Archive for December, 2012

2012: Words & Pictures

2011, 2010

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Traveled outside of the US, got pregnant with a girl variety human, went to The Blathering

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

Here are the “goals” I made last year (I don’t call the resolutions, but still, same idea). (Original post here.) For this year they’ll be much of the same: get back into shape post baby (combination of working out (I’m thinking pilates) and eating well), more writing and photography, more attitude adjustments as needed.

  • Start running again: Yes. I joined a RunClub with some other moms and ran, typically, once a week. Sometimes on my own (though not often).
  • Do some creative writing: Yes. A friend and I started a “writing group,” just the two of us, and while it sporadic and what not, I did do some writing for it. Mostly early on in the year. I’ve fizzled out since then.
  • Keep trying out new recipes: Yes. I still really love to cook. I rely heavily on recipes (online or books), but have enough confidence to do some minor to moderate tweaking.
  • Positivity: I give myself a medium on this. I still feel like I’m too hard on myself, and too whiney in general. But I am improving, I think, and want to keep working on it.
  • Read More: Impossible to say. I’ve read a lot, as I always do, but I did not keep good track of it like I did last year, so I have no idea what my book count was.
  • Photography: Another medium: I’ve used the new camera some, but still mostly use my iPhone.
  • Keep working on the house: Medium. My office is now a nursery (!) and we’ve done some cleaning out and rearranging, but there’s still (and always will be) work to be done. We toy with the idea of slightly remodeling the bathrooms/kitchen, but are doubtful it would be worth the cost.
  • Garden: Yes! It didn’t ALL pan out, but we had a lovely patio flower garden, and I joined a community vegetable garden. The vegetable garden had to be scrapped because of contaminated compost, but I did it!
  • Keep Teaching: I’m about to keep this one. I don’t think I’ve taught anything since last year, but I have two classes scheduled for next month. Hurray!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A local friend of mine had a little girl last spring, and a CA friend just had her baby girl last month (I think!).

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes and no – how’s that for a solid answer?  A family member died, but we were not close and have not been in years.

5What countries did you visit?

Mexico! Oh, that was lovely.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

This answer will be much the same as last year. I want to maintain some sense of self that isn’t tied in to being a mom. I no longer feel like “just” a mom (can we all say AMEN), but I still don’t do a lot of stuff that reflects who I am apart from my child (soon to be children). I want to hold on to that internal, creative life, no matter how small it becomes with the new responsibilities of another newborn. I want to maintain relationships with MY friends, as women, not just as parents to Xander’s friends.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 9 (ish): getting a positive pregnancy test.
July 1-9: My good friend Paula and her girl came to visit
September 27: Finding out JS and I will be having a daughter
December 14: SandyHook (as if it won’t be in everyone’s memory)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think that going to The Blathering was a big deal for me. I was so nervous, and felt nervous about how I “did” even after getting home, but I am so very glad I went. It really widened my circle of friends, and brought “internet” relationships to life. I got Christmas cards from these ladies!

9. What was your biggest failure?

In general, my lack of patience on those monotonous days home with Xander where everything he does grates on my nerves. I forget that he’s just two, and not really grown up, no matter how verbal he’s become, and I let myself expect more from him than he’s capable of doing.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I feel like pregnancy is one big illness/injury. But, really, no. I mean, this abscessed tooth hurts like a…well, badly, but it’s not anything SERIOUS.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A trip to Mexico with just me and JS.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Traveling. We went to Mexico, Alabama, Florida, a cabin in the mountains, I went to NOLA.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Learning I was pregnant. Xander starting preschool (cheesy, I know, but I was – and am – so proud of him).

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Labor of Love – the song I picked for the photo slide show. It’s not from this year, but I listened to it a lot while driving around and it just…fits.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: – happier or sadder? Happier. I’m more at home in Vermont than I was last year, I’ve made more friends and really “put myself out there,” so to speak. Same with my Internet life. This will forever be the year, in my mind, that my Internet friends became REAL friends, and that has been so awesome. – thinner or fatter? HA! I’m 33 weeks pregnant. Fatter. – richer or poorer? Financially poorer.

