Friday, January 07, 2011

2010 in Review

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Gave birth. THAT was a doozy. The actual birth part wasn’t so bad, it was mostly the 10 hours of labor leading up to the birth part. I hope I never have to feel that kind of physical pain again EVER.

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

Um, I guess I didn’t make any resolutions for 2010. I don’t generally do that anyway, because I feel that New Year’s is overrated as far as NEW! BEGINNINGS! I have an ongoing resolution to get healthy, which means losing weight and taking better care of myself, but it’s truly ongoing.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me! Karen had baby boy numero dos (his name is Finn) and lots of Facebook friends – it seems like every day someone new is pregnant…

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, although my dear friend Jeanne lost her brother in January. He and I had been close friends many years ago, and his death was horribly sad because I loved him and I love her.

5. What countries did you visit?

Ha. Next question.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Less stress brought on by my own personal tendency to freak out. I’m trying to learn to be less high strung.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 16 – that’s when my tiny baby was born!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning to be a parent to a newborn. It was so much harder than I ever thought it would be, but worth every single screamy, up-all-nighty second.

9. What was your biggest failure?

There has to be something, but nothing HUGE jumps out at me. Maybe a parade of small but fixable failures?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Our new car. We finally have a vehicle that fits everyone AND can fit all the gear it takes for a family of five to go somewhere. I LOVE it.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Probably to baby stuff? Those little boogers are expensive!

13. What did you get really excited about?

Piper! All her little (and BIG) milestones that I get to see every day. The fact that after nearly a year of Chris and my dad working weekends, our basement is almost finished and looks so awesome!

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?

“Break your Heart” by Taio Cruz and Ludacris. Best. Song. Ever.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier.

– thinner or fatter? Thinner (what with the not being pregnant anymore), but also probably thinner than the year before as I lost all my pregnancy weight and then some!

– richer or poorer? About the same maybe?

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

SLEPT. But that can’t be helped.

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

Worried. But again, I’m a worrier. And I’ll try to do better this year.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We did all the big stuff Christmas Eve, since we had the kids that day, and so Christmas day was pretty chill. I put in earplugs and took a fantastic two hour nap while my mom played with Piper. It was the best day ever.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

There are a few – Psych, Burn Notice, CSI and CSI:NY, the new Sherlock Holmes

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I seriously read so many books this year that I can’t even tell you. I loved all the new stuff from John Sandford, Stephen White, Sara Paretsky, Faye Kellerman.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I love Pink’s new song, Taio Cruz, a few random artists here and there. I’ll tell you who I did NOT like though (and only because I keep seeing him pop up on the ‘best of’ lists) and that’s Kanye West. He may be a musical genius, but he is a total fail as a person, and that taints his music for me.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Films, hmm. Don’t know what those are. I can barely get through a tv show…

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

I was 34 and I went out to dinner the night BEFORE my birthday, as the night OF my birthday I was checking into the hospital to have a baby the next day.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I can’t think of a thing. My year was awesome.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Let’s see – first half, maternity clothes and sweatpants. Second half, anything that wasn’t sweatpants because I was so sick of them by then. Oh, and baby spit. I hear that slobber is SO 2011.

26. What kept you sane?

My mother, believe it or not. If it weren’t for all of the help she gave me with Piper and keeping my house from falling into a pig sty, I would have struggled even more than I did those first few months. Also, Mandy. I love to talk to her on the phone about any and everything, mostly about kids, but also just to talk to a friend my age on a pretty much daily basis makes me feel less like I’m isolated in babyland. Not that I would change being home with Piper, because I definitely wouldn’t. But sometimes it’s nice to talk to other grown up people. Plus, her advice and generosity are such a blessing.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

That I am much stronger than I thought I was and capable of more than I thought I was. The first few months with Piper were hard, because she was struggling to adjust to life on the “outside” and I was struggling to figure out what she needed. Never in my life have I felt more like giving up, and never in my life have I not been able to just give up. If something was too hard, I didn’t have to do it, I just gave up and moved on. But there was no such thing in this situation – I had to stay up with a crying baby all night. I had to figure out by trial and error what the best way to comfort her was. Giving up was simply not an option, and so I realized that I am able to do a lot more than I thought I could. Every day is a different challenge (in a good way, usually) and so I just roll with it. If it’s a hard day or night, I just figure tomorrow will be different. Now I just have to remember to apply that to every aspect of my life and I’ll be golden!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

It's all about the wordplay

So Abby does a lot of writing in school, which I think is a great way for them to learn new words and also to express themselves. She loves to write, and writes some really cute journal entries, which she lets me read.

