A Day in My Life

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5:30 AM: Tim’s alarm goes off, but he’s not there to start his usual round of hitting snooze every 5 minutes for 40 minutes. Alexander woke up several times in the night complaining of bad dreams (we will not be reading Where the Wild Things Are at bedtime again), and around 3:00 Tim gave up and slept in Alexander’s room with him for the rest of the night…or morning, I guess. I lay in bed, trying to summon the energy it will take to haul my massive self over to Tim’s side of the bed to turn off his alarm, but apparently it snoozes itself automatically because eventually it stops. Five minutes later the alarm goes off again. I continue to ignore it, alternating between trying to get a few more minutes of sleep (my alarm doesn’t go off until 6:30; you can imagine how pleased I am to have Tim’s alarm waking me up an hour earlier than necessary most mornings) and contemplating how I’m going to wake Tim up without disturbing Alexander, who is finally sleeping.

6:00 AM: Turns out I needn’t have worried about Tim waking up on time, because I hear Alexander ask for milk over the monitor. I flick the screen on and see Tim getting out of Alexander’s bed. A few minutes later, they appear in the master bedroom doorway, and Tim deposits Alexander and his sippy cup in bed next to me, and stumbles into the bathroom to take a shower. We don’t say much to each other; there’s no need. It’s been a long night, we’re not morning people, and we’re both exhausted. I try futilely to get a few more minutes of sleep while Alexander drinks his milk, but all too quickly he’s holding his empty sippy cup in my face saying “That was good!” And then he’s climbing all over me, ready to play.

6:20 AM: I give up on sleep and take a shower. Alexander comes into the bathroom with me, but soon he’s starting to throw my shoes all over the closet, and when I tell him to stop, he refuses. Tim’s still getting dressed, so he helps corral the kiddo, kisses me goodbye, and takes A. to the playroom to hang out while I get showered and dressed.

6:33 AM: I get out of the shower and hear my alarm going off on my nightstand. I turn it off, wondering why I even bother to set an alarm, seeing as how I rarely get to sleep til 6:30 most days anyway.

6:34 AM: From the playroom down the hall I hear “Daddy! DAAAADDDDYYY!!” I can hear Tim downstairs making his breakfast and getting ready to head out the door, so I go ask Alexander what he needs. “I need Caillou!” I hunt around for the remote, then sit on the couch for the few minutes it takes to start Netflix and scroll through the menu to find the requested show. Alexander giggles and asks “Why you wearing this towel shirt, Mommy?” and I explain that I just got out of the shower and still need to get dressed. The show starts, and I leave Alexander sitting on the floor, happily singing along to the opening song.

7:00 AM: Once I’m finished getting dressed, putting on makeup, and drying my hair, I head to the playroom and start negotiating with Alexander about getting him dressed. He holds up his magnadoodle and requests I draw an elephant. I tell him I’ll draw him an elephant after he gets dressed, but he doesn’t want to leave the playroom. We eventually agree that I will bring clothes into the playroom and he can get dressed in there, which I’m happy to do because it means I get to pick his clothes instead of waiting five minutes for him to select undies, waiting another several minutes for him to pick a pair of pants, then holding him in front of his closet for another five minutes while he decides on a shirt. I quickly select some clothes and start getting him dressed, all the while assuring him that he cannot stay in his pajamas today, much as he’d like to. “Can I stay in my jammies just a few more minutes?” Nope, time to put your jeans on. “But can I stay in these just a little bit longer? Pretty, pretty, pretty please?” Sorry, bud, jammies off, jeans on. Once he’s dressed, I draw him an elephant, as promised. A deal’s a deal.

7:10 AM: We head downstairs, and I pop a couple waffles in the toaster. Alexander asks for a banana (“I want a banna!”), so I let him pick which one he wants and peel it for him. I make myself a peanut-butter-and-jelly waffle sandwich and enjoy a couple quiet minutes while we both eat. Then it’s time to wrestle shoes and jackets on — it’s a struggle to get A to hold still long enough to put his shoes and jacket on most days; today he’s busy hopping “Like a kangaroo!” and trying to flip his mini armchair over to make a cave. I plop down in a chair and struggle to bend over far enough to tie my own shoes — my 34+ week belly is making this sort of task pretty cumbersome. Just as I’m opening my mouth to tell Alexander he needs to try to go potty before we leave, he announces “I need to go potty!” and races down the hall to the bathroom. Great timing, kiddo.

