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Wednesday
Dec212016

2016 Year in Review

I didn't do a year in review last year (maybe because I had a tiny baby who required me to sit on a yoga ball 95% of the time), and I realize I rarely write here anymore. But whatever, shut up. Let's review 2016!

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?

Voted for a woman for president! I voted for HRC in the 2008 primary, but this year I got to vote for her in the primary AND the general election.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Several friends had babies, but no new babes in my family. I think my siblings (other than my half-sibs who are 20+ years younger than me) are done with having babies, which is sad in a way.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody really close, thankfully.

4. What countries did you visit?

None, unfortunately.
5. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A bigger presence in my community. I am maxed out, I'm at capacity, I don't know how I'll fit anything more in. But after the election, after learning that nearly half of voters support racism, bigotry, and misogyny (or at least are willing to overlook it when electing a leader), I need to do something more. I hope to find ways to be more active locally in hopes of impacting people and policies everywhere.

6. What dates from 2016 will remained etched upon your memory?
November 8. A monumental day as I voted for the most qualified presidential candidate ever and a personal hero of mine. A devestating day as the least qualified presidential candidate ever and one of the most vile representations of humankind managed to win the election.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting through. It was a tough year adjusting to two kids while both Mike and I started new jobs and we figured out our new normal. I hate to say that surviving was an achievement, but it was a challenging year and I feel good about how we ended up.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not doing enough to raise awareness in my inner circle about the danger a Trump presidency posed. I tried really hard with a handful of people, but I should have done more. I know my efforts alone wouldn't have changed things, but I regret assuming that several people I'm close to would vote to actively block him. Not only did some of those people turn out to be third party voters, but others turned out to actually be supportive of him. I'm still working to reconcile that what I thought I understood about some of the people in my life is just not true.
9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Last time I did this (2014), my answer was a miscarriage. Thank the lord I didn't experience anything like that this year. No serious injury or illness at all

10. What was the best thing you bought?
Not so much bought, but donated. We support Planned Parenthood and will continue to do so. If you disagree with that, I implore you to ask me about it. I would love to have a respectful dialogue about why I believe it's so important to support reproductive health and rights.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The 2.7 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. 

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Everyone who voted for that other person whose name I don't even want to write.

13. Where did most of your money go?
Nothing exciting: mortgage, insurance, student loans. The biggest expense though? Child care. Preschool and daycare expenses is by far our largest expense each month.

14. What did you get really excited about?
My kids. I just super love them.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder? I guess happier. This time last year I was on maternity leave, full of emotions, not sleeping, listening to a gassy baby fuss all day and night. I was happy, but it's easier to feel the happiness when I'm not so sleep deprived.
- richer or poorer? Neither. We make a little more money, but our expenses have increased (two kids in full-time child care), so while technically richer, we feel poorer.

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Advocated for what's right and good in our country.

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yelling. I got kind of a yelly with my kids a few (dozen) times when it wasn't warranted.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
I'm doing this before Christmas, but as usual, we have A LOT of holiday parties so we'll be all over the place again. 

19. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Not with anybody new.
20. What was your favorite TV program?

I watched the Veep series. Mike wasn't interested, but I thought it was pretty funny.

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No. Loves trumps hate. See what I did there?

22. What was the best book you read?
I read about 34 books so far this year, which I think is pretty good considering TWO KIDS AND A FULL TIME JOB! One that sticks out is "Rise of the Rocket Girls." It was poorly executed, unfortunately, but it opened a door to learning all about the contributions women have made to science that have been buried by history. 
23. What did you want and get?
Continued health for my family. I try to never take that for granted.

24. What did you want and not get?
I wanted an HRC presidency so badly. I wanted this country to prove me wrong, to prove that we won't tolerate hatred. Despite the majority of voters trying to prove me wrong, we did not get an HRC presidency. (Are you seeing a trend here? This election hit me hard, and for good reason I believe.)

25. What was your favorite film of this year?
I've been watching a lot of Hallmark holiday movies while I work. They're great for mindless background noise!

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 36 earlier this month. I worked a long day, then had cake and ice cream with my family. 

27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think this one goes without saying lest I beat a dead horse...

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Desperate. That's what I said in 2014, and it's still true today. My body changed yet again after Drum was born, and nothing works on me anymore. I bought a few news things, but fashion is not in the budget right now, so it means I'm only comfortable about 5% of the time. It's not that things don't fit because they're too small, but they don't fit correctly and comfortably. I need to start all over with a fresh wardrobe, preferably assembled by a professional stylist, but ain't no way that's happening in the next decade!

