State of the Incubator: 33 weeks, the third time around

I FEEL WHALEY BIG
Actually 32 weeks here, but approximately the same.

Considering the number of times this pregnancy that I have checked prior incubator reports to see how things are the same/different, I perhaps should have started tracking this third pregnancy sometimes before 33 weeks, but you get what you pay for. So! Here I am, 33 weeks into my third pregnancy.

To sum up the experience to this point: this pregnancy is the best one so far by most measures. I decided to continue taking my medication, which has been a total game changer in obvious ways (I AM AWAKE, and have generally been awake at appropriate intervals the ENTIRE TIME!). Other differences could be due to that, or some other reason – no way to know – but I didn’t have horrible headaches for weeks on end, and I’ve been much less anxious, and considerably less prone to fainting before breakfast. While one OB at my practice remains wary of my choice, and suggested that my baby might go through withdrawal when it is born (…. nope), my main doctor is totally unconcerned, as am I based on available literature and my specific dosing, etc. and hooray.

Baby’s Size: I have no idea. I had a quick low res ultrasound last week, and I recall that the head, belly, and femur all measured somewhere in the 31-33 week range, but I didn’t see percentages and in fact can’t remember any from earlier ultrasounds either. Jess knows, probably. According to various baby apps, the baby is likely over 4 lbs in weight and 17 inches in length, and focusing on plumping up. According to my abdomen, the baby is getting really cramped and poky.

Sleep: Not so bad! Hallelujah! I’ve been taking 0.5 – 1.0 unisom per night, depending on whether I have a cold or not, and sleeping reasonably well most nights (again, mostly depending on whether I have a cold or not). I have had a few nights recently where I slept poorly for no immediately obvious reason, but I am not yet convinced that I’m screwed for the remainder of pregnancy vs. just a bad night. So, a typical night for me these days is going to sleep around 11 and waking up around 7, give or take, like a NORMAL HUMAN BEING! It is amazing. Continuing to take my medicine seems to mean that when I do sleep, it is more effective - I seem to sleep more deeply, wake less frequently, and fall back asleep more readily. I have skipped a day or two here and there for various reasons, and on those days, immediately reverted to the 12-16 hours in bed, with soul sucking fatigue familiar to me from past pregnancies.

All that said, I have taken approximately zero (0) naps this entire pregnancy, and while I am THRILLED not to *require* them, I do sometimes wish I could take a nap just because it sounds pleasant and cozy.

Food: The last week or so, I have wanted to just check the box – eat some protein, veggies, and move on with my life. Broadly, this pregnancy has been supported by microwaved hot dogs, blue box mac and cheese, near daily sausage biscuits from McDonald’s, and a revolving assortment of fruit/veg.

Movement: Yup, it seems there is an actual human in my abdomen. I am very acutely aware that the strange sensations from baby movement are an actual BABY, this time – I remember with Eliza, it was so hard for me to conceptualize that. With Hazel, presumably it was much easier for me to relate the feeling to the fact of the baby, but this time it’s like… I can just SEE a baby. I can visualize a little person, getting bigger and stronger, and that is called to mind every time the child moves, even though I still can’t tell a thing about the orientation. Placenta is at least partially anterior, if I recall correctly (…. possible); that would explain the somewhat less jarring movement this time around vs. what I remember from my pregnancy with Hazel, whose placenta was fully posterior. This kiddo seems to have less frequent – or at least less violent – hiccups, which I hope is not an observation borne of the placental location, and instead an indicator of superior gastric sphincter function (no reflux no reflux no reflux).

Exercise: Ha nope. So, I had a subchorionic hematoma for a long stretch from about 10 weeks to… 20? ish? and was not allowed to exercise at all. To be fair, I wasn’t doing a whole lot before that either, but I had intentions! I had gone running a few times! Anyway, once I was given the all clear for light exercise, I was already feeling pretty unwieldy, so haven’t done much since. I “ran” a couple times (jog-walked <2 miles, but I tried!). In the last few weeks, I activated my online Barre3 subscription and have done a few workouts, which has been nice. I also participated in a Bollywood Zumba class at work last week, in pursuit of a year-long practical joke, which was… well, perhaps it was a Pyrrhic victory, but I am nonetheless proud of my commitment to winning.

I will say that this pregnancy has seemed somewhat more … unwieldy? than my last, though I’m notoriously bad at remembering things accurately. My external brain, Jess, assures me that the extreme pelvic floor pressure I felt for many weeks in the second trimester was in fact not novel for me, and she was right that it eventually shifted off. Kevin assures me that I frequently complained of feeling like a beached whale last go round, even with my considerably better overall fitness. I remain somewhat unconvinced, and hope that for any possible subsequent pregnancies, I manage to exercise regularly. I am fairly concerned that my recovery post-partum will be much more challenging due to inactivity, but it’s quite likely that my speedy recovery post-Hazel was actually due to her blessedly tiny head. We shall see, and I shall continue to remind myself that I can’t actually make scientific comparisons between my pregnancies due to small sample size and far too many variables.

Naming the kid: Yeah ok we have some work to do on this front.

Eliza named the baby Scoobaloo many moons ago, which we eventually learned was a mispronunciation of a minor MLP character. This name is still used frequently, and as I understand it, this would be Eliza’s choice if the baby is a girl. If it’s a boy, which she is quite certain it is, the ideal name would be Zachary. On the heels of many of her other suggestions (Pikachu, for instance), we were a bit taken aback by this suggestion as it is an actual NAME, and one that meets our not-yet-locked-in Z theme, no less. I am not sure we love it or would have come up with it ourselves, but it is entirely possible that Zachary could be the child’s name, if only out of our own procrastination in coming up with any alternatives.

Other miscellaneous stuff:  So, since my last rodeo, we obviously moved and I have a new job and blah blah, and one big outcome of that is actual parental leave, whoa. My job provides 10 weeks fully paid, and I could take additional partially paid (because California) and unpaid if I were so inclined. Kevin’s job provides 8 weeks paid, and it all just feels like SO MUCH, relative to our previous experience. I have finally settled into the idea of taking the full 10 weeks, which I was quite resistant to at first – my preferred scenario would have been about 6 weeks off in full, followed by a transition from part time (40%) up to full over the course of another 6-8 weeks or however long. Alas, the leave is quite inflexible in how it can be taken – only unpaid leave can be used to enable reduced schedules, and managerial string pulling can’t change that. I am left feeling very grateful for the leave that I have access to, as well as incredibly irritated that I can’t structure it differently, despite support from my managers and the preferred structure being beneficial to my projects/business overall. SIGH. But, ok, fine – 10 weeks. It is what it is, so I will revel in it as much as possible.

