Better Late than Never

A look back at 2013, using RA’s new-and-improved questions.

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

I turned 30 and celebrated being in the best shape I’ve been in since Alexander was born by running a 5k. To make it even more fun, I did a mud run with my good friend and college roommate, Lauren, and we celebrated our success at the end with breakfast burritos. I don’t remember what exactly I did on the actual day of my birthday (I’m sure burritos were involved), but the mud run was my main personal birthday celebration.

Mud Run

What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?

(1) The conversation in which we decided to have another baby. (2) The Black Forest Fire in early June. Watching the beautiful forest where Tim grew up burn, wondering whether we’d have to evacuate since we live only a couple miles from the forest’s edge, wondering if Tim’s childhood home, our church, and other memory-filled places would still be standing when all was said and done. A lot of things burned — over 500 homes were lost — but Tim’s childhood home and our church both survived. (3) Our month-late Anniversary celebration in which we visited a local brewery’s new location in a 100-year-old building that used to be an elementary school, tried a delicious new-to-us Mexican restaurant, and celebrated both eight wonderful years of marriage and the new baby that we’d just found out was on its way. (4) Alexander’s 2nd birthday. (5) Experiencing Christmas through Alexander’s eyes.

The view of the Black Forest Fire from our neighborhood.

The view of the Black Forest Fire from our neighborhood.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

Started running regularly (at least for the first half of the year), with the help of the Couch-to-5k Program and a handful of good audiobooks to keep me distracted from how boring running can be.

What did you want and get?

To get back in shape and reclaim my body after holding on to post-pregnancy weight for way too long. To get pregnant again. Lots of quality time with my favorite boys.

What did you want and not get?

2013 was a pretty great year and didn’t leave me wanting much. I did ask Santa to bring me a professional cleaning service, just for one day, to clean my house top-to-bottom and do all the things I’m too lazy to do (clean the baseboards, top of the fridge, etc.), and, alas, there was no cleaning service under the Christmas tree this year. Oh, I also wanted my dance studio not to move to a ghetto location that I’m not comfortable going to after dark for classes, but they went ahead and moved anyway. Luckily my tap teacher is awesome and has a tap floor in her basement, and she’s been holding class there for those of us unwilling to go to the ghetto. However, the studio’s move did mean that I had to give up my jazz class, and I really miss it sometimes. I know I could just find a different studio, and that’d be great if all the women I used to dance with would also go to a different studio with me, but that seems unlikely to happen. It’s not that I miss taking as many classes as I used to (though I do miss that); I miss dancing in those specific classes with that specific group of women. We had so much fun, and I’m still holding out hope that the studio’s ghetto location is temporary, and eventually it’ll move to a better place and we’ll all get to dance together again.

What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

A daughter. Good news — I’ve got one scheduled to arrive in a few months.

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

I resolved to finally get off my ass and lose the baby weight I’d been holding onto for over a year, and I was very successful, thanks in large part to Biggest Blogging Loser. And then I promptly got pregnant and gained it all back, but I’m okay with that. In retrospect, I think losing that extra weight really helped pushed me over the edge to finally being ready to go down the pregnancy/childbirth/recovery road again. I’ve lost the baby weight once; I know I can do it again.

I spent New Year’s Eve and Day this year in a haze thanks to the Sinus Infection from Hell and couldn’t be bothered to come up with any new resolutions. My main priorities for this year are to stay healthy through the final trimester of this pregnancy and try to adjust gracefully to all the changes that will come with adding a second kid to our family.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?

On a large scale, I feel like I did a pretty kickass job at finding a work/home balance and being a good wife and mother to my boys. On a smaller scale, I finally organized several years’ worth of digital photos, successfully implemented a system to continue to keep our photos organized as we take them, and worked with Tim to print, frame, and hang several family photos in our previously bare front hallway. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results.

Hallway

What was your biggest failure?

I let myself get way to stressed out about prepping for the holidays, which happens every year, and this year the anxiety was magnified by pregnancy hormones. I have this mental block that I can’t start relaxing and enjoying the holidays until all my shopping and prep work is done, which turns me into a messy ball of anxiety during the first couple weeks of December. I really need to work at being better at going with the flow and allowing myself to enjoy the holiday season even before I’ve checked everything off my to-do list.

What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

Tim, as always, saved me from my crazy emotions on several occasions, and he did so more often than usual thanks to the aforementioned pregnancy hormones. I can always count on him to listen to me cry about everything that’s making me crazy and then help me put a plan in place to deal with it all; having a solid plan of attack usually calms me down quite a bit.

What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? 