29. What kept you sane?
Mike. We are good teammates. We're partners in this chaotic life we've created and when I'm losing my sanity, he's there to keep us together.
30. What political issue stirred you the most?
I just can't.

31. Who did you miss?
My extended family. We all live pretty close to each other, but our days are so full that we don't see each other as often as we used to or we'd like. I hope we can change that.

32. Who was the best new person you met?
I kind of met Hillary Clinton. I mean I was about 20 yards from her when she spoke in my city, so let's just say I met her and she's the best.

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
Be the change you want to see. I've long known that quote and I frequently share it as a life motto, but it seems ever more pertinent this year. We can't just talk about the change we want to see, we can't just hope for the change we want to see, we have to BE the change. We have to DO the changing.
Sunday
Dec042016

On how we approach Santa with our kids

Awhile ago, on the verge of Mo’s first Christmas, I wrote about whether or not to “do Santa.” It felt very pressing at the time to determine our stance on this because it would set the stage for future Christmases. A friend kindly pointed out that at 11 months, it kind of didn’t matter. Point taken.

So that Christmas we didn’t do anything Santa related. Santa made an appearance at her daycare Christmas party, but that was it.

The next Christmas, when she was almost 2, it was much the same. She was still too young to get it or to ask any questions, so we didn’t bring up Santa one way or the other. He came to the daycare party, he showed up in a storybook or two, he made an appearance in some Christmas songs. But we never told her one way or the other if Santa was real, not real, brought presents, didn’t bring presents. It was a non-issue.

A year later, when she was almost 3, things got a little more interesting.

In short, here’s what we learned: If you say and do nothing about Santa, the child will make up his or her own mind!

And that’s the approach we’ve taken, sort of accidentally. Mo hears about Santa from everywhere – school, stories, songs, TV – and we let her craft her own ideas about the whole thing. We don’t correct anything, nor do we assert anything. We don’t discourage, and we don’t encourage. We don’t confirm nor deny.

I figure it’s like any other imaginary figure. I don’t go around telling her that the Paw Patrol characters aren’t real. I think kids exist in a state where real and fake are not defined in the same way they are for adults (although with the rise of fake news stories being accepted as fact, or facts being described as subjective… but that’s for another post). It doesn’t occur to her to ask us if Marshall and Chase are real in real life, and it doesn’t occur to her to ask that about Santa either.

We don’t make a point to take the kids to have their picture taken with Santa, but he shows up every year at the daycare party and they sit on his lap. We don’t tell Mo that Santa brings presents on Christmas or lives in the North Pole or rides a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. We’re not writing the story for her – we’re letting her take the things she hears and piece together what makes sense to her.

I am curious to see how presents go this year. Leading up to last Christmas, she mentioned a couple times that Santa was bringing presents and we always just said some version of, “Oh yeah, you think so?” And then we might probe a little further. “Why do you think he brings presents? Does everyone get presents?” and so on. Rather than confirm or deny, and rather than correct or endorse, we just acknowledge her thoughts and maybe try to understand a little better what she believes. On Christmas morning, she didn’t say a thing about Santa so we didn’t have to figure out how to answer the question of what was from us and what was “from Santa.”

This year, however, she’s older, wiser, more aware. She hasn’t asked to make a list for Santa or directly acknowledged that she expects gifts from him, but she has expressed a general idea that he brings presents on Christmas morning. If she asks, I think we’ll handle it like anything else under the Santa umbrella: ask her what she thinks.

I’ve also thought ahead to the day she asks us directly if Santa is real, and though I can’t say for sure what I’ll do in that moment, I imagine it’ll be something like, “Do you believe Santa is real?” If she still does, then he can be real. If she doesn’t, then I can help her figure out what that means to her.

I completely respect other approaches to Santa, but I’ve found this to be a great approach for us. We’re not telling her what to believe and we’re not telling her she’s wrong for what she believes. We’re letting her take the lead and we’re following along to see where she goes.

It feels trite to write about this in light of what is happening in my country right now, but I needed something lighthearted to give me a mental break so I can dive back into the important work with new energy. Off I go!

Friday
Dec022016

Drum - thirteen months

Pretty sure I just wrote his 12 month update. No literally, I only wrote it 10 days ago...

Anyway, I realized that I kept up monthly updates with Mo through her second year, so I guess I'll try with Drum too. I don't write much of anything here anymore, but someday I'm sure the kids will find this space and compare updates and I want to be fair and equitable. But no promises kids!

