Monday, December 31, 2012

counting down 2012

You all have to know by now how much I love lists. And the end of the year begs for endless countdown lists, so I've been indulging in the fun since 2007. In 2008, it only seemed appropriate to do it again. By 2009, it was a tradition, so 2010 and 2011 followed suit. This year, I'm getting this in just under the wire, but the thoughts are still as well-meaning as usual. As I usually say, without further ado...

The Top Ten Things that I Liked, Laughed At, Smiled About, or Generally-Remember-in-a-Fond-Way of 2012.

10. There's always room for more books.
My life wouldn't be what it is without the written word. Books continue to bring me more joy than most can imagine. Getting lost in a novel thrills me, the occasional nonfiction book challenges me to do better or think more deeply, and picture books make me smile and cheer and laugh and celebrate stories. On that note, this year's National Book Festival was a joy beyond joys. My interviews with David Ezra Stein and Amy Krouse Rosenthal were awesome, and the wait-at-the-back-door-of-the-family-stage technique scored me a fun couple of moments with Mac Barnett.

9. My reach might not be far, but my words were put out there to be read. 
The year started with a new gig, but it sadly only lasted about half the year. While my time at Real Moms Guide was going strong, I was writing more than ever with up to six posts a week. Though it was hard to juggle with full-time teaching, too, it was fun to have a new forum. The downside was that all my time and writing energy went in a different direction than my little old blog, so 2012 saw almost the fewest blog posts here since I first started strong in 2007. May 2013 see a renewed blogging effort, and I hope to see even more freelancing opportunities ahead... if I dream it, will it happen?

8. East Coast meets West Coast, two more times!
Last year, I had the first opportunity to represent 5 Minutes for Mom at a movie junket experience for a group of bloggers, and it was absolutely surreal, especially since it involved the huge surprise move of a kiss on the cheek from Russell Brand. Well, in February, I got another chance to do it again, and I was so excited that it was for a film based on my favorite Dr. Seuss book ever-- The Lorax. And, the best of all, was that I called up the courage to ask Betty White for a hug, which she actually gave me. Then just ten months later, the pieces fell into place for me to attend my third junket! For a grown-up movie! This time around, I felt more comfortable than ever before and it was a grand time. And, for the record, This is 40 cracked me up and was quite relatable in many ways.

7. Friends, friends, 1, 2, 3, and more.
Say what you will about social media, but I feel connected to more people on this planet than ever before thanks to blogs, online communities, and the Facebook. I feel more blessed than ever to have an incredible group of friends "in real-life," friends who have provided support whenever I've needed it and always are good for making me laugh my raucous laugh. Earlier this year when hubby had his ACL surgery and I needed a village, so many friends stepped up to provide this for me, and I'll forever be grateful. Not everyone is pictured here, obviously, but it's days like this that remind me how joyful it is to be surrounded by the friends who are our family.

6. We make the most of our few-and-far-between visits.
Life has a way of getting in the way of visits with my parents, due to conflicting work schedules all around and too many miles between us. But, when we do get to see each other, like we did this summer, we sure do make sure that we fill the hours with many laughs. I'm already looking forward to our planned 2013 road trip up to see them in April!

5. Six going on sixteen, for sure.
She started first grade and entered the world of public school, and suddenly Red became a BIG kid. This year has seen such significant change for her. She decided that she wanted all her hair cut off, donated it to charity, and suddenly went from a little girl with pigtails to a big kid with a bob. She shed three teeth, and three more are currently loose. She's become aware of pop music, and she loves to sing to every song on the radio, whether she knows the words or not. Her creativity is through the roof, and I will always treasure the many chapter books and stories she has written starting this year, and I expect this is only the beginning.

4. Have I told you how funny this kid is?
Each year, I try to come up with one big thing for each child for these lists... one event or characteristic that was really quite significant for the year. As I thought about Pudge, who turned one-whole-hand this fall, his second year of preschool got underway this year, and he remains a happy, happy guy. But, the biggest thing that stands out in my mind? This boy is a natural born comedian. I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- he has a brilliant sense of comic timing, and he can make us laugh like no other child we've ever known. I hope he keeps this sense of humor his entire life, because he will spread so much happiness to so many people in his life.

3. You can call him a clown, and he won't mind at all.
JAM has had the joy of participating in a circus camp in our city's amazing recreation department for several years now, but this summer saw him participating in the official Youth Circus for the first time. Four weeks of intense planning, practicing, and perfecting in late summer for a weekend of four performances to sold-out crowds, concluding on his 12th birthday. We couldn't have planned it better if we had tried. It was so much fun watching him juggle, toss devil sticks, act goofy, and ride this beloved tiny bike in the circus, and I know that it was hefty sum of money well-spent. I know that he has found a soul-mate of sorts in the head clown, a man who understands JAM and treats him with respect and gets it all back in spades as a result. If only life could be a nonstop circus camp, this would be the happiest kid around!

2. Sometimes, this guy is just too good.
There was a time, before the housing bubble popped, that hubby suggested something that I thought was a terrible idea. It had to do with our adjustable rate mortgage and refinancing early and it was going to entail a big penalty charge... it sounded like an unnecessary idea, and I poo-pooed it. But, he pushed for it and was adamant that it was going to be for the best. Shortly after we did it, the market went to hell, and our ARM would have killed us. We likely would have been a statistic, one of those families who couldn't make their mortgage payments. But, his eerie sense of what was to come saved our asses big time. Well, he did it again this year, and his just-for-kicks job search landed him a job offer shortly before he discovered that his position at the time was going to be a victim of a round of RIF-ing. ("Reduction in force," in case you didn't know... I hadn't before this fall, either.) The result was no loss of income, which was the best news of the year. Man, I love this guy.

1. Half our lives, people. HALF OUR LIVES.
Back in March, we acknowledged a milestone... it had been 18 years since we had become a couple. Since we were just young 18 year olds at the time, it was official-- each day, we mark more time spent together than apart. More time that we've been us than the time we lived before knowing the other person was somewhere out there. We were fortunate enough to be able to get away together twice in 2012, thanks to the mad babysitting skillz of my in-laws, and saw some fun times in Cape May, NJ, and some place in NJ for a big old group party. After all these years, I know that for as much as life can be challenging, I always have this guy by my side, and I wouldn't want it any other way. No one in the world understands me like he does, and while we can have lovely times like this one...

... we can also laugh like hell through moments like this...
Seriously, this is a fun guy to have spent half my life with, and here's to many, many more years!

I'm always struck by how these lists make life look wonderful and carefree. I have to admit that 2012 was challenging in many ways, and I have my own personal list of "resolutions" that involve bettering the person I am to benefit my family in important ways. Even with that in mind, it's easy to see that I have much to be thankful for, as I'm surrounded by love and happiness, even in rough times.

May 2013 bring more of the happiness for us all,