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

Gone exploring locally – more walks, more outside adventures, less staying inside.

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

Less worrying about how others see me, less being such a homebody.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

(Same as last year) With my small family in our home. It was so, so great.

19. What was your favorite TV program? Favorite new shows: Person of Interest, Elemental

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I read all of Tana French’s books this year, and I loved them all (with the VERY noteable exception of Broken Harbor – HATE); Let’s Pretend This Never Happened; Storybound; The Fault in our Stars.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I have not been good at keeping up with music, but I discovered Kathleen Edwards this year and have enjoyed her a lot.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I don’t even know what I saw this year: The Hobbit, The Hunger Games

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

This was a fun birthday year; I turned 33 on 12-12-12. I had a girl’s night out with some good friends, and then JS and I celebrated that weekend with dinner and going to The Hobbit.

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

(Same as last year) Having a personal project (or sticking with the one I’d picked) that I’d have worked on throughout the year.

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

This is a lame question.

26. What kept you sane? My family. Reading. Facebook.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

This has been a good year for accepting who I am, something they try to teach all of us before puberty. But, it seems, this is a lesson that needs relearning. I am introverted, yes, and I don’t have to change that to make new friends. I don’t have to be someone I’m not to reach out and take personal risks. In a somewhat meta and dorky way, this also means that I accept that a large part of my life is lived online. I care about the people I know on Twitter, and sure, it may seem silly, but it’s true. And having virtual (and now virtual turned real) friends is something that makes me happy, so I don’t really care if it’s silly or not.

And now for the slide show! A lot of these pictures end up being repeats, because I make a slide show for Xander’s birthday each year, so I’m thinking of only doing one of these a year, either year end or Birthday. Thoughts?  (2011 in Pictures; 2010).

(Music: Labor of Love by Sweet Talk Radio)


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Christmas this year was so great. I mean, last year was fun, too, but honestly, Xander was still “too young” in some ways. And, look, 18 months is not necessarily my favorite stage – walking but not talking, still very much a baby but wanting to be independent. It was rather exhausting. BUT, still. We had fun with Christmas last year.

This year, though. This year was in a whole different ball park. At two and a half, he really GOT IT. He knew Santa was coming. He came into our room Christmas morning breathless with excitement, “Mewwy Ki-mass!” He got that the presents were for him. He opened some up. He wanted to play. It was just…fun. It was so fun. He had a bit of a cold, which made me worry, and he didn’t nap at all for a few days, but he’s already on the mend and, well, it’s just a cold, you know? It didn’t ruin our festivities at all (though I was rather cranky when he wouldn’t nap after I’d been up almost all night with insomnia).

My well-intentioned plan of Not Buying Too Much Stuff totally and completely failed, and he has more toys than we know what to do with, but I also spent some time a few weeks ago cleaning out old baby things and/or things that are broken/missing essential pieces. So hopefully the new haul won’t completely overtake the house.

His favorite gift, as I had hoped, is the train set (and a talking Percy!), followed closely by a tie between pretend food (that he’s been pretend feeding to the tree….?), and a Melissa and Doug water-pen and notebook for practicing his letters that cost me all of $4. I mean, cost SANTA. My parents sent him a set of those Tegu blocks, which he likes when I build it for him, but I have high hopes he’ll get more into them as he figures them out. I think they’re great, personally.

Anyway, that’s the lowdown on the gifts. It was just the three of us, and we had a simple meal for both breakfast and dinner, and it was quite lovely and yummy. I really appreciated staying simple this year instead of planning some elaborate feast, because it meant I could really enjoy the day and watch Xander have fun.

Then, of course, we had the Big Snow Storm last night and today, which was actually quite fun. No power loss, no need to travel. Just watching the snow pile up (and up and up), and some outdoor play (Xander mostly enjoyed eating the snow). I’m looking forward to pulling him around in this little sled a friend loaned us.

