Year End Meme 2013

 1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Put baby in daycare.  Got laid off.  Took baby to Europe for 3 weeks.

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

Last year I resolved to send 5 thank you letters, and I think I got close?  I honestly forgot that I made that resolution, so didn’t track myself.   I also wanted to transition back to work gracefully, and after one of the worst weeks of my life (starting J in daycare), work was just fine.  Until the company laid off 20% of the staff, but whatever, that’s not on me.  For next year?  I resolve to do my best to enjoy the new baby and still manage to give J the attention she deserves.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
One of my favourite coworkers.  That’s about the only person I can think of.  2012 was the Year of the Babies, in my circle.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

We went to Dallas in February, Toronto in May, and Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Estonia in September.  I also went on a couple of work field trips to Northern Alberta and BC.  Doesn’t really compare to Northern Europe.  At all.

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

I don’t know.  This year has been pretty great.  Less uncertainty, I guess?  I hated the Schrodinger’s Cat feeling while waiting to see if I survived the work purge or not, and waiting to see if I was pregnant, and then seeing if it would stick.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The 23 days in Europe will probably be my strongest date memory from this year.  Especially as I can’t actually remember what day I finally peed on a stick.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Taking an 18 month toddler to Europe and having an amazing trip.  Everyone always talks about how stressful and terrible traveling with toddlers can be, but it was amazing.  In part because I planned the hell out of the trip (even printing walking maps for every bit of the trip) and in part because we didn’t plan anything once we were in the cities (playing each day by ear and mood and weather.)  And also, in part, because we’ve done our best to make J a flexible baby.  (Sure, it was probably luck, but I have to take a little credit for having such an awesome kid.)

 9. What was your biggest failure?

Falling to absoulte peices when Jess started daycare.  I called it Dead Dead bad, because it really was about that bad.  I feel a bit stupid in hindsight, as J has unquestionably flourished in daycare.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The first trimester of this pregnancy has sucked.  Hard.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Vacations.  Always vacations.  The memory of Jess’s first steps in Dallas.  Her first multi-word sentence in Denmark.  Her stealing the sardine head off the plate to sneakily eat it.  Money buys vacations which make precious memories.  Money well spent, always.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

David is such a great, amazing dad and partner.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

American politics.  God, I’m glad I’m Canadian.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Vacations, for sure.  Also, house stuff and hockey games.

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

Europe. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The chorus of Said the Whale’s Emerald Lake, AB don’t read like much, but as a strong happy repeating chorus they are glorious.

What a fine life we are living.
The Lumineers’ Ho Hey song has been on heavy rotation this year.
So show me family
All the blood that I would bleed
I don’t know where I belong
I don’t know where I went wrong
But I can write a song
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweet
I’ve been loving The Joy Formidable’s Big Roar album, especially Whirring:
Turn the dial on my words
I can feel they fall short
Turn the dial, chime alarm, chime alarm
Watch these hands move apart
Turn the dial on my words

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.  I’m going to get so big this pregnancy, I’m sure.  So far, no weight gain, but I have a belly already.
c) richer or poorer?  Richer.  Especially after the severance cheque.

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

I spent the whole summer wanting to walk to the Reservoir, get an ice cream and go for a family walk.  We someone didn’t quite make it.

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

Stressing.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At the inlaws, then my mom’s.  Lots of family time, lots of presents, lots of J being adorable.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Not with anyone new.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Can’t choose.  Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Doctor Who, Modern Love, The League, Happy Endings, Always Sunny in Philadelphia…  We watch a lot of sitcoms and British shows, and I love them all. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I had a work nemesis, so that was fun.  She was a giant bitch and she wanted the layoff package and didn’t get it.  I laughed.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read over a hundred books.  I couldn’t even start to pick a favourite.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

The Joy Formidable.  Said the Whale.  Lumineers.  Serena Ryder.

26. What did you want and get?

To go to Europe.  To get pregnant again.  To advance in my career.

