Well, the holidays have come and more or less gone. This weekend we will have our big Three Kings dinner and then it will be official. I’m glad to be cleaning up the house a bit here and there, and glad that I’ve scheduled Leah to go to Melissa’s the weekend after 3 Kings :)
We had a great Christmas and a lot that we did this year, like usual. The highlights were of course ICE and the Ginter Gardens. Christmas Day was special in that I got to see my niece, whom I adore.
I enjoyed shopping this year. I read an article about why Christmas spending was up this year when the past few years have been dismal, sales figure wise. It seems that everyone was feeling the way I did this year: “Screw it. I’m sick of being frugal.” That’s the truth. This year, I was sick of worrying about it. I just started shopping in November and quit about 3 days before Christmas. Yes, we went way overboard, but I am happy to report that both girls loved everything they got and Leah is finally happy to find things to do all over the house. She loves her kitchen, her car, and her ball pit. She loves her shopping cart, her little book with attached piano, and her “laptop”. Penny is rarely seen without the earbuds to her iPod firmly in place (yes, it’s annoying, we no longer have conversations in the car, but the fact is, I did this as a teen with my walkman, so the heck with it!). When I can’t find her, odds are good she’s tucked up somewhere with her DSi or challenging me to a quick round of MarioKart, and I’m happy to say that we can now take pictures reliably with her new camera. We also don’t see her wacky t-shirts with crazy Engrish on them from Thailand any more. She got more clothes than anyone could imagine! :)
We spent New Year’s quietly alone. When the clock struck 12, we heard the fireworks from Old Town and ran outside to discover our neighbors somewhere behind us banging on pots and pans and hooting and hollering. In the spirit suddenly, I shouted “Happy New Year!” in the general direction of the bushes, and heard lots of “Happy new Year!”s shouted in return. We spent the rest of the weekend laying in groceries for the week and watching a lot of reality TV. We got totally wrapped up in Sister Wives, which caused Penny to declare that there are a lot of strange people in this country (no kidding!). She fell madly in love with David Tutera and My Fair Wedding and we discussed the pros and cons of my love affair with Billy the Exterminator.
We spent a good bit of time looking at colleges for Penny too. She has decided that she really would like to attend college in the US if possible. We discussed her career goals and we have finally settled on the fact that she would like to become a lawyer. For some reason, she has her heart set on going to Harvard, and she has seen for herself that extra-curricular activities will factor into whether or not she gets into college in the US. She is going into school today with a renewed enthusiasm for joining some clubs and some community organizations as well. We also discussed the possibility that if she didn’t get into Harvard, she needed some back up schools, so she is going to look at Boston University, University of Richmond, and Bryant University (where the Chief went—as much as I influence her on her personal matters, he is a big influence on her professionally speaking). We will be going up to New England in April and she will be able to take a look at the schools then. Hopefully this will give her a better idea of whether she actually wants to go there and she can also start taking the exams she needs to take. (Notably the TOEFL and SAT’s, fun!) We talked yesterday about her friends’ plans. It seems that most of her friends are graduating but have no entry into college, so she feels that they will probably be sitting around or going on a year abroad or something. She was somewhat disappointed that most of them hadn’t learned a foreign language enough to consider going abroad to go to college. Her mindset has truly changed in the 4 months that she has been here, and she has come to see the world as a place of possibility, not one where she is trapped into a certain way of doing things. I am proud of this change in her from the girl she was in August.
We have made some changes already in the New Year. The bedtime thing has been hard, but I’ve been doing it, and the change in my overall attitude and disposition is stunning. I have much more patience and energy. It means I get a lot less time to spend by myself, as I used to “outwait” everyone else to get a couple of hours of peace and quiet, but now I just snuggle up with the mister and sleep overtakes me very quickly. It has also forced me in just a couple of short days to really prioritize what I want to get done. With only 2 hours between when Leah goes to bed and when I get ready to go to bed, I need to decide what’s the most important to get done: housekeeping, exercise, reading, computer time, family games, Nintendo, TV, and so on. I have actually been reading a bit more than usual and been a lot more efficient about other things, including the journals I’ve been keeping and spending less time connected to the computer.
Overall, I’d say my major goal in 2011 is to reduce waste. Wasted time, wasted food, wasted money. If 2010 taught me anything, it is that life is very short and that I don’t always make good choices in how to expend the resources at my disposal. I choose the wrong times, the wrong people, the wrong “stuff”… I can’t say it’s easy, but I do have some changes in mind that I hope to accomplish and I hope to be less worried about how that affects other people and non-priorities in my life (I’m pretty sure Walmart will continue to thrive with or without my buying crap at their store). Hopefully I’ll blog a bit more this year, it is hard with posting to Facebook a lot, but maybe I’ll do that a little bit less too…
Happy 2011, everyone! Thanks for a great 2010.