Getting the Stocking Monkey Off My Back

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Nablopomo (National Blog Posting Month) is coinciding with a long standing unfinished project that I need to put to rest and since both are causing me stress, I've decided to combine them into one giant stressball of anxiety. With the help of progress and Ativan, I hope to get beyond this and come out of November ready to enjoy Christmas.

The project is my never ending advent stockings that I began maybe four years ago. Maybe five. I can't remember. I was off to a quick start, completing up to five stockings until I decided to make the design look a little nicer, which took more time and creative energy, and I stalled out at 15. My plan was that instead of using a pathetic little 99 cent advent calender with sub-par chocolate, I'd make this a family oriented countdown. The holidays go by fast enough and this was one way I could slow things down a bit, mostly by forcing some family time on my family. I'd put a little note in each stocking, saying things like, "picnic in the family room for dinner!" but once I hit the last complete stocking (day 15), I'd keep reusing it until we reached Dec. 24. People visiting would look at the stockings and ask why we didn't go beyond Dec. 15, seeming to wonder if Dec. 16 was the day we celebrated Christmas. I finally added a day 23 and 24 (and I've lost 23 somehow), thinking maybe filling in the middle would be easier. I'm lazy, okay? Cutting out felt isn't as fun as one may imagine.

After years of putting up the half complete advent stockings, it's either time to finish or pack them away forever, but because I put them on my 40×40 list, I've got to finish them. And I want to finish them, as much as when it's late at night and I'm re-threading my bobbin, I regret the decision to walk away from the 99 cent chocolate calenders. What was I thinking?

In the next 30 days, I'm going to finish the stockings. A little baby step each day – or maybe a big leap one day to account for a day or two off. Scratch that. If I take a day off, the train will become derailed. It's every day.

Really, what was I thinking when I eschewed the cheap advent calendars sold near store check out lanes? There's no shame in a little milk chocolate, especially when I'm not the one eating it.

40×40: The Midterm Review

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I just about peed my pants in fear when I realized I had under six months to complete this list. It only got worse as I went down the list and found I'm not making nearly as much progress as I'd thought. Okkkaayy. Strap on the strap on because this is about to get real.

Where it stands today:

complete a crochet project – Failing miserably. Haven't started.

complete the Couch to 5K program – Oh please. I've gotten a few weeks in, then stopped and restarted. Twice. Still hopeful. Each time I've restarted, the first run is incredibly easy, until it's not. As I glide around the track, I always think, "I can run forever. I can run a marathon. This is awesome. This is awes…oh my god, I think I'm gonna die. I'm dying…"

organize idea binders – Not a bit. Jeez, I'm a slacker.

learn to snake the main line – Now I'm getting down on myself. No progress.

get current with my New Yorker subscription – Did it, now need to do it again.

end the magazine back log – These damn magazines keep coming every week. I feel like Sisyphus here!

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take Rocket to Disneyland for the first time – WOO HOO! VICTORY! Crossed off the list in April.

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take the kids to NYC – Did it in August! Thankfully blogging about the trip wasn't on my list because that didn't happen.

BlogHer10! – Yep!

do something with my arms – I've kind of come to terms with them. I was forced to bare them at my sister's wedding, which made me adopt a "who cares?" approach. As my sister said, "You have fat arms. Everyone knows. Get over it." There is nothing like sibling love.

successful veggie garden (aka beat the deer) – Did it. Sort of. The fence worked. We had one deer intrusion, but s/he didn't get much, thanks to my Fort Knox-style netting. The garden didn't look the same after a summer heat wave while we were on the East Coast, though, making it hard to claim a full garden victory. It will be better next year because we've hired a gardener. After his first visit, I wanted to tackle him like Tigger on Pooh. Is one yard cleaning too soon to feel true love?

alter and hang Rocket's drapes – Done and done.

learn to hem pants, rather get the courage to touch Kevin's hems – well, Kevin took about six pairs of pants to the dry cleaner to get altered, which means a big no.

take my vitamins – started strong, then not so much.

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take the kids to a candy store and let them buy whatever they want (within a tiny budget) – Did it TWICE and it was awesome.

finish Brideshead Revisited – haven't even found my 20 year old copy.

go on an adventure – I think this is in progress

tone down my yelling – kind of, depending upon how strictly 'toned down' is defined.

eat at Foreign Cinema – Nope.

go away with Kevinyes, Mendocino in May.

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take the kids to at least one Giants game this yearYes! Rocket went to one game, Clover went to two. Go Giants!

margaritas on the front deck – once, but not enough

finish advent stockings – oh no.