27. What did you want and not get?

To keep my job until mat leave.  A bunch of very happy reactions to our pregnancy news.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Another year of seeing almost no movies in the theatre.  I did really like the new Star Trek movie so let’s go with that one.

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

I turned 32. I got laid off the week before.  I went for a bunch of massages.  On my birth day, I felt pregnantly terrible and D made us KD for dinner.  The next night we went out for a 3 course fondue meal and D took me to a Said the Whale show at the university.  It was awesome.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less Schrodinger’s Cat sensations.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Lazy.

32. What kept you sane?

David.  Books.  Exercise.  Friends.  The internet.

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

Jason Segel.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Abortion in America.  How is this still a debate??  I know I said that last year and the year before, but yet, here we are again.

35. Who did you miss?

My dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Not quite new, but a guy I worked with became a truly awesome mentor.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

This too shall pass.

Wrapping it up

Hi. It’s been awhile, eh?  I don’t know what exactly to say.  It’s been a busy year, for sure, but I haven’t had that much to say, I guess.  But what the hell, let’s do a recap.

In January, we went to Banff for the weekend with friends.

In February, we went to Dallas.

In March, I went back to work after my year long mat leave.

In April, we mostly focuses on figuring out the new balance of work and daycare and life.  It went okay.

In May, we went to Toronto to visit my sister, who was spending a year back east doing her Master’s degree.  Jess also got to make cookies for the first time at Grandma’s house – she taste tested every single ingredient and loved it.

In June I went to Northern BC for a a 4 day work trip.  David was part of the a large wedding party for a close friend and wore the worst fitting tuxedo I’ve ever seen.

In July, we went to Heritage Park and the Stampede and had play dates and set up the inflatable pool in the backyard – Jess walked up to it, peed on the side and was over it.

In August, David’s sister came to town and J loved hanging out with Tia Eeerin.  We went to two family reunions on David’s side in a single weekend.  Two very different families – one with a zillion kids and one with 2.  A fun but exhausting weekend.  I also got to do an overnight trip to Northern Alberta with my favourite coworker and my mentor.

In September, we went to Northern Europe for 23 days and it was amazing.  Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Iceland. Jess was a dream – handling jet lag like a champ, eating everything and generally being adorable.  Highlights included the medieval walled town of Tallinn, Blue Lagoon hot springs in Iceland, the playgrounds every 3 blocks in Helsinki, Stockholm’s museums and the quiet backwoods of Denmark.

In October, my sister came to town and stayed for a month and J loved her Auntie Dorney.  We went to a local art festival and J was mesmerizeingly cute in her little hot pink fleece horse suit.

In November, I got laid off as part of a 1000 person layoff at work.  Luckily my severance was good.  It wasn’t unexpected, but I’d been loving my new role at work so it was disappointing.   I had until the end of the month to use up my health benefits, so I had 6 massages in a week and that was excellent.

In December, an ultrasound showed that I am pregnant with one healthy looking fetus and am due in June.  We’re pretty pleased.  Christmas was great, too.

All in all, a good year, and the problem with good years for me is that it leaves me nothing to write about.  So, tally ho, internet. Other than my usual year end meme tomorrow, I’m not sure what more I have to say in this space.  Nothing right now, at any rate.  Life is good and I am happy.  We have a plan for the wait period between now and and when the baby’s due – play SAHM most of the time, I have a lead on a part time job offer for 6 months, keep J in daycare 2 days a week from now until both kids go to daycare full time when I go back to work in 2015, because J has done SO WELL in daycare and I’m really not sure that I’m designed to be a full time SAHM anyway.  The layoff wasn’t ideally timed, but I’ve been so sick I have loved being able to take it easy and sleep.  The travel’s been amazing this year and I feel remarkably lucky.  2013 was a good year.  Here’s to a good 2014.

Life is good and I am happy.