In terms of preparing for this baby, the only thing I’ve really done is buy a nice, comfortable recliner. I’m sure that all but guarantees that the kid won’t nurse, or at least won’t nurse like Hazel did – but there is no way I’m sitting in an uncomfortable piece of crap chair for another… 976+ hours of my life (thank you, babyconnect, for that piece of information). The recliner arrived a week ago or so and we had to rearrange our weirdly laid out bedroom to fit it in and it’s kind of huge and unattractive but OMG COMFORTABLE. Other than that, we don’t have an actual plan for where the kid will sleep, exactly, or much of anything else, but … that’s a problem for future us, and doesn’t feel that urgent in any case. We plan to get a minivan, but again, the when is still some mysterious future time, eh, whatever, it’ll be fine. We can technically fit three carseats in our current car, and even if that doesn’t end up working well, the hospital is within walking distance of our house so shrug whatever.

The kids are excited, and it’s predictably adorable. Most mornings when I leave for work, and most nights when we are doing bedtime, I get a hug and a kiss and so does the baby in my tummy. Eliza talks a lot about little babies, and how they mostly sleep and eat and cry at first and then we slowly teach them things and eventually they can play!, so I think she *sort of* gets what’s coming. (She of course has no actual memory of tiny baby Hazel, as she was not yet two, even.) Hazel pays much more attention to the baby on a day to day basis, talking to my tummy and patting it and calling it her little buddy, and she is the only child that has managed to sit still long enough to feel the baby kick, but of course she has only a very tenuous grasp on what’s about to go down. I think she will be pretty pissed once reality sets in, as she remains very, very attached to me – and will in fact violently exclude other children who attempt to sit on/near me…, but I know she will roll with it in the long run and it will all be fine. I am slightly heartened that when she recently met Jenny’s wee Everett, who at the time was perhaps just shy of three months old?, she was fascinated and gentle and didn’t get mad at me when I was holding him, albeit briefly. I’ll take it.

So – that’s this pregnancy in a nutshell, at 33 weeks (and a day).

Posted in gestating, little bears, Me me me | 3 Comments

Well, that was fast: 2015 in review

Uh, right. Hi. So…. 2015 happened? Here ya go.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Got my soul dry cleaned, and a variety of other Catholic pursuits. Got a tattoo. Bought a house in the Bay Area, which is a thing I *never* thought would happen, ever. Kept taking my narcolepsy meds during my pregnancy (oh hi, blog, I’m pregnant!), which holy moly can I go back in time and do that with the last two?

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Did I make any new year’s resolutions? I have no idea. Let’s see: I did in fact read “some” books (17, apparently, which is better than I’d have guessed!), I have felt on top of my game at work, in ways that have been hard won (though I have also felt…. not). I did not really figure out how to exercise, but my bum foot is MUCH better than it was a year ago. And I did go running (“running”) and biking one (1) time each before getting sidelined by some pregnancy nonsense.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
I can almost exactly copy last year’s answer but change the links! How convenient, good work friends: One of my very best friends had a sweet baby boy. A few of my internet ladies also had cute babies (limiting this list to the ones I’ve actually met/squished), and so did a frisbee friend (a new baby HAZEL woo!). Yay babies!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nope.

5. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Kevin did a pretty amazing job of adjusting to my Religious Awakening, which was decidedly not in the fine print back when we got hitched. My lovely friends were also generally amazing, about that and myriad other things, great and small.

6. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
So my gut response was “cops and terrorists” but I realize that sounds as if I’m relating the two in some way and I am NOT. So, SOME cops that have done some terrible things, and all the terrorists, and let’s throw in the NRA and OMG I FORGOT TRUMP. Trump. Trump is appalling.

7. Who did you miss? 
You know, I miss my brother. I got to see him and his family super briefly last month, and at the beach earlier this year too, but man it would be cool to see them more often.

8. Who was the best new person you met? 
No one is jumping out at me — I feel like I’ve lived here forever, known all these folks forever… which is not true, but chronology has never been my strong suit. I did get to know some work folks better, and that has been lovely (in many cases. Ahem.). Oh, you know, I have an official mentor at work as of a couple months ago, and he is pretty fantastic. Challenging and insightful and knowledgeable.

9. Where did you travel?
Here is where I try to remember an entire year with no blog record/try to make up for not recording shit, and likely bore everyone to death. Ok, I went to New Mexico in February (what up PJs!), which was super duper fun. Me and some friends roadtripped down from Denver because it was WAY cheaper, and yay road trips – except there was a freak snow storm in NM? Like, totally not a thing that happens there. And our Denver cohort were playing it cool because they are from Denver, but apparently it was actually kind of intense driving. I was clueless and happy the whole time, because that’s my tagline. NM was fun but SNOWY, which, no, but I had a grand time seeing my internet ladies and learning about make up, as you do. On the way back, I had the BEST 8 hour conversation about Catholicism with two of my very best friends and I think that will go down as one of my all time favorite memories forever.

In May, I went to Denver for a work conference, the first one I’ve been to since I started my new job. It was fun, and quite different than conferences I’ve been to in the past, both because of the content (eyeballs!) and my job change (corporate vs academic). Trip also great because I got to go out to dinner with Jess and eat lots of delicious meats, yay food soulmates.

In June, we went to Tybee. We stayed at a beach house with my parents and my brother’s family for a week, and then spent a few days afterwards at my in laws’ house. The ladies were scared of the ocean almost the entire time, but had a TON of fun running around on the beach and playing with their cousins. It was chaotic and wonderful. I also visited Boston in June to see my favorite ladies, a trip that involved a gaggle of middle aged women visiting a tattoo parlor, another of my favorite memories forever amen.

In November, I took another ladies’ weekend, somewhat more impromptu, in Chicago. We had Friendsgiving, and generally ate a lot of delicious food and played with babies and oh, it was everything. My little family also traveled to LA for Thanksgiving with some of our college friends, Dan and Mallory, a new tradition since we’ve moved to CA. This is also when I got to a) squeeze Lynnette’s baby and b) drink a mimosa in Lynnette’s amazing new kitchen omg it’s seriously the best.

In December, we headed to the east coast for a chaotic tour of families in GA, and a wedding in Charleston. GA was like this: fly, stay at brother’s house one night, stay at my parents’ house two nights, drive to Tybee, stay one night, ditch children with in-laws, drive to Charleston, stay two nights, drive back to Tybee, stay one “night” and leave at 4 am to fly home omg. It was intense, but also lovely to see everyone. The kids did pretty well with all the travel and chaos and it made me HYPERAWARE of how we totally were like “life is starting to get really easy let’s go ahead and reset the clock!” haaaa hah ha. ha.

Bonus 9b. Who visited?
Oh boy, we had a good visitor year. Katie was here too briefly in January for a business trip of some kind, but we crammed her full of donuts and sent her on her way. Arwen came out in March before I took the plunge with God, and her main take home was that the Pacific looks just like a lake. Both sets of parents visited in April. Dan came up from LA in June to help us move to our new house, and managed to move all our belongings despite having what turned out to be a significant stomach bug. Loopy visited in July, showering the children with Nat Geo themed stuffed animals and adventure storybooks featuring badass little girls. Jess came for a wedding in August and stayed at our house a few nights; she remains unmoved by our attempts to get her to move here. Liz was also here at some point in the summer/fall (I feel she will particularly appreciate that I have no idea when this happened), and hung out with us and I feel like she could succumb to CA; the question is whether Jess would eventually follow. HMM. My in-laws visited for a solid 5+ weeks in September/October – they were staying in Half Moon Bay about half an hour away, but we saw them every day and the kids were over the moon, and also my FIL fixed a million tiny things in our new house and my MIL made dinner every night. Spoiled.

