Another year in the rear view

I still need to write Rowan’s 5th birthday letter, why we chose the name Milo Burke for our second born son, some thoughts on brotherhood and nature versus nurture, and about a dozen other posts that have been percolating in my mind for awhile, but I’ve enjoyed doing the year-end wrap-up style prompt post that floats around the blogosphere right about now, and since I spent the last few days sicker than I’ve been in a long time, it’s about all my brain can handle at the moment.

I like the revisions RA made to the list ‘o questions, so I’m going to use those this year. Here we go!

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

I turned 34 on October 13. The day before, we celebrated by hosting an afternoon BYO cheese party at our place. We made prosciutto-wrapped haloumi, herbed burrata and sliced manchego with quince paste and fig jam. Everyone brought a favorite cheese (or three!), and we drank growlers from Georgetown. It was a lot of fun! The next day, on my actual birthday, Roth and Rowan made me Eggs Benedict for breakfast, and like the adult that I am, I had a slice of leftover pie immediately following.

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

Twenty-thirteen was such a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, we experienced the birth of our last baby. On the other, we also experienced the death of a loved one just a few months later. I’d have to say those two events will stand out as my strongest memories from 2013, but for very different reasons.

Additionally, I won’t soon forget that: we went to Maui in January; I was let go from my job three days after we got back; Milo spent four days in the NICU; I spent two days in the hospital for an infection after that; we drove to California to visit Roth’s mom one last time; we drove to Idaho for a family reunion on my mom’s side; we celebrated Thanksgiving in Seattle with Roth’s dad and brother; we surprised Rowan with a visit to an indoor water park for his birthday; and we spent Christmas in shorts and flip-flops.

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

For Roth’s 35th birthday and as a second babymoon, we went to Maui in January. I’d never been to Hawaii before, and it was such a lovely little kid-free getaway. While there, I tried snorkeling for the first time, which was an epic fail. I also collected unemployment after I was laid off from my job and started doing freelance marketing work from home.

4. What did you want and get?

I wanted a safe labor and delivery resulting in a healthy baby, and I got both in April, despite a scare that landed our second son in the NICU for a few days. I wanted my mother-in-law to be able to travel from California to Seattle in-between chemo treatments so she could be with us for the birth of her second grandchild, and I got that, too. Anything else I thought I wanted or had to have was trumped by those two things. Nothing else really mattered more than Laurel being here when Milo was born.

5. What did you want and not get?

I thought I wanted a full-time job, and I had a lot of interviews, including a handful of second and third interviews, but I was either passed up for the position in the end, or I rescinded my interest because it just didn’t feel right, for right now, anyway. I’m starting to think this opportunity to do freelance work from home is the universe’s way of reminding me that a work-life balance is paramount to any “benefits” a full-time might be able to offer me. Thankfully, I have affordable insurance through Roth’s work, so I can continue to work from home as long as there’s enough work, while my boys are young and need me to be close by.

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

For the first time in … ever?, Roth and I are 100% debt-free at the start of 2014. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and I finally feel like we can start saving money. For a new car. For a vacation. For a house. For our kids’ education. For real. I’d like to have some real money in our savings account by the end of the year. Oh, and maybe a bicycle and blonde hair, too.

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

I didn’t publish any resolutions here last year, but I’m sure I made some of the same declarations I make each and every year about getting healthier, being happier and writing more. I don’t feel like I’m healthier, really, and I’m definitely not writing more, but I think I’m happier now than I was this time last year. Certainly, pregnancy discomfort played a major part in thwarting true happiness, but if only I could’ve known the joy another son would bring into my life, maybe I could’ve smiled just a bit more back then.

I have some specific tasks and goals I’d like to accomplish in the next year, and I may decide to write about them here at a later date. Or not. We’ll see.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

In general, not losing my mind trying to take care of a baby and work from home. I came close a few times, but we both survived. Specifically, there was a day not so long ago when I had a two-hour conference call with my freelance client. I tried so hard to get Milo down for a nap beforehand, but he had other plans. I ended up taking the call on the floor of the living room adrift in a sea of baby toys, as I toggled back and forth on my phone’s mute button, pretending to be a Professional Marketing Person. During that two-hour call, I also managed to change a poopy diaper, nurse Milo, and put him down for a nap — all while participating in a meeting. Despite feeling frazzled at the start of the call, I felt like a Certified Rock Star by the end. AND, I got paid for those two hours, too. I definitely unlocked some sort of achievement that day.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Getting upset whenever Milo didn’t sleep at night. So, pretty much every night for the last five months. I know I KNOW this phase won’t last forever. I know I KNOW we need to put forth just a little bit of effort to help him learn how to sleep better, but still: so much middle-of-the-night rage and frustration on my part. One of my goals for 2014 is to get Milo sleeping through the night. The first step toward that goal is getting him out of our room. (Yep. He’s still with us. Sigh.)

I also lost my temper with Rowan far too often, especially during those first few months after Milo was born, as I was trying to figure out how to be a parent to TWO kids, each with a very different set of needs. Things have improved recently, now that Rowan is in full-time preschool where he can channel his energy, but I still need to work on being more patient and consistent in how I parent him versus Milo.

10. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?

I’ve always talked to my mom on the phone a lot, but I felt like the frequency of calls increased quite a bit after I lost my job, and then when I became the mother of TWO children, and then again after the loss of my mother-in-law,  just because I needed to hear her voice. I also relied heavily on texts with Kerri, who is always a source of calm and comfort — and laughs. Always laughs. It was nice to meet up with Terrell for lunch or coffee every now and again. And, of course, Roth. Roth made me feel sane.