Pictures and a poorly edited and dimly lit video below, but his excitement was really too cute not to share.

I hope your holidays were merry and rejuvenating. Strange to think 2012 is almost over, isn’t it?

Christmas Crackers


Instagram tree w gifts

Train and Tree


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Buried in the Sand

Part of me feels like I should write some sort of response to what happened in CT last week. But part of me knows that it’s kind of an impossible task, and many others have said such great things about it already (if that’s even an appropriate word, “great.”) Jonniker wrote a post that pretty much says everything I feel, anyway, so you should go read that.  Last weekend was predictably grim, and I spent much of it either in tears or trying not to hyperventilate during a panic attack. It’s getting better. For me.

So, instead, let’s talk about Xander! Since that’s what this blog is pretty much all about.

Oh, little Xander. He is acting much like a dog before an earthquake, these days. I think it’s the combination of anticipation over Christmas and anticipation over the new baby – that and not having the words to understand or explain that those are his thoughts – but, either way, he is having Some Issues. We’re whining and crying and clinging and demanding up and hugs and coming into our bed in the wee hours and wanting “fafi” (pacifier) when it’s not sleeping time and only eating if we feed him and oh, it’s sad, yes, but also it’s making me INSANE. I don’t want him to be afraid of all the changes, but I can understand why he is. I want to be sensitive to his feelings and insecurities and whatever, but I also want him to just STOP WHINING FOR ONE MINUTE OMG.

(Though, I must admit, I do kind of love the early morning visits. Normally it’s just a bit before “normal” wake up time, anyway, so we just snuggle in Big Bed for half an hour or so, and it’s pretty glorious.)

Honestly, we haven’t talked to him a TON about new baby. I mean, he knows, but we don’t bring it up constantly or point out every single way things will change in just 8 weeks (EIGHT WEEKS HOLY HELL). We talk about baby sister in mama’s belly, and where baby sister’s room is, and we have a few books about being a big brother, and he has a baby doll he likes to strip naked and force feed a bottle via her eye ball. But, you know, while 8 weeks seems so very soon to us, it’s incredibly far away for a toddler. He knows Gram will be coming to play and help Mommy when the baby is born, he knows that baby will sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s room at first. And that’s about it. I don’t feel like he understands any more than that.But he definitely SENSES more than that.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m ruining his little life forever, even though he is such a big reason we wanted a second child in the first place. Siblings! They’re great! I had a great Twitter chat with other recent moms to second kids that made me feel exponentially better about it, though the guilt does creep back in. I remember preparing for Xander, and how many “pet and baby” articles suggested decreasing attention in the weeks preceding the birth. I somehow feel like this is a crappy approach to take with a human child, though, yes?

So for now I’m snuggling on demand and holding hands and reminding him how much we love him and that he’ll always be our Xander Boy, and that when baby sister comes he’ll STILL be our Xander Boy and we will STILL love him so, so much. If he forgets everything else we talk about, hopefully that message will be the one that sticks.






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I’m not trying to be annoying about it, but it IS pretty cool that I turn 33 on 12/12/12. So, I just have to say that here (in addition to Twitter and Facebook. I’M SORRY. I can’t help when I was born.)

This has nothing to do with anything at all, it’s just maybe my favorite video ever of Xander. Enjoy.

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I keep saying the same thing, but Xander is at SUCH a fun age for Christmas! He’s just starting to get parts of it, like Santa bringing presents, snow, snowmen, lights, candy canes, etc…but he isn’t quite old enough to be scared of a strange man entering the house (I’m hoping we can skip that phase). What I am really enjoying is figuring out the traditions JS and I want to keep from our own childhoods, and which ones we want to create on our own. Last year we didn’t do a ton of “stuff,” because Xander was so young. I mean, we decorated and did presents and everything, but the pomp and circumstance was pretty minimal.

