Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of the Year

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Traveled alone overnight to a metalsmithing class. Road-tripped with a girlfriend to upstate NY to a conference. Got a pedicure. Rode a scooter on the actual streets amongst the actual traffic.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Well, I seem to recall saying something about losing a bunch of weight. That didn't happen. As for the rest, I don't remember what else I might have resolved to do.

As for 2011, I don't like to make resolutions. I prefer to make adjustments in my way of living for a better outcome. This year, I'd like to stick to my daily walks in the morning, and add in some strength training. I'd also like to better understand myself at this stage of my life, and figure out who I am and what I am about.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Oh, everyone always thinks 'more money', and sure, who wouldn't want that? But really, I'd like to have more personal peace, more clarity, and more FUN!

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

1/3/10 -- the date I got my motorcycle license
4/22/10 -- the date I turned 40
9/9/10 -- our 7th anniversary of our marriage
9/24/10 -- the date of my first overnight trip alone without the kids (or my husband!)
10/15/10 -- seeing one of my closest friends from college after 20 years

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Having six pieces of my jewelry work published in five different magazines, with articles or tutorials that I wrote. Having my first wholesale jewelry client. Getting my motorcycle license. Staffing my church's preschool with all new teachers a month before school started.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Those epic loss of patience moments that come as part of parenting sometimes. I think my biggest failures always have to do with less-than-stellar parenting behaviors on my part.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No, thankfully. Not beyond the usual round of sniffles/colds, and general aches and pains.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Probably my motorcycle jacket. Made riding my scooter in the cold MUCH nicer! Oh, and also admission to the Medieval Glass Conference at the Corning Museum, and tuition for a couple of jewelry and metalsmithing classes.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Groceries, kid clothes, household stuff.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Working with copper and other metals, learning metalsmithing.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Anything by Theory of A Deadman, or The Script

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? oh, fatter, I'm sure
– richer or poorer? Richer in all the nonfinancial ways, for sure

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercise, yoga, making more art, resting -- really resting, not just sitting on my ass in front of the TV or computer.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Hating myself, thinking I was unattractive, getting frustrated or angry with the kids, sitting on my ass in front of the computer or TV

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At home with my husband and children. Our favorite way to spend the holiday.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

More than one, for sure: Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Justified

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

These are books that I read this year, not necessarily ones that were published this year. While I consider myself a relative bibliophile, the limits of time and mental energy don't permit me to keep up with the publishing world too.

Totally Twisted by Kerry Bogert

Traveling With Pomegranates, Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Kidd Taylor

Pillars of The Earth, and World Without End, both by Ken Follett

I read all the time, so I am sure there were more memorable books....I just can't remember them right now...

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Script, The Fray, Theory of A Deadman, Rob Thomas / Matchbox Twenty, and anything that Train does.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

My husband threw me a big party with a lot of my friends and family here for a cookout and celebrating. I also spent the day of my birthday hanging out with a good friend. I was 40.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

If I would have spent less time being all angsty about turning 40. I'm never angsty about my age or about getting older, but this one walloped me good.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?


More like jeans and knit shirt uniform in colder weather, tshirt/camisole shirt and shorts or skirt in warmer weather.

26. What kept you sane?

Sane? Who said I was sane?

No, really....making art, creating things with my hands, listening to music, walking in the early morning. Snuggling my son and daughters. Being with my husband.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

I am still in the process of learning this one, but I think I'd have to say that I am learning to"own my story", and spend less time worrying about what other people think about me, and more time actually being ME. So far, I think I'm doing pretty good...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Days and Holidays

Today, it is snowing. There were two additional days of school this week, then Christmas break, which is a full two weeks this year because of the timing of Christmas. Now it looks as though my kid-free Christmas prep time is down to whatever I can do in the evenings after they have gone to bed. Hmmm.

I am grateful and glad to have my children home with me, though, grateful that I have a job that does not require my physical presence daily, and grateful that I don't need to make any particular arrangements for my kids beyond planning the things we want to do.

Some people I know seem to always complain about having their kids home. I know I have been very guilty of this. It's easy to be annoyed by sibling rivalries, constant bickering, fighting and picking. It's hard to encourage kids to entertain themselves, and the whine of "I'm bored" is like the sound of fingernails on the chalkboard.


Kids are only young once. Kids are only the age they are once. Someday these days will be over, and we will look back and wonder where the time has gone.

I'm particularly feeling the pull and passage of time lately, and I know that I really want to preserve as much of this time as I can. Yes, the kids get on my nerves, yes they are demanding, yes I feel like I will lose my mind if I have to referee one more fight/sharing incident/episode of boredom.

I try to head all of this off in the summers, when the kids are around ALL the time, by planning activities for each day of the week. Monday is usually for the library, Tuesday is for going to play in water, etc. I'm not saying all this is easy, or that I am some kind of Superwoman, because Lord knows I wish I could take a week off and hole up somewhere with my husband and my art projects and just be ME for a while...