Feeling the fever

So everyone is pregnant, as far as I can tell.  Everyone!  But, uh, not me.  Not trying, even.  Due to the pills I’m on, probably couldn’t be even if I tried.  I just, like, have eyes and can’t help but notice that everyone is pregnant.

I’m sure it’s hyperbole, but today, for example, I went through the +15 to the next building to grab some lunch, and saw, I swear, 7 very pregnant ladies.  Two were standing in front of me in line.  Walking from my office to J’s daycare?  It’s a 10 minute walk though the +15s, and I have never seen less than 4 pregnant women.  (Okay, sure, they could be the same ones everyday, but I still see them.)  I work in a group of 30 people, 13 of whom are female (not bad for a STEM field), and 2 of them are pregnant.  I’m back downtown, working in a very corporate world, and I’m surrounded by lush, fertile women who are gloriously, roundly pregnant.

And I’m so jealous I’m practically salivating.

I’ve said it before, I was never really baby hungry before I  had Baby J.  It was a cerebral decision, more than anything.  I never had baby fever, or heard a ticking clock, or whatever other cliche that can be used to describe the longing for a baby.  But now?  Holy fuck, you guys.  WANT.  NEEEED.  It’s the strangest feeling.  It feels like a walking cliche, to be so eager, but here we are.

And while we are totally planning a second, not yet.  I’d rather have them +2 years instead of -2 years apart .  I *just* got back to work, and I owe it to myself to give this a serious go.  I’m still on the domperidone, and that’s done insane things to my cycle.  It’s not fair to J to do anything until we figure out what’s wrong with her.  (She’s down to 17 pounds – 1 pound over her 5 month weight.)  I refuse to wean until she stops losing weight or at the very least starts drinking any form of calorie, and I want to have my body to myself for a few months before I get pregnant again.  I’m simply not ready to try again yet, and neither is David.  Mentally, I get it.  In fact, mentally, I have no desire to start trying right now.

But viscerally?  WANT SO MUCH.

At the end of the day, we’re all just animals, right?  It’s stuff like this – this crazy longing – that really brings that home to me.

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world.  Why do I miss this so much?

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world. Why do I miss this so much?

Back in the saddle, remembering that I like horses

There was one thing I kind of forgot as I was weighing my feelings about going back to work, and it was, in in hindsight, a big one.   It’s that I am very good at my job.  And while it’s not my passion, I really do enjoy it.

I’m going to violate one of the internet’s prime directives and talk about my job, just a little.

I did admin work for the better part of a decade.  I was good at it, and fast, given the amount of spare time I had compared to my peers.  But I never really enjoyed it.  I would put off tasks that I didn’t enjoy, like filing, for months.  I always got everything that needed to be done, done, but my main interest wasn’t the day to day tasks that fill up admin support days.  It was always the special projects. I’ve worked in a variety of different admin jobs, and the special projects varied along with them.  I’ve done everything from organize a trip to New York for 30 people for a week with 30 different schedules, to cold calling people in France using what remains of my childhood french immersion skills to try and find a genealogical-minded distant relative for my boss, to becoming the group expert at a new piece of graphing software, to learning Access to update and QC a giant database.  A huge range of things, and all much more interesting than putting in another stationary order.  Although that doesn’t mean an absence of pens around the office wouldn’t be a problem, so it always got done too.  Just, you know, given the choice to work on a special project or organize someone’s business cards, well… It was always easy for me to prioritize.

