met?
Marvel: The nurses who take such good care of my 86-year-old mom. 
Chrissy: My book club friends!! I love that I get to see old friends (Julie, Alex, and Kelly) and new friends on a monthly basis. Throughout 2014, I was able to see all of my friends on a regular basis, at dinners, barbeques, our annual camping trip, the annual ice fishing contest, birthday celebrations, concerts, and playdates. 

28. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
Marvel: Be tolerant.
Chrissy: "Being kind is more important than being right."