Mom and Drum 2016

At 13 months, Drum is a grumpy little bugger. He's a screecher actually. He screeches about everything. I mentioned this in the last update, but woo boy does it drive me crazy. I hope it's just a phase that won't last much longer. I think part of it is that he doesn't talk, and I'm realizing that maybe he's frustrated he can't talk. he screeches rather than talks. Even our progress with signing has not only halted but digressed. He won't sign at all now. I'm not going to worry yet, but I do hope he finds some words soon.

Drum lay frustrated

This is just after throwing a fit.

He's still stuck on 4 teeth. Mo had at least twice as many by now! She even had a couple molars. Drum's teeth are apparently more stubborn about keeping quiet. It's also funny to compare their hair at this age. Mo's was wild and significantly longer and fuller than Bro's. His is still pretty short, white blonde, thin, wispy and pretty straight.

Drum doctor appointment

#brohair

Mo's crazy hair

#mohair

One thing Bro did a lot faster than Mo was walk. He figured it out in a a couple weeks, and it's so fun to watch him walk around like a big kid. His cousins were around for Thanksgiving, and for the first time he was on their level. No more crawling around their feet. He's not quite as fast as them, but he'll get there.

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We recently added a blanket to his crib. He seems to love it - when I put it over him after laying him down, he smiles and slams his hands down on top of it in glee. Sometimes in the morning he grabs his blanket or his monkey to take downstairs with him.

Despite the screeching, he's a pretty awesome kid.

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Tuesday
Nov222016

Monthly Drum Photo - Twelve

My baby boo bear turned one on November 1. What a crazy year - it's a bit of a blur - but it was wonderful with this guy in it. 

12 months final

Untitled

Drummy is still a big boy, several inches and pounds bigger than Mo was. At his one-year appointment, he was in the 95th percentile for height and 72nd for weight. And he was healthy as a lark, which is always a wonderful thing to hear at these appointments.

The big news is that he learned to walk recently. He took his first real steps on Halloween, the day before his birthday. He was a few feet away from me and wanted me so badly he just went for it! He did it again later that night. Over the next couple days he took more and more steps, and by the end of two weeks, he was walking more than crawling. For Mo, walking was a gradual thing. It took about a month to go from first tentative steps to walking across the room. Drum did it so fast that I'm still a little shocked when I see him toddling around the house like he's always been a walker. Technically this should be a 13 month update since he learned to walk between 12 and 13 months, but since I'm so behind in writing this, there you go. Bro is a walker!

Drum stand

He is not much of a talker though. He has exactly zero words. But he's very vocal and noisy. He makes all kinds of sounds, his favorite of which is screeching. He is able to communicate what he wants and needs in ways other than language. We've tried to teach a little sign language like we did with Mo, but so far all he has learned to use is "all done." He also doesn't really do any nursery games like "so big" or "patty cake." I'm not concerned about any of this right now because I know that kids work on different things at different times, and clearly right now he is working on his gross motor skills (walking!), but I will keep an eye on it to look for any progress.

At his one-year well check, his doctor had no concerns about any of this, and in fact said he is very interactive and curious. He loves to explore his world. That is probably the number one thing I think of when I think of who he is. I picture him scooting around the house, checking things out, not worried about what anyone else is doing. 

Drum crawl

The other thing I picture is how easily irritated he is. He screams and screeches at the tiniest inconvenience. Dare to take the remote away from him? Pissed! Dare to put a hat on his head? Scream! The worst possible thing you could inflict on this child is a diaper change. We have to use brute force to get him to lay still long enough to remove pants, change diaper, replace pants. Sometimes while Mike does it, I put my head right by Bro's and let him play with my hair because it's the only thing that will chill him the eff out!

Drum hat cry

He also hates to read. What have I done to get a child who hates to read? Actually I remember Mo wasn't into it as a baby either, but I think by this age she enjoyed a book or two. Drum will not sit still. He pushes the book away, grabs it, tries to close it, fights his way out of my arms. I think eventually he'll appreciate reading, but recently I read something that said, "Read to your child every day. Enjoy a quiet moment of cuddling with your baby!" and I laughed out loud.

Drum is a great eater still. He eats anything we put in front of him, but his favorite snack is still cat food. We can't keep him away from the cat dish. And he knows. He soooo knows. He walks over there, turns to look at us, smiles deviously, then helps himself to a treat. We've given up trying to stop this occasional indulgence, and instead just try to keep him from spilling the food and water dishes all over the floor. He also loves to get into the baking cupboard and the pantry, both from which he pulls everything out that he can reach and creates a big mess. He enjoys the fridge and dishwasher too. Such a helper!

Drum eat cat food instagram

He loves to climb on ALL the things! And he loves to dance. The smallest tune will get his booty shaking.

