Year in Review 2009

Questionnaire courtesy of a blog gal pal.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Fed someone a banana whilst wiping his butt. Started a blog. Got laid off. Weaned a baby. And I absolutely have to poach this answer, because it also was my first time too: Cleaned poop out of a tub.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I make birthday resolutions in lieu of new year’s (see 30 Things), and I kept a lot of them. Really, more than I thought I could. And I still have 3 months to do the rest. I’m sure I’ll make more for next year.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
My husband’s Uncle George died suddenly in August. That was a rough one for us all. Picturing him and Harry Caray enjoying a beer together.

4. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A better idea of how, when and where we might be able to purchase our own home. A wide-open, blank canvas future isn’t as fun as it sounds in this department.

5. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Well, Bowie’s birthday obviously. It was the most amazing/scary/happy/heartbreaking thing to watch my firstborn turn a year old. Also, our anniversary. We went to Michael Mina and it was fabulous. Every year, I know more and more that we were meant to be together.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I came to terms with a lot of my demons. Things that had been scraping at the back of my brain for a long time. Turning 30 and becoming a mom will do that to you.

7. What was your biggest failure?
Development of my career. I got laid off, which really wasn’t my fault, but in the aftermath my career seems to be at a complete standstill.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My arthritic knee bothered me for the bulk of the year, but I went in November and had a cortisone shot, which has helped a lot. Also, just a few weeks ago ! I had the bunion on my right foot removed after years of pain. At the moment, I’m still stiff and recovering, but I can already tell it was a good move. And no serious illnesses, thank effing God.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
Me Talk Pretty One Day. I hadn’t read David Sedaris before, but now I’m 5 books in, and he’s hands down my favorite author. But my proudest purchase is the pair of Old Navy jeans I got at a St. Vinny’s in Wisconsin. Price? $3. I just LOVE a good bargain.

10. Where did most of your money go?
Rent. Medical bills. Whole milk.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Bowie learning to walk and learning to talk. It’s amazing watching him develop. Also, the great number of Etsy sales I’ve had this year. Loving it.

12. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Haha, anything by Laurie Berkner or the cast of Yo Gabba Gabba. I don’t listen to a lot of modern music, so nothing’s really going to stick out for me.

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

a) Happier. I’ve resolved issues with family, I’ve settled comfortably into motherhood and I’ve been relieved of a job that was a weight around my ankle, but got to leave with a severance.

b) Fatter, much to my dismay. I haven’t had the time or energy for a real workout regimen, and I’ve been eating horribly. I guess one of my resolutions could be to lose some weight. I’m at a healthy weight, but I’m out of shape. So, just like 10 pounds would do it. But I’ve never dieted before, so I have no idea what I’m in for. And I assume it’s much easier said than done.

c) Poorer. Because I lost my job. But, we’re doing okay.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Gotten out and explored more of this magical city I live in!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spent money, wish I could save more. It’s as if I have a genetic disorder.

16. How did you spend Christmas?
Brien’s family flew to San Francisco. It was great having them here. I think everyone had a really great time.

17. What was your favorite TV program?
We’re TV addicts. But this year, our favorite shows were LOST, Idol, Pawn Stars, Mythbusters, 30 Rock, The Office, Top Chef, Chopped, Rescue Me and Weeds.

18. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30, and I spent the evening at home with my husband and son. It’s exactly where I wanted to be. We went out for dinner a week later or so.


This being Bowie’s second Christmas, the last one he’ll be completely unaware of as it happens, I have been thinking about something lately: Santa Claus. And the Easter Bunny. And the Tooth Fairy.

I don’t think we’re going to carry on these traditions with Bowie. For one thing, it’s complete deception of your child. I have a hard time passing of a new sweater as an old one to the husband, or a believable cough to an employer. How can I pull off 8 years or so of fictional gift-bearers that come in the night? And another thing, I remember the crushing disappointment I felt when, at age 7, I found out they were not real from a playground pal. And I’d really like to spare my son as much disappointment as possible. Life is disappointing enough.

He may feel left out when he hears tales of his peers having visits from these special people, but it’s not as if non-participation means no gifts. We can do small gifts for Easter and small gifts for lost teeth. And as for Santa, don’t we get enough presents at Christmas without needing extras from Santa? I happen to think so. And I happen to want to raise a son who thinks so.