Her teacher encourages them to spell a word how they think it should be spelled – sounding it out, etc., which is probably a good thing for the teacher’s sanity, otherwise she’d spend all day spelling words for every kid in the class. What it is also good for is comic relief and puzzle solving. Abby brings home papers and I have to read the whole thing and try to translate what it is she’s writing about. I'm great at word puzzles, but sometimes I'm like "whaaaaa....??" Some recent examples:

She was writing a sort of book report/book summary about a girl who stays home sick from school. The first thing that leaps out at me from the page are the words “gast facking.” WHAT? What kind of books are my second grader reading? So I read the entire thing and figure out that the girl stayed home from school even though she wasn’t really sick. She was gast facking. Or, if you speak English, “just faking.”

She wrote a journal entry about things she likes to eat, and said that once she’s done with dinner, she’s going to have “a hagmucis ice crim sanwich.” I obviously got the ice cream sandwich part, but was stumped over “hagmucis” and also, it sounded gross. When I asked her what that meant, she said it was “humungous.”

Her journal entries are super cute – she talks a lot about Piper and how cute she is and how much she loves her. She also wrote this whole entry about how Riley is mean and never nice to her and a lot of very unflattering examples of how Riley is awful, and then finishes it with how Riley is actually not that bad, as sisters go. On the other hand, Riley is currently writing a fictional story where Abby is a total brat, so I feel that as long as it’s only literary retaliation, it’s ok. They get along great 90% of the time, and for that I am hagmucisly thankful.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Come (Shutter)fly with me

So today I’m spreading the word that Shutterfly has some seriously awesome holiday card designs this year. Before I get into that though, I’ll tell you my experience with them – in a little essay called “Why I love Shutterfly.”

When Chris and I got married (actually, it was our wedding reception in the summer of ’09 vs. our actual wedding day, which was fall of ’08. Anyway) I took our many fabulous pictures and made a photo book. I love to scrapbook, but I know myself and I knew that I would never get around to choosing the pictures I loved, printing them out in various sizes, designing the pages, etc. etc. etc. So instead, I used Shutterfly to make a really beautiful book. I got a few extra copies and gave them to my parents and Chris’ parents as a Christmas gift, and everyone loved them. This is only a sample, but maybe you get the gist.

Which brings me to the holiday cards. I am picky about my holiday cards. I want them to be classy and attractive and not always just red and green. I’m a fan of blue and snowflakes and ornaments and other pretty holiday elements. Especially this year, as I plan to dress the girls in purples and blues for the picture. So below are a couple of my favorites:

And if none of those strike your fancy, there are roughly 745 other designs in all price ranges to choose from. I’m not exaggerating – there are actually 745 other designs.

The other awesome thing that Shutterfly features is perfect for people like my parents who have everything they want and are ridiculously hard to buy presents for. However, THIS year, they have an adorable grandbaby, and I have like ONE MILLION pictures of her, so what better thing to do than make them a calendar featuring their favorite person ever? There are a ton of cute themes for the calendar background, and it’s a great idea to showcase babies or weddings or the year in pictures or travel (Alice, that means you, you world traveler!).

Anyway, the bottom line is that you should check it out. And as a bonus for my blogging friends, if you check out the Shutterfly holiday cards, love what you see, and write a post about it, you can get 50 FREE cards! Yay! So get on that bandwagon and go to this link to learn how to get your cards.

You now have no excuse not to send out cards this year.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Confessions of a blog neglecter

So ever since I met Chris and it became clear that we were in this for the long haul, I’ve had sort of a hard time blogging. Mostly because all of the sudden my life changed from single Amber to stepmom Amber, and I had all of this ADJUSTING to do. Like having two small children in my life. Like maintaining and enjoying my relationship with Chris. Like moving out of the area where my family and friends lived into a town where I knew NO ONE (which isn’t as horrible as it sounds, because the town is only like 30 minutes away. But still). There were other things too, but those were kind of the major ones.