10. What would you like to have in the new year that you lacked in 2015?
Built-in benches and a better kitchen table. Air conditioning. A minivan (yessss). Head space/time/desire to exercise (unlikely, but a girl can dream). Some churchy stuff – it’s been hard to get involved, and I’d like to find ways to do that (or find the wherewithal to start some). My answers last year centered on patience, sleep, and motivation – while 2015 brought enough of those, finally, I assume 2016 will have….. less. So, I’ll go ahead and put in a prayer for those as well.

11. What dates from the year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Obviously no actual dates, but approximations. Easter was kind of a big deal for me this year. The day(s) we moved into our new house.  A watershed period in my closest group of friends. The Catholic Car Ride. 

12. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Figuring some shit out at work, but scientifically and politically. Oh, also Catholicism.

13. What was your biggest failure?
I had a lot of trouble navigating a few interpersonal relationships this year, and one in particular, I just don’t know how to fix it at all. So I just kind of let it be, which feels like a kind of failure – continuing on as if it’s all fine, when it just isn’t. It could be so much more, and I know if I don’t find a way to fix it, or at least ways to try, I will regret it enormously down the road. Sigh.

14. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had colds back to back, with literally no break between, for close to two months this fall and it was truly terrible. But that’s my biggest complaint, I think, so. I know there were a few stomach bugs, but the only one I remember actually resulted in Hazel kicking her bottle habit so it was totally worth it. My foot has been a TON better this year, so that is awesome. OH I had a pregnancy thing, a hematoma, that started terrifyingly at like… 10-11 weeks, on a damn camping trip, but that got pretty quickly downgraded from scary to REALLY ANNOYING for a couple of months. Anyway that’s all fine now but the mandated lack of exercise from ~10-20+ weeks did a bit of a number.

15. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets, my quirky house, and this magnetic phone holder thingy for our cars.

16. Where did most of your discretionary income go?
Travel, clothes (new maternity wardrobe! kids that keep growing!), Starbucks and McD’s. (This pregnancy brought to you by Starbucks and McDonalds.)

17. What did you get really excited about?
Having our living situation sorted for the foreseeable future. A third baby!

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

– happier or sadder? Probably comparable. It’s been a bit of a golden era, the past few years.
– thinner or fatter? HAH I AM SEVEN MONTHS PREGNANT
– richer or poorer? I have no idea.

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

A few more local adventures – we got more bogged down in logistics and life this year, and haven’t been taking advantage of our locale as much.

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

Worrying about work politics.

21. What did you want and get? 
More patience (or more sleep? Or slightly older kids? I’m not sure, but parenting got a lot easier as the year wore on). A modicum of stability/clarity at work after some reorganizations.

22. What did you want and not get? 
A personal assistant/details manager for our lives. Seriously, I feel like there should be an obvious way to outsource more of this life maintenance crap. Basically I want a person who will deal with finding a person who can deal with everything for us, with no effort on my part.

23. How did you spend Christmas?
This was the first year Eliza was really INTO it, and it was really fun. She got Hazel pretty excited too, much more so than E was at ~2.5-3. K and I were mostly off work a few days before, and took the girls to see Santa at the mall. Eliza was So! Excited!, and Hazel was like, ok cool, can you bring me a banana? (Dream big, kiddo!) I took Eliza to Mass on Christmas Eve, which was actually kind of awful – it was so, so packed that we couldn’t find a seat even 20 minutes early, and no one would make room – tons of people saving seats, gah. Live and learn. Then we saw our old neighbors for Christmas Eve dinner, came home and put cookies and milk and carrots out, and put our excited little girls to bed. And then woke up (they waited for the clock to turn green! Good job, children!), did stockings and presents and played and ate cinnamon buns and biscuits with sausage gravy and played some more and then went to the Tuttles for the afternoon. We went to GA a couple of days after Christmas and celebrated with both sets of grandparents, so it was quite an extended affair.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Probably still Doctor Who, though I’ve had more trouble with it this season. I feel like I have forgotten too many details and I’m missing plot points because of it. We’ve also really been enjoying Stephen Colbert on the Late Show this year (heh). I’m sure we watched other stuff, but that’s what comes to mind.

25. What were your favorite books of the year?
I’ll Give You the Sun (Jandy Nelson) was wonderful. I also really enjoyed the most recent Cormoran Strike novel. Recently I’ve been making my way through Sarah Allen Addison’s books, which are decent but not great – it turns out, I can’t actually handle great books lately. They make me too emotional, and they keep me up too late, and I just can’t. The first two I mentioned were great books, and left me kind of exhausted. SAA’s are good enough, which just fits better right now.

26. What was your favorite music from this year?

My lady friends and I all exchanged mixed CDs this year, and that brought me so much joy. I’ve been listening to Katie’s on repeat for eons, now – I think my favorite song on it is Sydney (I’ll Come Running) by Brett Dennan, but it’s really hard to choose. This Time Next Year off of Arwen’s CD is another strong contender, but I cry far too easily right now so I can’t listen to it anymore.

27. What song will always remind you of this year?
MLP music (gah, except for Hearts as Strong as Horses, which is legit good), and Sydney.

28. What were your favorite films of the year?
Uhhh um. I can’t think of any at all. How about the kids? Eliza loved The Lion King, and referred to herself as Baby Simba RAWR for a number of months (Hazel was Baby Nala). She eventually moved on to MLP, and while she isn’t OBSESSED anymore, she hasn’t declared a new favorite. Hazel loves Totoro, possibly as much as she loves Frosty and Frozen and Punzel.

29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
Obama in the last stretch the presidency has been pretty solid.

30. What political issue stirred you the most? 
Domestically, police brutality and #blacklivesmatter. Internationally, not that I grasp it remotely well, ISIS.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31, and we celebrated by having dinner/cake with friends, and also signing some horrifying loan paperwork with a very nice notary at our kitchen table.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If adderall were a normal medication with automatic refills. Fewer sociopaths. A better functioning memory.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Slip sliding into spandex land.

34. What kept you sane?
Along with last year’s “iMessage and my husband” answer, I will add “adequate sleep.”

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

Pay attention, because it’ll all happen so damn fast.

Posted in Me me me, retrospect | 1 Comment

An Embarrassment of Riches: 2014 in Review

Got it from Linda, just like everyone else. (201320122011. Previous years buried in my email account rather than published.)

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
This year I had a legit job interview, for which I was not already guaranteed a position. I worked my ass off and enjoyed it. Relinquished my role as primary parent/details manager. Started attending Mass regularly, and began RCIA. Moved to California, and felt like I could stay forever.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I abandoned my resolutions in approximately February, when job stuff started happening. Since then, I’ve just been treading water, keeping my head up, keeping my smile on. My resolutions for 2015 will also be light – I’d like to read some books, figure out how to exercise on my bum foot, feel on top of my game at work.

did manage to stay up until midnight, which is fairly notable.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? 
One of my very best friends had a sweet baby boy. A few of my internet ladies also had cute babies, and so did some college buds.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nope.

5. Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Marianne, oh my word. And Hugo, and all the Canadas, and their medical team.

6. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 
Some of my fellow privileged white folks, reacting to Ferguson and related events. Lots of other current events too, because ughhhhhh.

7. Who did you miss? 
I was so fortunate to get to see my family a good bit this year, as well as many of my dearest friends. I still missed them when they weren’t nearby, but let’s go with my college buddies who I didn’t get to see.

8. Who was the best new person you met? 
My new boss. She is just fantastic. I’m also a huge fan of our next door neighbors, and Miranda’s family.

9. Where did you travel?
Hmm let’s see. In January, we went to Denver for Kevin’s work, and stayed at Jess’s house. Hazel slept a combined 3 hours over the course of the week, I think. In February, I went to Arizona for PJs. In March, Phoenix again for an annual work conference, and then in April I went to San Francisco to interview for my now job. In May, I went to Atlanta for a weekend with all my best friends, and tacked on a few days at the end to visit my family. In June, we moved to California, and I’m counting that as travel. In August, we went to Savannah for a family beach trip, and I went to Michigan for work. In September, we did another BFF weekend, this time in Chicago – and I swung by Boston on the way, to administer some much needed hugs to a dear friend. November was LA for Thanksgiving with college buddies, and conning Lynnette into feeding dinner to my bedraggled family. December we did a short jaunt to Yosemite with my parents and Miranda’s crew.

I was going to say we didn’t do that much this year, but, uh.

Bonus 9b. Who visited you?
My brother came out for a quick visit back in March, when his job took him to the middle of nowhere in WA. Our friend Loopy visited us in May for her birthday (we got her a stomach bug! What good friends we are!). Our friends Dan, Mallory, and daughter Alexana are currently visiting from LA for New Years. Our parents have visited a few times as well – Kevin’s mom was a God send our last week in WA, and she came out for Eliza’s third birthday as well. My parents were here for Christmas.

(We have a guest room! Come play!)

10. What would you like to have in the new year that you lacked this year?
Last year I said more sleep, patience, and motivation. I definitely got more sleep and more motivation – I’d still like more patience. I actually think I’ve made headway there, too, but you know. I have a three year old and a one and a half year old. I could use more.

11. What dates from the year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day we all found out Hugo was ill, just after his first birthday (and just before Hazel’s). I’d never felt that heart outside of my body thing people say about having kids until that moment, and of course that’s still about someone else’s child. That little dude and his family are kicking ass, more than six months later.

I’ll also remember the day we moved to California. And the following seven days of living in a completely empty house with two toddlers.

12. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Nailing that job interview, and exceeding expectations at my first six months of new job. I didn’t realize the risk my boss took in choosing me over someone with relevant industry experience, or what a huge field change this was going to be. It’s been fun, but I would have been nervous if I had known.

13. What was your biggest failure?
Patience, patience, patience. Temper, temper, temper. (Though I don’t feel like such an abject failure in this department as I did last year. I think that’s for a few reasons – I’m working more than part time, my kids are easier in many ways including sleeping more, and I’ve got more useful tools/coping mechanisms at my disposal.)

14. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My effing foot is still totally hosed. In July, the tendon that is messed up had a giant temper tantrum, rendering me completely incapable of walking, so that was cool. It’s calmed down again to where I can go about my normal business reasonably well, but excessive walking (not to mention running or anythiiiiinng else) are a no go. BOO.

Other than that, a handful of colds and some barfing, i.e. business as usual for a family with little kids.

15. What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets, a cross stitch for a friend, and a bunch of new pants.

16. Where did most of your discretionary income go?
I like how I stuck discretionary in there, so I can’t bitch about our rent. (I also like how I did it anyways!) I spent a lot on travel, food, and clothing/make up. New job (and new boss) are fancier than my old life, which has been surprisingly fun.

17. What did you get really excited about?
I’m perpetually psyched about our insane luck at landing where we did in the Bay Area – new friends, proximity to existing friends, engaging job, fun things to do. Embarrassment of riches, this life right now.

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

– happier or sadder? Happier. Up and up and up.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner, because narcolepsy medicine. (I actually have a minor complex about this – I didn’t earn it! It’s not mine! Don’t tell me I must have worked hard! I cheated!)
– richer or poorer? Cost of living means we are poorer on paper, but oh, the cloying metaphors I’d like to use right now.

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

Exercising.

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

Grumbling.

21. What did you want and get? 
An interview, a new job, a great local network of friends and stuff to do.

22. What did you want and not get? 
My foot to heal.

23. How did you spend Christmas?
My parents visited for the week again. We spent Christmas morning with the kiddos – Eliza is at the beginning of the magical years, and she was just so exited and joyful. We had dinner at our neighbors’ house, and it was the best food ever. The day after, we took my parents to Yosemite, to stay in a cabin with Miranda’s family for a couple nights. We got to poke around the Valley a bit, and let the kids play in the snow – and we also got to cook together, and do puzzles, and watch the kids chase each other around. It was perfect. I was so excited to show my parents the things I love most about living where we do now – especially the people that we spend our time with, so they could picture us in our daily rhythms.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Doctor Who! I actually think Doctor Who helped me land my new job, as my boss is also obsessed.

25. What were your favorite books of the year?
I enjoyed the remainder of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, and I enjoyed my BFF book club for Amy Poehler’s book, even though I thought it was crap.

26. What was your favorite music from this year?

Probably TSwift, honestly.

27. What song will always remind you of this year?
Eliza is obsessed with Shake it Off, and Call Me Maybe, and All About That Bass (“Da Bubbits!”). Hazel too, on the last one. It’s the best. Dance parties all the time. It’s basically just like Potlatch.

28. What were your favorite films of the year?
Films haaaa yeah, I am eternally grateful to Frozen and Totoro for entertaining my kid.

29. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
… I paid less attention than usual, even. None of those Hemsworth boys, I know that much is true.

30. What political issue stirred you the most? 
I got (and remain) pretty worked up about #yesallwomen and #blacklivesmatter. So, rape culture and Ferguson etc., for those who don’t speak hashtag.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30. I was in Georgia with all my best friends, and they threw me a surprise birthday lunch with a dinosaur cake and cheese dip and a gin and tonic and I just cannot believe this is my life.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not having a sleep disorder.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept this year?
Entry level put together, compliments of Miranda and Banana Republic. Also: colored eyeliner.

34. What kept you sane?
iMessage and my husband, forever and always.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned this year.

Buy the plane tickets.

Posted in California Dreaming, Me me me, retrospect | 3 Comments

Tybee Time

I wrote this up back in August, but failed to post it somehow. Better late than never, I suppose.

A few weeks months ago, we took the ladies to Tybee Island to visit our families, and oh, it was a wonderful trip. It was… perfect? Perfect. We stayed a couple of nights at Kevin’s parents’ house, and then spent a week at a rented beach house nearby with my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, and their three kiddos. Pure chaos – five kids under five years old.

