The Associated Press and pretty much every newspaper in the country will be running year-in-review stories this week. The top stories of 2011 here in Alabama were the April 27 tornadoes which killed more than 200 people and left miles and miles of destruction and Jefferson County filing the largest municipality bankruptcy in U.S. history. And yes, Alabama is heading to the BCS national championship game this year after Auburn did the same in 2010 after Alabama did in 2009 ... we own this game! Nationwide and abroad, the economy had 99 percent of us down. The devastation caused by the March earthquake/tsunami double-punch on Japan was unreal.
But when one stays home, the world is much smaller. Here is my version of the top stories of 2011 ...
Kindergarten ... Will started "real" school in September and I vastly underestimated how much it would change our lives. From getting him there on time five days a week to a whole new system of rules/regulations to follow, it was a big transition for him and me. But after about two months, we both got the hang of our new routine. Though, I will admit not expecting how much I would miss seeing Will. He's gone all day! I wish I was a fly on the wall and could watch over him. But I've just got to trust that he's with good people and he's a good kid so it's out of my hands now.
Parents Day Out ... Just because Will graduated from PDO, doesn't mean we've left the building. Joseph started his stint at AUMC PDO in January. The last couple of months has seen some crying at drop off, but he loves playing with his "peoples" Henry, Cash, Woodrow, Wales, Odetta and more. His class is full of the cutest kids! Now, I'm not a room mom this year but I am PTA president. Which is just a fancy way of calling me head volunteer.
Back to work ... Crazily, I signed up for not one, not two but THREE paying part-time jobs in the fall. Plus a fourth really-big volunteer project. One job was really fun, a little stressful, but mostly fun — I was the substitute in the PDO nursery for six weeks while the real teacher was on maternity leave. They paid me to hold babies! The volunteer project is putting together the yearbook for Will's school. It's a big project but thankfully, I've got another mom to help pull it off.
Legos ... are just about all we do! I have lost track of how many sets we've put together this last week. Will had a Lego-themed birthday party back in April. We give Legos as birthday gifts to our fellow Lego-lovin' friends. They recognize us at the Lego store. Joseph loves driving his cars through the Legos and dumping them all over the place. So fun for everyone! (Except the dumping, I hate the dumping.)
Medical mystery ... for three weeks in September, the right side of my body slowly went, I don't know how to describe it, maybe asleep? (You know, that tingling feeling you get when your foot falls asleep). It started with two fingers and slowly spread up my arm and down to my feet. Then just as slowly, the condition reversed. I had our general doctor baffled. I made an appointment to see a neurologist but didn't go when my body started regaining feeling. The most likely explanation is that the numbness was caused by something going wrong when I gave blood two days before the symptoms started. I'm all better now so no need to worry. There are tons of people who get bad health news daily. I am thankful that this was not my turn.
It's no secret that I'm all about the books. To say we have a few is a vast understatement.
Here are some of the more popular reads of 2011 as picked by my boys ...
"Stubby" by Marion Borden with illustrations by Art Seiden (one of my favorites). Not sure where this book came from ... it might have been in the big book grab box or the local thrift. After close to three weeks of reading it daily, Stubby had to go into hiding. Sorry Stubby. Copyright 1963. The book did bring some debate to our dining room table. Is it a sweet tale of a tractor looking out for the animals around him or the vast capitalistic machine intent on mowing down the little guy? You decide.
"Big Red Barn" by Margaret Wise Brown was also read again and again. It was a favorite with Joseph last year too. The classics "Good Night, Gorilla," "Goodnight Moon" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" were also on heavy rotation throughout the year.
"Sheep in a Jeep" by Nancy Shaw. I can quote this one in my sleep. Joseph has fun acting it out.
"I Took the Moon for a Walk" by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay was under the tree last Christmas. But it wasn't until about mid-year that Joseph warmed up to it. The pictures are wonderful and the text so relaxing. I love all our Alison Jay books.
William is a little trickier when it comes to reading. He's well past the repetition stage. But there are a few that got a "read it again" request ...
"Diary of a Worm" by Doreen Cronin. The "Click, Clack, Moo" author does not disappoint.
"Sir Toby Jingle's Beastly Journey" by Wallace Tripp. A thrift store gem from 1976, I'm glad I brought it home.
Now mommy too had some must reads for 2011. I fell in love with the "Hunger Games" trilogy. I've read all the books at least three times now. Looking forward to the movie showing in March 2012.
Any reads of your own to recommend?
Here are some of the highlights of our — dare I say it — relaxing 2011 holiday season. I tried very hard to keep it simple for everyone. We didn't go to every party. I focused on decorating one room. We watched lots of Christmas specials — Joseph was especially fond of "Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer" and "Polar Express" was a must-see for Will. I'm at peace with the Christmas cards being late.
Traditions were kept and memories made.
Gingerbread houses and handprint wreaths are must-do activities at our local library.
The boys helped decorate the tree. And while it wasn't perfect, it was PERFECT!
Baking with Nana. The Rolo cookies were very tasty this year. All I made this year were the traditional sweet rolls for Christmas morning. I'm very lucky that my mom makes my favorite treats like Chex Mix and Butterscotch Pretzels. YUM!
Soon it will be time to take down the tree and put up all the Christmas boxes still sitting on the back porch. Here's wishing the magic of the season will stay with us well into the new year.
Last year I shared one of my favorite holiday traditions – ornaments from Aunt Catherine!
This year, most of my extended family loaded up in two cars and drove to Aunt Catherine's house for what we call "Family Christmas." We tend to get together the weekend before Christmas, so that everyone is at their own homes for actual Christmas.
While it was great to see everyone, I also loved seeing Catherine's tree. Which, of course, is loaded top to bottom with her awesome ornaments. The poor tree was struggling to hold them all!
Above is the ornament she painted for everyone this year. It's very special because that's grandma and grandpa's house. Which he built himself! I've got lots of memories playing in that house. It makes me smile every time I look over at the tree.
And here is some cuteness for the boys. They are going to have quite the ornament collection ready for their own trees. Not that I'm letting them have all of them!