Archive | December, 2012

2013: The Year of Absolutely Nothing Pressing Outside of, You Know, Childbirth.

I am pretty lost this week, because this is the week I start meticulously planning my new year. I sit down with my planner, and I highlight and color-code and pencil in and sharpie in and what have you because NEW YEAR! NEW ME! NEW US!

And this year, I try to do that and I’m all, Hm. But I’m having a baby midway through it, so.. and then I’m lost. I can’t MAKE plans. I can’t resolve to run so many miles a week, because I can’t run right now. I can’t resolve to lose so many pounds, because I’m probably going to (and should!) gain quite a few more by June. I can’t resolve to get back in school, because I’M ALREADY THERE.

What do I do to have a better Me in the New Year?

Things that we do need to do are so massive that a to-do list can’t encompass all of them. (See: Need larger cars and house.) I would love if we had a bit more security around Bryan’s job situation, but that’s kind of out of our control anyway. Um, I’d love to be a size six by the end of 2013, but C’MON.

So, after staring at a blinking cursor for half an hour (after laying awake at night contemplating this for a week), here’s what I came up with.

Be pregnant. Enjoy it. Make it meaningful. Last night, I lay in bed with Bryan, both of us on our phones, and .. the baby got hiccups. The little rhythmic flutter made me giggle and smile and I realized that, um, hey! There’s a baby in there! I am the most miserable pregnant woman on the face of the earth (and for no reason! my pregnancies are textbook easy!), and I constantly just bemoan being pregnant. But maybe I need to make a concerted effort to enjoy this. It’s my last. It’s a baby. It’s not the end of the world.

Wiggle room is not a bad thing. I briefly talked about this in my last post, about how I need to allow myself some room to grow in the next year. This year presents me a new challenge at work, and it’s one that I’ll have to learn some skill for. This is both exciting and harrowing for me. I’m feeling the stress of not being perfect right away – and this particular gig is very high-level and visible, so not a lot of room for error – but it’s a great opportunity. It’s like being cast in a role that you’re not ready to take on, but knowing that you can get there. And I’ll need wiggle room for it to work. And it may not work. But I’d rather try and fail than wonder what I could’ve done if I tried.

Stop being an ass to my husband. (this one supplied by Bryan) This will be really easy as soon as he stops being such a moron.

Wait, no, he said GIVE more ass to my husband. (edited by Bryan) 1) Sorry that this took this turn, and 2) I’M GESTATING A PERSON RIGHT NOW, BRYAN. Moron.

More overnight adventures as long as we can. It wasn’t until I started looking through 2012 that I realized how much our little spontaneous overnight trips really meant to me. I got great pictures, we got to breathe different air, and it was awesome. I know that it will be at least mid 2014 before we can start pulling those off again, so I’d like to get in a couple more while we can all just hop in the car and go.

Refocus finances. We actually had a BANNER year when it comes to finances. I’m as surprised as you! Having said that, we have a couple of changes down the pipe that we need to plan for. We need to sit down and figure out what expenses aren’t necessary or productive (i.e. my hair, private school), and refocus that money on things like formula, diapers, daycare. (Jebus. Not looking forward to that.) We’re now living more than comfortably, and I’d love if we could continue that even though we’ve got a new bundle of joy coming our way.

Balance. This is the hardest for me. I’m pretty bad about killing myself so no one else has to be put out. I need to balance home/work, obviously, but I also need to balance mom/student as well as wife/mother. Also Sarah needs some time in there. So while I don’t know HOW, exactly, that’s a priority this year. Before, you know, I have MORE children tugging at me.

Of course, as always, I reserve every right to completely laugh at this list about two months in and completely render it useless.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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2012 Wrap-Up

2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before? I joined a running group. I know how silly that sounds, but it was something that scared me TO DEATH. I joined a 5K training group with other people – some of whom were, like, RUNNERS – and I stuck with the program until I graduated in May. And then I did another one. I made a group of friends that I would meet a few mornings a week and we’d get all sweaty while we ran and talked about life. I miss it so much that I’m tearing up typing this. I was so proud of me. Still am. Can’t wait to get back.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Last year, I made a To-Do list for the year, which meant it wasn’t something I had to keep up with on a day-to-day basis, and that worked a LOT better for me. I crossed off more than half, and the other half kind of got hampered by the surprise pregnancy. I think it was a pretty productive year, and I’ll do the same for next year, most likely.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? It was a busy year for babies!  Lots of my internet ladies gave birth this year.  Lots of chubby baby cheeks for me to drool over.

