Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And a Happy New Year

Happy New Year's Eve from under a blanket on my couch while holding a feverish toddler, where I am about to have the most crazy, insane, balls-to-the-wall, rock n' roll evening ever, and by this I mean I have bought a chocolate fruit tart. Yes, you heard me right. I also have a couple of beautiful pieces of salmon in the kitchen, a variety of infused olive oil and balsamic vinegars and a load of laundry in the wash, plus a stack of board games sitting on my dining room table and a half finished Cloud Atlas movie in our blue-ray player. Do we know how to live or do we know how to live?

We’d had grand plans, but I’ve been feeling really rotten for the last few weeks with this cold that I have not been able to shake since Thanksgiving and Lily has spent the past four days with a fever. And then this morning, at Draeger’s (whilst picking up my salmon) she threw up all over me, so I’m very glad that we are staying in. As a consolation prize, I bought myself the chocolate fruit tart. I think we can all agree this is pushing the boat out a little, even for New Year’s Eve.

Because I am feeling sort of crummy, and because I delight in the usual sort of list-making and stock taking that runs rampant this time of year, I thought I might attempt a question and answer thing for my review of 2013.
  1. What did you do in 2013 that you have never done before? Went whale watching. Took the girls sledding. Drank $100 of wine for my anniversary. Played Bocce Ball. Went to Orcas Island. Discovered my favorite tinted moisturizer. Had a miscarriage. Survived having a dinner party for twelve. Dipped Lily’s toes in the Pacific Ocean. Enrolled a child in preschool and made a earthquake survival kit. Went apple picking. Enjoyed a perfect picnic in Half Moon Bay. Ran a Turkey Trot.
  2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for next year? Last year, I resolved not to make any resolutions – easier not to break them, which I invariably do by February – and instead just to “work hard, be kind, and let things happen.” I definitely did the first and the last, and I’d like to hope I did the middle one too, so maybe I’ll just go ahead and make that my resolution for 2014 as well. Ah what the heck, I’m feeling hopeful; let’s amend it to “work hard, be kind, let things happen, and run more miles.”   
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? One of my oldest childhood friends had an adorable baby girl in April and several good college friends had babies over the summer. Several other nearby friends also gave birth this fall. Also, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, but I suspect we are only besties in my head. 
  4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank goodness. But, we did travel back to Minnesota to celebrate the life of J’s uncle who passed away in June.
  5. What countries did you visit? Unfortunately, I believe our international travel is extremely limited for the next decade. We did do a bit of US travel though; we took a road trip to the Pacific Northwest, which included stops at Crater Lake, Bend, Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainer, Seattle, and Orcas Island. Also, we had a few weekends in San Luis Obispo, Lake Tahoe, Minneapolis & St. Paul, Healdsburg, and Palm Springs. Oh, and Orange County a couple of times to see my parents.
  6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? More time for this blog. I really enjoy having a creative outlet of my own to write the things I feel like writing when I feel like writing them. My job has kept me incredibly busy this year, not to mention having two young children, and these two things have used up a lot of the ooh-I-feel-like-writing headspace that I used to have left over for my blog.
  7. What was your biggest failure? I tried desperately hard to read Dubliners. A goal I have had for years, something I feel that all lovers of Irish culture and literature in general should read. And I read the first 50 pages and then gave up.  Major fail.
  8. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory forever and why? You know, I cannot remember a single one. This is why I have a day planner.
  9. Did you suffer illness or injury?  Hmm, apart from a D&C in the spring, and our current low-level malaise, not really no. 
  10. What was the best thing you bought? Probably our tickets for Whale Watching in June. That was something I’ve always wanted to do, but was afraid I’d get sea sick. In the end, Daisy got sea sick, but it was still totally worth seeing all the whales! Although, I haven’t had my chocolate fruit tart yet, so my answer may still change.
  11. Where did most of your money go?  Graduate School Student Loans. Savings Account.    
  12. What did you get really excited about?  I kept getting sent all these 40% off coupons for the Gap! It was crazy! I bought, like three sundresses for $12 at one point!
  13. What song will always remind you of 2013? Roar by Katy Perry. Lily loves that songs and loves to “ROAR” when it comes on.
  14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? Happier and fatter. Maybe a little poorer, thanks to all those 40% off coupons.
  15. What do you wish you'd done more of? Eh, I suppose I should say “exercise” or something, but I was actually a lot better about exercising this year, and you know, in general, I just had a very satisfying year. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I feel happy and content, which I realize is a very, very short distance from “smug and annoying,” a state I hope to never accidentally cross into, but I can’t think of anything right now that I wish I’d done more of. Oh okay, I guess that’s always room for more exercise.
  16. What do you wish you'd done less of? Commuting. Worrying. Having a short fuse.
  17. How did you spend Christmas? With my family and J’s family and J’s aunt and uncle from Minnesota all here in our townhouse. We had lasagna and opened presents all day and took the kids to the park and munched on cookies. It was pretty much perfect, although we were all wiped when the day was over.
  18. What was your favorite TV program? White Collar, I anxiously spent all year waiting for the next season to come on Netflix.
  19. What were your favorite books of the year? Oooh, I have a post that I am brewing for this, but for now I’d say it’s a tie between Families and other nonreturnable gifts by Claire LaZebnik or Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I also became obsessed with Her Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen. Basically, it was all things British. 
  20. What were your favorite films of the year? I think maybe....Frozen? I took Daisy to see it yesterday, and I can't really remember watching anything else, although I know I did. Why, what did you watch? I probably should have watched that. 
  21. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? I was 33, and wow, what did I do? Oh, we were in Minneapolis with my in-laws spending the weekend celebrating J’s uncle. We also went to the Como Park Zoo before we spent the afternoon at one of the aunt’s house. Plus, they made me a blueberry pie (my favorite), so I felt very blessed and loved.
  22. What kept you sane? J. He is so calm and level-headed to my crazy. Also, my girls. Remembering that they are only little once. One day they will be grown and won’t climb into my bed at 3am for a snuggle. They won’t vomit on me in the market (who, am I kidding, that’s a good thing!) or come running to me when I walk in the door after work. They won’t beg me to play with them or smother me in kisses. Days are hard, but every moment is completely worth it.
  23. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013. It all works out in the end. This is basically the same lesson I learned in 2012, but you know, I really don’t think you can learn it enough.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The photo dump

