Category Archives: Family Affair

Awake / Asleep

It has not been the happiest New Year so far.

Christmas was amazing, and it was so good to see family and celebrate. Unfortunately, after that, things started going downhill pretty rapidly.

It really started back in October, when my Oma found a lump in her breast. I think you know where this is going.

Tests, doctors, surgery, hospital, more doctors, drugs, confusion, anxiety, complications.

My Oma ended up in the hospital with breathing problems and extreme fatigue in the wee hours between December 27-28.

Delays, diagnosis, drugs, procedures, confusion, anxiety, complications.

Heart Attack.

Coma.

ICU.

Hospice.

And finally, yesterday, two weeks later, passing.

This was all expected to happen “someday,” just not now. Not yet. We weren’t ready. We’re still not.

If you were looking for a resolution this year, resolve to have the tough conversations with your loved ones about what you want for your last days. If not to make it easier on you, then to make it easier on them.

Getting on that plane, leaving while there was so much uncertainty, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. 

But everyone I left behind, my mom, her brothers, my Opa, have it a million times harder. Having to cope with the sudden loss of their mom/wife, and deicide how to manage her last days when she was gone in mind and spirit, but not yet in body. Having to push aside their grief long enough to decipher what my Oma would’ve wanted, and how to celebrate the 83 years she had with us.

Even if that part was easier, though, it’s still not easy.

On my end, I sit up at night with Isaac, whose tiny mind and body absorbed all the unspoken stress and sadness surrounding his last few days in Canada, so he doesn’t like sleeping in his room by himself anymore and doesn’t know why.

And I wonder, now that the inevitable has happened, how one explains death to a three-year-old.

And I think about the miles between me and my family, and wish that this great big world, so full of wonder and adventure and amazement and opportunity, was sometimes just a little bit smaller.

Uneven Footing

I am really quite excited to see the resurgence of feminism in the mass consciousness.

I’ve actually been meaning to write more about my nebulous thoughts and experiences around it, but this other thing has been eating at me a bit, so I thought I’d throw it out there and see if I can drum up any discussion, because frankly, I’m stymied.

How do I negotiate prioritising and “leaning-in” to my career in the context of doing what’s best for our family?

At the core of it, Neil’s salary is over 100% higher than mine. This is due to a number of things; but primarily because of a higher overall salary for the work he does compared to what I do, and a more direct career path for him (he’s been doing the same thing for a while, marching steadily upward, while I flitted around and dabbled).

But, while he would never boast about this himself, he also owes a huge amount of credit for his earnings and career success to the fact that he works really, really hard. He goes in early most days. He stays late when he needs to. He isn’t a doormat or a workaholic, but genuinely believes in what he is doing, really enjoys doing it, and works hard to deliver excellent work, all of the time.

His pride, drive, and passion are core to what I love most about him.

And before we had a kid, these rarely presented any challenges. He worked late, I worked late, we sorted it out and fended for ourselves when we had to.

Introducing the tiny human has meant we have also had to introduce a lot more compromise. Generally we’re pretty good at making things work, and Neil really is very involved in the mechanics of making sure we’re all fed, clothed, and reasonably clean. He’s got time booked out in his calendar where he won’t take late meetings because I have commitments. But occasionally, we both need to extend our work days, and we need to make a choice about which one of us has to lean toward the family more than toward our jobs.

So how do you choose who’s going to ‘take one for the team’ this time?

Prioritising Neil’s work means ensuring he can continue to earn the income our family needs to keep existing (we can not live on my salary alone).

But I worry.

I worry that I am going to lose opportunities to increase my own career progression and financial contribution to our family (not to mention my own personal goals and hopes and dreams), by not being able to lean in as hard.

I worry that by taking on the bulk of the household responsibilities, so Neil can continue to thrive and grow in his role as our primary breadwinner, I am spreading myself thin enough that my outside-the-home-work ends up relegated to the position of ‘job’ rather than career.