I feel sometimes it does a disservice to your children to complain about them all the time, even if they are being annoying. One of my plans for this upcoming year is to be far more present and more positive about my crazy circus of a family, and to really attend to whether or not I need to voice something negative about my kids. I adore so many things about my kids, and so often, I seem to let myself forget about them in favor of the much-easier bitching to anyone who will listen. That's terrible. Next week, all three of my kids are home for an extended period, a rare thing for our family because of my oldest's custody arrangement. I am working SO hard on letting go of expectations about myself and my own work and art and what I think should be, and just planning activities and things for us to do together that will be enjoyable and will help develop those great childhood memories I want them to have.

Because I am probably slightly OCD, I made a chart.

Knowing my desire to strike a good balance between 'scheduled' and 'fly by the seat of our pants', I am planning a hands-on activity each day, and an outing or time outside each day. I am also anticipating a full-on 'vegetate in front of the TV' day and not feeling guilty about it.

So far, we will be making several batches of Christmas cookies, visiting the Children's Museum, making snowflake ornaments with borax, and working on some super-secret gifts. I'm sure there will be at least one or two movies and popcorn, and some time to play outside, followed by hot cocoa with marshmallows.

I'm sure I will also have to deal with a bout of two of whining, some of the oldest and middle child's picking on each other, and a few instances of flat-out fighting and misbehaving. But aside from that, I am hoping to have some good times with my kids.

They are so worth having good times with, every day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Little Christmas Bird

Five years ago today, our little Christmas bird came into the world and our lives were never the same.
Wren Noelle Brandel, 7lbs 7oz, 7pm, 12-9-05

She is lovely and highly verbal, brilliant and crafty, creative beyond a shadow of a doubt, and fearless enough to stop your heart. She's all I could wish for in a child, and more. She challenges me in ways I don't like to admit, and days with her are a constant state of keeping-up. But her life journey will be magic in a way we can't even comprehend now.

Wren Noelle Brandel, 12-9-10

Happy Birthday, Wren!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Today is my dad's birthday. He's, oh, I don't know, 62 or 63 maybe? Sometimes it seems like my parents are ageless. They were very young when I was born -- in fact my mom was 40 (the age I am now) when I graduated from college -- so it doesn't seem as though they should get any older. Certainly not OLD, old. Like, elderly, like grandparents, or anything. Even though they ARE grandparents.

(I can't imagine having a child graduating from college right now. Although there is something to be said for having an almost-empty nest at the start of your forties...unlike me, with two preschoolers.)

Someday, and I know it's a sad thought, but I can't help it, someday, my parents will be gone, and there will be no one on this earth that gave birth to me or raised me. Will I feel all alone? I think because my own kids are still young, I can't imagine being all right in the world without your parents. I don't even necessarily talk to my parents every day, but they are there. I know how to reach them, and I can see them with just a bit of effort. Well, and a plane ticket, in my dad's case, or a Skype call, but still...not a huge effort.

I've been thinking a lot about getting older. For myself, for my children, for my parents. One day, *I* will be the grandmother. Someday, *my* daughters and granddaughters will be mixing up the Christmas cookie recipes *I* know from MY grandmothers, and leafing through my cookbook collection.

Someday, I might have to make medical decisions for my parents. Someday, I might have to make a last-minute flight to Miami, or choose care providers, or make "arrangements".

Someday, my children might have to do this for me.

We talked with my dad by phone, then got on the computer and talked to him via Skype, so the kids could sing him "Happy Birthday", and we could see each other. I didn't get to ask, but I hope he has dinner plans or some celebratory thing planned. One's birthday should ALWAYS be celebrated, no matter how much of a big deal it is or isn't.

I'm so not ready to be 'older'.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winter Party

Last night, I got all dressed up and went out to my company's Christmas party. I so rarely get dressed up at all anymore, and I like to go to this party every year because it's the only time I ever get to put on a cocktail dress and makeup. And high heels. I always remember the next day why I don't wear heels [heh...originally, when I typed 'heels', I accidentally typed 'hells'......indeed] more often.

I wish I'd thought to take a better picture of myself with my real camera before I left for the party, but I was running a bit behind and just didn't think of it.
I posted this on Facebook as I went out the door, and was amazed by all the comments from people telling me I looked really good. Not that I don't think I ever look good, it's just...I have a hard time seeing myself as particularly beautiful. Especially lately, when I have been feeling old(er). At any rate, the compliments gave me a nice warm glow. Still kicking myself for not getting a better picture.

The party itself was fun, since I spent the time talking with my favorite work colleagues and their spouses. Apparently the DJ's don't really know how to work an adult, corporate party, as we sustained much musical and temporal whiplash, followed by the worst dance music possible that could be chosen for the event. I'm pretty sure some of it bordered on inappropriate. Not surprisingly, the party was not as rousing an event as it usually is. Oh well. At least Travis was spared the inanity.

I always worry about what stupid things I said or did. I didn't even drink enough to catch a buzz, but I still worry that I was somehow socially inept.

Ah, well. Hopefully, I wasn't.

It started to snow as I arrived to the party, and as I left, the snow was falling in big fluffy flakes. It was romantic and beautiful, to be walking in my long party dress and high-heeled shoes, with snow falling all around, and speckling my hair and black wool wrap. It's exactly the kind of night that is perfect for walking with the one you love, holding tightly to each other, as the snow sifts silently down.