Alexander the Giant

I forgot to mention in my last post the fact that Alexander tripled in size while we were at the hospital having Emily. I didn’t notice it when he came to visit us, but when we got home, my baby boy was suddenly HUGE. It’s most obvious in his hands and feet; rather than itty-bity, chubby, little baby hands and feet, he somehow is sporting these giant, big-kid hands and feet. Where did they come from? How did this happen?

I guess I should have seen the warning signs. He recently saw an episode of Super Why featuring the giant from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and ever since, he’s been going around muttering “Fee, four, five, fum!” He’ll start this chant at random points throughout the day, announcing with glee, “I’m a giant! I live on top of the bean-stop!” Sometimes, hours after we put him to bed, we’ll hear him whispering over the monitor: “Fee, four, five, fum!” I thought he was just pretending, having a good laugh. But, in fact, this is no game of pretend. He actually is a giant.

At his 30-month check-up today, the doctor told us he’s 32 pounds and just over 3 feet tall. I spend 36 hours away from him to go have a baby, and he goes and grows into a full-grown kid. Not only full-grown, but positively gigantic.

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Who approved this?

And Then There Was Emily

We made it to Friday. Past Friday, even. But if my parents had stuck to the original plan to wait until Tuesday to come, they would have been too late.

We made it to Sunday. That morning, at church, I noticed the braxton-hicks contractions I’d been having for several weeks felt a little different than usual. Rather than an all-over tightening sensation in my belly, it was more of a downward-pressure sensation stretching across my belly and around into my lower back. And there were more of them. Rather than several contractions spaced out over an entire day, I was noticing a few each hour. I had very few contraction-free hours throughout the day.

Still, the contractions were very irregular and incredibly mild, so I didn’t mention them to anyone; just made a mental note to pay attention and see if they turned into anything resembling actual labor. Sunday progressed much like any other Sunday. Church, lunch with Tim’s sister and our niece, toddler naptime, etc. I had Tim take a picture of me to commemorate the latest milestone: At 38 weeks, 1 day pregnant, I was officially more pregnant than I’d been when Alexander was born.

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As it turns out, my body doesn’t care to stay pregnant much longer than 38 weeks.

While we were cooking dinner that night, Tim pumped up our yoga ball. He’d been joking all weekend about making me bounce on the ball to get labor going, and he finally decided to get the ball inflated in case I felt like taking him up on his offer. Meanwhile, the contractions were getting stronger and closer together, but they were still pretty irregular. I casually mentioned to Tim that the yoga ball might not be necessary and filled him in on the current state of things. He was instantly on edge, downloading a contraction timer app to his phone (even though I told him I already had one on my phone) and asking me for updates every few minutes.

I put Alexander to bed, then dutifully sat on the yoga ball, contraction timing app in hand, while we all relaxed in the living room. I started timing contractions around 8:00, letting Tim glance at the timer every few minutes, and when my parents went to bed at 9:30, Tim told them, “Just so you know, you might be taking over toddler duty at some point tonight.” The contractions had continued to get stronger and had been consistently 10-12 minutes apart for over an hour. It might have been nothing, but at this point we were pretty sure Something was happening, and we didn’t want my parents to be caught completely off guard when we threw Alexander’s monitor in their room and dashed off to the hospital in the middle of the night.

The next few hours dragged on. We watched the finale of The Walking Dead, called my doctor’s on-call nurse to find out when we should think about making our way to the hospital (60-second contractions, 5 minutes apart for an hour), then went upstairs and waited impatiently for labor to get going. I took a bath. I paced. I bounced on the yoga ball some more. (Despite Tim’s conviction that the yoga ball would help get labor started, the contractions actually slowed down every time I sat on it.) The contractions worked their way up to 4-6 minutes apart, then dropped back to 8-9 minutes, then slowly worked their way back to 6 minutes. I remember thinking, “Is this what a slow labor is like? This is a little boring.”

Things were slow going, but the contractions were definitely getting a lot stronger. And I was exhausted, having been up since 7:00 Sunday morning when Alexander woke up. More than anything, I wanted to get to the hospital and get my epidural in place so I could take a nap.

At 1:30 Monday morning, we decided enough was enough. The contractions weren’t quite as close together as the nurse told us they should be, but they hurt like crazy. We let my parents know we were leaving, gathered up our things, and went to the hospital.

When the triage nurse told us I was only dilated to a 4, we both were pretty nervous that we’d have to walk the halls for an hour or two before we could be admitted. Luckily, the nurse checked with my doctor, who gave the green light to have us admitted. We were in.