I worry that by ‘betting on the short-game’ we are losing out on the potential of the long-game, but at the same time, that a focus on the long-game for future unknowns in my career may bite us in terms of opportunities for Neil that could very concretely impact our family now.

None of this is about parenting, or time with Isaac, which I’m really very happy with. Heck, if my salary were higher, I’d consider introducing a maid/nanny/mother’s helper/au pair/household manager into our lives, to make the choices a little less stark.

(Or is the right bet a financial hit to have those resources, so we can start making more time-choices now, in the hopes that it pays off in the future? – see, I can play this game all day.)

My in-person life is pretty much devoid of working couples without massive salaries who make this work.

I know a lot of families with two average incomes, who work to live and rarely exceed the 9-5:30 boundaries. I know many who live on one income, with someone staying at home to manage the household. I know a few where there is one ‘main breadwinner’ income-earner, and the other who has ‘just a job’ and generally makes most of the work-sacrifices to take care of the family. And then there are the Sandberg-esque examples, of two people who already have huge careers before kids come along, where hiring extra help is, financially, a no-brainer.

Maybe you are or you know someone, like me, somewhere in the middle?

Is there anyone out there who has any more of this figured out than I do?

How much to bring to the office

My first job out of university, I ended up managing a team who brought everything to work. Their joys, their sorrows, their dreams, their drama – so, so much drama (we employed a few underemployed actors; make of that what you will). They loved the fact that they felt like their colleagues were counselors and confidantes.

I hated it.

For a long time, I operated under a model of ‘there are things you do/share/say at work, and things that are for the rest of life, and NEVER THE TWO SHALL MEET.’ As I grew as a person, and a professional, those lines have become a bit fuzzier.

I still believe work is a time for working, and there is a certain level of discretion and decorum that should be kept. And I am still annoyed at and generally uncomfortable around those for whom that line seems to be nonexistent.

But I have also experienced the benefit of becoming friends with colleagues, and making an effort to get to know them as whole people (and letting them get to know me as a person), rather than a series of roles and duties between 9-5.

And then there is the issue of Leaning In, a la Sheryl Sandberg. Of being a professional woman, with a child, who does great work during the day, but also leaves at promptly 5:30pm for those sacred dinner/bedtime hours.

It is more terrifying than I expected.

The company I work at has a pretty young culture. Nobody else on my immediate team has kids. If I had to guess, I’d say 80% of the staff are under 30. I am not always the first to arrive (though I’m generally in early), but I’m almost always the first to leave.

Considering I haven’t yet built up a reputation at this company of hard work and competence (outside of what they think I’m like via the interview process), I definitely feel an internal struggle about putting such firm boundaries around my in-office work time, when I don’t feel that most people here do.

I don’t see any evidence that this would be a workplace in which I’d be penalized or discriminated against, either overtly or systemically, but when it comes down to it, I’m not sure if that’s because it’s got a women/family-positive culture, or because with the company demographics, it hasn’t really been tested yet.

So I struggle with how much to share.

I try to be matter-of-fact (without being one of those ‘sancti-mommies’) about leaving on time, because we have pretty strict schedule needs for pick-up & dinner. To talk about the fun & joy of kids when, rather than just complaining (which seems to be a more culturally-acceptable stance). And to balance that with talking about work and personal non-kid/family things.

I try, strange as it may sound, to act more like a dad. Dads at work get to talk about their kids without someone assuming they should be at home cooking or cleaning or caring. I act with the assumption that moms should be able to do the same.

It sounds simple, but I still get a pang, every time I mention a kid thing. Is it ok? have I undermined my professional impression? Do they think I’m less dedicated? Do they think I am not only a mediocre worker, but a mediocre mum as well, and therefore a total failure as a person?

I certainly didn’t think that of former colleagues, and have no evidence it’s happening now. I’m hoping the worry about this is all just my own brain, manifesting anxieties that could be largely irrelevant.

But maybe, just maybe, finding the balance, and forging this path will mean that someone who walks it behind me won’t have those anxieties at all.

So I embrace the discomfort, and lean in a little harder.