4. Did anyone close to you die? We had a fortunate year this year and didn’t lose anyone.

5. What countries did you visit? Like I travel. HA.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? A little more room to grow. I had to take this insanely stupid “Adjustment to Student Life” course last semester, but one thing that I learned is that you have to schedule in wiggle room. It kind of struck me sideways because I NEVER do that. I don’t schedule room to fail.. or to grow. I’d like to allow myself a little room to grow in the next year. I’m really, really hard on myself, and I need to relax from time to time and remember that no one is perfect the first time through.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The Color Run in Atlanta was a great family memory for us, even though we had a lot of emotional swirl happening at the time. Bryan, Tony, and I took a lot of overnight adventures as our schedule would allow, and those were all a lot of fun. Gee and Dude had a gorgeous ceremony in August and FINALLY stopped living in sin. October 3rd, I woke up and took a pregnancy test.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I had several, actually. On the work front, I was recognized as someone who was accruing cost savings for our contract due to my hard work and cat-herding skills, and that’s one of the places I need to allow myself room to grow in the coming year. I also got back in school – another massive anxiety-ridden fear of mine – and got all As my first semester. I love the look on people’s faces when they see me at work until 7 p.m. and then hear that I’m also in school full-time.

9. What was your biggest failure? Remember my great cat-herding skills? Man, they are STELLAR. Like, not even kidding – they are the stuff of legend. However, they consume pretty much every single iota of patience that resides within my body. So when I get home, I am tired of herding cats and just want everything to happen seamlessly. As a result, I have often failed with patience at home. Specifically in my role as a stepparent – I’ve had to just wave the white flag and say that if my opinion isn’t valued, please don’t involve me further. And that sucks, but damn if I don’t hate running my head into a brick wall. Repeatedly.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Actually, even though I started running 6-10 miles a week through most of the year, I was pretty injury free. Until I got knocked up, that is. My hips and tailbone seem to be in cahoots to ruin my life.

11. What was the best thing you bought? This sounds so ridiculous, but we bought two things that we literally gush over all the time: the Shark Vacuum and the Haan Steam Mop. Those two things have seriously changed our house. Yes, I may have OCD tendencies, but even those who don’t would love these two appliances. Seriously. I swear by them. We use the vacuum at least twice a week and the steamer twice a month and they still behave as if they were new out of the box.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mine. Look, most years, I really do try and find someone who has earned this recognition and I try and praise them and say how awesome they are, but y’all. It was a ROUGH year. If nothing else, I was kind of a saint during a trying election year (you try being the only democrat in your office)(and by democrat, I mean non-republican), a rough football season (I’M SORRY THE SEC IS SO MUCH BETTER, GUYS), and a season of gun control politics.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I’ve watched 2012 become a very divisive year for folks. Even really good friends – sometimes even family – have taken very black and white stances on issues where there simple is none. I don’t understand why we can’t all acknowledge the very valid shades of gray, you know? (Also, I HATE THAT THE STUPID TRILOGY HAS TAKEN THE PHRASE AWAY.)

14. Where did most of your money go? “Mortgage and daycare.  Daycare is such a rapist.” – 2009.  “SURPRISE, 2010 WAS THE SAME!” – 2010.   “SAME HERE” – 2011. Surprisingly – we paid off a LOT of bills this year. Looming unemployment will do that to a person.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? You know? More than anything else, I got excited about our night-away adventures. I loved EVERY minute of those. Just being on the road with our little family, and not knowing where we might wind up? I loved that. (And now I’m all sad because we won’t have that luxury for another five years or so.)

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?“Being Alive” from Sondheim’s “Company”. Jenni was in a local production of it, and that song.. man, that song. It will always just wreck me to the core and then rebuild me before it’s over. (Miss you, Shoo-ah.)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter? (I’m .. pregnant..er?)
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Community involvement. I’ve just recently started getting heavily engaged with our community in various ways, and man, is that just some soul-feeding stuff. I am LOVING it, and wondering why I’ve waited this long to get started. (So let me be your nudge – go see where you can help YOUR community!)

