Is there anything more delightful than a toddler? Carla is learning new things seemingly by the minute and I feel like I can see her brain develop and her skill set grow EVERY DAY. She is becoming more and more HERSELF, a sweet, spunky, independent, imaginative little girl and it is so fun to witness.

In the morning, just to give you a tiny slice of our day: She helps me get her pancakes, and she sets the timer on the microwave (what, I’m not making her pancakes from scratch or anything). She puts her dishes by the sink so I can rinse them, then puts them away in the dishwasher. She can count how many raspberries I put in a Tupperware for her lunch. She can use the potty by herself (well, when SHE feels like it) and can dress herself completely. She knows how to brush her teeth and wash her face and comb her hair. She likes to “call” her daddy on the “phone” in the mornings, to ask him where her barrettes are or to let him know mommy broke the diaper pail AGAIN and he needs to fix it. She can open the freezer and pull out an ice pack for her lunch box. She loves to jump on my bed, singing Five Little Monkeys at the top of her lungs (but god help anyone who tries to start with five and work down to one – oh NO, you start with ONE little monkey or face her wrath). She can procure the dust buster from the laundry room, turn it on, and vacuum up the (inevitable) crumbs on the floor. And then she can put it back! And turn off the light in the laundry room! She can go upstairs to get things. She can put her clothes in the laundry bin. She brings me my shoes. She can put on her own coat. She can open the door by herself (yikes) and walk down into the garage (by herself) and climb up into the car (with a little help). She sings almost constantly, and asks questions about everything – at every noise, “what was that sound mommy?” and “was that a garbage truck mommy?” and “is the squirrel getting a nut mommy?” and “is that a pumpkin mommy?” – and is unbelievably delightful.

But man do mornings make me want to burrow under the covers for EVER AND EVER.

We are NEVER on time. There is NO listening. There is a LOT of running away. All of these delightful skills she has? She does them on her agenda and only then. Should I ask her to do something, it is met with either defiant NOs or cheerful obstinacy or just plain disobedience. Should I lose my patience and try to pick her up, there is much kicking and wailing and – my favorite (NO) – the Boneless Maneuver, wherein she goes completely limp and is impossible to hold.

I wake up at six every morning. I wake Carla up at 6:45 on the dot. We have the same routine every single day. And yet some days we are out the door at 7:45 (ideal) and other (MOST) days we are out the door at 8:15.

By the time I drop her off at school and climb back into my car to head to work, I am frazzled and exhausted and out of patience. (Apparently my patience reserves are very shallow.)

I feel like I have tried everything: Steely calm in the face of anything. Constant narration of what we are doing and what we are about to do and how we are going to do it. Easy breezy casual “whatever you want to do, sweetheart.” Doing everything for her. Letting her do everything herself. Setting aside special cuddle time where we read a book or two before we jump into the morning routine. Bribery. Threats. Yelling (not my preferred mode of operations). Occasionally something will work – like the “if I get to the count of three and you aren’t brushing your teeth, I will do it for you” method that’s having limited success these days – but its efficacy is always short-lived.

And putting on a pair of shoes and a coat continues to take eight billion years.

This is a phase, right? This is a phase. It’s got to be a phase. Tell me it’s just a phase.

Did you know that Thanksgiving is TWO WEEKS away? How did that happen? This year, I am hosting – which I kind of love. Well, let me clarify: I am not really that great at HOSTING, per se. But I love the planning and making of the Thanksgiving day food.

Anyway, my husband is on call, so it is unlikely that he will be in attendance on Thanksgiving Day. Which is a holiday he loves. So my mother-in-law suggested we move Thanksgiving to Saturday (after his call ends) so that he can enjoy the whole shebang, and I thought that was a fabulous idea. Not only does my husband get to ENJOY a favorite holiday, but I will also have an extra two days to prepare. Not too shabby!

My in-laws, if you hadn’t inferred from the above, will be joining us this year. That includes my sister-in-law and my NEW BABY NIECE OMG I AM AN AUNT!!!! We got the girls matching outfits from Hanna Andersen and will be taking many photos.

My in-laws have been invited by some friends of theirs to have Thanksgiving on actual Thanksgiving Day. Those friends very graciously invited all the rest of our group, too.

But that’s where the Thanksgiving Challenge begins.