We made our way to the labor/delivery room and met Elyse, the wonderful nurse who would see us through the rest of the night. “My shift ends at 7,” she told us, “so let’s see if we can have this baby before then, okay?”

Elyse called the anesthesiologist, and when he arrived Tim took the opportunity to run out to the car and get our bags. (Tim, as you may recall, doesn’t do so well around needles.) The anesthesiologist took forever getting my epidural in place. I kept having increasingly unbearable contractions and thinking “This is the last contraction I’ll have to feel,” but then I had another contraction and thought, “this is the last one.” This continued for several more contractions, which I really didn’t appreciate. I have no idea what took him so long, but when he finished, I was so relieved to be blissfully unaware of the contractions. Finally.

We spent the next few hours resting. Tim got a little bit of sleep, but I was too excited to sleep, knowing that I’d get to meet my daughter in a few hours, so I just rested as much as I could. At some point, my doctor came in and broke my water, and the nurse advised me to rest and let my body labor down on its own as much as possible.

Shortly before 6:00, the nurse came in to check my progress, and determined it was probably time to start pushing. “Let’s do a practice push and see how you do, then I’ll go get the doctor,” she said. About half-way through my first practice push, my nurse said, with quite a bit of urgency in her voice, “Stop pushing! Whatever you do, don’t push any more!” I could feel that the baby was crowning, and the nurse rushed to get the doctor in the room before she had to catch the baby herself.

The doctor showed up, I pushed 3 times, and then Emily was on my chest, tiny and adorable and perfect. I held her and wept tears of joy with Tim, and we both marveled at our beautiful little girl.

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Emily Judith was born at 6:02 AM on March 31, 2014. 6 pounds, 8 ounces, 20 inches long. We’ve talked about naming a daughter Emily since before we were married, so deciding on her name was easy. Her middle name, Judith, is my mom’s first name, which also was an easy decision. My mom is one of my best friends, and there’s no one I’d rather honor with my daughter’s middle name.

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She hardly cried at all when she was born, and she’s continued to be a super mellow baby in the whole week she’s been with us. She figured out nursing almost immediately, and has been eating like a champ ever since. She has a ton of hair and the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. She’s such a little sweetheart.

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It was such a different labor from last time. Even though at first I thought I preferred the quickness of Alexander’s birth, in the end I was thankful for the more laid-back pace this time around. It was nice to get a few hours’ rest before she was born, and the whole process felt a lot easier overall.

The rest of our time in the hospital was uneventful. I broke the no-cosleeping rule Monday night and let Emily sleep on my chest, startling awake every 5 minutes to make sure a nurse wasn’t coming in to yell at me. I’d gotten maybe an hour of sleep in the past 36 hours, co-sleeping was the only way Emily was going to let me get any more sleep, and I was desperate. I got a good 2 hours of sleep (in 5-minute increments) that way, and I felt so refreshed afterward.

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My parents brought Alexander to the hospital when Emily was a few hours old, and as soon as he came in the room and saw her he exclaimed, “My baby sister!” He’s a very proud big brother, always wanting to hold Emily and give her kisses and help change her diaper. Every time he holds her on his lap, he grins and says, “I think her likes me.” The first day she was home, he took one look at her feet and announced “Her has tiny feet! But I have big feet.” And sometimes he just giggles and says, “Emily, what’re you doing?” in a tone of voice that implies she’s just the silliest thing he’s ever seen.

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He’s given her a guided tour of the playroom, showing off all his favorite toys: “Look, Baby Sister! I have a digger! And it digs in the dirt, then puts dirt in the dump truck. Look, Baby Sister! I have a dinosaur! And it says rooooaaarrr!” He was completely unconcerned with the fact that Emily slept through the entire tour.

Alexander was pretty confused the first time he saw Emily nursing. He got a very concerned look on his face and asked me, “Why is she eating you?” Tim and I explained that Emily drinks special milk from Mommy, and then we had to quickly clarify that he drinks Big Boy Milk when he was on the verge of asking to try some of Emily’s milk. That satisfied him, though, and he hasn’t asked about it again.

Emily will be a week old tomorrow, and life’s pretty great. She’s letting us sleep for 2-3 hours at a time, she’s super laid back and hardly ever fusses, and she continues to eat like a pro. Alexander’s adjusting pretty well, though he definitely has his moments when you can tell this isn’t the easiest transition for him. Overall, though, he’s completely smitten with his Baby Sister, and watching him with her makes me overcome with joy.