Me & my picnic buddy
Weekends are for Picnics

‘Reasons my Son is Crying’ makes me want to cry a little.

Everyone loves the Reasons my Son is Crying tumblr.

Everyone, except me.

I am not usually such a curmudgeon about such things. I am the first to admit that kids, especially kids around 2-years-old (like the one in the tumblr seems to be), are hilarious, illogical, pains in the arse.

My favourite episode of Isaac’s hilariously irrational wailing came when he broke a biscuit in half, had a grand meltdown about the fact that it could not be put back together, then the second he got over that, started up again because his tears and snot had so saturated the damn thing it was disintegrating. Ridiculous.

But people, being two is hard. Kids are just developing a sense of the world around them. It is huge, both in scope and in scale, and they don’t understand the rules of how anything works. The touchstones they arbitrarily choose to rely on for security end up being not so reliable. They also doesn’t understand their own emotions, or why they are suddenly full of rage or fear (and so being afraid of their own crazy brains, without the benefit of much self-awareness), compounding the issue.

And instead of helping his kid navigate two-years-old, this dad is stopping to take a picture, so he can put it up for people to laugh at. And that just doesn’t sit right with me.

Part of this comes with our current experiences with Isaac: the most notable parts of his day, the times he wants to tell us about, are the times he was sad.

It’s not that he’s sad particularly often – it’s actually pretty rare. So rare, in fact, that he will manufacture sadness, just so he has something to talk about. Example: he is perfectly fine, but will suddenly throw himself on the floor, wail for a few minutes, then get up again – totally fine – and proudly declare ‘I was sad on the floor, mummy!’

He re-enacts sad events that happened (the time he fell on his face and cut his lip), and picks up on all the frowning or crying characters in his picture books.

It’s pretty obvious that ‘Sad’ is just the emotion he’s most confident in identifying, so he wants to share his understanding. Sortof like when he figured out colours, and everything was ‘Blue!’ (his first colour) for a while.

Still, just like we made an effort to point out all the not-blue things to expand Isaac’s colour repetoire, we’re now talking more about the other emotions. So while it’s ok to be sad, and natural to cry sometimes, it’s also good to be happy, surprised, excited, nervous, etc.

Because how sad is it, to think about being sad all the time? To have all the attention paid to your most troublesome and traumatic moments?

I know, sometimes there are unintentionally hilarious side effects of kids’ experiences figuring out the world, but just like I wouldn’t want someone to focus on my worst moments, when I’m out of my element and flailing, I don’t think it’s particularly funny, or kind, to do that to someone else. No matter how old or young they may be.

Untitled
Cheeseballs making cheese faces

Home and Away

Neil and I just got back from a trip to India, which was incredible, but more on that later.

Taking the trip meant leaving Isaac behind. Just shy of a fortnight away from the kiddo.

You guys, it was SO GOOD.

Much as we love the little bugger, it was really excellent for Neil and I to go away for a while and remind ourselves that we’re awfully fond of each other as well.

Lovers at the Love Monument

We had initially planned to take Isaac along, but the more we thought about the destination, the pace of the activities we had planned, and Isaac’s personality (nearly 2-year-olds are not known for their logic and patience), it seemed like an increasingly bad idea to bring him.

So rather than a round-trip ticket for Isaac, we bought one for my mum instead, and my parents got to have some quality grandkid time, while Neil and I got to explore the way we used to.

We’ve had a lot of fun traveling with Isaac so far. Bringing kids along really changes the way you travel in a few ways. Your pace is slower. Your range is shorter. Your luggage is much more cumbersome. But your encounters with others are so often deeper. You connect with locals and fellow travellers far more easily with a kid in tow.

Toddlers are crap at monuments, museums, long car rides and staying up late. But we have only ever been mistaken for locals when travelling with Isaac. Smiles to others aren’t returned nearly as often when you don’t have a kid along who’s also grinning away. We spend more time in parks, at playgrounds, and shopping in local stores instead of tourist traps, since that’s where you find baby supplies.