Let’s make some relevant statements:

  1. My husband LOVES Thanksgiving food.
  2. I am super impressed at my in-laws’ friends’ ability / willingness to add SEVEN ADDITIONAL PEOPLE to their holiday. I… could not do that. I have neither the space nor the hostessing skills for that kind of magic.
  3. My in-laws will likely want to go to their friends’ house on Thanksgiving Day.
  4. If they go, I will feel very weird / rude NOT going.
  5. If we all eat a big Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day, it is unlikely that we will WANT to eat a big Thanksgiving meal two days later.
  6. (Especially me, because I do not particularly like Thanksgiving food.)
  7. If no one is really in the mood for a second Thanksgiving, I do not see myself being in the mood to spend all day cooking Thanksgiving food.
  8. My husband may or may not be able to join us on Thanksgiving Day. We’re going to assume NOT because his specialty sadly sees a lot of emergent issues on big food-heavy holidays.
  9. Also, he will be at the hospital until at LEAST 4:00 anyway, and many families eat early on Thanksgiving Day, so we are just going to cross him off the list of availability.
  10. HOWEVER, if he somehow CAN join us for Thanksgiving Day at the friends’ house, then I REALLY don’t see myself wanting to make a big Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.
  11. But I won’t know until that time whether he will be able to eat Real Thanksgiving or not, which impacts my ability to plan a meal.

Here are some potential options that I can see:

First Option: All of us decline the invitation from the friends, and spend Thanksgiving Day together watching movies or whatever. Then I can make a nice-ish dinner (I am thinking beef stew).  This would allow for my in-laws to go over to their friends’ house for cocktails or whatever, without staying for the whole meal. Then we have Saturday Thanksgiving as planned, with me cooking a big traditional dinner.

Or! (And this is my mom’s awesome idea…)

Second Option: We could join the friends for Thanksgiving Day and then have a Non-Traditional Thanksgiving on Saturday! My mom thought – and I agree – that it would be totally fun to cook a bunch of things on Saturday that we never normally have for Thanksgiving.

Given my husband’s love for a traditional Thanksgiving and his (much appreciated, on my part) love for MY Thanksgiving concoctions, I highly doubt that we will go with Second Option. (And honestly, I am a big fan of Tradition, so I understand.) But doing a Non-Traditional Thanksgiving sounds so fun!

So today I want to imagine what it might look like if we DID go with the Second Option.

Here is what we traditionally have for Thanksgiving:

  • Turkey: I use a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, which has rarely led me astray.
  • Gravy: Same as above.
  • Dressing: Pioneer Woman’s traditional Thanksgiving Dressing. Nothing fancy, but a good, traditional dressing.
  • Goat cheese + garlic mashed potatoes: This is my mother’s recipe and I love it. I could eat an entire pot of these myself.
  • Candied yams with marshmallows: America’s Test Kitchen, baby. But I’ve re-created it here, alongside my lovely experiments at Charcoal Topping.
  • Salad: Listen, I usually throw a simple salad together at the last minute. No one really WANTS salad on Thanksgiving. They just feel like they SHOULD want it, and I feel like I need something green in there amid the orange and white. But it’s an afterthought.
  • Cranberry sauce: Pioneer Woman’s homemade version
  • Dessert: Pumpkin bars

Here are some things I would love to TRY, if I weren’t locked in to the above:

  • Gravy: Probably not going to veer away from gravy so long as we have turkey and/or mashed potatoes on the menu.
  • Dressing: I hate – HATE – dressing/stuffing. It’s the soft and/or slimy bread. Also: sage. Blech. Just can’t do it. But when I was prepping for my first-ever Thanksgiving-as-Host, I made a dressing that was as close as I’ve ever gotten to something I would eat. It was this one: Pioneer Woman’s Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples

Or what about a dressing alternative? This mushroom bread pudding from The Curvy Carrot seems like it could fit the bill!

  • Potato Alternative: My mom’s mashed potatoes – alongside gravy – is really the only Thanksgiving food I enjoy. So I don’t know that I would want to trade it out for something else. But… What about a fancy macaroni and cheese? I’ve made this one before, and it is delicious: Martha Stewart’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese.

Or we could do something WAY off the wall – but still seasonally appropriate! – like these pumpkin ravioli from the Pioneer Woman.

And these winter squash gnocchi (from Food & Wine) sound really interesting.

  • Veggie Sides: Thanksgiving is all about the carbs, so some non-carb veggies would be on my list for Thanksgiving alternatives.

I love mushrooms, and these Burgundy mushrooms from Pioneer Woman sound right up my alley.

Speaking of mushrooms, what about these garlic butter mushrooms from Smitten Kitchen?

Or Brussels sprouts! These roasted balsamic Brussels sprouts with shallots from Serious Eats sound perfect for a non-traditional Thanksgiving.

I love broccoli, but it seems kind of ordinary for a special meal… so what about something like these baked broccoli ravioli from Food & Wine?

My mom used to make Waldorf salad at Thanksgiving – a fruit salad with a mayonnaise-type dressing. Here is another take on the Waldorf, from Williams Sonoma. I might substitute the red bell pepper for red grapes – which my mom included in her version.

Or this French lentil salad with goat cheese from Once Upon a Chef sounds delicious.

Or I could go to bread’s more flavorful relative, Savory Pastry, and make these little caramelized onion, mushroom, and cheese tartlets from Brown Eyed Baker.

