Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Resolutions

As 2012 comes to a close, it is time to think about ways to make 2013 an even more amazing year. 

1) See more friends in person, rather than simply on-line. I'd like to start with friends such as Darla, Jean, Tracey, and Heidi who have moved in the past few years, but the whole family has yet to see their new homes (I saw Darla's house, but Don and Ashley were not with me).

2) Host an Open House party so I can see more friends. Realize this goal overwhelms me as I get very hung up on who to invite, what to make, how to clean up the clutter, how to entertain everyone, and when to have it, that I end up pushing this goal off "for another time."

3) Build my freelance business so it is an actual company. This includes publishing a book in the next year. Last month I started writing "Andy's Story," a memoir of a WWII vet named Andy who suffers from short-term memory loss, which is growing to longer-term memory loss, too. It is a slow-moving project, but one that is rewarding on both personal and financial levels. 

4) Continue to focus my volunteering to places without a paid staff. I started this goal in the fall of 2012 and found it works for me on a couple of levels. First, without a paid staff I can do more professional level work -- such as writing grants for Somerset Valley Players (my first grant yielded $3000, and I was able to track down money promised to SVP earlier in the year -- a real coup). Second, there is no chance of them hiring me so I won't get disappointed when I apply for a job, do not get it, but am told "we love your volunteering and hope you continue."  

5) Go someplace new for vacation. Our plan is to go to Tokyo as a way to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. This also helps me meet my first goal as we'll see Masumi while in her country.

6) Running goals: half marathons at Disney World and DisneyLand (for the Coast to Coast Challenge). Possibly also running in the Princeton and Trenton Half Marathons, if they offer the "Mercer County Marathon" medal this year (they were slated to be a week apart last year, before Super Storm Sandy hit). I find I need the goal of a race to get me outside. Between the bad weather, Christmas break, and life, I haven't run in nearly two weeks. I need to change that on Wednesday.

7) Continue to write (on average) a Pillsbury Press blog post a week. As I see only a dozen people read this blog, I write it now for myself and not for others. This frees me up from obsessing over spelling, grammar and the "right" way to convey my thoughts. You can see by the list that some months I wrote a lot, and months (such as February) we didn't write a thing. I neglected to blog about our quick weekend trip to Florida to see friends, and our Disney Cruise to nowhere. Instead I wrote about every day things such as pets and de-cluttering our home. In theory the blog replaced our annual Christmas newsletter (which no one seemed to miss), however I found I cover different topics in the electronic format. Either way, I enjoy writing and will continue to write.

8) ADDING House goal: painting the upstairs bathroom, kitchen, family room (and with Dad's help) the front porch. Dream for the year: replacing the carpeting with hardwood flooring.

That sounds like a good and realistic start for me. What are your goals for 2013?

New Additions

In 2012 our quiet family of three humans and two cats grew to an active family of three humans and five pets.

We started the year with 2 pets -- Ariel Cat (7) and Charlie Cat (6). Ariel came into our lives about a year after Pumpkin Cat died from old age. At the time we adopted Charles I, but he didn't last a year (sleeping in the middle of the street will do that to you). Charles II came to us through FreeCycle. 

Ariel Cat and Charlie Cat

Loyal readers know that Ashley spent about a year and a half petitioning for a bearded dragon. Sandy Claws joined the family in June. 

Sandy Claws

As neither one of us ever owned a dragon before, we've had a steep learning curve with Sandy. There are times I'm amazed he has lived this long (like when he went 4 weeks without pooping), but I am glad he is still here. Through him, I have broken many of my "mom rules" -- such as there is no way he is living in the kitchen (you guessed it, last week we moved his tank to the kitchen) and there is no way I am bringing living meal worms into the kitchen (they now live in our fridge and I still live in fear that they will move to Don's flour supply). He is a lot more cuddly than I would have imagined. Feel free to come over and pet him if you don't believe me.

Last year we lost our Betta fish, Benny the Broomstick Boy Betta. I missed him more than anyone else. We tried to get a new Betta, but they kept dying within the two week return policy. It was just too much. Thanksgiving weekend Don brought home Fishy #4. I refused to name him until he lived past the two week return period.

