31 December, 2011

A More Legitimate Review of the Year

I haven't been really great about blogging this year, so you might not know what a great year it's really been around here.

We started the year with a quick weekend trip to Ft. Myers to visit the O'King side of the family, and then did a two-night mini cruise on Disney's newest cruise ship, the Dream. 

In September, we took a road trip that included the Georgia Aquarium, the Penn State campus, Philadelphia, the NJ shore, and Hilton Head.  We had such a wonderful time... I can't believe I didn't blog about it.

We wrapped up the year with another cruise, this one our "last hurrah" before I start school.  We celebrated our anniversary and Christmas in style, and got to see the new Muppets movie onboard rather than get off the ship in Nassau.

The Cousins doing "jazz hands"

Family Visits

In addition to our January trip to FoMo, it seems like 2011 was the year to reconnect with family.  Mary and Richard's 50th anniversary party in August turned into the biggest family reunion in probably 20 years.  We spent two days in the parks with different groups of family and had a great time at the actual party as well.

I also got to spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Michael.  This was the first "family" holiday we've had in what feels like a million years.  Sadly, Scott had to work, but I brought home lots of leftovers for him. Shades of Blue
I got a new car, we painted an accent wall in our bedroom, and I decorated the garage.  (well, I decorated half the garage.  I really am planning on finishing that one day!) Blue was definitely the signature color of 2011.

Culinary Adventures
I'm getting much better at cooking big chunks of meat.  My favorite cut of pork is the "butt shoulder," which is the butt or shoulder, and makes a darn fine spaghetti sauce and/or pork roast.  I'm a huge fan of beef short ribs, and made a new cut - horseradish-crusted brisket - for Christmas.  We also killed a pair of lobsters this year.

We finished up our second subscription series at the Straz Center in Tampa and decided to not renew for a third.  Shrek and Billy Elliott were wonderful, but overall we were disappointed in the shows we saw and this season's shows were mostly outside our interest.  We put some of our theater money into Sea World annual passes.  We haven't really made use of them as much as I'd hoped, but I've used the time we spent practicing photography.  I also got Scott a subscription to GameFly for his birthday and he's played about a million shoot-em-up games so far.  He'll also get a lot of use out of it once I start school.

I think that's most of the highlights.  I'm looking forward to finding out what 2012 will bring.  I'm expecting big things...

2011 in Non-Sequitor

How did it get to be December 31st already?  Did I miss Thanksgiving and Christmas?  I really let the past few months fly past and barely looked around.  Maybe that's because I've got so much change coming up next year.  School? At my age? Bwahahaha!  Anyway, before I leap into a new year, pardon me while I indulge myself in my annual look back...

Take the first sentence of the first post of every month this year on your blog and put them all together.

Milo took the opportunity to nap in the laundry room, which is generally off-limits, while I was packing up Christmas. I set out to take a picture of the birds on the light poles that I see every morning. Driving home feeling sleep-deprived after an overnight shift? 
We painted the garage yesterday - a beautiful solid coat of white. The oven timer has about 45 minutes left on it, though dinner certainly isn't going to be before 5, since that's when Scott gets home from work.  I just noticed that all of the pictures in the gallery at the top of the blog currently contain Scott. 
The following happened between 7:00 and 8:00 this morning: Scott and I have an event to attend in New Jersey this fall. I spent August 24-27 in a whirlwind of family fun. We're in a bit of a money crunch right now.  It's been a rough week for the Penn State faithful, myself included. Can you believe Scott had never made gingerbread (or graham cracker) houses before we decorated these beauties in 2008?

25 December, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Here are a few pictures from this very morning.  I was out and about, the cats were home, and Scott was at work.  Very Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you!

24 December, 2011

Oh Baby Baby

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present the final young Jamie and Santa photo.  Here we have my second Christmas, age 19 months.

I imagine based on the background that Santa visited his cousin Wilbur at his camper in the Florida Everglades.  Santa, not used to moonshine, passed out just minutes before children arrived for their annual photos.  So Wilbur grabbed Santa's suit, hung a piece of a sheepskin rug on his face, and stood in for the photos.

See how little Jamie is focused (rather unhappily) on something just off frame?  That's Santa, stumbling into the room, hung over, wearing only his long underwear.

(the next year, Jamie's parents took her someplace else to meet Santa.  good call, Mom and Dad.  good call!)

23 December, 2011

You Would Cry Too

I'm going to attempt to channel Prince Humperdink for a moment. 

There was a great battle here...between a little girl and an old man...she fought to get away, but he held her mercilessly.

Seriously, look into the eyes.  It's hard to tell which one of us is angrier!  My money is on the old guy, who seems to hate children and desperately needs some spiked eggnog if he's going to make it through the end of his shift.

Although, judging by the way he's pinning my arms down, I'm guessing there was a mighty freak-out before the picture was taken.  Think I kicked him in the shin?

20 December, 2011

Not Trustworthy

This is the face of a kid who doesn't like her situation.  "Sit with this old man with the dead eyes? Umm...why?"

Aside from the look of suspicion (I'm sure Scott would be proud), this picture shows a problem with MANY of my childhood photos: overexposure.  As a near-albino living in South Florida where everyone else is tan year-round, most of the time I looked like a marshmallow with eyes (but not eyebrows) in pictures.