7:20 AM: I buckle Alexander into his carseat then gather my purse and the dog, and we’re out the door. Today Smalls is coming with us because I have to drop her off at the vet for her semi-annual checkup and teeth cleaning. Alexander is delighted to have her in the car with us and talks to her the whole way to daycare. “Smalls is in hers seat! But Ben is not. Ben staying home.” “Smalls is happy! Her is a happy girl.” “Lookit all the cars, ‘Malls! You don’t have to be afraid. It’s just the cars driving on the road.” “*Gasp!* A blue truck! I’ve never seen a blue truck ‘afore.” Usually he spends the drive to daycare watching for “Boo-mint Trucks!” (cement trucks), but today Smalls has all of his attention.

7:30 AM: We pull up at Linda, our daycare provider’s house — “That’s Ninna’s house!” — and I take Alexander inside. After giving Alexander a big hug and kiss goodbye, I go back to the car and drop Smalls off at the vet before heading back home. Now that Alexander’s not in the car, I turn on my current audio book, The Dream Thieves. I’m enjoying the book quite a bit and am glad to have a little extra driving time to listen this morning.

8:00 AM: I get back home, pausing for a few minutes in the garage to listen to the end of a riveting scene in the book. Ben greets me at the door happily, though I think he’s confused about why I haven’t brought Smalls back home with me. I log on to my work computer and sort through my emails. I thought I had a conference call followed immediately by a webinar training this morning, but I see the conference call has been rescheduled to next week, so I have a little more time than expected to get my own work done before the training. I touch base with a couple of coworkers about our plans to meet for lunch after the training, then settle in to do a couple hours of editing.

8:00 AM to Noon: Work, work, work, with occasional breaks to put on a load of toddler laundry (after which I add detergent to next week’s grocery list), make coffee (I’m relieved to remember Tim did the dishes last night so my favorite travel mug is clean; I still use a travel mug even though I work from home since I’m a slow coffee drinker, and the travel mug keeps it warm longer than a regular mug), have a snack (I’m craving protein after my sugary breakfast, so I toss some buffalo chicken tenders in the oven. At 10 AM. Shut up, it’s totally a normal mid-morning snack), and check Twitter and Facebook. Work’s not super busy this early in the month, but I’m working on a project for another department while my main workload is light, and I have a company-wide training session at 11:00 AM, so the breaks are few and far between.

12:05 PM: I meet up for lunch with a few coworkers (the handful of us who were lucky enough to keep our jobs and work from home after company-wide layoffs resulted in our local office being shut down at the end of January) at a new-to-me Vietnamese restaurant. The restaurant is okay, nothing to write home about, but it’s nice to see my coworkers face-to-face and have an actual conversation instead of just sending emails back and forth.

1:00 PM: The restaurant we ate at is just down the street from Sprouts, an organic grocery store, so I swing by there on my way home to pick up some of their frozen chiles rellenos for dinner. Tim and I both love these rellenos, but we don’t make it to Sprouts very often, so eating them is a rare treat. Today is the last of three long days of Tim proctoring state-standardized testing, and I know he’s worn out from it, so I’m excited to surprise him with one of his favorite dinners tonight. The grocery store is crazy busy, considering it’s the middle of a week day, and I do my best to get in and out as quickly as possible, then head home to finish my work day.

2:10 PM: Just as I’m getting to the point in the day where I start to fret that I haven’t heard from the vet and wonder if I should be worried, the vet calls to tell me Smalls is finished with her teeth cleaning and recovering well from the anesthesia. They’d like to keep an eye on her for a couple of hours, which is standard procedure, so we arrange for me to come pick her up at 4:45.

2:30 PM: My boss calls and we chat for a bit about work, kids, and pregnancies (she’s due a few weeks after me). It’s so nice having a boss whom I not only respect but also count among my friends.

2:58 PM: The internet goes down, because of course it does. Luckily, just as I’m about to trundle down to the basement to unplug and re-plug in the router (sometimes that helps), the connection flicks back on again.

3:03 PM: Ben’s incessant barking alerts me to the fact that it must be 3:00-ish and therefore the end of the school day at the neighborhood school. He’s going to bark at the kids walking home on the path behind our house for the next 40 minutes no matter what, so I let him out the back door so he can run up and down the fence, barking to his heart’s content, and I can continue to work in peace. Sorry, kids.