Or, if pumpkin HAD to make an appearance, PW’s Pumpkin Cream Pie.

Okay, I am now kind of hoping that my husband changes his mind about our Traditional Thanksgiving! There are so many fun things that could work, if you were FORCED to have two Thanksgivings!

Is there anything that you would just LOVE to have on Thanksgiving, but no one else in your family likes it? Or something that you’ve always wanted to try, but not enough that you would oust a traditional favorite for? Is there something that’s traditional for YOU and your family, but doesn’t seem to appear on your friends’ Thanksgiving menus?

Just a few years ago, I didn’t want kids at all. At ALL. Ever.

Now, I find myself in the very strange position of contemplating a SECOND kid, to add to the one kid I have already. (This is, of course, to say I COULD have another baby, which I know is not a given.)

Internet, I think about it all the time. At least once a day. My thought process often runs along this path:

  1. Oh, Carla, you are so fun and wonderful!
  2. But you’re getting so BIG.
  3. Man, I miss Baby Carla.
  4. She was so cute and snuggly.
  5. Remember how she used to [adorable thing she no longer does]?
  6. Wouldn’t it be fun to have another baby?
  7. But it wouldn’t be CARLA.
  8. It would be a stranger.
  9. And what if Stranger Baby doesn’t turn out to be as fun and wonderful as Carla is?
  10. Remember, Carla was a super easy baby.
  11. And don’t forget how much you hated breastfeeding.
  12. And don’t forget how nice it is to SLEEP.
  13. And don’t forget that Husband will have a Real Job for second baby, so you would be doing the whole New Baby stage yourself.
  14. And what if you can’t pay attention to Carla as much as you want to?
  15. What if she and her sibling don’t get along – ever?
  16. Some siblings just don’t like each other.
  17. What if having Second Baby means you can’t afford [thing we planned on doing with/for Carla]?
  18. And remember how exhausted you are with just the one.
  19. It would be WORSE with two.
  20. That’s simple math.
  21. What if you don’t LIKE Second Baby?
  22. What if Second Baby means you would have less attention for Carla?
  23. What if you are just reacting to hormones, and you will ALWAYS feel this way?
  24. You can’t have a new baby every time you get a hankering for chubby baby thighs and a milk-drunk smile.
  25. You just CAN’T.
  26. You don’t really want a new baby, anyway.
  27. You want a second Carla.
  28. And that will never happen.
  29. But what if Second Baby was JUST as wonderful?
  30. But why take the risk?

No matter how often my thoughts turn to having another baby, they always seem to work themselves around to Not. (Disclaimer: I don’t promise that this will always be true.)

When I wanted a baby, I wanted one. Immediately. There were fears and worries and doubts, sure. But (at least in my memory of that time) I knew that we were going to at least try to have a baby and I was ready to face those worries and fears and doubts head-on.

This doesn’t feel like that.

I have heard others compare the desire for another child to feeling like their families weren’t complete. I don’t feel incomplete. I feel happy and settled.

But my thoughts keep turning to theoretical Second Baby. And turning away. And turning back. And turning and turning and turning.

Is that a sign that I really DO want one? How am I supposed to KNOW?

Listen, I know that if you are Pro Multiple Babies, you will easily be able to refute every one of my objections. And that you could easily offer up a thousand reasons to Just Do It. I don’t want that. I can do that myself, I promise.

Also: I fret and agonize over all the so-called, supposed “issues” of having/being an only child, too. So I am not looking for thoughts on THAT – either for or against.

What I AM looking for… or what I would be curious about is this:

How did YOU know that you were ready for a Second Baby?

Some people just KNOW that they want kids. I was always envious of those people, because I was NOT one of them. And it seemed like knowing that you were meant to be a parent just made things easier. Maybe that’s a matter of perception, but from my vantage point – of going from No Babies Ever to Must Have Baby Now – it seemed like those in the “always knew I wanted a baby” camp were much better off.

So I want to know whether it was the same for you. Did you always know you wanted multiple kids? Did you always think, “Okay, I’ll go for three”?

Or maybe you went the Starter Baby route. And when you found out how awesome that was, you decided to go for another.

Or, how did YOU know that you were done?

Maybe you always thought “I will have a HUGE family” and then you had one/two/seven and you felt like that was it.

Listen, I realize there are sad, upsetting answers to these questions. And I suppose I want to hear those too, because I want to hear what you have to say, if you are willing to share it.

But I think if I got to CHOOSE, mostly I am interested in either the philosophical answers (“we had three and we felt complete”) or the social answers (“I grew up in a big family, so I always knew I’d have a big family”) or the biological (this is not the right word) answers (“I had the one and my biological clock STOPPED.”).


The Loveys

My daughter has two loveys: a bear and a rabbit, both just heads and hands attached to small blankets. She sleeps with them every night and requests them when she’s tired or sick.

Of course, we didn’t buy them for her. We got them as gifts from who knows who when she was a little baby.

