So here we are on the last day of 2009. While just like a birthday, the new year is nothing more than a different page on the calendar. But is it? Isn’t it more? To me, just like a new school year, it signals a fresh start. A clean slate. A promise of something. Anything. Everything. And nothing. You can shed the mistakes of 2009. You can set goals for the new year. Or not. An opportunity for a new beginning. A refreshed outlook. A reflective look back on the past. A chance for magic. Or to believe in it.
Looking back on our own 2009, it’s been a wild ride. Never in my wildest dreams did I think The Husband and I would split up. We started the year with a vacation, and ended it apart. I didn’t foresee selling our house. Or moving back to our old one. Such are the twists and turns of life. This year saw Nick finish first grade and enter second. It saw a year for him filled with Boy Scouts, summer camp, soccer and karate. A year with 102 scores on tests and four missing teeth, two of which he even pulled out himself. Blech. There are days when I am literally amazed by his maturity, particularly as he took on a slightly different role in the house with The Husband gone, but then there are days that I’m instantly reminded that he’s still just seven. My little man. This year brought us a fun little personality in Madeline. Never a day goes by that Nick or I don’t crack up at something she says or does. A little pistol that now shushes us if we are telling her something she doesn’t like. An almost two year old that, although she wants zero help in using a fork or spoon, still ends up wearing a lot of it. So much food is on her face that I can’t even Photoshop it out. Unfortunately spilling food is a trait amongst the women in our family … I swear not a family meal goes by without me, my mom or my sister dropping some sort of food on our clothes. Madeline is in good company. My mom took one for the team during Christmas Day dinner.
This year saw my first niece, Sophie, turn two, and my newest niece, Sadie was born. And I became her Godmother. I love that. It is so fun to see the three girls play together and I love that we live close enough that hopefully they will be close to each other growing up. And poor Nick, outnumbered by them, and sometimes bossed around by them, but certainly loving every minute of it. Almost every minute anyway.
From the kitchen, this year saw things like the Rainbow Cake, those divine Cranberry Almond Bars, a new go-to Chinese dinner, perfect kid-friendly macaroni and cheese (and an adult version to boot!), and oh these glazed apple bars, easy vegetable pancakes, the babysitter’s favorite cookie to date, strawberry cupcakes for a sixth birthday, to-die for fudge that is making another appearance this weekend, a yummy spread to start your day, crazy simple chips, and these appetizers that I completely forgot about, OMG fried calamari, and many more creations. Another OMG dish was just added tonight as part of our traditional New Years’ Eve feast. Thought the guest list changes, the tradition remains the same. A seafood feast on New Years’ Eve, something begun some thirteen years ago. Although some traditions have changed or been altered, this one is here to stay. (More on the OMG dish next week, promise).
And so with a new year brings resolutions. Promises. Goals. Attempts. Do you make resolutions? I have a short list. Some personal. Some professional. Some with the kids. Some for me and me alone. One of the resolutions that the kids and I made together, actually a few months ago … is that we will take a trip a month. It can be a day trip, an overnight trip or something as simple as finding cows for Madeline. An adventure a month, if you will. We actually started in October when we went to Hershey, and Nick and I talked about it on the way home. I don’t want to miss out on anything, especially with the kids, just because The Husband and I are separated. One of the vows I made to myself early on was that I wasn’t going to let that stop me from doing something. True, some things are definitely more of a challenge… have you tried to stop for a bathroom break? On the Garden State Parkway? With two kids? And a dog? In the dead heat of the summer? Like, what do I do with the dog? He can’t stay in the car. I can’t tie him up outside. And Madeline? Who tries to crawl out from underneath the bathroom stall? And Nick who is at the age where he shouldn’t be hanging out in the women’s room. Such are the challenges of being a single mom, but I don’t want that to get in the way of us exploring, adventuring, being. I just figure out a way to make it work. So in October it was a trip to Hershey with The Neighbors. November it was our quest to find cows for Madeline. December a trip back to Hershey for their Sweet Lights tour and more Chocolate World fun. As for future monthly excursions? They involve penguins. Amish people. The shore. A certain White House. An indoor ferris wheel. A dairy. And down time. Time to chill. To garden. To listen to quiet. To just be.
And the kitchen? It will be buzzing as usual. I am going to try to get back into menu planning. Base case, it makes me much more organized. And it’s easy to answer the daily “what’s for dinner” question (even from me!) when I have a plan. I might not be successful. Maybe sometimes. Maybe all the time. But I’m going to try. I will also be listing, at the end of the month, all the new recipes I tried. I used to do that, and I think it’s fun to go back and see what we’ve tried out.
The Spring will find us in the garden. Planting. Sowing. Watering. Last year we had a successful herb garden and Nick has been asking for a vegetable garden that he and his sister can work on together. We will try. I promised him that much. My green thumb isn’t always green, but I know someone I can rope into helping me.
For all the bumps along the 2009 road, there were many blessings to be had. Two of them are snoring right now and I am thankful every day for them. Sometimes even for the snoring. Every day with them is a new adventure, and they definitely keep it interesting. I am going, going, going from the moment we wake up until they are in bed at night. And then I’m right behind them, falling into bed exhausted, but happy, earning every second of a sound sleep.
I am looking forward to closing the door that is 2009 and opening wide the one to the new year. A fresh start. A new beginning. A year full of possibilities. And promise. And maybe just a touch of magic. It’s all there for us if you just believe. And I do. A belief in the fact that anything is possible. And knowing that, who knows what new adventures await us?
Happy New Year from the Sweetnicks’ home to yours. May the new year bring about whatever it is you’re looking for.