Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

I answered these questions last year, so I thought I'd do it again. This year was a bit...quieter than last year, because I didn't, you know, have a new baby.  This is okay by me, though. Also, I deleted a few  questions I didn't feel like answering. Happy New Year!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Experienced all of Clare's firsts: crawling, walking, talking, her first birthday party. Went to a Packer game at Lambeau Field. Oh, and I ate sheep's testicles at the Minnesota State Fair. Never done that before. Don't intend to do it again.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year it was to be cleaner and more organized at home. I think I accomplished that, although my home is nowhere near as clean and organized as it was before Clare was born. I have learned to be okay with that, though. I do have some specific goals for this year, including the usual: eat less, exercise more.

3. Did anyone close to you have a child?

I had to wait until the last minute to answer this one: no, but several close friends will be having babies in the near future. The very near future.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank God.

5. Where did you travel?

Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The Twin Cities. Chicago.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Date nights with my hubby. We finally started doing these, and I wish we had started sooner. It is so nice to go to a restaurant and not have to share my meal with Clare, or worry about keeping her entertained. Oh, and some alone time with Ben is nice, too.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory?

June 9. This was Clare's first birthday party, and also the day that I fainted and fell into the shower, lacerating my lip and destroying my front tooth. I have since had a root canal to fix the tooth, and have lost feeling in part of my lower lip. Yay!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

It is small, but probably just finding time for everything, and feeling like I finally have a good balance in my life with work, family, and myself.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Countless colds - we have been the house of sick. Also, the previously mentioned fall.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

My new iPhone! I use it constantly. Also, I bought a bunch of Clare's clothes at garage sales, so I feel pretty thrifty.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Voters in many states, including my former home of Minnesota. My family and friends have been wonderful as always.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There are several, but I don't really want to dwell on that. I have shed many tears this year while watching the news.

13. Where did most of your money go?

Daycare. Baby supplies. Target really got a fair share of my salary this year.

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Is it lame to say going to a football game? I was so excited for my first trip to Lambeau Field, and it didn't disappoint. Also, watching Clare grow and change over the last year has been a thrill. I am always excited to see her at the end of the day.

15. What song will always remind you of 2012?

The theme to "Elmo's World." Also, "Home" by Phillip Phillips. That song is freakin' everywhere.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

I don't think I am happier than I was last year, but probably not sadder either. So I guess the same. I am thinner, but not as thin as I'd like to be. I think financially we are about the same, too.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Cooked! Now that I've come out of the fog of having a newborn, I really miss my old hobby of puttering around in the kitchen. Maybe I'll get to do more of that this year.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Here is what I wrote last year: "Wasting time worrying about things I can't control. That is something I always do, though. I don't think it will change." And no, it hasn't changed.

19. How did you spend Christmas?

We had several different celebrations, including two Christmases with my side of the family, Christmas Eve at Ben's Uncle Pete's house, and Christmas Day with Ben's parents.  We spent several days in the Twin Cities after Christmas, and Clare got to play with her friends Archer, Alice, Adam, Ben, Gabriel and Jonah. (And Mom and Dad got to hang out with their parents!) She also had a great time chasing after her second cousins on Christmas Eve. She even shared her new Elmo doll. Who says she's a bad sharer?

20. What was your favorite TV program?

Same as last year: Parks and Recreation. The final season of 30 Rock has been brilliant, too. I also really enjoyed watching the Olympics.

22. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot of fluff this year, and wasn't all that excited about many of the books I read. I did manage to put together a top five, though.

1. The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht
2. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
3. Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

23. What was your greatest musical discovery

The Avett Brothers. The Lumineers. Regina Spektor's new album.

24. What did you want and get?

Taking the totally materialistic approach to this question, I got a new Coach purse.

25. What did you want and not get?

A house. I really want a house. We are bursting at the seams in our little place.

26. What was your favorite film of this year?

I didn't see many! I think I only saw four total in the theater. My favorite was Skyfall, the new James Bond movie. I also really liked Hunger Games and Friends with Kids.

27. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Ben and I went out to eat at the delicious farm-to-table restaurant Graze in downtown Madison. It was lovely. I turned 33. Wait, 34. No, 33. Yes.

28. What one [or three] thing[s] would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not having our super annoying cat wake me up nearly every morning at 3:30 a.m.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Comfortable clothes. I did update my work wardrobe a bit - I got a few super cute new blazers.

30. What kept you sane?

Ben. Yoga, which I just started doing this fall. Conversations with my family. Martinis.

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

No one in particular, but since I loved watching the Olympics I guess I'll say Michael Phelps, the U.S. Women Gymnastics and Soccer teams, and Bob Costas.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Since it was an election year, all of them! I am still so happy about the results. There are a few things that are currently pissing me off, but I am trying to keep this light.

33. Who did you miss?

All my girls in the Twin Cities. 

34. Who was the best new person you met?

Clare's new daycare teacher Tiffany. She is a sweetheart!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

There were several different events that happened this year that made me realize how lucky I am. I am going to try hard in 2013 to appreciate what I have - live in the moment more, and just be grateful for the health and safety of my family. I spend way too much time worrying about things that have happened in the past (that I can't change) or may or may not happen in the future (which I mostly can't control). I'd really like to stop doing this.

At the light display at the Rotary Gardens in Janesville.

Meeting Santa.

Reaction to Santa. She even refused his presents. (She opened them later and was thrilled with her Elmo stuffed animal and Fisher Price rotary dial phone.)

Playing her favorite game: "Wear Grandma's Glasses."

Her "I don't know" gesture. I think I asked her where her pants are.

Ripping open her presents on Christmas morning. This one was her favorite: an old-school push popper.

Helping Daddy with the Christmas puzzle that Ben's family puts together every year.