This time of year is always crazy for me. Usually between grading bad student composition and editing mediorce student application essays, I lose all creative juices. So, instead I present to you a photo dump:
1. Daisy was a princess monkey for Halloween. She decided this on her own MONTHS before the big day. I thought it was just a passing whim, but nope. She stuck to her guns. 
2. Lily was a bumblebee and disliked every aspect of the holiday. Well, except for the sucker. 

3. And this is really what both girls were like on Halloween. Daisy's preschool had a parade, so we had both girls dressed up for that, but neither had any interest in actually "trick or treating" that night. So, they stayed home and played dress-up. 

4. At 22 months, Lily had her first haircut. She wasn't all that pleased. 
5. Meanwhile, Daisy loves her impromptu chop.
6. & 7. It has become a tradition to declare a family adventure day for one part of Veteran's day weekend. We unplug for the day and take a day trip somewhere (dog friendly to boot). This year we went to Half Moon Bay to picnic, play at the beach and eat ice cream. Daisy, Casey and I splashed in the waves. Lily observed perched on Daddy's shoulders. 
8. We met friends at the Nut Tree in Vacaville. The girls were over the moon because in one place they saw Rapunzel, Cinderella & Santa Clause. 
9. & 10. For Thanksgiving, we spent the week at my parents house. One day we took the kids to the Children's museum in La Habra. For the record, this is the only moment that Lily was smiling during the carousel ride. 
11. One night we took Lily with us to have dinner with friends and stopped at Golden Spoon (my local high school hangout, yes...I was that cool) afterward for a treat. When J said smile, this is what Lily did. 