Oh, man, I read some really great books this year, including The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys, The Book Thief, The Fault in Our Stars, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. (Wait, technically I read Penumbra in 2014, but I read it before writing this, so I’m still going to count it.) We watched and loved the final season of Breaking Bad, and I’ve finally gotten into The Walking Dead this season. I’d like to go back to the first season and get caught up, but I’m still enjoying the current season. Luckily Tim is nice enough to fill me in on any important back story that I’ve missed up to this point. I think the only movie we saw in the theater this year was Gravity, and it was excellent. We do most of our movie watching at home via Netflix, and nothing really sticks out as being super memorable, except maybe Cabin in the Woods. I’m pretty sure we first watched that one in 2012, but we re-watched it this year, and it was just as fantastic. It was nothing like I expected, and I really, really enjoyed it.

What song will remind you of this year?

I don’t pay much attention to music. I heard a lot about a song called “Blurred Lines,” but I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I’ve ever heard it. If I have heard it, I didn’t realize what I was hearing was “Blurred Lines,” so I may as well have not heard it. I know I heard “Wrecking Ball,” but that’s only because Tim showed me a funny parody video about it. Keeping up with music’s not really a priority for me, is what I’m saying. So I’m going to interpret this one pretty loosely and say that 2013 was the Year of the Audiobook for me. I discovered the joy of a well-produced audio book this year, and the best ones I listened to were The Raven Boys, The Scorpio Races, and The Book Thief.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).

Music not really being something I pay attention to, I was tempted to slap a “not relevant to my interests” answer here and move on. But the more I thought about it, the more I kept being reminded of Tim’s and my unofficial song, “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. (I say unofficial, since it wasn’t our first dance song at our wedding, but it’s probably more meaningful to us than our first dance song, and it’s one that Tim requests whenever we go to friends’ weddings. The DJs usually don’t have it, unfortunately.) The whole song is great, but the title lyrics, “I am the luckiest” really hit home for me this year. I know it’s cheesy, but I look around at my life and can hardly believe how lucky I am to have the amazing family, extended family, and friends that I have. I really am the luckiest.

What was your most enjoyable purchase?

We put together a playroom for Alexander in our loft this year, which has really been fantastic. We lined one wall with cubby shelves for his toys, Tim worked his handyman magic to mount our old flatscreen TV with wires running through the ceiling so the DVD player and other connected devices could be in the closet across the room, and we had a talented friend paint big, fun alphabet letters on one wall. We spend a lot of Alexander’s waking hours up there these days, which is great, and then we put him to bed and come downstairs to a living room that’s not cluttered with trucks and Legos and plastic tools, and that’s even greater. For myself, I scored a pretty amazing deal with an online sale corresponding with stackable coupons that allowed me to get a $90 pair of boots for $30, and that was pretty awesome.

Playroom 1Playroom 2

Did you travel? If so, where?

We flew to Virginia to meet our new nephew at the end of June. In October, we took a road trip to San Antonio to visit Tim’s parents in their new home. Fourteen hours in the car over 2 days (each way) with a 2-year-old wasn’t as challenging as I expected it to be — Alexander did remarkably well, all things considered — but I’m not in a hurry to take another long road trip anytime soon. Once we arrived, we had a great time with Tim’s parents. Hopefully next time we visit the in-laws, we’ll be able to find cheap flights.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

I know it makes me sound like a lush, but I’ve really missed wine since I got pregnant. Just one cold glass of Chardonnay in the evening, that’s all I want. It sounds so good. Come April, you can bet my now-empty wine rack will be fully stocked again. (I know that’s probably not the proper spirit of the question, but I’m running out of steam here. Cut me some slack.)

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing about the holidays, definitely.

Compared to this time last year, how are you different?

Well, I’m 6 months pregnant, which is the most obvious difference. I also feel, overall, more confident as a parent and (usually) more prepared to take on the challenge of adding a new baby to our lives than I did at this time last year.

Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?

I’m still the same-old me, overall. Still quiet in social situations, still a sucker for a cheesy romance book or movie. Still loving being married to a man who makes me laugh every day.

What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Naps are amazing. No, seriously, they’re amazing. I’ve always known it on some level, but I really came to appreciate it when faced with first-trimester exhaustion coupled with chasing a toddler around and not having the luxury to nap at will. Now, Saturday afternoon naps with a toddler snuggled up next to you because that’s the only way either of you is going to get a solid 2 hours of sleep? Probably one of the best things ever.

Family

Playing Catch-Up

So, it turns out I accidentally went a super long time without writing anything new over here. Stuff kept happening that I kept wanting to write about, but then other stuff happened and I got distracted and then I couldn’t decide what to write about and then suddenly it had been 2 months. Ummm…sorry about that. Anyway, who’s up for a quick recap? Ready…set…bullets!