3:05 PM: Work’s still not busy, so I work on finalizing the details of my maternity leave…as much as I can, anyway, given the multitude of unknowns I have to work around. Since I plan to work right up until the baby is born, I obviously don’t know the exact date my leave will start, but my manager and I have been through this before, so we have a pretty good plan in place to distribute my workload to the rest of the editing team at a moment’s notice if need be. On top of that, though, some major changes in my company — both recent and soon-to-come — mean that my insurance benefits and paid time off may (or may not) be changing sometime before (or soon after) my leave begins. So I plan as much as I can based on my current benefits and PTO allotment, take a lot of deep breaths, and remind myself that there’s only so much I can control and everything will work itself out somehow.

3:30 PM: I’m hungry again (still, always) so I go rummage in the kitchen for a snack (cookie or granola bar? better go with both), then quickly put away the load of toddler laundry I washed earlier, depositing a pair of too-short jeans he wore earlier this week into the box I keep next to the dryer for clothes he’s outgrown. Putting Alexander’s laundry away goes much faster when he’s not around to “help,” and it’s only a few minutes before I’m back at my desk.

4:15 PM: I hear the garage door open, which means Tim and Alexander are home. I keep an eye on my office window eagerly anticipating one of my favorite parts of the day: watching the two of them walk hand-in-hand to the mailbox down the street. Those two are stinkin’ adorable. But apparently they’re not getting the mail today, as they immediately come inside instead. Oh, well. I head down the hall to say hi to them and find Alexander crying in the time-out chair. Apparently he was a stinker all day at daycare and then wasn’t listening to Tim when he picked him up. So that’s why they didn’t go get the mail.  Meanwhile, Tim sees the chiles rellenos defrosting on the counter and is pleased. Tim and I briefly discuss our days and he fills me in on Alexander’s daycare shenanegins. Alexander promises to do a better job listening, and he’s allowed out of time out.

4:20 PM: As soon as A. gets out of time out, he asks to go outside and go to the park. Tim tells him they can maybe go to the park if Alexander can show him he can be a good listener. “But I need to go to the park!” Alexander protests. After a few minutes of debate, Tim offers Alexander a deal: If they go upstairs and clean the playroom, then they can go to the park. Alexander reluctantly agrees, and they head up to the playroom while I go do a few more minutes of work before leaving to pick up Smalls from the vet.

5:00 PM: Smalls and I are home from the vet, and Ben is overjoyed to see his little sister again. I log back in to my work computer to see what I missed while picking Smalls up, and am pleased to see the email reminding me that it’s payday. I do a bit more work before going upstairs to hang out with my boys in the playroom.

5:30 PM: Alexander and I play while Tim talks to his sister on the phone. Alexander’s in a much better mood, and we have a great time together. He has quite the imagination, and it’s so much fun to watch him pretend as he plays. The boys never did make it to the park; Alexander finished cleaning the playroom, but then Tim’s sister called, and he was on the phone with her until after the sun went down. Still, Tim tells Alexander what a good job he did listening and cleaning the playroom, and promises to take him to the park tomorrow.

6:20 PM: We all go downstairs, and Alexander drinks some milk on the couch and watches cartoons while Tim and I fry up our rellenos.

6:45 PM: We sit down to dinner together, even though I know it means Alexander’s 7pm bedtime will need to be pushed back a bit. I’m not sure if he’ll like a chile relleno, so I put a few bites of one on his plate along with some apple slices and Spanish rice, which is usually a favorite. He ignores the rice completely, eats all of his apples, and begrudgingly tries one bite of relleno before declaring that he doesn’t like it. I’m more than happy to finish off his uneaten relleno because he’s crazy and it’s delicious. After dinner he runs around the table tickling everyone — Daddy and Mommy, and even Smalls and Ben, who begrudgingly tolerate it — and then he and Tim make a game of crawling upstairs together to go brush his teeth and get ready for bed.