When I went on mat leave, I was officially a tech, but I was also still doing all the admin work, just due to the way things shook out in the group.  I had no problems with that, of course.  I’d been doing all the tech work as an admin, and there was no real difference doing all the admin work as a tech.  But now there’s an admin to do all the admin work and she’s great and I don’t have to order stationary anymore.  My entire job, in flux as it is, IS a special project.  The last couple of weeks I’ve been working for an engineer who has been an amazing teacher, and I went from knowing basically nothing about this subset of our industry to being conversant in it.  I’ve learned 601 new things in the last month, and that’s an awesome feeling that I had forgotten – how nice it is to learn something new.   To tackle some new project that at the beginning feels so confusing, so far over your head that you don’t even know how to start, and then a few short weeks later you’re QC’ing someone else’s work as a second pair of eyes.  To be an expert at something – to be the person people come to for help.  To be good at something clear and tangible with immediate results.  It’s nice.  It’s really nice.  And I had forgotten that going back to work didn’t just mean leaving J with someone else all day and getting a paycheck.  It also means that I get to be good at something and get better at other things and to learn.

It also means lunch dates and coffee dates and yes, a paycheck.  It means talking to grown ups all day, every day, and then coming home with my kid and my husband and eating together and playing together and enjoying the whole time we’re together, instead of those days spent simply waiting for naps or a play date.  It means missing out on play dates, and long daily walks and spontaneous trips to Ikea for lunch.  But right now, this very week, I can live with the trade off.  Next year, or another kid later, or a different role at work?  Who knows?  But for right now, things are okay.  Things are good.

It feels like the best deep breath I’ve taken in months.

Report Card

Nell did an interesting post, whose format I’m going to steal.    She and her husband had decided on the 10 commandments of parenting that they were going to try to operate under, and after their adorable little girl turned 1, they looked back and see how they’d done.  Well, I wasn’t organized on the front end, but we did have some very clear ideas of how we wanted to try and be.  Let’s see, shall we?

1. I wanted a calm, natural birth. I read every single book ever written on the subject (or at least, it felt like it).  I physically and mentally prepared myself.  We hired a doula.  The maternity clinic practice was on board with intervention free births.  And then my water broke a few weeks early and I couldn’t get in to active labour and I ended up with pictocin, and an epidural, and a c-section.  The cascade of interventions that I so totally did not want.  It took me months to feel okay about what happened.  The baby came out and was healthy and all is well, but I’m still calling this a FAIL because man did things not work out like I wanted them to.

2. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, is an unqualified PASS.  Sure, there were some bumps, with the multiple tongue ties, and the dangerous weight loss in the first few days and resulting supplementation.  And then my milk dried up randomly and the fact that I’m still take 4 domperidone pills a day in order to be able to breastfeed.  But damn, overall?  Aces.  It’s cheap (the copay on my pills is like $2/month) and easy and convenient.   It helped with the bonding in the early, dark days.  I’m planning on going off the pills when I go back to work, and see how long we can keep a morning and bedtime nurse happening, for the bonding.  We’ll see – it could be like 3 days before everything dries up, but I’ll have made it for a year, and I’m pretty proud of me.  Of us.

3. The bulk of my non-labour related pre-baby research was on cloth diapers.  It took me about 6 weeks after Baby J was born to start using them – a combo of being so overwhelmed and also her being so little that even the small diapers were comically large.  But as soon as we started in earnest, it’s been great.  I’m so, so happy that we use them.  There has been exactly one poop blow out, and that was in the first week of using them, before we figured out how tight things had to be.  (I have one friend who threw out 5 outfits on a single day due to the blow out messes, using disposables.)  They’re easy and cute and cost effective over the long run.  J rarely gets diaper rash, and when she does, it’s amazing how much coconut oil helps clear it up.  But I’m not insane about it.  We’ve started using disposable liners, to deal with the much grosser poop.  When we travel, we totally use disposables.  When she has a yeast infection (more common that diaper rashes, for her), it’s a night in a disposable with this prescription cream, and it’s gone by morning.  And did I mention how much cuter they are?  So much cuter. PASS

4. Make my own baby food.  I’ve been meaning to write about that, but it’s a total PASS.  J is a champion eater – her only food dislike so far seems to be peaches – and will generally eat anything you offer her, from last night’s risotto with peas, to green bean purees, to chickpea and cauliflower stew, to the entire cheese tray at a party.  It’s been fun to feed her, and fun to make the foods.  She does get a couple of tablespoons of purchased rice cereal mixed in to her morning fruit and yogurt, and she does eat cheerios.  On vacation, we buy those little pouches of food to supplement whatever she can eat off our plates, but otherwise, she eats what I make for her.