  • To pick up where we left off, SangriaBaby still has the same name he did 2 months ago. I think it’s safe to say we picked a winner. But we’re still not telling what it is. Luckily, he has about a million nicknames already, so we are not without adorable things to call him around other people. My parents usually call him Tiny Tim (for obvious reasons), but lately have started calling him Zachariah (kind of an inside joke). At the dance studio, he’s Baby Mack (our performing group is called the Mack Divas, and we each have our own “Mack” nicknames…mine is Big Mack [again, obvious reasons]). My boss calls him Fred Astaire Jr. Another woman at work just calls him Junior. To my sisters-in-law, he’s Pablo. Tim’s parents alternate between calling him Little Peep and Tiny Dancer. I can’t wait to see which nicknames stick after he’s born and what new ones we come up with once we finally get to meet him.
  • I’ve been so focused on all things baby lately that I totally forgot to tell y’all when we finished landscaping our back yard. And, you guys. It is so gorgeous. 90% of the credit goes to Tim, who spent his entire summer vacation digging and planting and sprinkler system-ing and mulching and sodding. I helped with the sod a little, but he and a few of our very generous friends did most of the work. After fighting for 6 summers to make our mess of a yard at the old house somewhat presentable and still not being satisfied with it, I can’t tell you how nice it is to have this yard finished and beautiful and requiring only basic maintenance in the summers to come.

DSCN3410

  • In also-yard-related-but-totally-deserving-of-its-own-bullet news, we also managed to build a spectacular deck this summer! And when I say “we,” I of course mean “Tim and my parents,” because once again I didn’t help much beyond providing moral support. We weren’t anticipating being able to build a deck until next summer, but we managed to find room in our landscaping budget this year, and I am so glad we did. Spectacular as the new house is, the one thing it was missing was a nice place to sit outside with a cold beverage and good friends. Thanks to about a week of hard work from three of my favorite people, we now have the nicest deck (and yard, in my humble opinion) in the neighborhood.

DSCN3424

  • Tim finished the bulk of the yard work about a week before his summer ended, and he spent that last week of summer playing with his new grill that has a built-in smoker. That week, I came home from work every night to a different smoked meat, and every day was more delicious than the last. We’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and seriously considering smoking the turkey.
  • I am having a small love affair with Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches.
  • We had a couple of truly wonderful baby showers thrown by the most amazing family and friends. This child is so loved and spoiled already, and it warms my heart to know he’s going to grow up surrounded by so much love.
  • One thing about pregnancy that has caught me by surprise is how uncomfortable I am going to the liquor store. I feel like I need to walk around announcing “It’s not for me! It’s for my husband/friends/deck builders! Stop judging me!” I can’t remember the last time I felt so self-conscious, and I don’t like it.
  • We’ve been working hard on the nursery, and it’s officially the cutest room in the house. But that’s a topic for another (picture-filled) post. Which I will hopefully write sometime after we get all the finishing touches in place but before the room explodes from having an actual baby in it.
  • I’m still dancing a couple hours a week, but I’m officially done performing until after the baby arrives. I danced in my last show about a month ago, and it was pretty much the best thing ever. We dance at a lot of local community events, so there’s not always a guarantee that we’ll get a decent stage or an enthusiastic audience, but this particular performance was in a real theater, on a real stage, with the most incredible audience. They were there to see live music in tribute to the woman who ran the local Cotton Club 50 years ago, and we got to come on stage during a 30-minute band break. We had no idea what the audience would think of a bunch of white girls tap dancing, but (excuse me while I brag a moment) they freaking loved us. It was the best performance we’ve had in a long time, and it felt incredible to go out on such a high note.
  • Remember the dogs? They’re still adorable (laser eyes and all). And completely oblivious to the fact that their entire world is going to turn upside-down in about a month. (And here they thought moving to a house where they’re not allowed on the couches would be the most traumatizing event of the year.)

Dogs!

  • In conclusion, here’s The Baby Bump at 35 weeks. At my last appointment, I was measuring about a week ahead of schedule, so either the boy child is going to arrive a little early (we’d be okay with that), or he’s going to be rather large (less okay with that). Let’s keep our fingers crossed for the former, shall we?

35 Weeks

Hoofin’

It turns out that this Saturday I’ll be tapping at an event called Urban Jam.

Yeah, you read that right. This suburban white girl, and two of her very suburban white friends, will be lacing up the tap shoes and trying not to look too ridiculous at an event called Urban Jam.