When the bear started getting worn down, I started freaking out a little. I had a blanket when I was a kid. Okay, let’s be honest. I still have that blanket. I don’t NEED it anymore. But I did when I was younger. So I fully understand the deep attachment that comes with a lovey.

So my husband and I scoured the Internet for back-up loveys.

Of course, they aren’t mass-produced at Target. Why would such a thing be EASY? The rabbit is sold in boutiques but the bear is from AUSTRALIA and is only sold in a few places. Seriously. The back-up bears came from MONTANA, which is Not Close.

We got two back-ups for each creature. And they arrived and the rabbits were perfect.

Lovey Bunny

But the BEAR. Oh my goodness. The bear is NOT the same. Sure, it looks the same. And I guess it feels the same. But it’s GREY. The real bear is a pale tan. The colors are NOT similar. And the bear has a little rattle inside it, too, and the new bear’s rattle is a different tone than the original’s.

Lovey Bear

This is the only photo I could find of the original color. NOT GREY. (And also, this gift set is $90.) ($90!!!)

Totally not the same color.

I was certain that Carla would reject the back-up bear immediately. She’s a toddler, but she’s not DUMB.

A few months ago, we had to use the back-ups. We’d gone on a trip and Carla had insisted we bring the loveys in the car, and they had both fallen out onto the street and needed a good washing.

So I threw them in the wash… and she lost it.

My husband distracted her with something or other, and I sort of casually handed her the back-ups – including the new grey bear with the off-tone rattle sound.


We went through life blissfully for several months with the grey bear. She called him the same name as the original. She requested him at bedtime. She totally didn’t care that he was grey. In fact, she seemed not to notice that he was different in ANY WAY.

Flash forward to very recently. I had been able to launder the bear and the rabbit without needing to offer a replacement for a loooonnnnng time. But suddenly, it was necessary (I won’t tell you WHY) to remove them from Carla’s hands immediately and throw them in the wash.

So I handed her the original bear and rabbit, thinking she wouldn’t notice and we’d go on as usual.

Instead, she grabbed the bear and hugged it and said with great delight, “Bear HOME!”

No way am I going to get away with substituting Grey Bear again, right?

A thing that is frustrating me recently – well, it has frustrated me many times in the past, but it is frustrating me MORE recently, because I am dealing with it NOW – is the complexity of scheduling Things for the Home.

We have had a particularly bad few months of House Things Going Wrong, culminating in our air conditioner being rendered unusable. Couple that with eighty-degree weather of the sort that feels like a wet, sticky dog has just taken up residence right on top of you, and I took a vacation day to deal with it all. What a fun way to spend a vacation day.

It gets MORE fun, let me tell you.

Oh – by the way, if you hadn’t yet noticed, this is a post of the whiny/complainy sort.

The House Things Going Wrong list includes the air conditioner, a series of roof tiles just up and flying off the roof, a screen that sort of fell out of the window, a dishwasher that no longer closes, and, to top it off, the semi-yearly return of silverfish. And also an assortment of large black ants. (Having a toddler may or may not be related to the appearance of the ants.) Also, our front landscaping has devolved to the point where I am ready to just up and move away rather than deal with it.

But it doesn’t really matter WHAT the things are. What matters is how MADDENING it is to try to fix them.

Let’s take the air conditioner thing, first. We have some loose wires just hanging out around the outside of the air conditioner. I have no idea what that means. I suspect some of the delightful (jerk) deer who hang out in our yard are responsible. But does it mean the air conditioner is going to explode the next time I turn it on? Will it catch the yard on fire? Will it electrify anything within reach? NO IDEA.

So I called to make an appointment with the plumbing and heating people we’ve had come out a few times. I needed to make the appointment for this specific day, because I was able to take the time off. (I am deeply grouchy that THIS is how I am spending a rare and precious vacation day.) My husband found a coupon on Angie’s List for a general air conditioner check-up and cleaning, so I made the appointment for two things: the check-up/cleaning AND the repair.

Which was apparently tricky for the company to do. Any time I call back, they are confused about the whole repair issue. I am trying to be understanding about that. Maybe their scheduling software only allows for this specialized Angie’s List deal, and doesn’t really show that I ALSO have something in need of repair. I don’t know. But I can’t be the only person in the world who isn’t able to take off TWO days of work for TWO separate appointments, right?

So this morning, facing a whole day of Waiting Around, I called the company to see what time they’d be here. I didn’t even ask for a specific time! Just a general idea of when they’d show up! And the person I spoke to was all, “There’s no way to know.” Which, okay, I get that. You have, say, ten technicians who are all running around to do this check-up and they have no idea how long their check-ups are going to take – maybe the first one will be an hour, and the second one will be four hours because they’ll find something and have to fix it. So I GET IT. But it is still frustrating.