As a kid, I never grew up with elves or Santa’s helpers hanging around and reporting on me, so I have a hard time getting into the Elf on a Shelf thing. BUT, I did get an adorable stuffed snowman that I put out and told Xander he was Santa’s special friend, and if Xander had a message for Santa, he could whisper it to the snowman. This takes the pressure off of me from having to move it daily, and I also don’t want a snitch around, so…Also, though, this will allow me to give early gifts without ruining the Santa magic. For example, I have a few Christmas books I want to give Xander, but not all on Christmas morning (when all the fun is over!), so I figure I can put them in Snowman’s lap and say Santa sent something special for whatever made up reason I want.

JS and his family opened family gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa presents Christmas morning. The family gifts were all under the tree, and could be put out at any time. Santa presents were always left by the stockings/fireplace and only put out the night before Christmas. I think this is fun and helps keep Christmas morning from being a complete overload. In my family, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and the rest the next morning (stockings were normally opened first, and tree presents after our puffed apple pancake breakfast). Santa gifts were put out on Christmas, but family presents and “helper” presents could be put out whenever. (Helpers were whatever creative gifter my mom could think of: Frosty would give us scarves, the elves would give us sweets, etc… sometimes she gave us “hints,” like one year I got a bunch of crafting scissors from “Edward.” Not a Christmassy person, but it made it so fun to try and figure out what was inside.)

So I think I’d like to do a combination of those two concepts: the big present from Santa goes out on Christmas night to be opened in the morning, family gifts and “helper” gifts can go out whenever. I don’t know how many/which ones to open Christmas Eve, though. I guess it depends on how many presents there are.

Which brings me to: last year we (I) went NUTS with presents. I was so excited and got almost all of them heavily marked down, but it was still way too much for Xander. He STILL hasn’t played with all of them. And some of them we had to take away because he was very toddler-y and threw all those nice wooden toys at our head. SO. I’m trying to reign it in. I love LOVE the idea of the four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. But I’ve already broken this, and I’m not sure where stockings fit in, or if Santa brings the “want” toy, does that mean that our gift to Xander is the boring stuff each year? Anyway, this year we are getting him one big gift (a train table that we got free from a neighbor, and a train set I got off of Zulily for cheap) and then a handful of smaller/necessary items for the stocking and whatnot. (Such as trains and accessories for the track, a book, new PJ’s, etc…)  Hopefully by saying “one big gift” I can tone it down several notches.  I also made an actual pen and paper list of all the stuff I wanted to buy/had already bought so I won’t be surprised by how much stuff I have for him.

This year I also want to get a gift for JS from Xander; we didn’t do anything like that last year, and I want to start that early and help teach him (soon to be them!) how to be thoughtful gifters.

As we have more and more Christmases as a family, I’m sure other traditions will just start to form on their own. Like traditional meals, or favorite holiday movies and stories, cookies left out for Santa, etc…What sorts of things do you do every year? Or want to do? Or wish you’d never started doing?


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Merry Little

We started Christmas month off RIGHT.

It was still somewhat snowy on Saturday, so we all bundled up and went to a neighboring town for Xander’s first ever visit to Santa. JS has been trying to explain Santa to him, in very vague terms. “Santa comes on Christmas and brings presents!” So, when we were prepping him for actually meeting Santa, I had to explain that he wouldn’t GET the presents yet, but he could tell Santa what kind of presents he wanted.

He went generic, and simply asked for “pwesents.” I’m not unconvinced that this nice man wasn’t ACTUALLY Santa Clause. He was so mellow and gentle, and there were no creepily cheerful elves demanding Xander smile for a picture. Xander sat on his lap for a few seconds, flipped his lid over the tree, collected his candy cane, and went on his merry way, not knowing that he’d just lived through the nightmare of toddlers everywhere.

After such success with Santa, we went on a horse pulled sleigh ride through a snowy park, with more candy canes. The rest of the festival we skipped, though, because it was COLD, man.