The one problem I foresee is him telling his friends who do believe that these people are not real, before their parents would like them to know. Because, even if we never have a conversation about them and he never knows they exist, chances are as soon as he sets foot in an elementary school classroom, he’ll start to hear about them. And when he comes home and says, “Mom, who is Santa Claus?” or “Why doesn’t Santa visit our house?” And my answer to that will be “Um, stammer stammer stammer, uh, well, you see…hmm.” But that’s a bridge I’m not crossing for a while. There’s a chance I can figure out some semblance of a good answer to that.

I’m blogging about this because upon admitting this to some people, I’ve been told I’m robbing my son of important childhood memories and traditions. But, I think we can create our own memories and traditions, and there’s just a teeny tiny possibility those memories will be better, right? And there are so very many truly important things I’m going to screw up as a mommy, this is the least of my worries. I won’t give in to the peer pressure. Ok, well maybe, talk to me next year.

Mad Skills

This morning, I parallel parked for the third time in my life. The other two times were just weeks ago. Granted, the spots were all GINORMOUS, but I freaking did it, people.

You may be asking yourself how one can live 30 entire years without ever having to parallel park, especially having lived the last 2 ½ years in a major urban area.

The answer? Well, growing up I lived in the opposite of an urban area, and it was just not necessary. In fact, when I took my driver’s test, I couldn’t do it, and the guy passed me anyway. And now that we live in San Francisco? Creative avoidance. Double parking. Driving around for an hour looking for a spot. Taking a cab to neighborhoods where I might have to parallel park. Making someone else drive.

But, there was this one day where it was certifiably unavoidable, and I found a nice big spot, and it was a quiet street, so I didn’t have an audience (this really is my biggest hang up about the whole thing), so I did it. I kept pulling out and trying again until I got it (mostly) right.

When you’re an urban dweller, parallel parking is no longer a “nice to know”, it’s a completely essential skill for survival. So, I may just make it after all.

For Other Mamas of Blondies

Once my son’s white-blonde hair sprouted, I have heard from countless people the expression “towhead”. I had never heard it before, and for some reason I wanted to take offense to it, so I did a bit of research on it.

I thought at first that it was spelled “toehead”, as in his head is so white it looks like a toe. That is completely wrong. Thank God.

It is “towhead” as in, a head of “tow”, which is “An untwisted bundle of fibers such as cellulose acetate, flax, hemp or jute.”

So there you go. It looks like their hair is made of hay. That’s all.


My conundrum begins here:

Last summer, my best San Francisco friend N tells me she’s having her second baby, her daughter is about 6 weeks older than Bowie. She’s the first in our group of parent pals to have her second. I’m like, congrats and…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT. Of course, I didn’t say that last part out loud.

Then, a few months ago, our playgroup pal K tells us she too is preggo with her second bundle of joy (her first is a few weeks older than Bowie). I’m thinking wow that’s awesome…GOOD LUCK OMG HOW ARE YOU GOING TO HANDLE IT.

At this point, I’m surer than I’ve ever been about anything in life that I’m, we’re, not ready for a second baby. Not only would it create a massive financial issue, but, in case you’re a new reader, my son is in the MAD THROES of the “Terrible Twos”. How on earth would I handle a full on, head ramming into the floor, screaming, crazy fit in the middle of Target with a newborn in my arms? I’ll tell ya: I would not. They’d have to put me in the straight jacket right there, in the middle of housewares.

Fast forward to this morning, when a very good pal of N and I, S announces that his wife is now preggo, their first actually being younger than Bowie. GAH.

But the thing is, all of a sudden I had that familiar pang in the pit of my stomach. That gosh I want to snuggle a newborn baby close to me, and not just any newborn, but my own newborn feeling.

The problem is, how do I know if I’m TRULY and FULLY ready for baby #2, or simply feeling left out? Not to mention, how do I quell these feelings for at least, like, a year, because, as previously stated, we are in no way, shape or form prepared for bringing baby #2 into this world. And let’s not even get me started on how the hubbs is super scared of having a second baby at all. And JEBUS, I am super freaking crazy, because if our second little on is a girl, I already have her named. I need some help????

So that’s where we’re at. Ugh.

Now I am a Statistic

Yesterday, I was laid off. My employment fell prey to the recession. You know, the one that’s over?

Mentally, I’m optimistic. I didn’t enjoy the job very much, and it was keeping me from several side projects that I would have enjoyed much more. I got a severance package, so if something happens, we’ve got a bit of a cushion. And I wasn’t making much, so with a little effort, making up for my lost income won’t be all that hard to do. Our health insurance is through my husband’s employer, so I didn’t lose that.

