Monday, January 23, 2012

2011 in Review

I'm always slow with New Year's stuff, but this is the Lunar New Year, so... happy year of the Dragon!

I'm fairly certain 2011 was the most life-changing year I've experienced thus far. It was also possibly the most difficult. It was definitely one of the most tiring. At the start of 2011 year I was a childless grad student, living in the city with my husband (also a grad student) and a cat. Now I have a master's degree, and a baby, and no cat, and I live in the suburbs. I still, fortunately, have the husband (who's now a doctor... of philosophy), but now we're parents, too. Those are some big changes in one year. When 2011 started, we didn't know the life and death stuff would happen - I had no inkling I'd get pregnant this year, and of course we thought our cat would live for many more years - which makes it all a little crazier.

Overall, I'm happy to bid adieu to 2011. With everything that happened in the year, I would like to think I've grown up a little. I still consider myself kind of a kid, though, and I wonder if I will still feel that way when I turn 30 this year.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Completed and defended a master's thesis.

Gestated a human being, experienced labor, then sustained said human with milk from my own body.

Moved to the suburbs (something I said I would never do).

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

Eh, maybe I'll actually make some for 2012. Can I make a resolution to make resolutions?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Haha! Me. Also: one of my coworkers, a close friend of mine, and one of my cousins. Lotsa babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Dear sweet Corina the wonder kitty. I still miss her daily.

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed right here in the US. Again.

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

Actual open dialogue with difficult members of my family.

More money*.

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

January 6: the day we decided we'd think about having a kid.

February 10: the day I found out I was pregnant (yeeeah, that was fast!).

The second week of June: the week from hell (found out our baby's gender, put our cat to sleep, defended my master's thesis and celebrated DH's grad school graduation).

July 8: paid off the last of my student loan debt.

July 14: Our fifth anniversary - we took a much needed, very relaxing 4-night trip to Wisconsin to celebrate.

August 1: moved to our swanky new 2-bedroom apartment in the 'burbs.

October 20: birth of our firstborn son

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing grad school and paying off the last of our debt were both pretty big, but I think welcoming our son in to the world kind of trumps all other achievements this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I still wonder sometimes: did I fail to realize Corina was getting really sick? Was I not aggressive enough about taking care of her before it was too late? I don't know.

Also, I didn't manage to birth my kid without major surgical intervention. It's dumb, but I do occasionally feel kind of like a failure for that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I'm not sure if abdominal surgery counts... with the long recovery involved, I think it should, though, so there was that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The swing/rocker we found at a consignment shop for $3. The kiddo loves that thing.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, moving costs, baby supplies, paying off the last of our debt.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Being knocked up, and telling people about it.

Learning the Speaker is pregnant (she's already in to the third trimester - I'm so excited!).

Getting out of debt (have I mentioned that enough?)

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Probably the "Women of the World, Take Over" song DH played for me while I was in labor. Or Paul Simon's "Get Ready for Christmas Day"

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

– happier or sadder? Yes, both. I cried more in 2011 than I have ever cried before, but I've also been so happy at times, thanks largely to the kid, that my heart hurts.

– thinner or fatter? Slightly fatter, but I've lost most of the baby weight at this point. This is a major benefit of breastfeeding!

– richer or poorer? On paper, verry slightly richer. In reality I feel pretty broke.

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

Laughed, slept.

17. Wish you’d done less of?

Cried, worried.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

This was the first year in my life that I didn't spend any part of Christmas day in a car, and it was really nice.

The weekend before Christmas, DH, the kiddo and I went up to my brother's apartment and had a brunch and gift exchange with my brother and sister-in-law. It was Sunday afternoon, and we ended up hanging around until 7pm or so, watching football and just relaxing with them. Super nice.

On the 21st, DH and I loaded up an entire carload of baby equipment, gifts, laundry and of course the baby and drove the 2.5 hours to my in-laws' house. We stayed there until the 27th, and it was a pretty great week: the kiddo slept really well at night and my mother-in-law basically insisted we get out most afternoons without the baby so she could babysit. On Christmas eve we went to Mass and left the kiddo in the care of a rotating cast of family members back at the house. He seemed to like that. After church, we had chili for dinner and then opened our stockings and had Christmas cookies and egg nog. Then on Christmas morning we opened our big presents. Not surprisingly, there were about four times more baby gifts under the tree than gifts for anyone else. Our big present from the in-laws was a high chair, which we clearly aren't using yet, but I'm glad we have one.

I Skyped with my immediate family on Christmas day - we were in 4 different states. This made for a very low-drama Christmas on my side of the family, which is a Good Thing.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Arrested Development and Cheers streaming on Netflix. Oh, and Pawn Stars - we watched all of it while packing and unpacking from the move.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Since we've moved and I was on maternity leave, I had access to a good library and a bit of time to read while nursing. Of course, I haven't read anything published this year except the excellent Life with Mr. Dangerous. I'd pick The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs as one of my favorite reads of the year.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Possibly the new Paul Simon album? That makes me sound like such an old person, but it's a good album!

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Cowboys and Aliens was one of the only movies I watched in a theater this year... but it was pretty awesome.

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

I turned 29. Did the usual stuff at Silver Lake. I need to come up with something awesome for 30 this year, I think.

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

My cat not dying, shit not getting weird with my parents. OK, that's two things.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

Maternity wear! Fun while it lasted, but I'm looking forward to a new look in 2012.

26. What kept you sane?

Long walks with DH, before and after the birth.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

Even if - or especially if - you just had a baby, people aren't going to give you what you need, especially if your real need is for time and space to adjust to the way life has just drastically changed for you. You have to claim it or you just won't get it.

On the other hand, sometimes you will be blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of people with whom you're merely acquainted. The neighbor with no kids of her own may turn out to be your dinner-and-diapers-delivering postpartum angel. Never discount folks like her.

Here's to 2012!

*Since big mommyblogger dooce and personal finance blogger JD Roth both just announced they're splitting with their spouses, I would like to note that I'd rather stay relatively broke and happy in my marriage than filthy rich and alone. Seems like it should be obvious, but it also seems like those people could afford marital counseling...

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