Anyway, I'd bet money that I was told by my Dad to not cry and managed to suck it up for the picture.  Because a sullen kid is a better photo subject than a screaming one.  Or something like that.

17 December, 2011

Christmas Then and Now

2008: Kitten Elphie's first exposure to fake evergreen:

2011 (this morning): As I was up on the step ladder putting the angel on top of the tree, Elphie jumped up to help. She stayed there long enough for me to take this picture, and then when I carried the step ladder away from temptation.

Some things never change! (Except for her size, because man she is a GIANT!)

16 December, 2011

Christmas Miracle

Of all my Santa pictures, this one is my favorite.  Though I enjoy the happy smile of 1984, I super-puffy-heart loved the dress I wore in the 1983 picture.  I still have this dress in a Space Bag upstairs.  It's got a crinoline...and a bell.  What could be better than that?  Plus, I think that the kid in this picture really looks like me.  (maybe it's the lack of smile?)

I do have some current news to share, so I apologize to 4-year-old me for upstaging her.

My boss today gave me the excellent news that I'm being promoted.  I'll be doing the same job, with with a different title and a new pay grade.  Effective January 1, my current title becomes "senior ," and I'm getting a 6% raise.

Now, 6% doesn't really sound like it would be enough to bring me near tears, but it's been a long time since I got more than 2-3% at once.  In fact, two years ago my annual raise was a piddly 6 cents per hour (the tears that year were plentiful, and certainly not happy ones).  This one raise literally equals the amounts of the past 4 or 5 years combined.

And aside from the money, there's also the fact that I've been promoted.  Someone thinks I'm good at my job, and I can't adequately express what that means to me.  I love this job.  And apparently the job loves me.  It's super-awesome!

15 December, 2011

1984, But Not in the Orwellian Sense

This is my second-favorite Jamie-and-Santa photo.  Look at those chubby knees! The pinafore dress (also, I believe, featured in my school picture from the same year)! The genuinely gleeful expression!

'84 was a big year for me.  After all, it was my first year of school (first grade).  Since we were living in Philly at the time, I'm going to assume that's where this photo was taken.  I'm also going to assume that Santa was an alcoholic Italian (the dark hair on his hands and eyebrows and the big red nose - you know I'm right!). 

I'm pretty sure I got a Cabbage Patch Kid this Christmas.  Thanks for that, Santa!

14 December, 2011

26 Years Ago

As I type this, I've got pepperoni-mozzarella bread in the oven.  The house smells delightfully Italian, but not at all Christmas-y.  Back to the task at hand... two things about the photo above:
* Burgundy velvet
* Ruffled collar

Something about this dress makes me think of a 50-year-old secretary in the 60's or 70's. 80's? Maybe from "9 to 5" or something.  Whatever era, it just doesn't seem like a kid's dress.  But knowing how much I still to this day enjoy wearing fuzzy clothes, I bet this was a favorite of mine.

10 December, 2011


Dear Santa,

I formally request some teeth - I seem to be missing a few.  I am also slightly concerned about the position of your left hand.  Are you about to snap my tiny little neck?  And why aren't you smiling at the camera?  Your eyes seem to say "I hate little girls," but I'm sure that's not your true feeling.  After all, who could possibly hate little girls?  Especially one whose dress matches your outfit?


Seven-year-old Jamie

08 December, 2011

8 Going on 12

Christmas 1987: I was 8 (almost 9).  This is the last of the Santa photos in my baby book.  Perhaps because once your head is higher than Santa's you're officially too big to sit on his lap?  If my math is correct, I was in the 4th grade in this photo. 

I have no idea what I got from the Jolly Elf this Christmas, but apparently I was quite excited to see him and ask for something.  Was this the year of the tiny pastel boom box? Some form of Cabbage Patch product? LEGOs?  Whatever it was, thanks Santa!

05 December, 2011

2005: The Casual Christmas Portrait

When you attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, you receive a free souvenir photo from the event.  What they don't tell you is that the photographers are drunken monkeys incapable of correctly framing a shot. 

Actually, I really like this picture because I remember having a lot of fun that night.  I actually sang in a Candlelight show and then we headed over to MK.  We sat on the curb on Main Street watching the "snow" falling, and I was so tired and emotional that I got weepy and homesick for real snow.

Plus, look how YOUNG we both were!  Apparently the last 6 years have been rough.  Of course, I think we can all agree that the difference between 2005 and 2006 (one post below) is pretty jarring.

04 December, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree!

Scott and I went on a Disney cruise in December of 2006 to celebrate our anniversary and actually paid money for the photo below!

Oh 2006, why did you make my hair like that?  Actually, this was after I donated Locks of Love, so I forgive myself for the hair.  We won't discuss the arms-white-as-shawl or Scott's nearly-flesh-tone yellow shirt. Anyway, this was another of those pictures we bought but never put in a frame.  Can you blame me?

02 December, 2011

Tip of the Hat(s)

We spent New Years Eve 2007 at the Grand Floridian, having dinner with Rose and Gary, followed by stupid hats and fireworks.

(there is a Christmas tree in the background, so this does count as a Christmas picture. Because I said so!)

01 December, 2011

2008: A Very Sweet Christmas

Can you believe Scott had never made gingerbread (or graham cracker) houses before we decorated these beauties in 2008?  We sure had a lot of fun that day, and took many more pictures.

Yes, I'm poaching my own blog for posts now.  No, I'm not ashamed!