Yay eggs!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowpocalypse Now

Yes, we are getting our first major winter storm of the season. I actually heard someone refer to it on the radio as a Snowpocalypse. I thought they were being slightly over dramatic, but I decided to stay home anyway. The road I travel to get to my office is rural, curvy, and especially dangerous in blizzard-like conditions. I did, however, get Clare up, dressed and off to daycare this morning so I could do some work from home. She was one of two children in the entire center. (Normally there are 100 kids or more there.) I started to question my judgment - why did only one other parent bring her child in? And now, sitting here, watching the snow fall outside, I am questioning it even more. Well, I am going to pick her up in an hour. How bad can it get between now and then?

Answer: A lot worse. (Bet you didn't see that coming!) I drove the two miles home at about 10 miles per hour, hands gripping the wheel, knuckles white, Christmas music blasting to try to drown out Clare's screams coming from the backseat. (She DID NOT want to leave daycare when I came to pick her up. She was deeply unhappy about the situation.) I didn't stop at a single stop sign, because I was convinced that if I did I would not be able to get going again. We made it, but I am still trying to unclench my teeth.

Now, staring out the window, all I see is white. The power has flickered on and off a few times, making me nervous. But Clare is napping now, and even though I have piles of laundry to take care of and Christmas presents to wrap, I think I'll take advantage of this bonus day off to lay on the couch and watch reruns of Friends.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas (assuming the world doesn't end tomorrow, that is) and a Happy New Year!

Clare feeding Big Bird some of her Advent calendar chocolate. She already offered some to the Cookie Monster magnet behind her.

Friday, December 14, 2012

She's Fine

I've been meaning to write a post all week about Clare's tubes procedure on Monday, but I just haven't been able to find the time. Right now, though, I am watching this horrifying news out of Connecticut and I can't seem to find the energy to do it. Before I had children, this type of news would have deeply saddened me, but now that I have Clare, I find it absolutely terrifying and devastating. I can't bear to think of something like this happening to Clare. I just can't even think about it. I am so incredibly sad for all of the people involved.

I hope we can find a way to offer more help to those with mental health issues, and to make guns less readily available. They are just too easy to come by in this country, and they seem to cause nothing but heartache. (I realize people use weapons safely for hunting. This is not what I am talking about.)

So I'll just say this for now: Clare is fine. In fact, she has been happier this week than she has been in months. I am grieving for the families in Connecticut, yet I am so grateful for her health and safety. And so worried about what kind of world she'll grow up in. What a confusing time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

18 Months

I don't know why I even bother with these pictures anymore. Note the fist full of bribe.
 The other night I had a dream that it was summer. I couldn’t figure out where winter had gone. Did we celebrate Christmas? What happened? Then I woke up and realized it was December and I was still suffering through my second head cold in as many weeks. It is hard to get in the Christmas spirit when you feel like your head is about to explode. I am trying to be positive, though. I know it will run its course eventually.

To continue the (seemingly) eternal saga that is Clare’s ear problems: she is getting tubes put in on Monday. It is a very common, simple procedure that takes three minutes, according to the doctor. Still though, she is going to be placed under general anesthesia,  and they are going to prick holes into her tiny little eardrums. SOB. It will help her in the long run, though. It HAS to. There is nothing else we can do for her at this point.  Do you think they’ll let her take Big Bird with her into the operating room? Ever since last Sunday, she has carried the Big Bird doll she got for her birthday from her Uncle Robby and Aunt Andri around with her EVERYWHERE. She could have cared less about the thing up until Sunday, but now she must have him AT ALL TIMES. We don’t let her take him to daycare, though. I feel kind of guilty about that, but Ben insists that we need to set boundaries and that she doesn’t really care, she is just mad that she is not getting her way. This might be true, I guess, but he isn’t the one who has to deal with the quivering lower lip when she is told that Big Bird has to wait in the car.

Anyway, Clare is 18 months old today! A year and a half. She is quite the little spitfire. She has attitude right down to her toes. I love all of her opinions, though. And she has an opinion about everything, even when it is clear she has no clue what I am talking about.  Sometimes, she’ll quickly revise her answer after she thinks about it for a minute or two. She is more honest about whether or not she has something in her diaper. She used to deny it constantly, even when my nose told a different story. She has added a few more words to last month’s list, including Tea, Pie, Milk, and Mine. Mine is a particular favorite of hers.  She also says "up" a lot, but usually she means "down."

With all of her illness lately, she has been extra clingy. She wants Mama all the time. My arm is getting tired from carrying her everywhere – I wish she were still small enough to hold in a sling! She definitely thrives on her morning and evening routines – so much so that if Ben takes my place for any part of it she gets upset. The other day, he was reading her a story before bed, but when she saw me she ripped the book from his hands and gave it to me instead. She does okay if she doesn’t see me at night, but in the morning she does not like it if Ben gets her out of the crib. Once she realizes her options are to let him get her out or to stay in there, though, she’ll let him do it.

I bought an Advent calendar –  one of the kind with little doors for each day of the month. There is a line from the poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and a piece of chocolate behind each door. Each night, I get down the calendar, Clare sits in my lap, and I read the lines of the poem that have been revealed so far. Then, we open the door for that day and Clare gets her piece of chocolate. At least, that’s how it happened on the first day, when there was only one line of poetry to read before she got her chocolate. Now, she impatiently digs her finger into each empty space behind previously opened doors, getting more and more impatient and frustrated (as if she’s been waiting hours rather than seconds), until FINALLY, she gets her chocolate. She takes it, leaps out of my lap, and runs to her Clare chair where she devours it.  Sigh. Well, maybe in a few years she’ll appreciate the story that goes along with it. Until then, I’ll just enjoy whatever amount of time she is willing to give me, even if it means my arm feels like it is about to fall off.