5. However, I was totally going to go all baby led weaning.  So great on paper, right?  Until the third time J choked and had to be pulled out of the chair and back thumped until the food came out of her windpipe and we decided that purees were the way to go.  First time was scary but I thought normal, second time David was done with BLW, and the third time, even I was like, “this baby is not ready for this, we should quit”.  FAIL, but not killing the baby seemed like a much better decision.

6. It was – IS – so important to my sense of self that we continue to travel.  And an unqualified PASS for that, for sure.  We had our road trip to Montana, the trip to Cancun for my sister-in-law’s wedding, and later this month we’re going to Texas.  (Why Dallas?  Why not Dallas?  Basically.)  So in J’s first year, we’ve done a road trip, an all inclusive resort trip, and our favourite kind of trip: the random wander trip.  (That’s where we have flights, transportation and accommodation worked out, and then we just wing the rest.)  This makes me very, very happy.

7. I really wanted to not give the house over to baby stuff.  You know, those houses that look like a daycare centre, that’s how many toys there are?  We have a moderate sized house, with fairly limited storage.  We’ve done okay on this, I guess.  I use this fancier black Ikea bins to hold toys, and we’ve got one in the living room, one in her room, and two in the basement.  Every night we do a quick sweep and put things away.  But of course, not everything fits, so there’s a push-walker in the living room, the exersaucer that just got disassembled and abandoned in the garage, a friend just gave us a megablocks play table so that’s in the basement now instead, and so on.  But it’s quickly tidied at the end of the night, so it doesn’t feel as bad?  I don’t know.  PASS, ish.  Although, we haven’t babyproofed much, relying instead on teaching what is off limits, and enforcing boundaries.  We still haven’t even put up any baby gates, because they’re not yet needed.  So that’s something.

8. However, we’ve been much better about not buying all the things.  I absolutely have bought stuff, some of which is unnecessary.  (But the owl hand puppet from Ikea is so cute!  Like, she tries to eat his face while squealing with joy cute!)  But we haven’t bought a ton of things, and are still getting hand me downs.  David took a friend of his to the hockey game, and got a red wagon, the mega blocks table, a car seat and some more toys in return.  Good trade!  We will still buy more things (I’m trying to collect vintage Fisher Price Little People toys) and more cute clothes (some of the hand me downs really aren’t my thing) but we will not buy all the things, nor need only new things.  Total PASS.

9. Fairly early on, it was clear that I had to get out of the house, like, every day.  So I made an effort, and yeah, we do leave the house basically every day, and that’s been a great help on my sanity.  In the summer, it was multiple long walks a week to the reservoir, and then it became fitness classes instead, and then play dates got added in, and, being honest, lots of trips to the mall/Ikea/shopping because, well, that’s out of the house too.  It’s to the point that a day without a trip is almost unheard off.  A few months ago it was a rare treat, but now it’s more of a punishment, because J gets tired of the house and my face.  PASS.

10.  I love to read.  Love.  Being a reader is a pretty core part of my identity.  Despite having a baby, I still read 88 books last year, and while that’s less than half my personal best, it’s still a decent number.  So I figured I’d read to my baby every day, and pass on that love.  Have I?  Hahaha, no, total FAIL.  Hey, did you know that babies have no attention span and would rather chew on the books?  At least for the first, like, 8 months?  So I’d make a half-assed try every couple of days, but generally just let her toothlessly gnaw on a pile of books.  Sure, we went to the library story time, and have piles of baby books in every bin in the house, but I didn’t push the issue.  And now?  Her happy place is sitting in a pile of books, carefully turning pages, looking at the pictures, and ‘talking’ to them.  Just starting to introduce a bedtime story to the bedtime routine, now that she’ll sit for the two minutes it takes.   So I may have failed in the daily reading task, but she still loves books, which is just excellent.

