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.

Traditions

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.

18 Months

I never got into the writing a letter to my kid every month thing, but for some reason, 18 months seems like one of those really important milestone ages and I just had some musings on it, so here we go.

You are 18 months now, kiddo. I cannot believe it has been a full year and a half since you were born, because I can remember even the most minute detail about your birth as if it happened just yesterday. But now you’re walking, running, talking, playing with toys in their intended fashion, you’re growing up! And everyone says that before I know it, we’ll be celebrating 18 years. I think I believe them.

Right now, your favorite words are “doggie” and “daddy”, but since you seem to enjoy hugging me more than hugging doggie or daddy, I don’t take insult at the fact that you haven’t gotten the word “mommy” down quite yet.

You’ve mastered the art of the tantrum, and some days I want to pull all my hair out and throw the couch through the window, but I remind myself that it’s a phase. At least I flipping hope so! And you’re teaching me to be a more patient and understanding person. So there’s that.

Every day with you is a complete joy, tantrums, poopy diapers and all. As I watch you grow and change, it becomes harder and harder to believe that you are something that I made inside of me (well, with a little help from nature). I used to think I’d want you to be a baby forever, but now I find myself eager to see what comes next.

Love you kiddo.

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Curveballs

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.

Our First Time Out

Monday morning, 9 a.m. Mommy is checking email, updating the Christmas gift list, entering Pampers codes, generally important morning-on-the-internet kind of stuff. Kiddo is quietly playing with some dishes in the kitchen.

He gets up to show me something he found, and when he realizes I’m on the computer: insta-meltdown. Screaming, crying, hitting, throwing things, the works. So, I get up from the computer, check out the toy, calm him down. Then I get back on the computer, and the meltage starts up again.

Repeat FOUR times.

So, I said to him, you are going in a time out. And I put him in his crib.

I didn’t know what else to do, he’s screaming and being violent for the sole purpose of getting my full, undivided attention. Is he too young to learn that sometimes I have to do other things, and he has to be ok with that?

At the end of the time out, we hugged and kissed, and I told him I love him. Big smiles. Then he followed me into the bathroom and screamed at me during my entire shower.

Yeah, it’s tough.

So far, raising a kid is not getting easier as I was told it would. It is still a 24/7 mashup of worry, frustration, lack of privacy, wondering if you’re doing it right, frustration, worry and a love that will make your heart burst. It’s difficult. The proverbial emotional roller coaster.

Now, I don’t want to scare some of my readers whose first little ones are still on the way or bundled in their cute little 0-3 months clothes. It doesn’t get easier, but it doesn’t get harder. Each phase they go through presents you with a new set of challenges. Sometimes it feels harder, because the older they get the more independent (read: demanding) they get, and it can be difficult to keep up with, especially if you, say, work from home. Or just need to do some laundry. But, you can handle it.

My theory, and really just my undying hope, is that this is the Terrible Twos, and once through this, it truly does get easier. Right now, Bowie knows what he wants and needs, but can’t communicate it to us. Also, we have no way of reasoning with him and explaining why he can’t do this and must do that. From his perspective, I suppose it seems like we’re denying him fun, excitement and cookies just because. For no good reason. That has to be so frustrating. So, he throws a tantrum until we figure out what it is he needs, or distract him from what he wants.

But I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s still going to be hard. I mean, a year from now, he’ll be able to talk back. He’ll have a little kiddo opinion, probably about everything, which may lead to some issues with broccoli, bedtime, TV and kissing grandma. And 5 years from now? He’ll have a life. He’ll be making decisions for himself every single day. And as a parent, you can only sit back and let them make those decisions, all the while worrying that they’ll make the wrong one and get hurt. Or worse.

So, I keep trying to remind myself of what’s to come. And that he’s only little once. I need to slow down and try to savor this time, even if it is riddled with tantrums and teething and picky eating. At least he’s healthy, and happy most of the time. And who knows? If I do well now, maybe he will come to me later with some of those decisions and ask for my opinion.

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?