I could try to impress you with the fact that we found out about this performance 4 days ago, had nothing “urban” in our repertoire, and put together a pretty bad-ass new piece of choreography in just 3 hours of work over the weekend. Or I could try to be cool and talk about how the hoofin’ style of tap that this event calls for (think: less bouncy and show-y, more grounded and awesome) is my very favorite kind of tap. But the reality is that the only reason the three of us won’t be wearing something sparkly on Saturday is because we haven’t yet decided on a dance company name good enough to bedazzle onto a hoodie.

And really, when it comes to white girls dancing, “bedazzled on a hoodie” is the new “set in stone.”

Platinum

Several weeks ago, three things happened:

1. I performed in my first-ever tap duet.
2. I won my first-ever platinum medal for the duet. (Platinum=highest score possible.)
3. I won two more platinum medals for group tap and jazz dances.

It was a good day!

Would you like to see my award-winning dances? Well, you’re in luck because for once I actually managed to upload the videos. (I figure since I never blog anymore since I spend most of my free time dancing, it’s only fair that you should get to see just what exactly is taking up all my time.)

“Jack and Scottie” (a/k/a “You and Me and the Bottle Makes Three”)

My tap duet, performed with my fabulous friend Colette. The stage was not the best for tapping, so you can’t hear the taps over the music, but you can see us in all our sassy glory.

“Puttin’ on the Ritz”

The group tap dance. Since there are more of us, you can actually hear the tap sounds in some places. I’m second from the right through the majority of the dance. Keep an eye on me when we do a fancy cane toss and I narrowly avoid taking a cane to the face. Of all the times we’ve performed this dance, this was the closest I ever came to dropping my cane onstage. Good thing it was our last performance so I’ll never have to worry about dropping that cane again.

“Big Spender”

Jazz, Fosse-style. I start out third from the right, then finish up in the back/center. Since I only recently got back into jazz dancing after several years of nothing but tap, I am going to drop all pretenses of modesty and just come out and say that I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the last couple of years. For example, in the middle of this dance we all do a double pirouette, something I wouldn’t have been able to do six months ago. Hell, I could barely make it all the way around a single pirouette without wobbling, and now I’m consistently nailing my double turns and even thinking about working toward a triple. Tap will always be my favorite, but jazz is awfully fun too!

So, there you have it. This is what I do for fun.

This One’s for You, Gary

What follows is a brief summary of some awesome things that have happened in my life lately (and awesome things that happened not-so-recently that I just never got around to writing about ).

1. This one time, my friend RA came to town and we had dinner together. She is every bit as adorable as you’d imagine. I was pleased to be there to witness her husband’s first taste of New Belgium beer, though I was sorry to have missed seeing her shoot tequila out of a hollowed-out lime peel.

2. Another time, my friend Gary came to town, which is always awesome. Making this visit extra awesome, he helped Tim and I recreate the moment we first met. It went a little something like this:

Top row: Cheers!
Bottom left: Mmmm….cheap vodka!
Bottom right: Several shots later, we are too drunk to hold our own heads up.

Awwww…young love!

3. A couple weeks ago, my niece came to visit, and Tim and I got to test our toddler-chasing skills for an entire weekend. We learned a lot that weekend, mostly that slides at the park are fun, but few things are funnier than having your Aunt Audrey hold you so you can reach to turn off the light switch every time she turns it on. Over. And over. And over. Man, was that light switch trick hilarious.

4. This past weekend, I had a dance competition. I was in a tap dance and a jazz dance, and we took home gold medals in both. I was hoping for platinum, but gold is pretty darn good. Like last year, though, the best part of the weekend was the full day of classes the day after competition. They went so much better than last year. I’m not sure if the classes were easier this year, if my skills have improved, or some combination of the two, but either way it was awesome to survive four hours of challenging classes without feeling completely out of my league. Plus I can walk today, which is not something I could do (at least not well, owing to the excruciating muscle pain) at this time last year.

I have another competition next month, where, in addition to the two dances I did this weekend, I’ll also have a tap duet with my good friend Colette. We just started working on it, and it’s shaping up to be a really cool dance. Here’s hoping it’s cool enough to bring home a platinum award!

5. By far, the awesomest thing to happen recently was making a deposit on the most amazing vacation. This fall, we’re going on an incredible Mediterranean cruise with stops in Italy, Croatia, and Greece. And for three days before the cruise…..drumroll please….we’re going to Barcelona!!! I am so excited to go back to Barcelona and revisit all my favorite parts of the city with Tim. It’s been over a month since the details of the trip were finalized and I still get so excited thinking about how great it’s going to be that I can hardly sit still. It’s going to be amazing.

So, that’s what’s happening in my life. Maybe, if we’re lucky, I’ll manage to post a couple more times between now and the big cruise.

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