Anyway, I also used this day to get the pest control people out here. I called and specifically asked for an appointment on this day. The scheduling person called me back and agreed, yes, this specific day I could have an appointment. And then last week, the pest control technician called me up and said, “Are you at home? I can come by in an hour.” And no, NO, I was NOT home. My appointment was for a whole different day. And I just don’t GET THAT. What is an appointment for, if not to hold a specific date (if not a specific TIME, which is apparently impossible)?

Also, this pest control company does not answer the phone. They require you to leave a message, and then they call you back. Which is fine, I get it. Probably cuts down on the cost of having a receptionist. But oh man. When all I want is to find out the approximate time I am on schedule, it is SO FRUSTRATING.

Listen, I know that these businesses are doing the best they can, and that they have dozens of clients to serve – not just me. And plus, some people don’t even HAVE air conditioning so I should count my blessings and all. And I DO. I am fortunate that I can hire someone to come take care of these things. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like a huge waste of time to sit here waiting.

And then the landscaping. Oh boy. We had someone out last fall to look at our yard and give us an estimate. Which they DID. But the estimate wasn’t exactly what we could afford and the proposal was a little more frou-frou than I care for, so we wrote back (responded to an email that the landscaper sent) asking for some adjustments. And we NEVER HEARD BACK. Just… nothing.

So this new person is coming out, and he could only come out at 5:00. And I asked how long it would take – because I have to go get my daughter from daycare – and he said that was up to me; sometimes homeowners went on and on and it could take an hour, but sometimes it just took thirty minutes. Which is exasperating in its own way because I have no real idea HOW LONG it will take, and I guess I should just go pick up my daughter first. But then I will have a wiggly toddler who has no patience for landscaping talk to deal with and the meeting will only take ten minutes and my attention will be divided and I won’t get a chance to really say what I want to say.

The other things I mentioned above? The dishwasher and the roof and the screen? Those things will have to be dealt with a whole OTHER TIME because juggling these three things is already driving me insane. INSANE. You know that the air conditioner people are going to show up at the exact same time that the pest control guy shows up and the landscaper arrives. And I will have to leave them all here so I can go pick up my daughter.

How do people DO THIS?

Do you just… take a few hours off of work every few weeks to handle a thing as it comes up?

Maybe it helps if you can split that duty between two working people. But my husband’s job doesn’t allow for that. He doesn’t get days off – his vacation time comes in two-week chunks and we already used up both chunks for the year. (I wonder if that will be different when fellowship is over and he has a Real Job?) Sure, he has research blocks that are more flexible than the days when he is in clinic or doing procedures. But when your house begins deteriorating around you, you aren’t always able to just wait for two weeks or six weeks or whatever the duration is until a research block comes around.

I am sure there are LOTS of careers that have similar limitations – it’s not just a problem of being a fellow or physician. So I ask again, how do people DO this?

Maybe what the universe is telling me is that I need to take a class in home repairs, or something.

This is an update to the post from a bazillion years ago wherein I requested your advice about getting an iPhone.

My husband and I each got an iPhone. And I mostly don’t regret doing so at all. So I thought it might be useful/semi-interesting to look back to my Pros and Cons and see how they have measured up. Over the past… eighteen months. Which is how long I have actually OWNED an iPhone.

Objection #1: It’s expensive. Yes. True. VERY expensive. So expensive that I had a mini panic attack the day we went to the Verizon store to buy the things. We’d gone in KNOWING we were getting iPhones. We’d DECIDED. We had had extensive conversations about whether or not we should get them, and I’d laid out all my objections, one by one, over and over, for several months. And yet the pros had outweighed the cons, so we were there, in the Verizon store, for the Sole Purpose of obtaining iPhones.

But once we started looking at the pricing – which we’d known in ADVANCE – I started breathing a little bit more heavily. And then it took FOREVER for the Verizon store employee to ring up the order. Seriously. It took us at least an hour to get the iPhones. And we walked in knowing EXACTLY what we wanted, and there wasn’t a wait or anything. But it took forever. Too much time to build up a real Froth of Shopper’s Panic.

And THEN the Helpful Verizon Employee gave us his spiel about insurance and protective cases and I kind of lost it. I was… a billion years pregnant at the time. And it was hot outside. And we were about to welcome a super expensive new member of our family into our lives. And here was this “helpful” guy, trying to sell us insurance, and doing so by talking about all the things it would COVER. Broken screen. Toilet contamination. Stuck power button. On and on. And instead of feeling like insurance was a really good idea, I started thinking that the iPhone must be a Piece of Crap. Because seriously? All these things are likely enough that I should buy insurance to protect against them?!

So my voice started escalating and I started asking my husband loudly if we were really making the Right Decision here. And I got all red and splotchy and I had to sit down. That was mainly because being on my hugely swollen feet at that point was unbearable for more than five minutes at a go. I think I scared the poor Verizon employee half to death.