7:15 PM: The toddler bedtime routine at our house looks like this: I lay out jammies and a pull-up while Tim helps Alexander brush his teeth and go potty. Together, Tim and I wrestle a very squirmy toddler into his PJs, then Alexander picks out two books to read with me in bed. He asks for “The Monster Book,” a/k/a Where the Wild Things Are, but I tell him that book’s not in his room, and we have to pick books that are in his room. Luckily he doesn’t press the issue, and instead picks two books about being a big brother and getting ready to welcome a new baby into the family. After reading, he asks to go potty again, so I take him but tell him after this it’s straight to bed. Of course, as soon as we get back to his room, tun the lights off, and turn his star nightlight on (the nightlight has three color options, and he loves picking which color to turn on: “I’m gonna pick! Purple stars!”) (He always picks purple), he asks to go potty again. He’s learned that he can use going potty to delay bedtime, and I’m not playing his game tonight. I tell him no, which doesn’t go over so well, but eventually he calms down and settles into bed. “Lay next to me,” he requests, as always, and I do, as always. Out of nowhere, he throws his arm over me and declares “You’re my best friend!” and my heart immediately melts. I tell him he’s my best friend too and I love him very much. “No, you just a friend,” he says, to which I can’t help but laugh. Could this kid get any better? We cuddle for a few more minutes, trading hugs and kisses in exchange for me staying with him “Just another minute.” Eventually I get up and leave, pausing at the door to tell him, “Goodnight, Alexander. I love you.” “Goodnight, Mommy. Wuv you too.”

7:45 PM: I come back downstairs to find Tim on the couch watching a house-flipping show in which I have zero interest. I work on drafting this post while he finishes the show, then we watch the season 2 finale of House of Cards, followed by the latest Modern Family to lighten things up a bit. This is our time to unwind together, and we are happy to veg on the couch with a couple of good shows before succumbing to our own exhaustion and going to bed.

9:40 PM: Teeth brushed, face washed, in bed. Tim and I spend a few minutes talking about our days, as usual, then I heave my giant self over to my side of the bed, arrange various pillows around my belly to help me stay comfortable (a nearly impossible task these days), and drift off to sleep, hoping Alexander will let us sleep all night. (He doesn’t, choosing instead to wake up every few hours complaining about having a stuffy nose and wanting to go to the park. Apparently he’s decided that sleeping through the night is overrated.)

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.

Diggers

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!”

Big Boy

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

I Know This Is Not a Popular Opinion

So, I tried to download the audio book of Ready Player One recently, becuase I’d heard great things from people whose opinions are often in line with my own and assumed I would enjoy it. Unfortunately, the library’s audio version didn’t work on my phone, so I read it the old-fashioned way (on my eReader, obvs.), and I loved it. LOVED. IT. You guys should all read this book. Seriously. It’s great.

I raved about it to Tim, who then listened to the audio book (his phone, it turns out, is better than mine). I overherad some of it, and, you guys, I’m sorry, but it was awful. I know, I know. You are all gaping at your screens right now saying “But it’s read by Wil Wheaton!” (I know!) “Who is awesome!” (I agree!) “And what could be better than a geeky book read by him?” Let me tell you what’s better  than a geeky book ready by him — a geeky book NOT read by him. It was sooooo slow. Agonizingly so. When I read the book, I found it to be an exciting, fast-paced adventure story. But then Tim put it on for the drive home from my parents’ house one weekend, I fell asleep, and when I woke up two hours later, I couldn’t believe how little progress we’d made into the book. Nothing had really happened yet. After TWO HOURS.

(Also, W.W.’s voiceing of the main character/narrator was a little too smug and, well, icky for my liking. So much so that it made me kind of dislike the narrator, a character I’d liked quite a bit when I read the book myeslf. But that could be 100% a result of my having already read the book and given the narrator a voice in my mind. and therefore no matter who gave him a voice in real life, if it didn’t sound exactly like it sounded in my mind, it was going to be All Wrong.)

The worst part, though, hands down, was the list reading. See, in the book, there’s a scoreboard, with players’ rankings changing somewhat frequently throughout the plot. When reading the book in print, it was easy to skim the list of players/scores, get the relevant information, and move on. On the audiobook, you have no choice but to listen to W.W. slowly (SO SLOWLY) read every player’s name and score every. single. time. the scoreboard makes an appearance. It’s a LIST, you guys. A list of names and numbers that he had to read outloud, which, okay, I get it, becaues it’s not like you can skim when you’re reading an audio book, but still, he was reading a list. And it was painful.

Tim finally finished reading/listening and agreed that it was a good book. However, he alternated between listening to it while watching the baby over his Christmas break and reading the print version when he wasn’t otherwise occupied, and he told me that without a doubt, the book was MUCH better in print than in audio format. And based on what I heard, I wholeheartedly agree.