11.What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)

I think I said I wanted to read at least one book per month, and that definitely didn’t happen in 2013. I did manage to read The Fault in Our Stars, which was a’ight, I guess, and I slogged my way through Bringing Up Bebe, the memoir about how French parents are far superior to everyone else (I kid, I kid!), but that’s about it. I’ve got a small stack of books next to my bed that I plan to read in 2014: Raising Your Spirited Child, Eleanor & Park, and Ready Player One, which I’m about halfway through.

We got rid of full cable television a couple years ago in favor of Netflix, and since we’ve survived with only basic cable, which has been fine. More than fine, in fact, as I have not missed all of the garbage TV we used to watch in the past. That’s not to say we didn’t watch anything, though. I enjoyed the heck out of New Girl and Parenthood. We also binged on Orange is the New Black in about a week. And since we didn’t have AMC, we splurged on episodes of The Walking Dead and the final season of Breaking Bad via Amazon. Our favorite new show of the past year is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (SO FUNNY.) We also finally watched the first two seasons of Homeland on DVD, which we both enjoyed quite a bit.

(Also, we finally cut the cable cord completely by getting an indoor HD antenna. More on that another time.)

Didn’t see tons of movies in the theater, but the one that stands out as being totally worth the price of admission plus extra for 3-D was Gravity. I also saw Before Midnight, the third installment in the Before/After Sunrise series, at a theater when Milo was smaller and slept all the time. I felt that the conversations between Jesse and Celine seemed authentic and raw, and I liked how it ended. I also enjoyed The Way, Way Back and Enough Said, which I saw on our flight to SFO last week. On Christmas Day, I went with Roth and my brother to see American Hustle, which was pretty good, too. There was also a whole slew of forgettable kids’ movies we saw with Rowan at the theater, the best and most entertaining being The Croods.

One of my decade goals is to try to see at least one live music show each year, and we failed in 2013. Oh well. Some of the music I enjoyed was the new The Head and the Heart album, crap pop stuff on my car radio, and that’s about all I can recall. Sad state of affairs with regard to music. I’ll try harder in 2014.

12. What song will remind you of this year?

I played the heck out of “White Walls” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and I really enjoyed dancing in my car to “Blurred Lines” by Alan, I mean, Robin Thicke.

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

“I was burned out and lost. A dusty bulb, an abandoned lot. And the nighttime was the worst. It shows you all the things you’ve lost.

There’s no light in here now. There’s no light in here now.

10,000 weight in gold. Never feels like treasure until you lose it all.”

From “10,000 Weight in Gold” by The Head and the Heart

14. What was your most enjoyable purchase?

I asked Roth this question, and he said, “Milo.” Which is pretty much the truth given how we had to pay for his four days in the NICU. Honestly, though, with insurance, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been. (OMG. I’m so glad I paid for COBRA to extend my insurance.) We also got our landlords to buy us a new stove with a functioning oven, which is quite enjoyable now that we can cook a large pizza without fear of setting the house on fire. I hope to have a much more exciting answer next year.

15. Did you travel? If so, where?

Yes! To Maui in January. To Sonora, CA, in August. To Twin Falls, ID, in September. And to my hometowns (San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande) in California in December for Christmas. I don’t see us doing a ton of travel this year, but maybe down to CA a couple of times to see family/for Laurel’s celebration of life, which has yet to be scheduled.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing. Documenting my sons’ lives in some meaningful way. The details of various milestones are already fuzzy. I have an idea of how I want to do this in 2014. More on that soon, too.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

As always, stressing. Especially over the small things.

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

Well, let’s see. I’m not pregnant. I’m not full-time employed. My hair is a lot shorter. I’m the mom of TWO boys. Quite a bit different, I’d say. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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

For some reason, this was the hardest question for me to answer. Despite some pretty big changes in the last year, I don’t feel like I’m all that different when it comes to my core values, so I guess that’s how I’m the same?

20. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?

Oof. It’s a simple one, but an important one. Life is so goddamned short, and it can end at any time, sooner than you’d ever imagine, so enjoy it as much as you can, while you can.

***

Happy New Year, all. I hope to spend more time here in 2014. Will you come around and say hello once in awhile?

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5 Comments

  1. You also traveled to Wenatchee in August! ; ) (Yeah, apple capital of the world!)

    2013 was a beautifully brutal year, indeed. I’m so glad we got to share the bright and dark spots together.

    I’m herein looking forward to the year ahead, believing and feeling and knowing it’s going to be more and better than I can currently imagine.

    Here’s to adventures, and growth, and spontaneous dance parties for always, amen.

  2. Holy crap, your birthday cheese party sounds AWESOME. Might have to steal that idea for me!

    I am also considering whether I want to get a full-time job whenever my company finishes being taken over. It’s like, a salary is nice, but what if I could make as much (or close to it) at home? But then I’d have to do my own business development … guh. I don’t knooow.

    I’m excited to hear about your plans to write more! I miss it and you.

  3. Happy New Year! What a year it was. So, so sad about your MIL–it’s wonderful that you all were able to travel to see her again.

    CONGRATS on being debt-free! That’s an amazing accomplishment!

    And dude, working from home is no joke! Way to go getting it done!

    For your kid documentation, have you heard about Project Life? http://beckyhiggins.com/about-project-life/

  4. You had quite a year friend, and you handled it all with so much grace. I hope 2014 is a little stingier with the hard stuff and a little freer with the good stuff.

    Oh, and I think I may crash your next party if the cheese party is any indication of the kinds of shindigs you throw! ;-)

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