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Providing fish. Lemme ‘splain. My one mantra at work is that I aim to teach the men to fish. It’s become pretty painfully obvious over the last month or so that, instead, I’ve been gutting, scaling, and filleting the damn thing for them. I need to get back to my roots of teaching people how to be productive on their own .. especially knowing that I will be taking a two-month hiatus mid-2013.

20. How did you spend Christmas? The last two years, I’ve answered this question huffing about custody issues, but this year, that was not the case and it was SO WONDERFUL. We had a RELAXING Christmas, with very little time spent in a car. We woke up and did Christmas at our house until noon, when Bryan went to retrieve Jack, and then we headed over for Christmas dinner at my parents’ house. It was perfect.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Every year, man.

22. What was your favorite TV program? While I answered this question in 2011 with Real Housewives of Wherever, I have not watched a SINGLE episode of that this year. My time has really become so precious that I can’t stand watching overprivileged women catfighting about petty crap. This year, it’s been mostly light-hearted comedies – Modern FamilyThe Office, Parks & Rec mostly fill our DVR. We have also LOVED Shark Tank, and I get irrationally excited when someone says they watch that show too because we treat it like a gameshow in our house. You know how you can watch three episodes of Top Chef and suddenly feel like you can tackle fois gras? Yeah, we are AMAZING investors.

23. This question has been deleted (2010). 

24. What was the best book you read? I read so little this year, it’s pathetic. So I did read one book that I loved: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I have most of his other books on my Kindle, and I’m about halfway through The Unidentified Redhead and then I should probably get around to Gone Girl since everyone talks about it. When I’m in school, any time I have to read is usually dedicated to scholarly pursuits.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I am so stoked that folk is kind of back. Mumford & Sons own me (Dude and I often getting into a shouting match about the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons and who is better, but my money is squarely on the sons.) Also I discovered Grace Potter (not that she’s new to anyone else but me because I’m slow).

26. What did you want and get? I got a gorgeous wedding ring, which is gorgeous because 1) we could afford it and 2) I can wear it without it turning my finger colors. (Metal allergies are such a pain.) I really do find myself staring at it all the time, because I love it so.

27. What did you want and not get? Actually.. nothing is coming to mind.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Although I really liked The Hunger Games  and Skyfall, I have to be lame and say Rise of the Guardians. I love movies that I can take the whole family to and we all get something out of it. The story was just so well-crafted and complex and beautiful and Alec Baldwin! With that accent! So good! I also cried – a lot, actually – but it was happy tears about how magical the world really can be.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? This year was number 32 for me, and I spent it in Birmingham with my husband and then everyone else met us down there for an afternoon of shopping and eating. I really, really loved it. They have a Chuy’s there, you know.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? “A 25th hour in the day.” – 2008.  “Ditto.” – 2009.  “Hells yes, gimme some of that.” – 2010. “WHERE IS MY HOUR, FATE?” – 2011. 2012: Better use of the hours I have.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Layers, houndstooth, jewel tones, and then, for the 4Q of the year, elasticized anything.

32. What kept you sane? Another silly answer, but: my Erin Condren planner. It was something I splurged on in late 2011 and it became my bible. If I didn’t have it on me, I was lost. I love that damn thing.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Joss Whedon. I mean, I’ve been a long-time fan (who hasn’t, right?), but this year I’ve really come to appreciate his talent to turn whatever he touches into gold. The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, even a short about the zombie apocalypse.. they’re all killer. He is just SO good at what he does. Also, this quote, when asked why he writes such strong, female characters as his leads: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Oh, all of them. Still. As we progress, day by day, toward the fiscal cliff, I’m just more and more disenchanted by our elected officials. Why do we elect such out-of-touch folks into office?