Emotionally? I am crushed. That was my first “real” job after college. I have put so many hours and so much hard work into that company and was a large part of the success it became. Before it ultimately took a right hook in the kisser from the “economic downturn”.

And when you are laid off, as opposed to being fired, you know what you did was necessary, and that you did a good job, but that it was so insignificant, such a small drop in the pond, that someone else could add it to their own list of duties, you really are expendable. Such a blow to the ego.

I can, however, take heart in the fact that executives, people who made way more than me, have also been laid off this year. They likely have mortgages and larger families to support. I am in a better position than most, I’m sure.

And hellooooooooo free time. Now I can get to some of my side projects.

The Flu

My head is spinning over this H1N1 stuff. The media are simultaneously telling us that OMG YOU COULD DIE and OMG THE VACCINE IS BAD FOR YOU. So…what are we supposed to do? Duct tape and Saran wrap our windows I guess?

It’s hard to get our hands on real, empirical, helpful, unbiased information. And normally I’d pay no mind to any of this. I have a relatively good immune system, on the off chance I got it, I’d make it.

But, now I have a kiddo to worry about. What if he got it? Some of the stuff I’m reading suggests that small children have different symptoms and it hits them a bit harder. And kids are, you know, DYING and everything, so yeah, I’m a little worried.

Both kiddo and hubbs have been vaccinated for the regular flu (I don’t get this shot, because I got it all through my childhood, but managed to catch it every year anyway, so now I just save myself the cost and try to stay well). It’s the additional H1N1 vaccine I’m confused/scared/undecided about.

And then there’s the fact that most people as of right now can’t even get the vaccine if they want to. And a vaccine can only cover some strains of the flu, you could still get another strain. Or you could still get the flu you’ve been vaccinated for. No guarantees. So, do we err on the side of caution, or do we save the money and just wash our hands and take our vitamins?

What are you doing, and do you have some good sources I could look at?


The other day, I went all the way downtown to the mall, which I never do, because I was desperate to see what H&M had on the racks after seeing some ads in a recent magazine. AKA moment of weakness. Plus, I REALLY needed to get kiddo out of the house.

But, on my way through, on a very painfully slow Tuesday morning at the mall, one of the kiosk guys got me. Because, his “gotcha” question was: where are you from?

On my long 3 block walk from the bus stop to the mall, I passed swarms SWARMS of tourists (and, disclaimer, I love ya, I really do, keep coming to SF, but please don’t stop dead in your tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of a big, dirty building or to plan your route to the ATM) and I was done. Just done. I was so smug. I have lived here for a while now, I am a local, bitches.

So, when he asked where I was from, I was thinking, uh, I am from here, unlike the many tourists I’m sure you sucker in to your booth every day. But, I made the mistake of answering him. And getting into a whole thing about how I was originally from Wisconsin, him from Chicago. And so on and so forth.

And even when I knew I was knee deep in shit and he only cared about selling me something, I just could not leave. Because I have the Midwest Nice. I’ve been stating for years how Midwest Nice is just a myth. Doesn’t exist. They are just as rude a population as anyone else. Yet, something was holding me there, paralyzed with niceness. I blabbed on about how I could not possibly stop today (he was offering a teeth whitening procedure that would involve me staying there for a half hour or so), what with the kiddo and all. And I was on a budget (which is completely true). I threw it all at him. But, I couldn’t find myself just saying, no thanks and walking on, like I normally do. When I’m with my husband, and when there’s ample crowd for them to pick from.

I felt so bad for this guy. I knew he had to pull out all the stops because the coworker who was eavesdropping was likely his manager, and he worked on commission, and after all, I had stopped in the first place. It was ridiculous. I knew and he knew that I was not going to buy anything, but he kept giving the pitch and I kept being so…nice. Just nice. There is not another word for it.

My 8th grade English teacher told us “nice” used to mean “stupid”. Well, I think I fit the original definition that day.

Worst Week

I’ve had a heck of a week. Seriously. When it rains it pours. Here’s a snapshot:

On Tuesday, Bowie had a pediatrician appointment at which he received three vaccinations. The DTP shot proceeded to make his entire left thigh hard, red, hot and throbby. Also, rashes all over his neck and back. Plus, it took the doctor forever to return my frantic calls, so I was browsing the intertubes to find some info and yes, you guessed it, freaked me the F out. Stupid internet.

Later that same evening, we had a BBQ with the neighbors. Bowie walked up to the grill and touched like he has a zillion times, only this time? HOT HOT HOT DANGER DANGER and everything was in slow motion, I just could not get to him in time to prevent it. He got two very large blisters, and most of his fingers on that hand are burned. One of the blisters has popped and it looks NASTY. I think I have to call the doc again, ugh.