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We’re a family of four now, and we couldn’t be happier.

Almost There…Maybe? Probably.

I’m 37 1/2 weeks pregnant today. Alexander was born at 38 weeks. Even though I know all pregnancies are different and there’s no guarantee Baby Sister will be a little early like her brother was, I still feel very much like a ticking time bomb. People ask me when I’m due, and it seems I’m incapable of just saying April 12 and leaving it at that. Instead, if you ask me when I’m due, you’ll get “April 12, but my first was born 2 weeks early, so…” My doctor suspects I’ll go into labor early again this time, but of course there’s no way to know for sure. As for how I’m feeling…I have no idea. My opinion on the matter changes by the hour. One moment I’ll be really nervous that I won’t make it until Friday (2 more days!) when my parents will be here to help out with Alexander. (We have about 3 backup plans in place in case I go into labor before my parents are here–4, I guess, if you count just saying “to hell with it” and bringing A. to the hospital with us–but it will be so much easier for him to just stay home with Grandma and Grandpa once they’re here.) And the next moment, I’m convinced that I’m going to be pregnant for 3 more weeks and this is never going to end and I’ll just be lounging around the house like a beached whale well into April. Adding another layer of excitement/mystery to the equation is the knowledge that my labor with A. was a mere 5.5 hours, which might mean that this one will be even faster, so who knows what we’ll have time to do in regards to arranging care for Alexander in our mad dash to get to the hospital on time. Or, it might mean nothing, and I’ll be in labor for 12 hours. Can you tell that it’s driving me just a little bit crazy not being able to know what to plan for? Everyone just keep your fingers crossed that I make it to Friday and the whole “What to do with Alexander” question is no longer an issue.

So, hey! My parents are arriving on Friday! My mom is planning to settle in and stay here until the baby is born so she can take care of Alexander while we’re in the hospital and help us out during those foggy, sleepless early newborn days. They had originally planned to come April 1, but because of my aforementioned nervousness/craziness about whether I may or may not go into labor this week, they graciously changed their travel plans and cut their visit with my aunt in Phoenix short by a few days so they could be here sooner. My parents are basically the best, you guys.

Do you want to see The Belly? Here it is:

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It’s…rather large. Most of my maternity shirts no longer cover it (the one pictured just barely stayed in place long enough for me to snap the picture before promptly riding back up and exposing my gut), so I spend most of my days in Tim’s T-shirts. Even Tim’s shirts, however, are getting to be too small to contain this massive, cumbersome growth. On the rare day that I wear one of my own shirts, like today, I spend all day tugging it down in front and fielding wise cracks from Tim about my super sexy beer belly. (Did I mention Tim’s home on Spring Break this week and next? That’s another milestone I was counting down to, and it’s so nice to have him here and not have to worry about trying to call the school and get in touch with him during the day if I need to reach him urgently because, you know, I’m minutes away from having a baby on the living room rug, please send my husband home right now, okay?) (Of course, now that he’s on break, I’ve switched to being nervous that I’ll somehow still be pregnant when he goes back to work in a week and a half, and I’ll have to go back to stressing about calling him at school. But, if that happens, at least my mom will be here, which makes it substantially less stressful.) ANYWAY, it’s a good thing I work from home and don’t have to leave the house very often, is what I’m trying to say.

Meanwhile, I’ve burned through all my nesting energy and marked pretty much everything off of my pre-baby to-do list in the past month. We got truckloads of hand-me-down clothes from all three of our nieces, and I’ve sorted, washed, and put away all the NB to 6-month sized stuff. I stashed everything else in the basement to deal with later; between Tim’s sister and my brother, we have enough clothes to keep this little girl adorably well dressed for at least the first 2 years of her life. I love it. We bought an adorable going-home outfit with little pink giraffes on it, which is all packed up in our hospital bag, which has taken up permanent residence in my car, ready to go with us to the hospital at a moment’s notice. The infant car seat is installed, pacifiers are washed, and the changing table is stocked with impossibly tiny newborn diapers. My best friend, Amy, whose daughter is 5 days older than Alexander, sent me her daughter’s gorgeous purple crib sheets, and they’re in the crib, just waiting for an adorable baby girl to snooze on them.