(Although ever since he finished, Tim has been on the lookout for The Big Book of Lists read by Wil Wheaton. He’s gotta have more lists!)

The Ninth Month

Seeing as how Alexander’s 10-month birthday is fast approaching, it seems like maybe I should get the 9-month post hammered out, yes?

Alexander became very mobile this month, moving from his army crawl…

…to full-on, hands-and-knees crawling. The child cannot be stopped, you guys! He has places go to, things to see, cords to chew on.

OMG the cords. He has ferreted out every single cord in our house, and the fact that we don’t let him play with them only makes them the most appealing toy in the whole world. We’ve child-proofed and moved cords out of reach as much as possible, but it’s a constant battle keeping him away from the ones that can’t be moved. He sees it all as a hilarious game, naturally.

(Yeah, he opens cabinets and drawers now, too.)

You know what else is a fun game? Figuring out how to climb the stairs. Except there wasn’t really any figuring out. One day, he just did it. He got up on the first step and, with me hovering protectively right behind him, proceeded to climb the full flight of stairs. Like most of his new discoveries, climbing the stairs is his New! Favorite! Thing! Thank goodness for baby gates.

Okay, let’s talk about something other than the ways my baby is turning into a toddler right before my eyes.

Alexander’s been having a great time spending the summer with Tim. They’ve spent many relaxing days together, sometimes at the big neighborhood pool…

And sometimes just splashing around in the baby pool on the deck. This  boy seriously loves the water.

Alexander helped Tim celebrate his first Father’s Day. They had a great day together, chillaxing at home before Tim enjoyed a super yummy Thai steak dinner on the deck prepared by yours truly.

Tim also showed Alexander an extra special present he made for him: His very own batch of Scotch, made by Tim, which is all set to age for the next 20 years so it’ll be ready for a Father-Son toast on Alexander’s 21st birthday.

Toward the end of the month, my life-long BFF Amy came to town with her daughter Mackenzie, who is 5 days older than Alexander. We all had busy schedules that weekend, but we managed to get the babies together for a quick playdate one afternoon.They shared some toys and babbled at each other — Alexander’s a big chattermouth these days, with lots of MAMAMAMAs and DADADADAs, even though he (probably) doesn’t have any idea what those sounds mean yet — and good times were had by all.

Speaking of playdates, I finally got around to organizing a neighborhood moms meetup at the park. It was super low-key — I just posted on the neighborhood Facebook page that Alexander and I would be at the park at noon if anyone wanted to join us — but it worked out well. Several other moms showed up, and Alexander got to play with some other neighborhood kids while I was able to meet some new potential mom friends. Definitely a successful afternoon!

The same weekend Amy and Mackenzie were in town (I told you we were busy!), Tim and I dropped Alexander off at my parents’ house and spent our first night away from him so we could attend another good friend’s wedding up in the mountains. It was a gorgeous wedding, and we had so much fun celebrating with all our college friends. We knew Alexander was in good hands with his Grandparents, and we were able to just kick back, relax, and enjoy being adults out in the world for a night. Obviously we missed the baby, but it was such a nice break to escape to our pre-baby life for one night.

When we got home again, we tried introducing Alexander to solid, non-pureed foods. He was…not a fan. He pulled an awful face at the texture of the food in his mouth, and completely failed at actually chewing and swallowing. In fact, he just started drooling like crazy until the food eventually worked its way back out of his mouth. He slowly improved and started to actually pick up pieces of food and put it in his mouth, but chewing and swallowing still eluded him. (Spoiler alert: He finally figured it out a few days after his 9-month birthday. We’ll discuss it more in next month’s post.)

Oh, and this also happened.

STANDING. My baby is pulling himself up on furniture and STANDING UP. And with that, we’re back to ways in which my baby is rapidly becoming a little boy. OMG.

(I joke about how he’s growing up too fast, but seriously, he just keeps getting more and more fun with every day and every new milestone. Just when I think it can’t get any better, he goes and develops a new skill and blows me away with just how much more fun he can be.)

Here he is on his 9-month birthday:

I was surprised to learn at his 9-month checkup that he hadn’t gained much weight — he’s still hovering right around 20 pounds even though he seems HUGE to me. He did get a few inches taller (measuring in at 29.25 inches) and his head continues to be massive (to make room for all the brains, obviously). He’s in the 50th percentile of weight, 80th percentile of height, and something like the 95th percentile in head circumference — my little Q-tip!

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