But! My husband prevailed! We left with our super expensive iPhones! And I haven’t thought about the expense since. Mainly because we’d budgeted for it. But also because I don’t pay the bills. And also because every time I panic about our finances, my husband reassures me with Facts and Numbers. He’s such a good guy, that one.

Objection #2: I don’t actually NEED an iPhone. So. I was wrong about this one. I really DID need an iPhone. The number one thing I do with my phone is take photos and videos of Baby Carla. Who is, by this point, Toddler Carla. But let’s not think about that too much please thank you very much. I feel GRATEFUL to this inanimate, unnecessary, expensive object for allowing me to photograph and film my kid at any time. Okay, at almost any time. Because some of the time my memory is full of photos and films so I don’t have enough room to take additional photos and films. And also Carla is at the age where she is more interested in seeing what’s on the iPhone than in being photographed/filmed by the iPhone, so a lot of my photos/videos of late are of her running toward me to see the screen.

Objection #3: The iPhone “culture” annoys me. I have been Really Good – in my opinion – about keeping my phone stowed away unless I am using it. And to me, “using it” doesn’t mean “keeping it on the table during a meeting.”

The iPhone culture still annoys me, though. My husband and Carla and I went to visit my parents this summer, and I was so excited to just relax in the beauty of their woodland surroundings with good books and good conversation… and everyone was on their devices the whole time. My mom was on her iPad and my husband and father were on their iphones. (Carla was obsessively following the dog around.)

I don’t know why it bugs me so much! If everyone’s doing it, that’s a free pass for me to catch up on blogs, right? But no. Instead I spent the time glowering at everyone – none of whom noticed, by the way, such was their engrossment in their devices. (Engrossment? Engrossal? What a stupid word.)

And sometimes I DO end up being the person I dislike. Sometimes I really want to finish reading an article when I’m supposed to be interacting with Carla. Sometimes I want to be texting when I should be engaging in conversation with another In Person Human. But it all annoys me deeply. ALL OF IT. Even my annoyance.

In addition to my objections, I had some reasons FOR getting an iPhone.

Reason #1. It seems like having an iPhone and being a parent complement each other quite well. Why yes, yes they do. I can’t TELL you how wonderful it was to have my phone in those first few months, especially. I could check (complain on) Twitter while nursing Carla. I could read blog posts about how to survive breastfeeding while holding a sleeping Carla on my chest. I could take photos all day long. I could capture Carla’s first time rolling over and her first time standing up and her first time crawling.

I mentioned FaceTime and apps in this reason and… I haven’t really downloaded any apps. I guess my husband downloaded Google maps onto my phone, maybe? I use that sometimes. And I have used FaceTime occasionally. But Carla really responds to it better if she can see the other person in full size, so we tend to FaceTime or Skype via the computer.

Aside from those long early months of constantly feeding the baby, I haven’t really used my phone for Twitter or blogging. Somehow my phone automatically goes to Swistle’s blog every time I open the web browser, so that’s nice. I DO end up catching up on her blog. But I find it so tedious and cumbersome to actually COMMENT on blogs with my phone, I rarely do.

Other random things I like:

I use my phone as a grocery list. My husband and I have our lists synced, whatever that means, so that whatever I add to my list appears on his and vice versa. This has been LIFE CHANGING. Also life changing? The ability to just tell Siri to add something to my grocery list or my Target list anytime, anywhere. I am NOTORIOUS for forgetting that key item I need to buy at Target, and this has helped cut back on that issue by about a billion percent.

Also, I can just consult my phone as we wheel through the grocery store. The other day, I got Carla all buckled in to her shopping cart cover when I realized that I’d left my phone in the car. It was snowy outside, I didn’t have a purse – just ten thousand reusable shopping bags, the shopping cart cover, and a wriggly toddler. So I left the phone in the car and had to go through the grocery store putting things in my cart FROM MEMORY like Laura Ingalls Wilder or something. It was terrible.

It is pretty awesome being able to look things up at any time. Like, my husband asked me the other day what “copacetic” meant, and I said it means “it’s all good.” (Said by drawing out the “awwww” of “all” and wrapping yourself in a Matthew-McConaghey vibe.) He didn’t seem convinced, so I told him to ask Siri, and she confirmed. I mean, not verbatim. But I maintain that her definition – “completely satisfactory” – is the same thing.

Or if you are watching SNL and thinking, geez, Jim Carrey looks like he hasn’t aged a day since Ace Ventura, you can just ASK SIRI to tell you how old he is. I love that kind of laziness instant education.

And I know this is old news for all those iPhone veterans, but I use the flashlight function ALL the time. If I have to work late, it helps me not trip over something and wake the entire house when I’m trying to climb into bed. Also, I check my throat for signs of strep a lot. Like, A LOT a lot.

Oh! I use my phone as an alarm clock. As a timepiece. As a distraction for Carla if she’s particularly antsy (in the car or on an airplane, for instance).