It was wonderful especially to get to spend some time with my brother’s family – we don’t get to see each other that often, nor for very long. In fact, all five cousins had only been together once, for an hour, almost a year ago – on a layover in the Atlanta airport, on our way to Tybee. So it was nice for the kids to get to actually BE together, for days. To warm up to each other (and us!), and actually PLAY. It was funny to see Eliza trying to integrate with Hank and Lucy, who of course have their sibling rhythm all worked out, their own ways of playing together. Funny to see Hazel trying to decide whether to be a baby, or a big kid, or to just eat abandoned snacks off the floor.

I think all the grandparents got lots of grandkid time. That my parents and in-laws live (relatively) near each other, and that they get along well is an enormous blessing, but can also be tough for me to balance – I very easily get myself into a tizzy about keeping everyone perfectly happy, smoothing all interactions, and not inconveniencing anyone. But this week, the set up, it just… WORKED. Everyone had time, and space. (Well, except Hazel. But she didn’t seem to mind about sleeping in the laundry room.) Eliza got to spend the night at Grandma Sherry’s house and go on some fun adventures with just her, which made me feel better about staying the bulk of the trip with my parents. My parents got a ton of downtime with all the kiddos, which made me feel better about their more limited capacity for boat-centric adventures (and the fact that the boat can’t hold the entire brood anymore).

Anyway, it was perfect. And I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Well this place is just terrible.
Well this place is just terrible.
Splish Splash
Splish Splash
OMG WATER
Baby girl likes the ocean
Happy family
Happy family
I got my stuff.
I got my stuff.
Boat driver
I’m sure this is legal.
#buns
Cleaning off the ocean.
Like a double decker bus
Uncle Johnny, Child Transporter
So many puzzles.
So many puzzles.
I got a splinter in my butt for this.
My side of the family
Everyone has succumbed to my preferred color scheme
Kevin’s side.
Posted in georgia things, little bears, Me me me | Leave a comment

Today is the last day of Two.

Two has been the best rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden. Silly, sweet, adorable. Brave, tough, stubborn. So, so busy.

Current favorite things: purple, Lilo & Stitch, bunk beds, duplos and blocks, Go Dog Go, sunglasses, Lily, Hayley, Damien, the moon and stars, Alyssa and Junie, cooking imaginary food, swings, Daddy.

Current worst things ever: cleaning up toys, finite bedtime songs, manners, time out, our never ending quest to make her poop on the potty.

Two still loves Pooh Bear, but it’s that comfortable kind of love where you aren’t attached at the hip. Two looks for her sister first thing every morning, and eats fluffy eggs for breakfast most days. Two can skip her naps if there is something fun scheduled. Two can climb into her car seat all by herself, so definitely don’t help her. Two can sit in a regular chair, and use a regular fork and a regular cup (but will still make a giant mess). Two has a very specific bedtime routine, and Two will lose her damn mind if you skip anything. Two will give you a kiss out of nowhere, and tell you she loves you no matter what.

October.
October 2013
November.
November 2013
December.
December 2013

February.
February 2014
March.
March 2014
April.
April 2014
May.
May 2014
June.
June 2014
July.
July 2014
August.
August 2014
September.
September 2014
October.
October 2014

I’m going to miss Two, but I can’t wait to see what Three will do.

Posted in little bears, milestones, Miss Bear | Leave a comment

Kids these days

State of the Hazelnut: creeping up on 14 months old. Walks everywhere – she learned right around her birthday, officially. She had this awesome shuffle for a week or two – she’d kind of skitter along with her arms held up and out, like a zombie gorilla in a hurry.

That only lasted for basically the week we moved – so Sherry (MIL) and Miranda and other folks all got to see it. It was so cute. SO CUTE. Now she walks like a normal baby – speedy, a little unsteady, hands filled with things she isn’t supposed to have.

She is sleeping a lot better these days, thank goodness. She usually goes to bed around 8:30, and it’s super easy – just fill her up with warm milk and see ya later. Sometimes she sleeps all the way through to 6:30 or 7:00, but she often wakes once or twice (though Kevin has been handling most wake ups, bless his soul).

Hazel can say lots of words, I don’t even know how many anymore (though of course most of them aren’t easy to understand if you aren’t around her a lot). The funniest are when she nods yes to questions, like an actual PERSON – why YES, I do want some milk – and says/signs please desperately when she wants something. It just seems so RIGHT – like she totally, completely gets what those words mean, all the context and implications – I know she doesn’t, but it just SEEMS like it. Like, oh, you polite little baby, can you teach your sister to say please? And Hazel nods, all, “sure mom!” Also funny: when Hazel parrots Eliza, especially if Eliza is being territorial – she’ll grab a toy and say “mine!” and Hazel will say it back, and Eliza will be like WTF, and escalate what she perceives as a fight, while Hazel is all “yes! I’m doing a trick, and Eliza is rewarding me! MINE!”

Haze continues to love me kind of a lot, even though she is weaned now. When I get home from work, she drops whatever she is doing so she can chase me around, squawking indignantly, until I pick her up. It’s very sweet, and also quite loud.

Speaking of weaning, couple things: first up, I didn’t get the rollercoaster of weaning emotions this time, huzzah! I remember when I stopped pumping with Eliza, I lost my MIND. I had to have a scheduled sit down with Kevin so I could confess that Eliza (6 months old) didn’t like me at all, never would, nothing to be done about it. Kevin was like “……. … ……. hm.” This time? No big! Except, second thing: I got a clogged duct four or five days after I quit nursing officially, and I couldn’t massage it out, so I figured I’d get Hazel to take care of it. She looked at me like I was INSANE. Like, mom, what the hell do you expect me to do with that? It was as if, POOF, that whole year of nursing (976 HOURS, plus whatever I failed to track!) was totally GONE from her brain, just like that. I know babies obviously don’t remember nursing forever, but it was just AMAZING to see how quickly she forgot. FIVE DAYS. I’ve left her for almost that long on a work trip with no issues! How on earth. (I will say that this is preferable to her continuing to chase me around and pulling on my shirts, etc., which I know some people deal with for a long time.)

State of the Eliza Bear: 2.75 years old, delightful and INSANE. The good: she is SO interactive and talkative and fun. She gets excited and talks a mile a minute, but only sometimes – she can often be quite stoic, still. She practices making faces in the mirror, or on command when I ask her to do angry eyebrows or whatever, and it’s hilarious. She gets briefly obsessed with things – recently, the show Super Why, which she loved fiercely after her first viewing. She spent a couple of weeks insisting  “I not Yiza, I SwipperWhy,” and made us sing all our normal songs with Super Why inserted into them (“You are my sunshine Super Why, my only sunshine Super Why…”). She had her first imaginary friend, who stuck around for several days before she lost interest – his name was Summer Night, after the summer night setting on her white noise machine, even though she is scared of that setting. She loves playing with the little girls who live next door, especially Lily, though “playing” consists mostly of us forcing them to take turns (“set a beep beep!”) with some coveted toy. She likes to do puzzles, and play Toca Boca games on the iPad. She plays with Hazel now, at least some of the time (though obviously also still doesn’t want her to touch her toys, most of the time). She wants to play outside, all the time, and she wants Alyssa (our nanny) and Junie B (her dog) to be present, always. Junie B is probably her favorite thing in the whole world, and always the answer to “did you have any dreams?” and “what did you do today?” Alyssa is a close second. I’d be jealous, but she also gets excited when I come home from work, and she’s snugglier than she used to be, and also she’s right – Junie and Alyssa are pretty great.