So now it’s been 4 years since we started dating, and I realized that I should be writing some of this stuff down. I’ve been married for two years, and I have a 6 month old baby in addition to my two sweetie pie stepdaughters. I want to write this down for me, so that I remember what went on, but I also want to write it down for my kids, so that they know that I wasn’t just the rule-setting, house-organizing, fun-ruining mom type. I have another identity in there, I just have to make sure I don’t lose it.

Two years ago I made the decision to be a stay-at-home mom. I had the opportunity to cut my hours at my job and do it from home. It went ok for a while, but due to the fact that my boss was a complete asshole and then he also hired a psychopath to pick up my slack (and really, despite my tendency to exaggerate, these two things are ACTUALLY TRUE), I looked for and found another job. I still work from home, but I work for an organization that is a dream as far as employers go. I’m guaranteed a minimum amount of hours and can work more if I have the desire and time. No real deadlines, no micromanagement – awesome. So I’m blessed in the job department. It was really great when I was pregnant, because since I was sick all of the time, I never had to deal with an office or sick days, and I had the freedom to work whenever I got the chance. It’s also great with a new baby, because I do what I can when I can and I don’t have to worry about whether I should be working instead of playing with my baby.

I love my life. I love my husband, who is so helpful and such a good dad and a hard worker and just all-around terrific. I love my two big girls, who are totally smitten with their baby sister and help me a lot by playing with her while I fix dinner or take a shower. I love my parents, who, speaking of smitten, think my baby is the best thing to ever happen. EVER. My mom comes over twice during the week to play, and she and my dad both come over on the weekends (my dad and Chris are finishing our basement), so I get a break and can run errands or work or whatever.

Again though, it’s an adjustment, because I am a people person and I have a hard time having no one to talk to all day except a baby. Granted, she listens really well, but she’s still lacking on the response front. Apparently that gets better once they’re older. Anyway, I feel a little lonely and isolated sometimes. However, I wouldn’t change a thing, because I am thankful every day that I can stay home with my baby and be home when the kids get back from school, and that I am not stressed out having to work full time and fit in dinners and family time and baby time.

So. I know I’ve probably said this before, but I’m working on writing more on here as an outlet and because it’s always been fun. I suppose I shouldn’t worry about the identity part – that will sort itself out eventually. See, I already feel so much better!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ode to Pregnancy

I'm back! Twice in one week - don't get used to it. Anyhow, to answer your questions Alice, YES, I am indeed pregnant, and NO, you didn't really miss anything because I didn't blog at all in 2009.

So, since we're on the subject and all, let's talk about how pregnancy isn't at all what I expected. Actually, I'm not sure what I thought it would be like, but no one ever told me how one day I would be walking around all normal, and the next day I would lose total control of my body for the next 10 months. Isn't pregnancy supposed to be rainbows and magic and puppies and whatever?

Because I'm awesome, the way I found out I was pregnant was because I thought I had a really terrible hangover. I woke up one morning after a "girls night out" and I felt AWFUL. Which was a little surprising, since I hadn't really drank THAT much the night before, but I felt nauseous and had heartburn and just blech. I didn't think much about it, but when the nausea continued and all I wanted to eat were mashed potatoes and gravy, well, I started to get suspicious. Two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. That's when the fun started.

Oh, I had morning sickness alright. And afternoon sickness and evening sickness as well. I haven't eaten fish since I got pregnant because the smell is too terrible. For about the first 3 months, Chris either had to cook with me supervising from a distance, or he had to bring something home. Rolling waves of nausea all the time and the fact that I would pretty much throw up whatever I ate made eating a challenge. Allegedly this would stop after the first 12 weeks. HA. It lasted for 5 months - and there are still days when I eat something and then get violently ill later. TMI? Probably. It was actually sort of amusing sometimes (you know, looking back) because many mornings I would lay in bed and just gag. For no reason. I couldn't even talk about food without gagging and PLEASE cats, do not breathe on me with your cat food breath. WHERE ARE THE RAINBOWS?