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Amy is going to be this baby’s godmother, which makes me happy for so many reasons. We’ve been best friends since preschool, so I’ve always known I wanted her to be godmother to at least one of my kids. Tim’s life-long best friend, John, is Alexander’s godfather, and it feels so perfect that Tim’s and my two best friends are godparents to our children. I know Amy is thrilled about it, too, but when the box arrived with her crib sheets, I was still completely surprised and touched to pull out the most beautiful baptism dress for my little girl. I grabbed the white material, expecting it to be the crib skirt, and audibly gasped when I realized what I was actually holding. Then I proceeded to leave Amy a blubbering voice mail telling her how amazing she is for doing that for us, and how much I loved her, and I how couldn’t stop crying because the dress is just so beautiful and perfect. Everyone should have a friend like Amy in their lives. She’s wonderful.

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People keep asking how Alexander’s doing, whether he’s getting excited to be a big brother. I think he’s doing pretty great and getting excited. He seems to understand, as well as any two-and-a-half year-old can be expected to, what it means when we talk about how Baby Sister is coming soon. He likes to race into her room and announce “This is Baby Sister’s room! It used to be my room, but now it’s Baby Sister’s.” In the car, he’ll point to the infant seat and say “That used to be my seat, but now it’s Baby Sister’s seat.” He knows that Baby Sister is in Mommy’s tummy and someday she’ll be born, but I’m sure the reality of having her come home to live with us will still be a pretty big adjustment for him. That said, he’s such a sweet, kind little guy, and I really think he’s going to be a great big brother. He’s very empathetic and likes to take care of people/the dogs/his stuffed animals, so I think he’ll do well taking care of Baby Sister, too.

And, if I can just brag about my little guy for a minute, he’s just the best. He’s talking up a storm, spouting off complex sentences all the time, asking thoughtful questions, always wanting to learn. He can count to 10 without blinking an eye (though sometimes we have to remind him not to skip the number 4), and he loves singing his ABCs and other songs. He’s really into learning his letters right now, thanks in large part to his recent obsession with Super Why (thanks, PBS!), and the number of letters he can identify on sight grows every day. As of this morning, he can correctly identify S (like a little snake!), T, R, K, C, O, I, Y, and F. He’s really good at pointing out “the O with a tail!” but forgets that it’s called a Q. If you ask him to identify a letter he doesn’t know, his first guess is almost always A. Unless, of course, you’re pointing to an A, in which case he’ll guess another letter. He’s a smart, adorable little stinker, and I tell him every day that he’s my best little guy. The other night he told me “You’re my best little guy, too, Mommy!” which, you guessed it, completely melted my heart.

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So, there’s where we’re at, 37.5 weeks into this pregnancy. Hopefully I’ll be updating again soon (but not before Friday!) with pictures of the newest member of our family. Tim and I are so excited to meet her, and we can’t wait to see what a wonderful big brother Alexander’s going to be.

The Big Boy Room

To free up the nursery for the new baby, we’ve (and be “we” I mean “Tim”) been hard at work getting a new room ready for Alexander. Tim had grand plans for the Big Boy Room, centered around getting his dad’s old electric train set out of storage and building a track to circle the room.  The more he contemplated the idea, the more elaborate his plan became: He’d cut holes in either side of the closet so the train could travel through the closet like a tunnel; We’d hire our friend Lisa (who painted the nursery and the playroom) to paint landscapes for the train to travel through; He’d build a bed frame shaped like a train so Alexander could sleep in a train. I thought it all sounded like a lot of work, but he was so excited about it that I was happy to sit back and let him bring his creative genius to fruition.

Tim eventually abandoned the train-shaped bed frame idea after watching our son’s proclivity toward climbing and falling and generally doing all the dangerous things two-year-olds do. Better not to surround the toddler’s bed with hard surfaces for him to hurt himself on. (I wasn’t super disappointed that I wouldn’t have to struggle to change sheets inside some crazy train-bed, either.)

But the rest of the ideas stuck, and shortly after Christmas we set the wheels in motion for Operation: Big Boy Room. When we initially met with Lisa to discuss our ideas, we told her we’d like to cover all our boy-centric bases — Dinosaurs, Construction Equipment, Space, and probably some jungle animals since he loved the ones in his nursery so much. The great thing about working with Lisa is that we know we can throw a vague idea at her and she’ll turn it into something amazing. She spent four days in that room, up on a ladder with her paints and brushes, and created something better than we ever could have come up with on our own.

The ceiling, painted to look like space.

The ceiling, painted to look like space.

Once Lisa was finished, Tim spent every evening for a week, and the better part of two weekends, designing, building, and installing the train track. He built the shelf on which the track sits out of wood, plastered over the seams, and painted the whole thing the base wall color so it looks like a natural part of the room.

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Diggers and Dump Trucks; the middle one is lifting a planet up into the sky.

