Sunday, January 13, 2013

The good and the bad

It seems like a recent theme of my entries is how the good and the bad come together. Most parents of young (or all?) children will understand this: life can be friggin hard and kinda wonderful all at the same time.

The bad: Sylvia and I have had a virus for 16 days. It has disrupted our sleep and made everyone cranky. Earlier this week, it morphed into an upper respiratory thing, and after Sylvia started coughing too much to sleep, and occasionally coughing until she threw up, it became time for a reevaluation and some antibiotics.

Also bad: Amelia has been waking up at night about every hour. I get excited when she sleeps for two hours straight. She wakes up to nurse and returns to sleep quickly, but still - I haven't had a full sleep cycle in over a month. We have changed sleeping arrangements, bedtimes, routines, and nursing patterns, all at no avail. If I didn't have baby-mama magical powers, I don't know how I'd be holding it together. As it stands, I'm just barely staying this side of sane.

The good: I have some new freelance clients and I'm loving it. I've been writing social media copy for a vineyard in Virginia, which has made for some fun research about wine and food, and helping promote a big DC fundraiser. I'm also managing a Twitter and Facebook account for a dog magazine, which is interesting. I'm enjoying using techniques I taught in class and writing a lot more. It's all quite fulfilling.

Also good: last Thursday was my first day of grandparent babysitting. D's parents took Amelia all morning while I worked I their basement, and the baby and I survived just fine. They then picked up Sylvia from school and kept her most of the afternoon. After a morning without the baby and an afternoon with the elder kid, I was revitalized and totally in love with my babies again.

It's now time for another night, another week. Here's hoping we get some sleep and health. All in all, though, we are blessed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Overview

A friend blogger posts these questions and answers each year, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. Admittedly, my answers will get repetitive, as bringing a new life into the world was a pretty capstone event for 2012, but here goes...

1. What did you do in 2012 that you've never done before?

The biggie was giving birth at home. I was also humbled to promote myself as a freelancer and ask friends for work. Oh, and I presented my thesis research at an academic conference - my first to attend and present at.

2. Did you keep the resolutions you made? Will you make more this year?

I don't make resolutions. I generally try to be healthier, mentally and physically, each year, but I don't set concrete goals.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me! And some of my MOMS Club friends, as well as a dear childhood friend. Also a few college friends I keep up with on Facebook.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my husband's maternal grandmother died. She was 92, very active and sharp till the end. She spent her winters in Clemson, so I knew her quite well. She was smart, well read, loved to eat good food and chat over the dinner table. We all miss her. Christmas was a bit sad without her.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. I was pleased just to leave the state a few times. D and I pledged long ago to vacation abroad at least every other year, but the kids have put that dream on hold for a while.

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

Full nights of sleep! Between my pregnancy and this baby, 2012 was not a well rested year. I'm doubtful it'll be much different in 2013, but 2014 should be my year....

7. What dates from 2012 will be etched in your memory and why?

Hm. I'm not great with dates, even though there were some big events this year. May 19 stands out: the day one of my best friends was married. I read from The Alchemist at the ceremony, and D and I enjoyed a brief babymoon on the NJ shore. It was a fun weekend with dear friends and precious "grown-up time." On August 8, I delivered my baby girl - on her due date, no less! And on November 3, Amelia was baptized at our lovely church, followed by a small but warm party with family (and lots of long-distance love sent by godparents).

8. What was your bravest achievement?

Having a healthy birth in my home, with no fear.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I don't feel like I was a very good friend this year. Some of my friends are going through difficult times right now, and it has made me realize how little I do to truly engage with the people I love. Distance sucks.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, nothing major affected my health. That said, I am normally quite healthy, but I spent the first half of 2012 sick as a dog. My pregnancy-weakened immune system caught every bug that blew through this town. I spent days at Urgent Care with breathing problems, likely the result of pregnancy-induced asthma (a first for me). We blew through our Flexible Spending account by summer trying to get me well. Thankfully, it all cleared by May or so.

11. Where did most of your money go?

Well, it dried up quite a bit when the semester ended in May, since for the first time since I was 14, I was earning no money. The money we did make went mostly to our house, which we finally bought (after a year of renting due to a weird title issue). Down payment, mortgage, a few repairs, painting...that'll dent your savings. I also spent more than I should have on food. I cooked a lot of fun dishes in 2012.

12. What song will always remind you of 2012?

A tie: "Call Me Maybe" and "Somebody That I Used to Know."

13. Are you (a) happier or sadder, (b) richer or poorer, (c) fatter or thinner than you were last year?

A - this is tricky. Being a parent of a new baby brings a lot of joy, but also a lot of frustrations and exhaustion. I was probably more consistently happy in 2011, but had more moments of great joy in 2012.

B - Poorer. I miss having a salary.

C - Fatter. 2011 was my thinnest year since high school. In 2012, I gained 40+ pounds in pregnancy and am still carrying some of that around.

14. How did you spend Christmas?

My mom came to visit, but she was sick with an upper respiratory virus. She went to bed after we opened gifts on Christmas morning and missed the whole day. But we hosted a lovely Christmas Eve dinner at our house for our clan, my mom, my parents-in-law, D's aunt, and a family friend. After opening gifts at home Christmas morning - a happy event that took almost 3 hours, as Sylvia happily played with each new present - we took giant naps, then spent the evening at D's parents' house, with his sister's family up from Atlanta. It was all rather low-key but fun.

15. Did you fall in love this year?

I fell completely, utterly in love with an 8lb precious child I met on August 8. She holds a very large part of my heart in her tiny fingers.

16. What was your favorite TV program in 2012?

Downton Abbey. Honorable mentions: Call the Midwife, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, The Newsroom and Project Runway.

17. What was the best book you read in 2012?

Probably Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (I know, 15 or so years late). I also really enjoyed The Memory Keeper's Daughter, The Cove, The Birth House, and The Language of Flowers.

18. What did you want and get? What did you want and not get?

First, a healthy child (praise be!). Next, a child who sleeps well at night.

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

I turned 33 in February (my Jesus year!). My birthday is on Valentines' Day, a difficult day to go out to dinner or host a party, so D typically makes me a nice meal. I was in the middle of one of my many diseases, but we enjoyed a late (after Sylvia was in bed) meal of fondue. I recall enjoying the candlelit dinner, but having to take a break for a severe coughing spell.

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

Large and comfortable - I was pregnant or nursing the whole year. That said, I did discover the joys of maxi dresses, and the comfort of tunics with leggings, both trends I will likely keep once I have my shape back.

21. What kept you sane?

Social media. I love connecting with friends and knowing others are having similar experiences, especially with children.

22. What political issue stirred you the most?

The rise of the Tea Party and their effect on the Republican Party platform really frustrates me. The Newsroom (TV show on HBO) eloquently explains the takeover better than I can. But I was often worked up by ignorant, closed-minded, uncompromising folks having too much say on national news networks and within party war rooms. An uneducated populace gets me all riled up.

23. Who did you miss?

My dearest childhood girlfriends are scattered around the country. We try to get together every year, but it didn't happen in 2012. I miss them.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

My second daughter, Amelia. I've also gotten to know more moms in our MOMS Club, and I'm very much enjoying their friendships.

25. Tell a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

You can't plan for everything, but often the change is for the best. I had planned to give birth at a birth center, but ended up doing so at home. I had planned to keep teaching college classes, but that changed unexpectedly, and out of my control.

26. What song lyric from 2012 sums up your year?

Oh I don't know. This question is better suited for college-aged me. I'm just thrilled to have some great Pandora stations, and a daughter who loves kitchen dance parties.

Happy 2013 y'all!