He still has only four teeth. I think Mo was working on seven and eight by now. He's got the height, she's got the teeth! He enjoys using his teeth to explore the world, putting everything in his mouth, even walking around with random objects hanging out of there. He likes to chew on my slippers and even my toes.

Oh yeah, he's a biter. And a bully! Daycare says that he is (unintentionally) mean to the other kids - he bites, he pulls hair, he pushes, he steals toys. He does all these things to his sister, too. Not sure what we can do at one year other than redirect and reinforce good behavior, but I hope he's not always this way. I know kids grow out of things, but I also know some personality traits are innate. Mo was always happy, easy going, up for any adventure, and that is still true of her. Bro is adventurous, but he's also irritable and kind of grumpy. What does that mean for our future?

IMG_9853

On Halloween, Bro went as a pumpkin to daycare. It's a costume that nearly all of my nieces and nephews have worn. Mo never wore it for Halloween because her cousin Will is the exact same age, and he wore it their first Halloween. But it became a family tradition, so he wore that part of the day. Then in the evening, he was a parrot. I got the costume from a friend, and Mike wanted to be a pirate with a parrot on his shoulder for trick or treating.

Mom and Drum 2016 instagram

10-31-2015 | 10-31-2016

Dad and Drum 2016

The next day was his birthday. He went to daycare, and that evening we all went to dinner at Red Robin, then had cupcakes at home.

His party was the following Saturday. We had a golden themed party because it was his Golden Birthday (turning one on the first). We just invited family for pizza and cake. Drummy was a little grumpy and very clingy to me the whole time, but he enjoyed opening presents (his favorite were the fly swatters from Aunt Emmy) and eating cake. 

Mom and Drum 2016

I'm so crazy about this boy. I think back to when I thought he was a girl and I pictured my life with two girls. I remember the shock when those boy parts showed up on the ultrasound. I remember spending the next 20 weeks adjusting my vision for the future. I remember when he was born and it seemed so obvious I'd have a boy because this boy was my boy. I'm so proud to be his mama.

Drum smile

Mom and drum 2016

Friday
Nov112016

We weren't just choosing a leader

There are so many things to say about the outcome of the presidential election. Too many things. But with only a few days to process, the thing I keep coming back to is that people shouldn't literally be scared for their lives because of whom was elected to be president.

It's natural for people to be disappointed if their preferred candidate lost. It's natural to be angry, sad, frustrated. But it's not acceptable for anybody to legitinately fear for their safety because their president-elect has told the populace that it is OK to hate and harrass others.

In a piece I just read, What Do We Tell The Children, it advises us to:

Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first. 

These are things we have to tell our children because of who we elected to lead us. I am not OK with that.

I've also been reading accounts of terrible acts of hatred that have happened since the election. Things done with a sense of permission from our president-elect. He has legitimized this behavior. Condoned it even. 

In case you didn't click the link, or you've been living in a comfortable bubble of privilege, here are some examples of what's happening:

"An older white man decided he didn't want to wait in line. He loudly yelled, "I'm so glad Trump was elected. He will put an end to this bullshit. And then, to the Hispanic woman in front of him, he said, "And you need to get the hell out of here and go back to your country."

"Not even 24 hours yet. My friend's sister, who is Muslim, had a knife pulled on her by a Trump supporter while on the bus by UIUC campus."

"A woman awoke to find her car spray painted with "Trump Rules" and "Black Bitch" in South Philly today."

That's just a small sample, and it has only been a few days. We have four years with this man at the helm, and I fear for my friends, my family, and vulnerable people across the country.

For me, this election was not just about one candidate versus another. It was more than one party or the other. It transcended polices and politics. At it's core, this election became about ideals. One candidate represented bigotry, misongyny, racism, hatred, and exclusion. The other represented love, inclusion, empowerment, and compassion. As I said to some members of my family recently, "This was a moment in history where we weren't just choosing a leader, but were being asked to choose what ideals are most important to us as a nation, as human beings. Our country has proven that they believe not all people are equal. That some people are worth less than others."

I know that not everyone who voted for Trump is acting in the ways described above. But anybody who did vote for him had to reconcile in their minds that they were marking the ballot for someone who hates nearly every minority group and condones acts of hate. I have not gotten to a place where I can understand how anybody can make that right in their heart. 

I fear for where we are as a people. I fear for my daughter who will soon have a president that believes men can "grab her by the pussy." I fear for my children because members of their own family have turned to insults and hateful language to celebrate their candidate's victory.

I'm trying to focus on the half of the country who voted for Hillary (more than voted for Trump, by the way), and who believe we are better than this. Those are my people. We still believe love trumps hate (yep), and we are stronger together (thanks Hills!).