My mother-in-law is in town and borrowed our car to get to and from my sister-in-law’s house. Which would be fine if all the computer systems in all the Matrixes weren’t randomly shutting down rendering the car useless, and ours decided to do so when she needed the car. Thankfully she was not on the highway or anything, and I guess it’s also good it wasn’t me and kiddo going somewhere on our lonesome. That could have been scary.

Last night, Bowie didn’t sleep at all. Well, that’s a slight exaggeration. He slept from 8 to 10pm, 11:30 to 12:30 and then maybe for an hour between 2 and 6am. I had been out with friends until 12am and was really looking forward to my date with my soft, comfy bed. Little did I know a tossing, turning, teething, burned finger, vax reaction, crabby toddler would be joining me. I’m running on about 2 hours of sleep today. As is my husband.

Also, my husband has been undergoing a barrage of medical tests and procedures in order to find the cause of the mysterious loss of his sense of smell. We have insurance, so we didn’t think it would be a big deal, but we got the bill for the CT scan yesterday and…holy Jesus. Guess I don’t get to see the Cubs when their in San Francisco this year. And that Wisconsin wedding in January? Sorry Jess, love you to death, but we’re drowning in medical bills. Even though we have insurance. Oh, but the system is just fine as is. Grrrrrrrr.

Anyway, hopefully you had a better week than me.

The Pill is Kicking my Butt

My best friend from high school started taking the pill when we were about 17, and she was like, “OMG you should totally go on it, it’s great!” And, I can’t even believe how shallow I was, but I didn’t want to go on it because…I didn’t want to get fat. Can you believe that? I just kept reading that you put on weight and in my 17 year old brain that was a Deal Breaker.

A few years later, when I started to, you know, get busy, I went on the pill, ready for a barrage of side effects, but didn’t have any. Well, except for two: my breasts doubled in size and my periods were shorter and lighter. I’m thinking, okay, I can handle that.

I stayed on the pill for 10 solid years, trouble free, until I decided that it was time to have a baby. I was off the pill for just 4 months before becoming pregnant. But in those 4 months, I had the 3 worst menstrual cycles of my life, and that’s including the super erratic, embarrassing messes in junior high. I had crazy heavy bleeding with tons of cramping. I immediately thought I have to go right back on the pill as soon as they will let me after I have this baby. It was clearly the only way to avoid these horrible bouts of menstruation.

Fast forward to about 3 months post partum, when I think it might be ok to get down and dirty again. (And yes, my husband is a saint, he actually did wait that long.) I was breastfeeding, so I was put on an estrogen-free “mini pill”. With this pill, nothing really changed (thankfully because seriously, who could deal with both that and a newborn? Perhaps Super Woman, but not yours truly). There were no breaks (aka placebo pills), so I still was not menstruating, and my hormones were relatively stable.

It was when I weaned the kiddo at 12 ½ months and went back on my same old pill that the trouble began. The hormone fluctuations of weaning the baby and the hormones in the new pill proved to be a roller coaster ride of a combination. The first month, I was so convinced I was pregnant, I took 3 home tests, and called the doctor and spoke with her for a half hour about my mysteriously negative results.

I had horrible headaches, I had horrible bloating, I had worse morning sickness than when I was actually pregnant, I was a bit fainty, I had terrible acne, I had crazy food cravings (I wanted dill pickles so badly one day, I went to the store and got them…and a pregnancy test) and was constantly hungry, and the fatigue. My god, the fatigue. Being on the pill after having and nursing a baby was turning out to be worse than pregnancy itself. Without any of the fringe benefits, like a big belly you’re supposed to have, a party where you get lots of cute baby clothes, and, oh yeah, a cute little baby.

But, that leaves me where I am today, 4 months after weaning (and still lactating—yippee!). The symptoms have subsided a bit, but not much, and it may just be that I’ve learned to live with them. I have an appointment soon to meet with my doctor about some alternative methods of birth control, because I’m ready to strangle whoever decided this was a good idea!

Well, no, not really, that’s the crazy hormone monster coming out again. Down, girl. Truthfully, the pill is a great invention. It basically jump-started the modern women’s movement. It is a true godsend for some women. But, the hormonal implications can be too much for your body, especially when it’s trying to bounce back from such traumatic events as pregnancy, birth, labor and delivery, breastfeeding and reintroduction of menstruating.

What have your experiences been like with the pill? What other methods have you tried successfully? Unsuccessfully?