I’d love to take Isaac to India some day.

But in the meantime, during the long and sometimes intense days that come along with caring for (chasing after, negotiating with) a toddler, it’s also really nice to take a break and travel with a light bag and an even lighter sense of responsibility. And the rejuvenation that comes from sleeping and waking on one’s own terms is not to be underestimated!

Although, in case you were wondering, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

The Friendly Skies – 4 tips for flying RyanAir with a lap infant

We just got back from a few days visiting friends in Stockholm, which was also our first experience with RyanAir.

ryanair
Photo by Mikelo on Flickr

We’ve flown other discount carriers before, but RyanAir is often held up as the example of how much discount carriers can nickel-and-dime travellers, and exactly how deep the race to the bottom has gone.

RyanAir is known for being exceedingly tight-fisted across the aviation industry. We were chatting with a check-in agent on a different trip about our (heavy) luggage and he dropped into the conversation that “hey, we’re not RyanAir here, our parents are married.”

So to say I was a bit nervous about how we’d fare on this trip was an understatement.

Turns out that if you channel that nervous energy into checking and re-checking the conditions of carriage, and have exactly no expectations about any standard of service, you might just be pleasantly surprised!

There are a few things you need to know about how RyanAir operates that are likely a bit different from some other airlines. These can be especially frustrating for frequent travellers, who are used to their routines and like to arrive as late as possible to spend as little time waiting around as you can (I am totally one of those people). So your first tip is to arrive early. No seriously, I mean it.

RyanAir closes their bag-drop, passport-verification and check-in desks 40 minutes before flight times. They make this fact well-known. But they don’t tell you they also have a skeleton staff checking people in for flights (fewer employees means lower fares!), so if you need to get to the desk before your flight, you should count on an additional 30 minutes (at least) of line-up time. And unless you are an EU citizen, checking no bags, you need to visit one of those desks. We definitely needed the line-up, since Isaac and I had to have our passports verified, and we had to get a luggage tag for our gate-checked stroller (the one and only (and appreciated!) freebie) as well as check-in the travel cot we’d paid for.

And here’s where I give you tip the second about traveling with an infant on RyanAir: check a travel cot. Cabin baggage restrictions are stringent (one piece only, max 55cm x 40cm x 20cm and 10kg). Any personal items (laptop, camera, handbag) must fit inside that one piece. Infants get no cabin baggage allowance, and it’s expensive to purchase checked baggage (£25-£40 per direction).

But! If you are traveling with an infant you can purchase a checked travel cot for £10 each direction, and it can be up to 20kg. We managed to roll Isaac’s fleecy blanket, some jeans and sweaters of our own, and a bunch of diapers up inside the thing while it was all folded down and bagged up to squeeze those few extra items onto the flight.

Ryanair cabin
Photo by bigpresh on Flickr

Boarding is also a special experience.

Like other discount carriers, RyanAir employs a “general admission” process. Queue up, and pick a seat once you’re on board. There is no special treatment for those traveling with babies. If that happens to be you, here’s tip the third: pay for priority boarding. The cost is negligible (usually about £5 per direction), but it puts you up a the front when it comes time to board.

When going with a tiny human, you’ll find the extra cost totally worth it as you can store your cabin baggage nearby and find a block of seats with your party (the last to board generally end up split up over an assortment of single seats). You can pay £20 for reserved seats, but the priority boarding is really totally adequate.

So! You’re on the plane, adjusting to the bright yellow and assortment of public-transit-esque ads, and ready to go! Just make sure that if you have timed your flight so your tiny-human might sleep, you employ the fourth tip: have a setup prepared to block out some noise and sound for your baby.

Another way RyanAir keeps fares low is to plaster the inside of their planes with ads, and bombard you with offers to purchase things (duty free! snacks! drinks! smokeless cigarettes! lottery scratch cards! more snacks!) for the duration of your few hours with them. There is literally an effort to part you with your money every 20 minutes during the cruising time of the flight.

ryanair
Photo by JayFreshUK on Flickr.