11. I bought a Boba Wrap, a Boba carrier, a Mei Tai and a cheap wrap.  I was totally going to babywear!  But my kid? After the first few weeks?  Hated all of them.  Like, the best case scenario was to get her in a carrier right before nap time, then scream herself to sleep.  Not awesome.  We’ll try our luck in Texas, with her held on my back, but my expectations are low.  It’s too bad, because it seems convenient, but can’t argue with a baby. FAIL

12. I love sleep.  I wanted to continue to get to sleep.  AND I HAVE.  J is now full on, for real sleeping through the night.  She goes down for naps easily, she sleeps well, she sleeps for a long time.  She learned how to fall back asleep herself when she was a few weeks old, and it’s wonderful.  David and I trade off sleeping in on weekends, too.  Everyone in our house loves sleep.  Yay sleep.  PASS.

13. I was totally going to teach the baby sign language.  Not like, intensively (by the time she needs to communicate what a zebra is, I hope she can say the word), but the basics.  You know: more, all done, poop, bath, tired, sad.  Enough to communicate a little.  Guess who does not give a shit about hand gestures?  My baby.  I’ve been trying to teach her all done and more for like, 2 months now?  And she just smirks at my attempts.  Crosses her arms over her chest and smiles.  Man, who knew babies got a say in these things?  🙂  FAIL.

14. I wanted a baby that would fit in to our life, instead of having to rework our entire life around the baby.  I’m calling this a PASS .  I mean, sure, I’m on mat leave, my schedule is based on her naps, we take her needs in to consideration for everything we do.  But.  We still travel, go out for dinner, do weekend trips, hang out with friends, gets pedicures, throw parties, play board games, go “antiquing”, watch hockey, etc, much the same as we ever did.  Sure, things take more planning and timing, and we’re more limited to how much we can do in a single weekend afternoon, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do the things.  We just put a little more forethought in to them.  We have a very easy going baby, and that really helps, I know.  But we still get to enjoy the things that made our life good before the baby.  We now just get to share that with someone else.

15. I wanted to enjoy the year of mat leave.  To find my place as a mother.  And I don’t know how to grade that.  I mean, the first 4 months were a blur of PPD and crying.  The last month is building up to be a month of feeeeeelings and longing – both to go and to stay.  I have loved some of the phases of J’s short little life, and less loved some of the others.  I’m still very new at this motherhood thing, and I’m pretty sure the only person who can grade me on it still poops in her pants and has not yet learned English. We’ll leave this one ungraded.

So.  9ish out of 14.  And the failures were, on the whole, minor, or outside of my control.  That’s excellent.  I know that as mothers, we’re supposed to beat ourselves up over our choices, and feel guilty, and all that shit, but I don’t.  I choose to feel quite proud of living up to my plans.  And also for setting up reasonable goals!  That always helps.  So as this year of mat leave comes to an end, I can be comforted to know that I did what I set out to be, to parent the way I had hoped to, and that I rolled with at least some of the punches.

And really, these all can’t be weighed equally.  “Failing” at birth hurt terribly.  The baby refusing to sign just makes me laugh.  The reason I liked the idea of baby led weaning is because it promised to give the baby a good palate, and eat adventurously.  We achieved that with a spoon instead, and the victory of result is far more important than the failure in method, you know?

At any rate, instead of 68%, I’m giving myself an A.  Because it’s my report card.  I sure as hell can grade myself on a curve.

Christmas

A little on the late side, but here we go.

Christmas was lovely.  The relativity short family time windows were relaxed and pleasant.  The gifts were generous.  The baby was adorable.  It was a lovely holiday.

