1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Moved Kara and Nathan into the same room. Watched a royal wedding. Officially closed the door to more biological children. Delivered my third baby. Discontinued our landline service indefinitely. Took the kids to their first movie (Winnie-the-Pooh). Enrolled Kara into preschool and Nathan into Play 'n Share. Published my first sponsored blog entry. Rode in an ambulance, which leads into: Said good-bye to my gallbladder.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Inspired by Christina's recap for 2010, this year I replaced my usual list of resolutions with a single key word on which to focus my energy. My word for 2011 was prepare, and I think it worked well. Prepare gave me strength when I felt suffocated by debt, motivation to take care of myself after all my c-section troubles, and offered hope when even the idea of selling this house became unbearable. Prepare can mean big changes or baby steps, tangible results or quiet reflection. It's hard to fail at something when the guidelines for meeting it are so flexible.
That said, I didn't abandon my bullets entirely. Here are the "inevitables" I listed for 2011:
- Pay off credit card balance, which continues to serve as the proverbial/financial thorn in our side - HA HA HA. We had more than cut it in half by the time I returned to work, and I remember saying to Luke with pride, "We made it my whole maternity leave without using the Visa once!" So of course we were slapped with a surprise two grand in car repairs for the Cobalt in October. Because the universe is one crabby bitch.
- Paint the kitchen and the kids' bedrooms and bathroom - Aside from minor touch-ups to each of the kids' rooms, the only paint we opened this year was manufactured by Crayola. So, that would be no.
- Revamp the backyard and frontyard landscape - Luke pulled some bushes out from alongside the house. I think. And he did a lot of mowing. Half-yes.
- Deliver a healthy baby - I may be a mess physically, but Liam is absolutely perfect. Resounding yes here.
- Enroll Kara into an official preschool class and Nathan into some sort of program this fall - Another check mark, thank goodness.
- Lose the baby weight gained from pregnancy number three - I'm actually underweight at the moment, thanks to my gallbladder drama. Um, thanks, gallbladder?
For my 2012 word, I think I'm going with leap. Welcoming a new baby almost every year for the past three years has led to coasting in certain areas of my life. It is time to shake things up a little.
In addition, here are some milestones I want to hit this year. Most of them are purposefully vague - no quantifiable measurables, more like reminders on how to best spend my time. I will flesh these out over the coming weeks:
- Eliminate our Visa bill once and for all
- Pay off medical bills related to Luke's physical therapy and Liam's delivery
- Put our house on the market
- Train for and complete the Mini
- Make time for hobbies
- Take trips
- Get involved - Luke, me, and the kids
- Be there
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Definitely. We're so close, in fact, it's almost like the baby came out of my own body.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
We weren't close, but I lost my beloved auntie Maureen in late winter.
5. Which countries did you visit?
Uh. None. But I take solace in knowing that if this question were Which COUNTIES did you visit?, I could totally name at least three.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
MONEY, because I am sick of all this debt. Physical strength, because I am tired of feeling worn down. A paid-off mortgage because that will mean we'll have sold our house.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 29: Liam's birth
September 23: The final airing of All My Children on network television. I took the afternoon off to watch it at my boss's house. We sat in front of the TV and feasted on Portillo's. It was awesome.
December 1: Gallbladder removal
December 8: ERCP
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My beautiful baby boy.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Keeping my jealousy in check. There's a reason this is covered in the Ten Commandments; it's one of the ugliest emotions there is. When it feels like you're barely treading water, it's hard to watch others enjoy abundance, even when you know they aren't without troubles, either.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Besides my c-section and gallbladder surgeries, I injured my right knee (same as when I was training for the Mini-Marathon last year) a month into my post-partum couch-to-5K progam. I started physical therapy in October and it's still not completely healed. Again, more on that in another post.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Luke's sterilization. Kara's and Nathan's Christmas gifts - wooden dollhouse and train table set, respectively. We aren't often able to splurge on presents this extravagent, but we made it a priority and I'm so glad we did. They're at the perfect age for these things and should get plenty of mileage out of them.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My sister Ryan and brother-in-law Jason, who came back to the U.S. after spending three years with the Army in Germany. They're stationed in North Carolina now, and it's wonderful to be in the same time zone again, even if they're still hundreds of miles away. Just the fact that Jason returned from Afghanistan at all, let alone without injury, is cause for thanksgiving.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I'd rather not say, but don't worry. Not yours.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Visa. Diapers. Medical bills. Gas. (And now you're jealous of ME!)