The bad: well, she’s almost three, so boundary pushing, experimenting with when she feels like listening and when she doesn’t, and you know, she’s not terribly empathetic yet (shocking!). Getting her to eat dinner is often a struggle – she claims not to yike whatever we are having before she even yooks at it, and wants to get down and play. We are working on her sitting with us until we are done, and getting her to understand that dinner is her last shot at food for the day. We’re also working on apologizing without cracking up, when she hurts someone, because come on.

The ugly: oh my word, this girl can fight sleep in a way that I actually ENVY. (Well ok, if she could fight it a little more QUIETLY, I would envy it.) Bedtime has been truly awful, most of the nights over the last …. three months? six? A while. I’m hoping that gets better soon, and in the mean time, I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity to work on my patience.

Life with two little kids is super hectic right now, but really fun. We are sort of limited in the things we can do, as far as adventures go – we can’t just take the kids anywhere we want, and do whatever, like we did when Eliza was Hazel’s age. Car trips are kind of a downward spiral of reactionary yelling from the backseat, and sleeping away from the comforts of home is… more terrible than sleeping at home. Ditto eating at restaurants. Bedtime starts early, and naps are important. There are a lot of hurdles when we venture forth, basically – sometimes it is worth it to jump through them, and sometimes it isn’t. But I feel like we are getting closer to the end of [this] tunnel, to being able to step out of our routine a bit and try some things. (This is a vague, rambling paragraph that basically boils down to: when can we go camping again without wanting to die?)

We took the ladies to Half Moon Bay on Sunday – about half an hour away – and looked at the ocean, and then because they were doing well, drove down to Santa Cruz to have a look around. They did better than average in the car, and Eliza thought the ocean was pretty cool.

We did have to stop for BE QUIET PLEASE SERIOUSLY HUSH snacks
We did have to stop for BE QUIET PLEASE SERIOUSLY HUSH snacks
Following in the footsteps of many children before her, Eliza has located the Specific Ocean.
Following in the footsteps of many children before her, Eliza has located the Specific Ocean.

It made me so excited to head back to Tybee soon and see how the ladies do with an ocean they can actually play in. I know that trip will have a lot of challenges (please let them sleep, and please no stomach bugs), but I am so, so excited to see my kids play with their cousins, and for their grandparents to get to see them for days on end. And if the trip goes poorly, I will just watch this video repeatedly until we make it through.

Posted in breastfeeding, little bears, Me me me, milestones | 4 Comments

Yoohoo!

Heeeeeeey. What’s up? Anything new and exciting? Not much here, you know, normal stuff. Just…. well, we live in California now. And have new jobs. New friends. New life, basically. I don’t even know where to start, exactly, so just picture me kind of jumping up and down excitedly, in a not-quite-unpacked house.

Well, ok, wait. Let’s back up. I missed some things.

Someone turned ONE, which seems… well, it still seems not true. But pictures and the calendar indicate that it is indeed a thing that happened, a month and half ago.

birthday girl
Who, me?

We had a little last minute “party” – just us, our nanny and her mom, and Kevin’s mom. Birthday cake (technically for Hazel AND me) and presents, both of which Hazel enjoyed immensely.

Excuse me, why is there fruit in my cake?
Excuse me, why is there fruit in my cake?

Eliza is really into birthdays lately – she knows the song, she knows there is cake, and presents – so she had a pretty awesome time too. Hazel got a tea set and some baby dolls from the grandparents, both of which are very big hits with both of the ladies.

Hazel FEEDS the babies, I could just die.
Hazel FEEDS the babies, I could just die.
The ladies, having fancy tea.
The ladies, having fancy tea.

Hazel’s birthday was right in the midst of our moving insanity – We had Kevin’s mom coming out to visit for Hazel’s birthday, and a vague sense that we might need a hand, but not sure exactly when. We found out with about four days’ notice when we would be getting packed up. Fortunately, our Washington besties were having a graduation party that week, so we got to see everyone one last time despite the short notice. My last day of work was a Wednesday, and our house got packed up the next day. It was chaotic and insane and thank god for my mother-in-law and our nanny, and also the Cramers for letting us play in their empty house for a few hours. We dropped Sherry off at the airport on Friday morning, spent Friday night in a hotel in Richland, and flew to California way too early on Saturday morning. Especially considering Hazel doesn’t sleep in hotels. At all.

Slept on the plane, though, didn't you Hazel? Mmhmm.
Slept on the plane, though, didn’t you Hazel? Mmhmm.

(I’m going to just gloss over the part where I lost my wallet, and had to take a pop quiz on Susie’s Life History from a TSA agent so I could get on the plane. Fun!)

Once in CA, we did a walk through of our rental house, and then descended on poor Miranda and her lovely family. They were kind enough to let us hang out at their house alllllllll day long, despite our overtired, overstimulated, and slightly ill children. All the next day too. Was amazing. I totally recommend having a best friend available at your new location when you are moving. Among other things, she also lent us air mattresses and blankets for our week in a completely empty house, so we wouldn’t have to “sleep” in a hotel for ten (10!) days until our stuff arrived.

A week in an empty house with two small kids and a husband who is already working a good bit: DO NOT RECOMMEND. (But definitely better than a hotel would have been.) Empty houses with wood floors: super loud. Toddlers: also super loud. Combine them, and you will want to jump out a window. I spent most of the week marching the ladies around town, or letting them eat as much dirt as they wanted in the backyard, because omg please be quiet and calm. It’s been long enough now that I can remember it fondly (….ish), but I hope never to do that again.

The breakfast tableblanket.
The breakfast tableblanket.
Sure, darling, eat all of nature, whatever keeps you quiet.
Sure, darling, eat all of nature, whatever keeps you quiet.
Necessity is the mother of re-purposing one's underpants.
Necessity is the mother of re-purposing one’s underpants.
Oh, just taking 60 lbs of baby for a walk.
Oh, just taking 60 lbs of baby for a walk.

Our stuff eventually showed up, as did the nanny, so the following week was spent unpacking our house. That was a physically punishing experience. It’s mostly done. We moved into a smaller house, so there is still a fair amount of stuff that is boxed and stacked in the garage until we have time to triage it, and hopefully better organize whatever remains. A lot of decor stuff is still in stacks on bookshelves, because we don’t have everything where we want it quite yet. We have to get bookshelves and so forth tethered (earthquakes, small children), and bah. Hey, at least there isn’t an extra couch sitting in the driveway anymore.