He also did some fancy electrical work to enable Alexander to turn the train off and on from the comfort of his bed, and connected all the controls to the wall switch to enable us to quietly reach inside the door and turn everything off after baby bedtime.

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

Meanwhile, I was hard at work, too. LOL J/K No I wasn’t. I clicked around the internet until I found some fun sheets at a reasonable price, and entertained Alexander in the evenings while Tim built the track. I did much of this from the comfort of the couch, with the exception of the times Alexander demanded “Want Mommy play on the flo-or!” (It’s adorable the way he makes “floor” into a two-syllable word, as if he thinks he needs to pronounce each O separately.)

The volcano's smoke blends into the Milky Way that stretches across the sky.

The volcano’s smoke blends into the Milky Way that stretches across the sky.

Tim was determined to keep the whole project a secret from Alexander, so whenever Alexander asked what Daddy was doing, I offered a vague, “Daddy’s working in the Big Boy Room” response, which seemed to satisfy him. He didn’t realize that he was the Big Boy for whom the room was intended.

Safari Animals; I think the elephant is my favorite animal in the room.

Safari Animals; I think the elephant is my favorite animal in the room.

This past Saturday morning, Tim worked his tail off to get the final pieces in place before Alexander’s nap time. By mid-afternoon, Tim and Alexander were napping comfortably in the master bedroom, and I pried myself off the couch to move Alexander’s clothes, toys, and stuffed animals (he calls them his “friends”) from the nursery to the Big Boy Room. By the time the boys woke up, everything was ready for The Big Reveal.

The closet/tunnel, and Colorado mountains and animals.

The closet/tunnel, and Colorado mountains and animals.

Tim took Alexander into the nursery for a post-nap diaper change, and expressed shock at the room’s relative emptiness. “Where are your toys, Alexander? Where’s your dresser? Where are your friends? Where do you think they all went?” Together they searched high and low, checking the playroom, the bathroom, and the laundry room before finally arriving at the door to the Big Boy Room. They opened the door and saw this:

The Big Boy Room

The Big Boy Room

Naturally, Alexander immediately ran to the shelves that now housed his toys and bedtime books, zooming right past the cool monkey growth chart and failing to notice all the room’s best features.

Monkey Growth Chart

Monkey Growth Chart

“Alexander, look up there,” Tim suggested, directing Alexander’s attention to the top of the walls. “Daddy’s train?” Alexander asked, his interest piqued. “No, that’s Alexander‘s train.” Now Alexander was really intrigued.

Taking a tour with Daddy, the mastermind behind it all.

Taking a tour with Daddy, the mastermind behind it all.

Tim showed him around the room, and encouraged him to climb up on the bed and push the buttons on the steering wheel. Alexander eventually pushed the correct button, and the train sprung to life, racing around the top of the room while Alexander looked on in awe. “Look at it go! Goin’ in the tunnel? My train!”

Manning the Controls

Manning the Controls

And with that, Alexander was completely in love with his new big boy room. He spent most of the rest of Saturday in there — “Want to turn the train on!” — as well as most of the day Sunday and today.

First mark on the growth chart -- just shy of three feet!

First mark on the growth chart — just shy of three feet!

He’s tried to go down the hall toward the nursery a couple of times out of habit, but for the most part, when we tell him it’s time to get dressed or change his diaper or get ready for bed, he exclaims with glee, “In the Big Boy Room!”

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My Train!

Transitioning him from the crib to the new bed has been a lot easier than I expected. He went down without too much fuss at bedtime Saturday night, but I fretted that he’d wake up in the night, see his unfamiliar surroundings, and cry for us to come and get him. It’s only been 2 nights, but this hasn’t been a problem at all.

First bedtime in the new room

First bedtime in the new room

He has fallen out of the bed both nights (just once/night), which was understandably a little upsetting for him. The first time he fell, I heard a thump over the monitor closely followed by cries for “Mooommmmyyyyyy!” and rushed down the hall to check on him. As soon as I opened the door, he announced “I okay, Mommy! I all done sleeping! I already sleep good!” “It’s 2am,” I told him as I helped him get back in bed, “you are not all done sleeping.” This news was more distressing to him than falling out of bed had been, but I eventually convinced him to go back to sleep. The second night’s tumble caused a few more tears, but once I settled him back down he slept soundly the rest of the night. Once he figures out how to stay away from the edge of the bed, I think we’ll be home free.

My sweet baby boy.

He may have a Big Boy Room, but he’s still my baby boy.

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

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