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Having Liam. Welcoming a new coworker to our department. Ryan and Jason's move to NC.
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
"Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" by Coldplay because the beat is so trimphant. I needed that kind of kick this year.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder? Happier.
b) Thinner or fatter? I still weigh less than I did at this time last year, but my belly is still puffier than I'd like, partly because of my diastasis, so let's call it a wash.
c) Richer or poorer? Financially poorer. In love, a million times richer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Sleep. Physical therapy exercises. Keep in contact with family and friends.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Same as last year: Worry. Yell.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Opening presents with Luke and the kids, playing with their new toys, and cleaning every room of the house.
21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Oh, yes. Luckily, Luke is okay with this.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Fringe, hands-down, though New Girl is a close second. Luke and I are ape about this show and Zooey Deschanel. We're also watching Once Upon a Time, but I'm not as enchanted by it (no pun intended) as I was in the beginning. Excited about the return of 30 Rock but was disappointed by the last season, so we're keeping expectations low.
On the kid front, Yo Gabba Gabba. I can't believe I once hated this show. The guest stars alone are comedy gold.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
24. What was the best book you read?
I only finished two grown-up books this year, but they were both great, so we'll call it a tie: The Happiness Project and Bossypants. Highly recommend both.
In the area of children's literature, we as a family have embraced the Knuffle Bunny and How Do Dinosaurs...? series, Ladybug Girl, and Maisy the Mouse, among countless other characters we've grown to love as a result of our local library. Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books have been a staple in our house for years, but this year we discovered Owl at Home, Mouse Tales, and Mouse Soup. (Nathan: "I don't like the weasel.") Earlier this month I pulled out my big fat Beatrix Potter collection of stories, and while I think the writing is a little over their heads, Kara and Nathan love it. It's so wonderful to relive my childhood favorites with them.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Let's change this to rediscovery so I can say Tori Amos. She went on the road this year to promote Night of Hunters, and every time she travels I get caught up in her old stuff all over again.
If I have to name new music, let's go with Mumford and Sons and Adele.
26. What did you want and get?
A healthy baby.
27. What did you want and not get?
A zero balance on our credit card.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I only saw one movie at the show - Winnie-the-Pooh, which was adorable. If we're talking rentals, Inception was mind-blowing.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We did nothing because I was still having crazy bouts of morning sickness. I turned 31.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An easier delivery. Less debt. Zero car repairs. Intact gallbladder.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
January through June: outdated maternity clothes. July through December: wash-and-wear from The Limited by day, yoga pants by night.
32. What kept you sane?
My husband. Comfort music and coffee on the drive to work.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tiny Fey and her take on "making it" as a woman and in show business. Those were my favorite sections of Bossypants.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Pass, mainly because I don't know.
35. Who did you miss?
Everyone. I'm not a big fan of talking on the phone like I was when I was single, and usually I'm too tired after the kids are in bed to make a call, but since most of my support group is up north and Luke and I have needed to stay close to home this year, that's the best way to stay in touch. I did a terrible job of maintaining relationships with friends and family (outside of my own little unit) in 2011. That said, between commuting and special projects, I worked a lot more, and missed that time with Luke and the kids at home.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
I'll give you three guesses.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Don't wait for the perfect time to follow your dreams.The path you take will always be riddled with potholes. Screw perfect. NOW is the time.
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Courtesy of Coldplay:
I turn the music up, I got my records on
I shut the world outside until the lights come on
Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone
But I feel my heart start beating to my favorite song
And all the kids they dance, all the kids all night
Until Monday morning feels another life
I turn the music up, I'm on a roll this time
And heaven is in sight
And it is. It's scary, but it's right in front of me.
In case you're interested, quizzes and/or musings from previous years:
* Because of all the new-mom drama I was going through after bringing Kara home, there is no recap for 2007. I know, I'm sad about it, too.