Also, everyone in the world wears way too much perfume when you're pregnant. Because he's a cowboy, Kid Rock can smell a pig from a mile away, however, since I'm pregnant, I can smell EVERYTHING from a mile away. At least I'm to the point now where I won't start gagging immediately. Usually.

Okay, so we made it past the first trimester, which was good, because I could start to ease up on my constant worrying about miscarrying. It seemed like a month was a really long time to go between doctor's appointments because I had to wait that long to hear the heartbeat and it always made me feel better. Because the worrying was constant. I can already tell I'm going to be THAT parent.

Second trimester rolled around and I started wearing maternity clothes. I pretty much love that. Who doesn't love stretchy waist pants? Although I will say that it has been hard to find reasonably priced maternity tops that aren't FUGLY. Seriously, maternity designers. It's bad enough that your stomach and boobs and various other body parts are changing shape and getting larger by the second - please don't make me wear ugly-ass prints and clingy fabric and unflattering necklines. Luckily Old Navy has good clothes, as does the maternity outlet store by my house. Because I'm at the point now where my long sleeve t shirts barely fit, much less cover my stomach. And I do have to leave the house now and then. I was still pretty barfy until a couple of weeks ago, but it's getting better. At least there's now a less than 50% chance I'll throw up what I ate most of the time.

So. Exit the barfies, enter the heartburn. OH. MY. GOD. THE. PAIN. (Can you tell how great I'm going to be in childbirth if I think heartburn is going to kill me? This is going to be good.) I have never had problems with heartburn, so this is new to me. And because of the nausea, I wasn't about to eat the disgusting chalky Tums - bad going down, probably worse on the return trip. So I drank a lot of milk. Which occasionally helped, but seriously - this was some really wicked heartburn. Finally like 2 weeks ago, my dr. told me I could take Zantac, which has made my life so much better. I try not to take it every day, but it helps a ton. Excuse me, pregnancy? HEARTBURN IS NOT PUPPIES. WHERE ARE THE PUPPIES?

I'm getting to the point now where I can almost not see my feet. And that I have to be careful when cooking not to burn my belly on the stove. My booth-sitting days at restaurants are almost over, and navigating through smallish spaces without knocking something over with my stomach gets trickier all the time. It also makes it difficult to get up from laying down. Being in bed and having to change positions or get up in the night for the millionth time to pee is really difficult. My hips hurt and my back hurts and I need pillows propping me up and supporting me in various places in order to get sort of comfortable. I usually sleep on my stomach, but clearly that's out, so I've had to adjust to sleeping on my side. I actually rarely sleep well, because with all of the flopping around like a fish I do to get OUT of bed, coupled with the squirreling around I have to do to get comfortable when I get back IN bed, well, it wakes a person up. I'M STILL WAITING FOR THE RAINBOWS.

So. Even though all of this sounds horribly negative and it seems like I'm not thrilled to be pregnant, that's not true at all. I am definitely thrilled. I am really excited to meet this little tiny person when she comes out in April. Maybe the puppies and the rainbows aren't showing up, but there is definitely magic. I am amazed at what the human body is capable of - making another human inside. It's crazy. And that that little bundle is capable of controlling how you feel - probably for the rest of your life. We saw on an ultrasound about 2 months ago that we're having a little girl, and everyone is so excited. The girls are so cute and looking forward to a sister. They always pat my stomach and say goodnight to the baby or goodbye when they leave. Abby's head is right about stomach level, so sometimes she gives my stomach a kiss. It's really sweet. And though Chris really wanted a boy, he's happy to have another little girl that will love him SO much, just like his little girls do right now. I'm happy to have a girl, because girls and their moms have special relationships, and it will be fun to have a friend like my mom has me for a friend. Oh, and don't get me started on how funny my mom is about her first grandchild. My parents are really excited.

So yeah. The physical parts of pregnancy aren't always the best, BUT. Once you feel that little person swimming around and kicking in there, it makes all the lame stuff way less lame, and you know for sure that it's TOTALLY going to be worth it in the end.