It’s not a hard sell, just a constant barrage of offers. They’re fairly easy to tune out as an adult, but not conducive to sleep for babies who are startled and/or bothered by a constant stream of announcements and carts up and down the aisles. It also means they never turn down the cabin lights while cruising. If your kid depends on some dark and/or quiet, it’s worth getting some earmuffs and/or jury-rigging some sort of tent-ish thing during the flight to try and insulate them a bit.

It also helps for those times a couple cretins and their brood of hellions who like to throw toys at each other over the seats and rile each other up into a vibrating, shrieking frenzy end up sitting a couple rows away. Not that I’d know what that’s like or anything. At least it makes your baby seem extra angelic in comparison.

Other than that, it’s hard to argue with jetting across the continent for less than it costs us to take ourselves and our car on a BC Ferries return trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo. Or less than a fancy dinner. It cost us more to park our car at the airport than one of our tickets.

Everyone loves to complain about the horrors of flying discount airlines, but it’s a compromise. And as long as you’re prepared, it’s really not much different than flying with an infant on any other carrier. Be ready to deal with longer lines, comply with the baggage restrictions, and employ a shred of the manners your mama taught you about living in polite society, and both your wanderlust and your wallet will thank you.

What it’s Like

Quite a few people have been asking what it’s been like to have relocated, and I feel like I don’t have a great answer. Because currently, it doesn’t feel like, well, much of anything.

Watchin'

I feel like I should have a better answer. Something like going to museums, sitting up in late night philosopher’s cafes, punting. Making international friends and having exciting adventures.

But the reality is, I spend my days with an 18-month-old.

If you are not familiar with 18-month-olds, their day looks something like this: wake-eat-rampage-nap-wake-eat-rampage-eat-bath-bed. Most of what I spend my days at is finding places Isaac can run/climb/throw/jump/run without hurting himself, or making other people want to hurt me.

This means that instead of museums, pubs, historic walks and punts, I spend most of my days at playgrounds and children’s centres. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely, and I am starting to get to know a few other mums of toddlers, but it isn’t terribly exciting.

I also have the strange feeling of being something like a non-entity. Of course I’ve said my goodbyes to people in Vancouver, but with no colleagues of my own here, and just a few acquaintances, I’m in the bubble of the in-between. Like I’ve left one place, but haven’t really fully arrived in the other.

We do venture a bit further afield on weekends when Neil and I can tag-team wrangling Isaac (though so far, mostly to do things like buy a car, or go to IKEA), but the Monday-to-Friday day-to-day makes for pretty unadventurous tales.

Hopefully once we’re settled into our new place (moving in this weekend!) we’ll have more time on weekends for more story-worthy adventures.

And if you have any tips for managing to do more interesting things with busy, energetic toddlers, I’m all ears!

WOW!

Fun kid thing of late:

At some point, Neil started reacting to Isaac’s more… impressive… diapers by exclaiming “Wow!” in the midst of changing him.

I’m not sure when it really caught on, but now, Isaac exclaims “Wow!” every time his pants come off.

Kid, I wish you a life where someone always says “Wow!” whenever you drop trou.

All Smiles

In which the WaterCooler lives up to the “WorldWide” part

Because I want to bring both my kid and dog to the pub, goddammit.
Because a bunch of my other friends moved to Europe, and I miss them.
Because I’m sick of living somewhere with a mandatory bike helmet law.
Because, as much as I love my Kindle, who wouldn’t want to live near an incredible five-story bookstore?
Because I felt so bad about leaving town during the 2010 Olympics I felt the need for a do-over in the next Olympic city.
Because maybe I’ll become smarter by osmosis by relocating to an international seat of academia.
Because I want Isaac to sound like the kids in Mary Poppins (‘allo Guv’nah!).
Because maybe I’ll apply to that Masters program after all.
Because I put it on the Life List (see?! I told you something like this would happen).

Because, why not?

In case you haven’t figured it out, or didn’t see it fly by on the twitters yesterday, Team Watkii is relocating to Oxford, UK!