12. On Thanksgiving Day, J and I did a turkey trot. My first one ever. We ran the 5K, and then ran the 3.5 miles home. Our verdict, not worth the time and money to run a measley three miles. 
13. & 14.  Last weekend we drove up to Sonoma to chop down our Christmas Tree. In our married life, it's our first live tree. Now, I am just praying that I don't kill it before Christmas. And yes, we did in fact encourage the girls to work together to pull the tree to the car while we took pictures and laughed.

15. The resulting family photo next to our tree.  While it's so much easier to put up our fake tree, our house now smells Christmasy. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

All you need is love

Yesterday was my due date. Did you know that I was pregnant earlier this year? One minute I was pregnant, and we were rejoicing. (A baby! A baby!) The next minute we were a tad overwhelmed. (Wait, a third baby! A third baby?) And then, almost in what seemed like the next minute, I was not.  

The peculiar thing about miscarriage, the one aspect of it that I still cannot comprehend, is that a life is lost. One day, we had a baby: I was going to be a mother of three. The next day: The heartbeat had stopped; unbeknownst to me. One day, there were two hearts here. Two lives here. A family of five. The next day, there was only me.
This past week started out as pretty glum, but then we brought dinner to a friend who welcomed a little girl into the world two weeks ago. I talked to a friend who has waited for years for a little one to arrive in their lives, and in the past eight weeks is finally adjusting to being a family of three. I heard that a friend of mine is being induced today. I rubbed the belly of a close friend who is expecting her first baby in a matter of months. And another close friend is expecting their first baby, after years of waiting patiently, in the upcoming weeks. I know, I know, that these aren’t really linked, but somehow I cannot help feeling that they are. The incurable idealistic hippy in me likes to think that we are all connected just a little bit and that everything happens for a reason, you know?

My entire life, I could always think of something that I would have changed or done differently if I could. I would have studied harder or told the truth. I would have called one more time. I would have run more miles. I would have written one last letter. And for the first time in the past seven months, I am realizing that I have made peace with our loss. I listen to my girls playing and laughing together. I embrace their slobbery kisses and I am convinced that I could not have done anything differently. I have, once again, been humbled, and reminded that we are not in control. I have, once again, been reminded of the fragility of life. I have two amazing girls and beyond-my-wildest-dreams of a husband.

We have so much love.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lots o'Apples

One of the things J and I said we were going to do in 2013 was to take more day trips and weekend getaways to the areas around San Francisco. As you can see, it’s almost the end of 2013 and we’ve pretty much failed ourselves entirely, but we did also have “get a promotion” (which Jim got two), and “pay off one student loan” on that list, so we can probably call it even.

(Side note about that first thing: J promoted in his company. This has been a big work in progress since the beginning of the year, and the official promotion came a two weeks ago, which gives him a pleasing sense of validation as well as a flurry of Linked In-related updating, and of course, fancy Chimay beer bought from Costco consumed alongside some steak fajitas.)

Anyways! All this to say a couple of weekends ago, we spend the day apple picking. Doesn’t that sound delightful? Doesn’t that sound so family friendly, northern Californian, and a perfect way to spend a fall Sunday afternoon? I mean, look at this orchard!

At the orchard, we picked apples until our arms hurt and then we went to feed the cows all the apples in which the girls had “sampled.” Once we paid for our share of apples, we headed over to the coast for a picnic lunch. We had grand plans of finding a park for the kids to run around in, but we ended up eating in the back of our cars.
After a picnic lunch, we headed out to Laugintas where we drank beer and generally congratulated ourselves on a pretty perfect day, before heading back down to the East Bay suburbia.
Whoa boys, try to contain your enthusiasm about apple picking. It’s getting embarrassing.

It was such a fun day spent with friends. As for the apples, I have used a few to make apple pecan bread, chicken sausage and apple faro, used a few in a dinner salad, and gave five to Daisy to take to preschool for apple week. The rest of them are waiting to be made into applesauce.