Portrait of young girl with tree

Portrait of young girl with tree

New traditions were explored.  I personally like the Santa myth, so we’re going to push it a little, and we totally used this year as a practice run.  For example: all the presents from us were wrapped in white and silver wrapping paper (Ikea makes the best Christmas paper) and everything from Santa was in bright garish paper.  Jess “opened” a present on Christmas Eve – something I always loved doing as a kid.  But this year, it was festive pjs, and as a friend of mine pointed out, the problem with doing that is that they get them near the end of the festive season, not at the beginning, where you’d get more use out of them.  So next year, Jess will get cute Christmas pjs on the 1st of December (all other organizational skills being equal…).  David and I did advent calendars again – lego and playmobile.   My inner six year old loves them.

Christmas imp in new pjs

Christmas imp in new pjs

One of the big things that my family always did differently, growing up, was to spread the present opening out.  On Christmas Eve, you got a present.  (The compromise from my father’s German upbringing when everything was opened on the Eve.)  Christmas Morning you got stockings, and Christmas afternoon you got to open a few presents, and the rest of the day was spent eating and playing games and going to family dinners.  Boxing Day you’d open another presents, and then maybe 2 days later you’d open another one, and it finally wrapped up by New Year’s Eve, at the latest.

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

Now, that makes it sound like there was a ton of presents, but really, there wasn’t – it was just spread out more so that it felt like more.  The anticipation of opening gifts was often more exciting that the gifts themselves.  (So many socks.)   It was great in many ways, because the holiday felt longer, and richer, and the anticipation went on.  My mom’s birthday is mid-December, and the house rule was that you couldn’t start any form of Christmas decorations or celebrations until December 14th, so we couldn’t stretch the holiday out earlier in the month.

Dec 28, and still a few more presents to go

Dec 28, and still a few more presents to go

I think this is actually a great tradition, but it does mean that I am super, super uncomfortable around people who just like, dive in and are done opening things by 10 am on Christmas Morning.  In part because I just don’t get it, and in part because opening that much stuff – that much conspicuous consumption all at one – makes me squirm.   It seems harder to enjoy each present because you’re so overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.   Harder to be genuinely excited by each gift.  Harder to remember all that you received.  Harder to teach the baby about gratitude and appreciation and leisurely holidays.  I’m not saying that everyone else is doing it wrong or anything – just that it’s wrong for me, and I like the way we do it.  It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, to learn that growing up only one person opened a gift at a time, and it was then passed around and duly admired before the next person took their turn.  Luckily David is willing to go with my delayed gift opening, even if he doesn’t fully understand why opening a pile of presents all at once makes me squirm.

Dec 31 and Jess finally figured out how to rip wrapping paper

Jan 2 and Jess finally figured out how to rip wrapping paper

One nice perk for this is that by the end of the week, Jess finally figured out the hows and whys of ripping wrapping paper.  That picture is of the very last present that she opened, and it was the first one where she did much of the paper removal.  She was really, really excited to have figured it out, and it was adorable.

It was a lovely week.  David was home, and we had very little to do and just hung out and played games and snuggled the baby and opened presents and ate food and watched shows and drank drinks and generally enjoyed the hell out of each other’s company.  Just lovely.

Our Christmas tree, and all our gifts, including the best one - the one in the Tigger shirt

Our Christmas tree, and all our gifts, including the best one – the one in the Tigger shirt

Year End Meme of 2012

Because why not keep traditions alive?

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

Went to Cabo, pregnant.  Had a baby.  Collected EI.  Took baby on a road trip, took baby to Mexico.  Lots of baby related firsts.

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

Didn’t make any last year.  For next year, I resolve to send 5 thank you letters, and to attempt to transition back to work gracefully.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me, of course.  A couple of cousins.  The woman in our birth and babies class who I’ve since become close to, if that counts.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Well, David’s cousin died, but I only met him once.  Hard on the family, when a teenager dies.