Oxford's Bridge of Sighs
Neil’s accepted a position with the UK headquarters of his current company, located just outside Oxford, so we’re off mid-July.

Yes, this is the real reason we’re selling our condo, and why I’m putting up with living in the ‘burbs in the meantime: not only is it economically sensible, it gives Isaac lots of grandparent time before we head off.

This isn’t the most radical move we could make. There won’t be much of a language barrier, and as Neil’s a UK citizen, settlement visas aren’t much of an issue. We already know a few people in the area, work is secured, and we do have company housing set up until September.

So far we’re looking forward to experiencing a lifestyle that, while somewhat familiar, is really quite different than what we’re used to, and taking advantage of our proximity to continental Europe to do more traveling in that part of the world.

For those who’ve done the ExPat thing before – any tips for us as we get ready to go and begin to get settled?

And, perhaps most crucial, which Premiere League footy team should we back?

Parenting, Family, etc.

This is what it means to have a family: diapering, cleaning, bedtime stories, untold drinks of water at bedtime, cooking, homework supervision/assistance, school drop off and pickup, daycare drop off and pick up, scheduling play dates (including hosting play dates), comforting and conflict resolution. If you aren’t willing to do those things, why the hell would you have a family?

It would be impolite to just copy Jon’s blog, verbatim, so I encourage you to go read his post on being an “involved father” and the articles he links to.

I’m seeing these themes a lot lately, with Sheryl Sandberg and Penelope Trunk also stating that one of the most important career decisions you can make as a woman is picking a good husband – one who will be an equal partner in household and parenting duties. Though I certainly didn’t need them to tell me that. It’s been a deal breaker of mine all along.

In our family, Neil is still the only one who’s done a single-parent overnight shift. In fact, he’s done two, and I’m about to leave for a 3-day business trip where he’ll do our first multi-day single-parent adventure. I assume that there will be times in the future where I’ll return the favour.

And as the first commenter on Jon’s site says, while I feel grateful that I have found a partner who plays an equal role in running our family, luck has nothing to do with it, and neither of us deserves special recognition for being competent, responsible adults.

Six Months

I can’t believe it’s been half a year already!

2 weeks vs. 6 months

Commiserating with friends who just had a baby a couple weeks ago, I realize how much of Isaac’s early days are a total blur. It’s probably for the best – he’s way more fun now.

Which is a good thing, because despite not wanting to be one of those people who basically only talks about their kid, I basically just talk about my kid. Or so it would appear to the internet (in person I am – I think – fairly capable of carrying on conversation on a broader range of topics). I mean, how could I not? He’s adorable!

Happy Kiddo

And being okay with appearing to just talk about my kid is one of a few things that I’ve found have changed since becoming a mom. It’s part of the larger “caring a whole lot less what other people think of me” shift. I used to care. I used to care deeply, too much, really.

Over the last few years I have grown up some and cared less, and then last March I spent 8 hours being completely primal in front of a crowd of strangers, most of whom also got all up in my hoo-hah, and all dignity went out the window. Giving birth is dignity rock-bottom, my friends.

I do still manage to shower and put on pants (not mom-jeans, never mom-jeans. I may not have dignity, but I do have a modicum of pride) before leaving the house, but mostly because I enjoy the sanity of the routine. It is for me, not for you.

Seeing the world

Time also feels like it is racing by, and taking up one fleeting year being obsessed with the minutiae of spending my days with this crazy baby feels like the right thing to do.

There is a limit, though. I am not talking about poop. You’re welcome.

The other big change is that my cynicism has all but vanished. You try being mopey and world-weary when you spend all your time with someone who is infectiously happy and curious and having his tiny mind absolutely blown in the best possible way by the simplest things. Peas! Rolling over! Things that go scrunch! Another human smiling!

Bumbo! Tiny mind = blown

The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. It’s easy to forget that, until you end up seeing it again through the eyes of someone who’s seeing it for the first time.