I guess the moral of this update is that I really like my iPhone. It was a great purchase. I haven’t looked back.

My blog tells me I posted eight times in 2014. EIGHT. That is really, really sad. I miss blogging, I miss reading blogs, I miss the comment sharing and the camaraderie and… sigh. I don’t know that I can change anything. The only reason I am typing this is because the baby is asleep and I am unable to connect remotely to my work network. Okay, that’s not the ONLY reason. I feel a compulsion to do this recap because I’ve kept it up for five years. Why skip it this year in favor of watching Property Brothers or putting a load of laundry in the washer? Man, I really should throw a load of laundry in the washer.

ANYWAY. 2014 was a year of not much blogging but it was full of other things that I will try valiantly to remember.

(This yearly recap quiz originated with Linda of All & Sundry. If you’re so inclined, you can read past versions of my responses: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.)

NOTE: Since I have been out of the blogging game, WordPress has gone all wonky and I cannot fix the numbering below. ARGH. So, fair warning.

  1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

Flew on an airplane with an infant, and then with a toddler (twice).

Baked a cake. Two cakes: a banana smash cake for my daughter’s first birthday, and a lemon cake for the grown ups to eat at her party. Okay, it was four cakes, actually, because I baked practice cakes.

  1. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year, this was as close as I got to making resolutions:

I think my priorities for this year (I’m pretending this question asked about priorities rather than resolutions) are keeping the baby alive, my husband, and trying to be better about juggling work, baby, marriage, household stuff. And I know that sentence lacked parallel structure, but I don’t know how else to say “my husband.” He’s a priority, and I want him to continue to be, and that’s that.

I don’t know that I really succeeded on the husband front. We are working on transforming our marriage to accommodate the baby. I am not meaning to say that things are bad – I think they are really good. But we do, as many new parents do, I suspect, tend to focus the majority of our outside-of-work time and energy on Carla. We DID, finally, find a regular babysitter. And we have gone out on some honest-to-goodness actually DATES, so that’s good.

As far as the other priorities listed above: I have to this point kept the baby alive, and I think I am doing okay at juggling things. Not GREAT, but okay.

I think those are pretty good priorities for the year ahead, too: baby, husband, balance. But I’ll add a couple of things:

  1. I want to do better about accepting that I am me, and I am not perfect, and that is okay. And if other people can’t deal with that, fine. I can’t live to make other people happy.
  2. I want to try to DO things with Carla. Most of the time I spend with her is in the evenings or on weekend, which means that most of the time I spend with her is spent doing errands or housework. I would love to do OTHER things, like crafts or museums or walks or… I honestly don’t know what. Just things that we can do together that extend beyond the routine.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A few close friends had babies, which has been tremendously fun.

  1. Did anyone close to you die?

Sadly, we lost my husband’s grandmother this year. She was the last remaining grandparent on either side. She always treated me like her own granddaughter, and I have many memories of her over the past dozen years, AND she got to meet Carla several times. But I still think of her and miss her.

  1. What countries did you visit?

I visited three states besides my own: Colorado, Florida, and my home state. All with Carla.

  1. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

More confidence in myself. More time to breathe.

  1. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

June 29 – Carla’s first birthday, which was much more emotional than I anticipated. For me, only. It felt like a real milestone, for ME, and I kind of went overboard with decorations and cake baking for what was a small, but lovely, party for my daughter. It felt like a rite of passage, somehow, to throw myself into the preparations. And I knew and accepted that I was killing myself for ME – she will never remember that day. But I will.

July 5 – This is the day Carla gave up breastfeeding. What an emotional roller coaster THAT was. I was fiercely proud that I made it a whole year. And so deeply irritated with myself that I FORCED myself to do it for so long. It was so difficult and there are OTHER PERFECTLY GREAT WAYS TO FEED A BABY, why did I have to FORCE myself to do it for a year? And why does it make me cry TO THIS DAY to think about it?!

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I don’t know what to say here. I don’t feel like I achieved anything in particular.

  1. What was your biggest failure?

Oh so many things. Let’s stick to the superficial and go with the care of the outside of our house here. It is just so overgrown and ugly and I have neither the knowledge nor the time to deal with any of it. I tried to do some gardening, and that was a disaster. And the stupid pots with their dead plants are STILL sitting on my stupid deck. The whole thing gives me a headache.

  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just normal Daycare Bugs.

  1. What was the best thing you bought?

This is a recent purchase, but we bought Carla a toy kitchen for Christmas and she LOVES it. Probably there were other things, but I am not recalling them now.

  1. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I am going to go with the same answers I gave last year:

My husband, who really is a rock star. My partner. My best friend. A wonderful parent. And really just a fun, funny, cuddly, genuinely delightful person to have in my life.

My parents. For many reasons, some of which I cannot post here. But in a nutshell: they are supportive and kind and caring and just overall amazing.