5. What countries did you visit?

David and I went to Cabo in January, a road trip with Jess to Montana in the summer, and to Cancun with Jess in November.

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

No depression would be nice.  More money than EI brought in will also nice.  I don’t know – the second half of this year has been pretty great.

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

March 6 – Jess’s birthday.  Pretty much the biggest day of my year.  (Even if the labour itself was more days than that.)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Kept a baby alive with my boobs.  Had a totally awesome child.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, it might not read as failure to others, but I absolutely felt like a failure because I failed to birth Jess and needed the c-section.  PPD felt pretty failurific.  My milk drying up didn’t feel great either.  Yeah.  Bodies, man.  I feel that mine failed me a bit this year, and then I blame me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

C-section recovery sucked.  PPD also sucked.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Vacations.  Always vacations.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

David is such a great, amazing dad and partner.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

American politics.  God, I’m glad I’m Canadian.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Day to day living, mostly.  Three small vacations.  Cloth diapers.  Impulse baby clothes.

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

I don’t know.  So many months this year were spent in a depressive episode followed by a certain amount of flatness.  The highs were there, but they weren’t generally something I was excited about in the lead up.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

I sang this song to Jess while crying, for the first couple of months of her life.  Mumford & Sons, Little Lion Man.

But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?”

But then things got better.

Other songs that capture the year include Wintersleep’s  Mirror Matter, with it’s chorus of “Happiness, it’s all around you.”

I listened to Of Monsters & Men’s Little Talks many many time.

“The stairs creak as I sleep,
it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

Some days I can’t even dress myself.
It’s killing me to see you this way.

‘Cause though the truth may vary
this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.”

Japandriods’s The House that Heaven Built was also in regular rotation.

“When they love you and they will
Tell them all, they’ll love in my shadow
And if they try to slow you down
Tell them all, to go to hell”

I listened to a lot of music this year.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.  Definitely happier.
b) thinner or fatter? I’m no longer pregnant!  Much, much smaller in the waist area.
c) richer or poorer?  Pretty much a net neutral.  Spent less, made less, spreadsheets show that this year was about even.

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

Taking Jess to the swings in the summer.  We went on tons of walks, but rarely to the swings.   Otherwise, it’s been a pretty ‘achieving my goals’ kind of year.

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

Crying.  Feeling sad.  Doubting myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home.  David’s parents came for a day, my mom for the afternoon.  Dinner at my aunt’s.  Then the rest of the week hanging out and watching movies and playing video games and trying to get the baby to figure out why we’re ripping open presents.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

With the baby.  It took awhile, but now I can’t imagine the world without her.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Can’t choose.  Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Modern Love, Always Sunny in Philadelphia…  We watch a lot of sitcoms and British shows, and I love them all.  I had a lot of time on the couch nursing, and watched the entire run of West Wing, and HIMYM, Gilmour Girls and Vicar of Dibley.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read over a hundred books.  I couldn’t even start to pick a favourite.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? 

Japandriods.  Of Monsters and Men.  Mumford and Sons.

26. What did you want and get?

To have a healthy baby.

27. What did you want and not get?

To have a happy post partum experience, and fall instantly in love with my baby, and other such idealized ideas of motherhood.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Um.  I think we saw like, two movies in theatres?  A Bond one?  And maybe something with Jason Segel?  That one.  Sure.

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

I turned 31.  Jess and I had a totally normal day, and then I got presents in the evening from David and Jess.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

No PPD.

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

Yoga pants.  Tops that allowed nursing.  In a word: comfortable.

32. What kept you sane?

David.  Books.  Exercise.  Friends.  The internet.

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

Jason Segel.  Yum.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Abortion in America.  How is this still a debate??  I know I said that last year, and yet, here we are again.

35. Who did you miss?

My dad.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I’ve made a couple of mom-friends (or, friends I made through the fact I had a baby) and they are both pretty great.

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

Life is hard, but it gets better.  Eventually.