And speaking of himself, as far as baby-updates go, he is exactly as he should be. He’s got roly-poly thighs and deliciously chubby cheeks. He’s in the 50th percentile for height and the 15th for weight, so he looks less like a little Michelin Man and more like Elmer Fudd.

He’s a super busy guy and can’t seem to bear to be still. Even at his most calm, when he’s nursing, he still needs to kick his feet or wave his hands or flex his fingers or something. He doesn’t yet crawl or sit (sitting requiring being still, and not diving for one’s own very exciting toes), but he rolls and squirms everywhere. Watching him try to get places is like watching a hilariously bad driver try to park, using a 1000-point turn.

Left him like this, went to the bathroom, found him like that. Locomotion sequence unknown. Any guesses?

He likes to get into things he shouldn’t, and his eyes are already full of mischief.

He drools and chomps with such fury that I have to believe teeth are imminent. Bittersweet, because it is awesome and amazing to watch him grow and power through these milestones (I am still mostly flabbergasted that I made a whole person!) but a bit sad because it’s yet another reminder that he won’t be a tiny baby forever (and I am still terrified of cryptic, whiney, running, mysterious toddlers).

But, if the other parents are to be believed, it does keep getting better. So we’ll continue to soldier on, one mind-blowing discovery at a time.

Hmm. It may be time for some sort of containment unit.
Hey Ma, I like apples!

Twenty Eleven

2010 was quite a pivotal year for our little family. In fact, it splits quite neatly down the middle into BC and AD – Before Conception and After Deathwatch.

The year started with our awesome trip to Thailand, a few frantic months when we thought we were going to move to England, trips to las Vegas & New Orleans and the excitement of a tidy little cash windfall when the company Neil works for was sold.

And then in July we found out I was knocked up, and everything changed far faster than we thought it would. Neil threw me an epic 30th birthday pig roast – during which I was sick as a dog from the onset of pregnancy nausea – and I remained sick as a dog until well into October. Despite the tail end of the suck, we still managed to head to Chicago, Vegas again and rip it up at my oldest little brother’s wedding.

Fall flew by as we caught up on all the life we’d been missing while I was feeling sub-human. We had our lamb slaughtered and started cooking again. Then suddenly the holidays were upon us, and now after a whirlwind Island adventure to spend time with friends, family and just ourselves, we find ourselves at home with 2011 upon us.

And oh what a year it will be!

The biggest event this year for us will definitely be the arrival of our first kid. Before the first quarter’s done, we’ll have a bouncing baby boy of our very own. We’ve been telling ourselves we’ll “worry about getting baby stuff set up after the holidays” so we now have that task ahead of us. It still doesn’t seem real, even when I’m being headbutted in the crotch from the inside out.

Other than that, there are a few resolutions I’d like to achieve in 2011:

Figure out / Survive the first 9 months of parenting. It’s not really a proper resolution, but I do want to remember (as always) to focus on the present, and really get comfortable in my new role as a mom. I already worry a lot about losing all the other parts of me, I don’t want to forget to also embrace the new part as well.

Take more photos. Now that I have the iPhone4 (because the 3G just felt useless from a camera perspective) I’ve been snapping a few more photos when out and about. And I remember the days when I used to take a lot more photos. It feels like it’s time to pull out the proper camera again, and start taking more photos on purpose. I’m aiming for a photo a day. I have no idea when they’ll all make it onto Flickr, but so far in the new year I’m 2 for 2 on photo days, and I’ll post them as I get the time and inclination.

Increase our net worth by 10%. This one is obviously a joint resolution for Neil and I. We’ve really enjoyed the past few years of financial goals, and now that we’ve got our various accounts all sorted out, we needed a little something to aim for to keep us on track. Staying on plan with our regular mortgage payments, various savings contributions and a modest return on our investments should see us easily hit the 10% mark at the end of 2011 over our net worth at the end of 2010.