Phineas Fish

He survived and is now called Phineas the Fish (I wanted a boy name that started with an F, but didn't think he looked like a Frank). No plans to add a Ferb as male Bettas are very territorial and will fight each other.

That brings us to our latest addition. Lucy. 

Lucy Kitten
 Lucy was born on September 9, 2012 to my friend Kim's cat, Trouble. Lucy won my heart when she spent most of the afternoon sitting on my lap and purring. She is a very friendly kitten.

She is also a very energetic kitten! The house is certainly not quiet any more! Lots of strains of "Out of the TREE LUCY" can be heard, along with "hissing is not ladylike" (said to both Ariel and Lucy). 

A rare moment -- Ariel and Lucy snuggling with me.
Ariel is having troubles adjusting to life with a kitten. Charlie is having an eating contest with her. The kitten can out eat Charlie since she runs it all off, Charlie, meanwhile, is growing in size. For some reason, one extra kitten means we are going through three times as much food.

I believe this is the first time I have ever lived with a kitten. It is a learning experience. On the one hand, I should probably take down the Christmas trees (yes, plural -- we have three this year) so Lucy stops destroying the fake trees and more ornaments (fortunately Don is an expert with Super Glue). On the other hand, I don't know what she'll find to replace her climbing habit once the trees come down. I might leave one up just so she has her own personal tree.

Charlie Cat checking out Lucy Kitten
Ariel seems jealous of the kitten. She has decided to turn into a lap cat in hopes that Lucy goes away. Umm.. Ariel you snuggled with me once -- the time at the pound when you warmed up to me to say you wanted me to adopt you. I took you home and you ignored me for nearly 7 years choosing NOW to become my best friend?

Charlie is still checking her out. Christmas night they played hide and seek together inside the empty boxes. it was quite cute.

Lucy Kitten sniffing Sandy Claws
Lucy is quite inquisitive, as you would guess for a kitten. She is still trying to figure out what to make of Sandy. He has four legs, but does not have any fur? Sniffing is okay, swatting is not.

That is the news from the Pillsbury Menagerie. Stay tuned for more adventures from our zoo.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ashley as Lucy in "Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe"

For this entry, I'm trying something new. Click on to see a bunch of pictures from the Somerset Valley Players production of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (as well as other stray pictures, mostly ones from Ashley's school). I wasn't even trying very hard, yet I'm most pleased with how much I like the pictures. This is a testament to the quality of the lighting, costumes, and other details that make the show flow so magically.

The show runs through December 16. Tickets can be found at: .

The pictures tell the story of the classic C.S. Lewis novel.

I'm so proud of Ashley and all the hard work she, and the rest of the cast and crew, put into making this holiday show a must see production.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Opening Night "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"

Three and a half months ago Ashley auditioned for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at Somerset Valley Players in Hillsborough, NJ. This is the same theater where we had our stage debut four years ago in "It's a Wonderful Life." Like IAWL, LWW has been a magical experience.

Ashley was thrilled when the phone rang back in August and she was offered the part of Lucy, the little girl who discovers Narnia. Huge grins! The cast met for a read-through a few days later on what was supposed to be call-back night.

For the first two months the cast mostly rehearsed in the director's basement in Flemington, NJ. It seemed like a giant play date as Ashley bonded with Julia, the girl playing her sister, Susan. Julia is also the director's daughter, so rehearsals were in her house.

Last month, the cast moved to the theater. That's where the true magic takes place. Slowly the scenery, costumes, music and lighting were added. Two days before the invited dress rehearsal (SVP invites the local senior citizens to a free show) it seemed impossible that everything would fall into place. Anyone involved with theater will tell you this is normal. 

As if by Narnian magic, the show opened. Everyone was fully dressed. The lights and music were happening as they should. The audience breathed life into the show simply by reacting to the story as it unfolded on stage.

Opening night was a sell out! The theater only seats 100 people. The audience was mostly made up of family members, and theater friends. Afterwards they have an opening night party. We stayed for about an hour catching up with friends. Big grins were seen on the faces of the entire cast! Way to go, Narnians!

Here are a couple of teaser pictures from the play. Many more will be posted after everyone has a chance to see the production.

Tickets are selling quickly. They anticipate sell outs. You can order your tickets HERE. Autographs are available after the show. ;) 

Click here for Cast Photos