It’s funny how my mentality has shifted after four plus years of home ownership – we might only be here for a year! I don’t want to go to great lengths to get the house perfectly set up and decorated, if we are just going to move. But who knows how that will all unfold. We LOVE the town we are living in, and we love our neighbors. It would be awesome if we could stay here longer, but it will be awhile before we know more on that front.

The ladies are adjusting well – Eliza ran around for a week or two, pointing to all our stuff and talking excitedly about how each object came back too!, which was adorable. Our neighbors on both sides also have little girls, very similar in age to Hazel and Eliza (like, a few weeks different. Insane). We even have a gate through our back yard into one neighbor’s yard, and Eliza and Lily knock on the gate and talk to each other. Sometimes we leave the gate open while we are cooking dinner, and the girls run back and forth playing.

We also get to see Miranda et al. a couple times a week – the kids are taking swimming lessons together, and Miranda makes lunch after, and holy crap that girl can cook. We’ve been having them over for dinner once a week, but we’re going to have to step up our menu planning game. Fortunately, I care more about how adorable our kids are, playing together, than I do about my culinary prowess. It’s funny – Eliza has mostly paired off with Hayley, even though Hayley is a few years older and Damien is basically her age. Damien has taken a shine to Hazel, and it’s adorable. He chases her around in slow motion, and helps her when she falls over, and oh. So cute.

They all just... play. It's amazing.
They all just… play. It’s amazing.

So, yeah, things are hopping socially – such a contrast to when we first moved to WA in the middle of winter and didn’t know a soul. I also got to go hang out with Erica and Hillary for an internet baby play date, which was amazing. And we got to see some college friends over July 4th weekend. We haven’t had half a chance to do any sightseeing or exploring beyond our town yet, but we have a list of things we want to do if we ever find ourselves bored.

The bar is low, based on how much Eliza likes even just riding the train.
The bar is low, based on how much Eliza likes even just riding the train.

Work is fantastic so far – it’s a huge change, in terms of the science, the application, the atmosphere, the pace. I’m enjoying it a lot. I like the people, especially my boss. I’m really excited to see how things unfold here for me.

It’s weird, I have this persistent sense that things are just… the way they should be. So many little things have happened perfectly, easily, with this move. We found an ideal house (In law suite! Close to my transit needs! Walking distance to work for Kevin!) available exactly when we needed it, within our budget. It’s turned out to be in an amazing location, surrounded by built in buddies for both kids, and us. And there is a possibility it could work out long term. We both found jobs that we are truly excited about, with coworkers who seem wonderful. The timing on a bunch of little things has worked out perfectly – and things just FIT, in a way that feels so lucky. I don’t know. There have been little not-perfect things here and there (like, oh, my ankle situation flaring up so badly that I couldn’t walk all weekend, or Hazel choosing not to sleep at all during the move), and of course we miss our friends in Washington, but this just feels like it was the unequivocally right decision for us.

That’s it, really – I’m being persistently optimistic about everything lately. This is not my standard setting. CALIFORNIA, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME.

Posted in California Dreaming, little bears, Me me me | 7 Comments

Seven Quick Takes: Moving Right Along

1. Thanks for all the love and support on my last post, for me and for the women who shared their stories in the comments. The UCSB shootings and ensuing discussions really hit me. I think the discussions coming out of this are big and important and I hope they aren’t just a blip. I’ve read a lot of really great posts, old and new, on the subject of misogyny and rape culture in the past few days, if this is a subject you want to read more about. Some of these posts are angry, but so am I, and I think you should be too.

Tara / Our Little Geekling: Advocate
Todd VanDerWerff: Not All Me
Arthur Chu / The Daily Beast: Your Princess is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds
Kate Harding / Shapely Prose: Schrodinger’s Rapist, or a Guy’s Guide to Approaching Strange Women Without Being Maced
SJ / I, Asshole: Personal Space and Being a Lady
Alice Bradley / Finslippy: On Being an Object, and then Not Being an Object

2. Moving right along to less fraught subjects, Eliza got her first hair cut yesterday. Just a little trim, you can barely tell, but she was starting to look kind of like a hobo when it wasn’t brushed. (She’s 2, so that means most of the time.) Both Kevin and I have been getting our hair cut by the same lovely woman basically since we moved here, so it felt right that she should cut Eliza’s hair too. Her name is Anna, pronounced as in Frozen, and we are pretty sure Eliza thinks she is ACTUALLY Anna. She kept asking where Elsa was, while sitting still quite happily as a stranger played with her hair.

Just a trim.
Just a trim.

3. We are moving to the Bay Area sometime in the next few weeks. We’ve both officially accepted our new jobs, and officially given notice at our current ones. Kevin’s last day is next Friday, and mine is probably the week after. Kevin’s new job starts immediately – he’ll be working remotely – and mine will start July 7th. As for what happens in between, it is still largely a mystery. We will be getting relocated by my new company, but haven’t been contacted by the moving folks yet. We can’t start the house selling process ourselves – have to go through the company. So it’s mostly hurry up and wait – things are going to be totally nuts soon, but not YET.

4. The one thing we CAN do right now is try to find a place to live when we first get to the Bay, and I think we have that wrapped up. Normally, new company puts people up in corporate temp housing for a few months, but our family is too big – there are only a small handful of three bedroom places, which aren’t even available right now, but even if they were- we need four. (Have I mentioned our nanny is coming with us?) So we will rent something ourselves and get reimbursed for a couple of months. Miranda went and checked out a house for us this past weekend and we spoke with the owners last night to finalize things. So with that, we are good for at least a year. We are hoping that will give us time to figure out where we might like to live more permanently, if not the area we land in initially. It’s also possible the owners will make their east coast jaunt permanent, so we’ll see how it all pans out.

5. I am REALLY excited about new house. It sounds like it’s in a great part of the peninsula for young families. It’s walking distance to parks and a downtown area, farmer’s market, restaurants, public transit, all kinds of stuff. It’s a gorgeous house, with an in law suite – perfect for our nanny to live in while we all figure out our new lives, or for family or friends to stay in when our nanny finds more fun people to live with. The school district sounds pretty great, and one of the owners has worked in the school system for a decade, and has tons of useful inside information. The house comes with biweekly cleaners and yard maintenance, oh and also a hot tub. So, things that I would never (or at least, have never) prioritized for us, but would love to test drive. Also, apparently the next door neighbors on BOTH sides have girls the same age as Eliza, and on one side, the same age as Hazel. And more young kids through out the neighborhood. Also, In-N-Out is half a mile away, which is like the perfect “welcome to CA” metaphor for my stomach.

6. If you can’t tell, we are way more excited than we are nervous or apprehensive about this move. Excited about our jobs, our new home and surrounding environs, and also – excited about some of the friends we will be near (though obviously also sad to be leaving our friends here). We actually have a jam packed 4th of July weekend already, and I feel like that is just the beginning. Not being worried about starting a social network from scratch is SUCH a big difference from when we moved to Central WA. It took a good six months for the fog to even begin to lift, here, and for us to feel like we weren’t completely isolated and lonely. I really don’t foresee that happening at all, this time around. (I’d find some wood to knock on, but at least Miranda is so totally stuck with me that I’m not worried.)