Run 5K (again) by the end of the year. I had completed the Couch to 5K running program at the end of 2009, and then with winter and heading off on vacation in 2010, lost my running mojo. I’d planned to run the Sun Run 10k in April and that didn’t happen. I was just getting back into the swing of things with a new personal trainer and re-finding time for running when I ended up knocked on my ass for a number of months. Of course I’m more at the waddling stage than running for now, but having the goal to get back up to 5k by the end of 2011 will (hopefully) keep me on track to stay fit now, remain active after popping out a sprog, and start running again once I feel up to it in the late Spring or over the Summer.

I think, with such a big year ahead, four resolutions is plenty, thankyouverymuch. Normally I’m ready to run into the new year at a million miles an hour. This year seems a bit different. Lately I’m (uncharacteristically) much more content to just be. We’ll see how long that lasts, but the ride, and 2011, has been pretty good so far, so I’m inclined to just go with it.

Checking In

I keep meaning to write, but I really have nothing exciting or interesting to say.

But I got sick of seeing the Fiber Bar entry, so here is a boring, uninteresting update.

Read on if you dare…

Because I have no kids, and don’t know too many people who do, I was completely oblivious to the fact that March 15, 2008 is the first weekend of Spring Break. So plans to have a wedding at a destination resort that day were firmly thwarted. The weekend following that is Easter. Of the remaining March Saturdays we’ve decided on the 29th. So a year from today we’ll be gettin’ hitched. Kookookachoo.

I’ve enlisted the services of a professional resumé writer, and used the past week as time to get my portfolio together and get a bunch of other long-overdue errands done. I still don’t like being at home all day, but I am getting used to it.

We’re hosting the 2nd annual Cinco de Mayo fiasco. Hopefully with slightly less hostess-experienced fiascos this year. That said, if you were invited last year, check your email inboxes (or the spam folders – it was sent through evite). If you somehow didn’t get an invite this year, this is the one occasion I open my house for all and sundry to partake in the debauchery and tequila. Comment or drop me a line if you’d like to join us.

Today I’m also playing Florence Nightengale. There’s some sort of flu-like thing going around and Neil has it. We also had his youngest sister over last night, and she sounds pretty sick too. So far I’m calling it the Watkiss Death Rattle, and popping ColdFX like there’s no tomorrow in an effort to ward it off. Then again, Gill has it too, so perhaps it’s some kind of Nerd Flu.

See. Told you life was boring ’round these parts. Anything exciting up with any of you?

Update (5:26pm): I am feeling snotty, and a wee bit achey. This does not bode well.

Louis Louis, oh no, we gotta go

Those who know me at all know that I am not what you’d call “kid friendly.” I’ve been known to make small children cry just by looking at them, and I wish I were exaggerating even a little bit about that.

So it was with only a little apprehension that I went over to Neil’s friends Ben & Julie’s place for dinner last night.

Thankfully Ben and Julie are extraordinarily lovely people, because they are also parents to a not-quite-two-year-old.

Also helping matters was the fact that Louis is one of the most charming not-quite-two-year-olds I’ve ever encountered.

Although when the clock struck bedtime for dear Louis, I was tested as I’ve never been tested before.

Kiddo was pushing a big box around the table, as the over 3-feet tall crowd sat and digested. Suddenly, Neil decided he’d see what happened when he took the box away.

Disaster struck.

Thanks Neil.

Poor wee Louis erupted into a fountain of tears and reached for the closest adult.

Me.

What could I do?

I picked up the child (oh god – I touched one!) and he buried his face in my shoulder.

I thought, miracle of miracles, that would be enough.

But not unlike dogs, small kids can also smell fear.

Louis pulled back, and instead of his mom, there was some strange woman’s face looking back at him.

Realizing his terrible mistake, Louis “kicked it up a notch,” contorted his face a la Jim Carey in The Mask, and let out a wail that would shatter crystal and send every dog in a 6 block radius running.

I sat paralysed for what felt like forever (read: 4 seconds) until Julie stepped in and whisked him off to bed.

Between that, and dressing the dog as Snow White, it’s a wonder that the Ministry of Children hasn’t pre-emptively sterilized me yet.