35. Who did you miss? It sounds silly, but my grandmother. She passed away in April of 2010, but I .. I know she’s with me a lot.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I’ve had a pleasant year of meeting lots of GREAT new folks. Seriously, I’ve met some really fantastic people, specifically within my young professional circles I’ve joined recently and the running groups I joined earlier this year. I doubt I could narrow it down, but I could sum it up by saying that I’ve met a ton of new people that make my cheeks hurt when I leave them from smiling and laughing so much.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012. It is a very true statement that when we ask for something (through prayer, self-meditation, The Secret, what have you), we are not handed what we’ve asked for in a pretty, wrapped package. We’re often granted the opportunity to pursue it, and that opportunity will look difficult and muddy. But it’s what we asked for. We just have to earn it.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

“Have I mentioned today
how lucky I am
to be in love
with you?”

The Schmuel Song, “The Last 5 Years” – Jason Robert Brown

 

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Be the Change

Clearly, I am still not over Newtown yet. I may not be for awhile. I still can’t watch any video of the children talking, can’t view their parents offering tribute to their lost angels. I can’t read the stories of the teachers, many of whom saved many lives and died heroes. I can’t process it any other way than to be stuck inside my own head – and write here. Lucky you.

We’ve heard them all week, right? Those trigger sentences. “As a whole, those people..” and “If they only would” and the They and Those are faceless and therefore easier to shift the blame on to.

I am a planner by nature. When I face something that I struggle with, I sit down and make a list. But how do you fix a nation? How do you make everyone see the light?

And what light are you trying to show them, exactly?

Today, I was circling through a drive-thru for my breakfast as I went into work, and although I had entered legally, a giant white van cut me off and scooted in front of me in line. He was an older, haggard looking gentleman, and my ire was lit. I considered my options: laying on my horn, approaching his vehicle, Instagramming his license plate.

But those options would only make me feel better. This man, who had obviously not cared if he performed this action, would most likely not be swayed by my anger; my feelings were of no matter to him. I sat there and stewed, angry to the point of shaking (um, hi, pregnancy hormones!). And I finally thought, I can’t sway him through my anger. I can only control myself.

So when I finally made it to the window to order, I asked if I could pick up his breakfast. The lady asked me twice if I understood what I was doing (and because I’m no saint, I made sure he hadn’t placed an order for an entire office or anything) and I clarified, “Tell him he obviously needs something good to happen to him today.”

And I felt SO MUCH better. Granted – again, I am not completely altruistic – some of my good vibes were smug I hope he felt like trash vibes. But the majority of them were based in the fact that I hoped he stopped and considered his next actions.

As I drove to work, I realized that we’re going about this all wrong. The answer may not be to point to the people we don’t agree with and call them names. It may not be to preach that My Way is the Only Way. It might be, instead, to admit that the problem lies within ourselves. Each of us.

Each. Of. Us.

And just think. If we each did that, if each rational adult instead wondered what THEY could do FOR THEMSELVES to fix this problem, wouldn’t that trickle out in really great ways? For instance, I need to work on my compassion and patience for others. You know who will see that and learn from it? My kids. My boys, youth in public school systems. And if they do the same, who will see that and learn from it? Their peers. And if we all did that – if we all stopped thinking that we each are so much busier and put-upon than everyone else – wouldn’t that fix a lot of problems? If we started practicing empathy and valued human lives again? Wouldn’t that mean something changed?

I can fix me. And I should, and I should do it openly and within earshot and plain view of my children. I am flawed, and there is room for improvement, so that’s the plan right now. I can’t fix national issues; that’s why I elect folks that are smarter and more capable than I. But I can fix my own outlook, and hope that it will have a positive impact on those around me. And maybe that’s all we can – and should – be doing right now.

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The Good Guys

About a week after September 11th this year, Tony was rambling one afternoon as we traveled home, and he mentioned something about the bad guys coming. “The bad guys came in 2001,” he said. “They killed lotsa people. But the good guys were there too, Momma,” he said, as if he were reciting a history lesson.

Because to our children, most of them, it is merely a historical fact. They do not remember. I feel blessed for this.

“The good guys came, and they helped the people that were hurt. They kept the bad guys away,” he finished, looking out the window. “I wanna be a good guy when I grow up.”

I think five years old is too young to talk about what happened on Friday, although Tony probably wonders why Bryan and I were so clingy with him all weekend. We kept only Netflix on the screen; no live tv at all was allowed. We had Pop-Tarts whenever we wanted. If the kids picked a restaurant, that’s where we ate, no matter how long the wait to get in.