I think Xander’s FAVORITE part of the weekend, though, was getting to put the ornament on our felt Advent Calendar.   He’s still unconvinced about the whole “just one a day” part of Advent, though. “And now do four-teen? Fife? Dat one?”



It is so fun that he’s at an age where he starts to GET Christmas. He loves the lights we have up in the house. He can’t wait to go get a tree. He randomly informs us that Santa will bring him “pwesents.” I’m so looking forward to many of the other fun things to do around town with him this year.


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(This is a bit of a departure from the norm, I know, and I’ll be back to my regularly Xander-heavy and pregnancy neurotic postings ASAP. I promise. I mean, I have the material. We took him to see SANTA today.)


Oh, December! The excitement of snow. The hot chocolate so rich it tastes like a melted candy bar. Festive music. Colored lights. Birthday. Christmas. Tree decorating. Santa. So much fun, so much joy. So. Much.

I love the holiday season. I love it all. I love the food. I love the cheesy TV Specials. I love the red sprinkles on my Starbucks drinks. I love the gift wrapping, giving, and getting.

I’m also always so much more contemplative in December, as many of us are. The long hours of darkness, maybe, prompt deeper introspection than usual. Or maybe the symbolism of the approaching new beginning makes us reflect on things past.

One December, fourteen years ago, I tried to kill myself. Dramatic, yes, isn’t it? It feels very dramatic just to type it. And it’s not even like it’s a new story. I’ve told it and written it a few times before. But, every year at this time, I think about that….period…a bit. Not obsessively, and not with melancholy or, I don’t know, regret, even. I just think about it. I reflect on it. I remember. It doesn’t bother me, maybe because it was so very long ago, and I am such a different person now. It’s almost like telling the story of a scar you got falling out of a tree in second grade. It happened. The end. Sometimes it even feels like a memory of a movie or a book – something that happened to someone else completely.

I had just withdrawn from my first year at Wheaton College (I would later return and graduate from there, which is a decision I still wonder about sometimes) with a severe case of PTSD, stemming from undealt with childhood abuse (not anyone in my immediate family). I was a complete and utter mess. I had horrible nightmares, and had no idea where dreams ended and reality/actual memories began. I blacked out for long periods of time. I couldn’t focus and had no appetite. I was so scared, all the time. Scared that I’d be found out. That my piers would realize I wasn’t as Christian as they were, that I was broken. Scared that God had given up on me. Scared that there was no God to do any giving up on in the first place.

So I left that environment and came home, well, to Alabama, which had only been home for about 8 months or so, but it was where my family was, and where I needed to be.

In what little part of my brain that was still thinking before I took all those pills, I did not think of the suicide attempt as an attempt to die. I just wanted quiet. I wanted calm. Peace. I wanted to not be so damn scared. I had this tiny little idea, somewhere, that if I was successful, the bad part of me would die and the good part of me could come back and be the person I was supposed to be.  Years and years later, I had a therapist who listened to my account of this night and told me quite certainly that I’d had a psychotic break. You might think I’d find this scary; I mean, who wants to be told that they were psychotic at any point in their life? But I always found this to be a comforting thought. It wasn’t just that I’d made a really horrible decision – my brain was broken.

I look back at the girl that I used to be and I’m torn between wanting to slap her upside the head and wanting to give her a big hug. I want to tell her to just wait. Just wait and see what’s coming. You’re going to meet this amazing man who makes the world a magical place just by loving you. You’re going to have a job that makes you feel smart and important. You’re going to get a puppy who is the craziest ball of fur on the planet. You’re going to visit some beautiful places. You’re going to have the most mind blowingly awesome child who will change your world in ways you never thought possible.

The truth is, sometimes life really, really sucks, for whatever reasons (or for no reason).

It’s okay to want a break. It’s okay to hit pause, to ask for a time out and demand a rest. But don’t toss it all in now. Give it some time. Things get better.

More than that.

Things get really, really good.


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