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take Rocket to a Stanford football game – Did it! Go Cardinal! As for the picture, after Rocket had his face painted, Clover said, "You're a Stanford head! I'm going to call you an S-head!" She proceeded to call him "a little S-head" repeatidly until I finally stopped laughing and told her to stop.

update my blog design - Yay! Update happened in August.

get the journals for the kids up to date – haven't even found the journals. Not good.

get annual photo albums for the kids relatively up to date – I've made progress. I made three albums on Shutterfly.

take the kids to a movie they want to see, but I don'tYep. How to Train Your Dragon, or something like that.

figure out my new camera – I've gotten better, but I'm going to an amazing Me Ra Koh workshop next weekend that should help tremendously.

teach the kids to ride a bikeYES!

get off Diet Coke – no longer addicted!

get air conditioning – Hell yeah!

clear out the pre-marriage boxes in our garage – Made progress, but nowhere near done. But also not going to appear on Hoarders, so that's good.

listen to the Spanish language CD with the kids – no! (Read that in Spanish.)

go to Glass BeachDid it in May during our Mendocino trip.

figure out Photoshop – step by step, making progress.

knit a chunky scarfyep, all the way back in March.

find a plant/do something with living room corner – no, but hiring someone to take a look at our house.

fill living room frames – in progress

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Muir Woods

take the kids to the Marin sites of my childhood – we've pretty much done it.

I'm not going to lie, I'm getting a little nervous. There's a lot to do here and I can't rely on caffeine from a Diet Coke to kick start my campaign. Doh!

August, In Chaos

One day, we'll look back and think it wasn't a mistake to go directly from this:

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to this:

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to this:

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But right now, I'm doing my best to stay afloat. It will get easier next week. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

40×40: Candy Overdose

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There was an unexpected opportunity to cross off a 40×40 goal while at Peter Pan last week. I can be tight with sugar, yet
both of my kids have a sweet tooth, which makes me feel like a hard-ass
most of the time. My plan had been to take them to a candy shop, give
them each $5 and let them spend it as they wished. However, I was kind
of reluctant to do that because the nearby candy shop is pricey and I
knew the $5 would not go far at all, which would cut into the fun. Plus,
they'd have to keep weighing, adding a little, re-weighing and that's a
buzz kill too.

CityMama tipped us off that the Peter Pan concessions featured a $6
candy tub. It was a small Chinese food-style container that could be
filled to the brim with candy, all for the flat $6 fee. Stefania held
three modestly filled containers for her kids and a friend, but I knew
my kids wouldn't settle for that. That's when I remembered the 40×40
goal, plunked down my $12 and let the kids go to town.

I helped Rocket, who picked a variety of candies, a little of this and
that, while Kevin tried to guide Clover. When we walked out, I picked up
both containers to carry into the theater. Clover's was easily double
the weight of Rocket's. It felt like a brick. They were both filled to the top, but she must have pressed down
with the metal scoop to compact the candy to make more room. Like trash day after a big party, when you're determined to get everything into the garbage can. I can't say I blame her.

Rocket fed himself a nonstop stream of candy, kind of like how one would
eat movie popcorn, during the show, until I took the containers away to
slow the kids down. I gave them back later and while Clover showed a
lot of restraint, Rocket nearly finished his stash. This was all washed
down with lemonade, of course. I was happy, the kids were ecstatic (and a
little confused by this change in my attitude) and all was well.

Until 3 a.m. when we heard, "Mom? I threw up."

40×40: Visit Glass Beach

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Real seaweed that looks fake

I've wanted to visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg for years, but we never
got around to it. I first read about the beach about a week after we'd
returned from a trip to Mendocino. I hate when the universe's timing is
off. This trip, it was the only thing on our wide-open agenda. Glass
Beach used to be a garbage dump back when the ocean was treated like a
garbage disposal. Not like now, where oceans are treated with care and
have been restored to their pristine condition, for example, the Gulf of
Mexico. Oh wait…scratch that. Anyway, an alternative garbage dump was
established in 1967 and toxic dumping at Glass Beach was prohibited.
The glass left behind all over the beach is the result of the spot's
dark past. Most of it, at least. Some of the largest bottle chunks
indicate some one's been drinking Coronas at the beach and leaving the
empties behind.

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There were tiny pebbles of sea glass everywhere, and even though we'd
read that collecting was prohibited, everyone there was scavenging for
good pieces. One family brought a Costco-sized detergent tub to hold
their haul. As we approached the beach, we saw an old woman precariously
clinging to the side of a bluff. At first I thought she'd gotten stuck
trying to climb out and needed help, but then I noticed the bag hanging
from her wrist and saw that she was collecting the hard to reach glass.
The sea glass was pretty, but not worth risking one's life. That lady
was on her way to earning a Darwin Award. If something tragic happened
to her, I imagined her family saying, "Grandma died doing what she
loved…taking free stuff."

The visit was fun, even if I did feel dizzy from looking down at the
ground for so long, but I don't think I need to go back unless up that
way with Clover. She's the type of girl who'd climb the side of a bluff
to get free stuff.