Mainly because I kept hearing this all weekend long:

If you have not been reunited with your child by this point, you most likely won’t be.

 

No parent should ever, ever have to hear that.

I had a meeting with a group of folks already scheduled for Saturday, but our usual agenda sat untouched as we sat and stared at eachother. What could we do to help? The problem seems insurmountable. And then, I thought, maybe we WERE doing what we could. Maybe the open dialogue – even one without answers and measurable actions – was the beginning. Maybe we all start see eachother as human – gun-owners are not to blame, nor are violent video games or church-and-state-separatists – and begin reaching out. Maybe talking is the way to go.

Except to my child, of course. We are not speaking of this to my child.

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Random Saturday Night Rantings

Let’s talk about how awesome pregnancy is, wanna?

….

Well. That was fun. Good talk, everybody!

Okay, it’s not all dire like that. In the grand scheme of things, anyway. But man. Man oh man oh man. Do I hate being pregnant. (Love LOVE love babies; just hate getting there.)

I’m just in that weird phase between Two-Blue-Lines-Joyful and Obviously-Carrying. Which basically means – as I enter my second trimester – I still have people coming up to me and saying, “Wait.. I just heard you’re pregnant?!” And all I can think is Oh, God – you’ve always thought I was THIS fat? The answer appears to be a resounding YES, and I also have people asking when I’m going to start showing. I thank them for their kindness, but mention that I’m clearly a whale. They always argue that No, I don’t see anything there.

Oh, okay. Guess this giant beer gut is hiding the kid.

Truth be told, I’m fine with putting on weight for the baby, but MAN, it flies in the face of every fat-girl-mentality I’ve tortured myself with for the past five years. And just before I got all knocked up, I had lost a good twelve pounds. I was starting to be proud of my body again. AND NOW I AM A WHALE.

People randomly stroke my belly. At first, I would kindly smile at them and pretend it wasn’t awkward, but now I kind of delight in saying calmly, “You enjoying feeling my chub there? No baby shield happening yet; you’re just groping my fat rolls. But what soft hands you have!” (For what it’s worth, I don’t mind people feeling the baby when I progress to the point that the baby shield is 95% up my stomach. But until then, STOP FEELING MY FAT, Y’ALL.)

We’re finding out the gender soon, and maybe that will spark some interest from me. Right now, I only feel pride or excitement when I hear the heartbeat; every other moment of every single day, I will forget I’m pregnant entirely. I will still crave my early Saturday morning runs, then be saddened I can’t go. I will still peruse the drink section at a restaurant, then resign myself to an unsweet tea instead. (I made the mistake of ordering a virgin daquiri the other day, and MY LORD, what a sad little drink.) I will longingly stare into the windows of a Talbots or a Coldwater Creek before remembering that Oh yeah – too fat now and just going to get fatter.

But maybe knowing a gender will help. Bryan has picked out a girl name and I’ve picked out a boy name, and the middle names are up for grabs. (We are okay with that, mostly because we had agreed on the names ahead of time.) I, obviously, am betting on a boy – the data historically is stacked against a girl, right? – but Bryan seems convinced that it’s a girl. (Or he just knows I enjoy competition.)(And also: I enjoy being RIGHT.) It was fun perusing the Most Unusual Names of 2012 and wondering if we should pick middle names from there. (Mowgli? Espn? Jagger? THE CHOICES, THEY ARE ENDLESS.)

Admittedly, there was a random night some weeks back where I felt flutters as we were falling asleep. That was pretty cool.

But then things like Newtown happen, and I coax Baby Ares to stay in there as long as he sees fit. Because on Friday, I wanted to stay in a fetal position in somewhere dark and warm, too. How do I bring a child into a world like this?

(The answer is: you bring the child in, and you raise him/her well. If everyone did that, maybe – just maybe, as I don’t know the whole story of the shooter’s life, nor do I need to – maybe things like this would happen less often, if not stop altogether.)

Random aside: we watch a lot of America’s Funniest Home Videos in our house – it’s a whole-family affair – and I figure that, if nothing else, at least I’m a better parent than the 50% of Americans who submit videos to this show. What kind of asshole keeps taping as their child half-drowns in a pool or gets continually rammed by a goat? So I’ve got going that for me, even if I am carrying a beer gut baby.

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