Once again, my boobs. Even though I had a lot of mental struggles with breastfeeding, they really stepped up to the plate. They fed my baby for an entire year, despite all my emotional turmoil. My handy little Baby Connect app says that they went through both 321 hours of nursing AND that they produced over 43 gallons of pumped milk. Way to go, boobs!

And I’m going to add Carla to this list. She is really doing a kick ass job of being a toddler.

  1. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

There are a couple of people who come to mind.

  1. Where did most of your money go?

Taxes, loan payments, mortgage, savings, daycare.

  1. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The holidays this year. Carla is so excited about EVERYTHING, and it is so fun to see that. For Halloween, she became OBSESSED with pumpkins. Our grocery store had a bunch of pumpkins on benches and on the floor outside the entrance, and Carla had to go and hug every single one. So obviously we took her to a pumpkin patch the next weekend. She patted every pumpkin she could see and tried to pick them all up. We brought two home with us and she had to say hello to them every morning and goodbye to them each time we left the house. For the winter holidays, I went a little overboard and bought her a bunch of holiday-themed toys: a menorah puzzle, books about Hannukah and Christmas, a singing Christmas tree, a dozen tiny snowmen, and others. She loved lighting the menorah – and even learned how to say both “menorah” and “Hannukah”! – and when she first saw the singing Christmas tree, she picked it up and hugged it and carried it around the house All Day. Then, on Christmas morning, she literally jumped up and down when she opened her big gift from her grandparents – a singing, talking rocking horse. It was So Fun.

  1. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014?

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, because it is Carla’s FAVORITE. I mean, I love it too. But Carla says “No” to every other song we play in the car. She wants me to play the video on my computer, and to dance to it in the kitchen when we play it on the ipod.

And also Fancy by Iggy Azalea because it was – and continues to be – played ad nauseum.

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

a) happier or sadder? I don’t know. I have been a bit down in the dumps lately. And I am writing this on the last day of a two-week vacation, and so I am currently choked up about going back to work and leaving my baby, so I certainly don’t feel all that happy right this second. Overall? Not sure. We certainly get more sleep these days, so I’m guessing that adds to the general level of happiness for our whole family.

b) thinner or fatter? Fatter, but not hugely so. I was just on The Breastfeeding Diet last year at this time.

c) richer or poorer? Poorer.

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

Going outside when the weather was nice. Taking Carla to Do Things rather than just puttering around at home.

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

Fretting. Crying.

  1. How did you spend Christmas?

In my house, with a real tree my husband and Carla and I picked out together and decorated together, with my parents and my in-laws and my sister-in-law.

  1. Did you fall in love in 2014?

This is so corny, but I fall more in love with Carla every day. She is such a fun, funny, happy, good natured, curious, eager-to-learn little girl, and I feel so unbelievably lucky to know her.

  1. What was your favorite (new) TV program?

The Americans. My husband and I started watching this a while ago… maybe while I was pregnant? And we stopped watching for some reason. But we are now back to watching it – with a vengeance! Or whatever. And it’s pretty great. There may be others, but I probably watched them so long ago I cannot remember what they are.

  1. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I can’t really think of anyone I hate.  

  1. What was the best book you read?

Grudgingly, I wound up loving The Goldfinch. Hated it until the last bit. And then… it just hit me, what a great work of writing it is. I think I read some other books this year too… but that’s the only one that stands out.

  1. What did you want and get?

The Taylor Swift CD.

  1. What did you want and not get?

Same answer from last year: Um. Diamonds? I don’t know how to answer this.

  1. What was your favorite film of this year?

The only film I recall seeing – which doesn’t mean there aren’t others, you see – was Wolf of Wall Street and while it was entertaining, I didn’t feel it had any redeeming qualities. So I suppose I should just erase this and say, “N/A.”

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

Practically the same answer as last year:

I was 33, and I cannot for the life of me remember what I did for my birthday.

I even asked my husband what we did, and HE couldn’t remember. We did do something for our anniversary, though, so that’s good.

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

Same as last year:

Being able to just LET GO and not freak out about EVERYTHING.

  1. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Dresses for work, legging and zip-up hoodies from Costco for home.

  1. What kept you sane?

My husband. My iPhone.

  1. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Matthew Rhys as Philip from The Americans.

  1. What political issue stirred you the most?

So many.

  1. Who did you miss?

The baby, when I was at work.

  1. Who was the best new person you met?

I don’t know that I met many new people this year.

  1. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

I learned two:

  1. You can’t make everyone happy. Just focus on making yourself happy (and maybe your kid and your spouse), and that has to be enough.
  2. Fold each load of laundry as it comes out of the dryer. It makes life better, trust me.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I’m dancing on my own. / I make the moves up as I go. / And that’s what they don’t know.

Happy New Year, Internet! I hope your 2015 rocks your socks off.


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