7. Rachael introduced me to Duolingo yesterday, and OMG I can take Spanish quizzes on the internet?? This is AWESOME. I love taking tests. I am completely addicted. Let me know if you need me to say anything in Spanish, like “My horse eats a sandwich.” Also, apparently you can be friends on Duolingo and COMPETE so, you know, I’m snoozical. Hit me up.

Posted in California Dreaming, ephemera, Me me me, milestones, Miss Bear, you you you | 4 Comments

Yes, all women.

I don’t remember the first time I had sex. Not because I was drunk, or because it was such a throwaway experience. I don’t remember because my brain won’t let me.

I know the details, though – I know when it was, what I was wearing, all of that. Because four years later, I asked him. I told him I couldn’t remember and needed him to fill in the blanks, jump start my brain. It didn’t help, but I’m glad I asked.

I was 15. I was wearing my favorite green and yellow sundress, and it was in March, unseasonably warm. It was after school, when he was supposed to be tutoring me in chemistry. He was a senior, 18, so smart and for some reason he’d decided he liked me. He was my second boyfriend – I’d dated a guy for two whole weeks in 8th grade, and we’d kissed one time at the baseball fields. But this was different, this felt grown up and real, heady. Maybe also because it was a secret – no one knew, not my best friends, not his. He’d just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and she wasn’t handling it well. My brother was in his grade, and we knew he’d be pissed about it.

He told me he loved me while I was giving my very first blowjob, and I remember that I wanted to feel happy – he loves me! – but just felt kind of dirty. We talked all the time, about everything, up to and including sex – I told him I wasn’t ready, it was too much, too fast, and I was too young. He said that was just fine, that we could wait as long as I wanted, we had all the time in the world. But his words didn’t match up with his body, and he’d push and prod till we were way over the lines I’d set. I’d always say no, try to keep his hands up high, and I’d cry while it happened, but I never screamed. I never left.

It didn’t take long for everyone to find out we were together. I remember that day very clearly – the stares in the hallway at school, people whispering. My brother, angry and not talking to me. His ex-girlfriend’s mom worked for the school system, so even the teachers were paying attention. I eventually heard the gist of what people were saying: that he’d dumped her because she wouldn’t put out, and I would. I remember feeling like it was true – I felt like trash, like a slut. The only person saying something different was him.

I remember sobbing in the shower over spring break that year, because I was afraid I was pregnant. I’d only had my period for a few months before we started dating, and because we weren’t going to have sex ever, he wouldn’t do it again, don’t worry – because of all that, I wasn’t on birth control, and he wasn’t using condoms. I drove a few towns over to buy pregnancy tests. I bought a bunch of them, because I guess I knew on some level that he was full of shit.

I mostly remember three times, out of however many there were. I remember the two times I cried and cried, so much that afterwards he cried too, and said he felt like he’d raped me. That made me cry harder, and reassure him, no of course not. And I remember one other time, when he came on a ski trip with my family, but that one I don’t like to talk about yet. 14 years isn’t long enough, I guess.

I broke up with him for good when he was studying abroad in France, the summer before my senior year. I didn’t think too hard about any of it – studiously avoided doing so – until another year after that, and that wasn’t pretty. He was the kind of guy parents really like – smart, responsible. They were pretty confused when I followed him up with a long string of boys who didn’t seem to measure up. I mostly dated boys I knew I was smarter than, had more experience than, so I could be the one in control, I think.

I never told anyone, at the time. I thought about telling, but I was so afraid – I knew it would ruin his life, if they believed me. His bright, shiny future. I knew, if nothing else, the age difference was illegal. And I felt like it would have been ME ruining HIS life, plain and simple. I still feel that way, on some deep level – that his actions didn’t deserve the kind of repercussions available. I know that now he is married, he has two young daughters, and he seems happy. I’m glad, truly. I wonder all the time if he gets it, what he did to me, if he understands it was wrong, maybe now that he has daughters of his own to hope for. I don’t think he is a bad person, just that he made bad decisions.

But I do wish that our culture didn’t make 15 year old me feel culpable for his actions, or the effects of my response to them. That I’d be responsible for the outcome of HIS actions, if I chose to speak out. I wish our culture didn’t shame women for being victimized. I know so many women who have expressed relief to me, when I’ve shared this story, that they weren’t the only ones. Relief that a friend had been raped, too, because it made them feel less alone, less damaged. Relief that a friend had been abused, objectified, discriminated against, terrorized, or terrified, or the million other things that happen to ALL women, every day. The best I can do right now is talk about it, loud, without shame, because I know other women aren’t ready to do that, yet. I am.

I am ready for our culture to change.

Posted in Me me me, retrospect | 31 Comments

Cheers

I had a lovely weekend and birthday in Atlanta. So lovely, and with so much cake (THREE cake situations! I was there for five days.) that I had to ask Kevin to POSTPONE my birthday cake.

Sucker
The man is wise.

No seriously, I had cheesecake and various baked confections for a baby shower, and then a DINOSAUR CAKE OMG for my totally unexpected surprise birthday lunch (which was at a proper southern mexican joint, with QUESO!), and then my momma got me my traditional Publix birthday cake the next day. I didn’t know about each of the subsequent cakes, so unwittingly had cake for breakfast each morning. SO MUCH CAKE. I also got to revel in my friends and family, and oh, it was just a delicious, perfect weekend.

Is there a more Susie thing in the world than a green dino cake?
According to this cake, I am 16.

For my birthday, I also officially got a new job. And so did Kevin. We are moving to the Bay Area sometime next month. We are just now jumping into the relocation madness and I don’t even know how this will all unfold yet, but I have big eyes. We are really excited – this has been unfolding slowly since February, and now it’s HAPPENING. It was pretty wacky, I spent all of Friday (i.e., the last day of 29) on the phone with Kevin and various colleagues and once and future bosses and HR people and and and. I kept handing off my baby to go talk to people and then finally at like 10:30 pm eastern, it was done. So late! So crazy! That means the new job is baaaasically a birthday present.

New job is in industry, whereas I currently work for the government (sort of…. it’s complicated), and new job is focused on an entirely different genre of compounds than current job, but it’s still my bread and butter: toxicology and pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, dose, response, etc. etc. I am really excited. Like I said, my interview day was just so FUN – I have high hopes that the job will be as well.

We are bummed to be leaving our little town and our current jobs – this move isn’t happening because things are bad, here. This has been the perfect place to start out our grown up lives, and our family. But it’s an odd place – very transient, so many of our friends have moved away over the years, and quite small, so certain leisure pursuits (like frisbee, if I could even still play) are more challenging. It’s hard to get to and from our friends and families, and direct flights will be a game changer. (Though, as my mother pointed out, we will NOT be any closer to Georgia. Sorry!) Our jobs have occasionally felt unstable, here, largely because if something were to happen, there isn’t another option. It’s the only show in town. It’s just a small fish bowl.

So, we are heading to the one of the biggest (and most expensive) fishbowls in the country. This should be quite a lark. Stay tuned.

Posted in Me me me, milestones | 7 Comments