The New Year Recap, Sundry -style

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Left my toddler for four whole days and (sort of) lived to tell the tale.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My only resolution from last year was to find a way to dance more. I have to say it was a total FAIL as I neither got out to clubs nor a dance class. I did, however, get my daughter interested in some dance parties in our living room.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

The democratic party FINALLY gave birth to a president, thank goodness.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My cynicism about the political will of the democratic party kicked the bucket.

5. What countries did you visit?

Unfortunately none, other than my very own. Though Kauai was AWESOME.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

Some more patience. Some more money. Some more time. Oh, and a Democratic President (yipee!).

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Tuesday November 4, the day that I started to believe in my country again. (Am I done with the Democratic Party cheerleading? I'm not sure...)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Gestating another person (halfway there!) and living through a terrible first trimester.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Succumbing just a bit too much to first trimester whining.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Does first trimester misery count?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A new pair of maternity jeans that only need to be hiked back up once an hour instead of once every five minutes.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The American people.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The majority of voters in California.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage, insurances, daycare, Trader Joe's, Target.

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

Election night was a great high.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?

1234 by Feist.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 'bout the same.
b) thinner or fatter? WAY WAY bigger. But it's ALL baby. Really. I swear. Those twice daily servings of Christmas cookies have nothing to do with it.
c) richer or poorer? 'bout the same (though if I include retirement and college savings.....)

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

Danced. Cooked. Gardened. Hugged. Written letters. Made phone calls. Reached out.

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

Whined. Lost my temper. Stared at a plate of food and felt like crying way too many times.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

With my in-laws in Tucson, surrounded by dogs and sunshine and love.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?

With CG and Zoe. Again and again and again.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Weeds, The Office, Entourage, The Daily Show, Mad Men.

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

I don't really go for the word "hate".

24. What was the best book you read?

Oh, that's a hard one... since my memory SUCKS, I'll have to go with what I'm currently reading and loving: Pasadena by David Ebershoff.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?


26. What did you want and get?

Another pregnancy.

27. What did you want and not get?

A fun couple of months trying for another pregnancy.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

Once, Waitress, Juno, Superbad (all on Netflix, so they may be from 2007 for all I know!)

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

I had breakfast in bed, bought a sewing machine, and had a date night to see "Spring Awakening". I am now 36 (how did that happen?).

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

It's a tie between a less sucky first trimester and a less sucky vote on Prop 8.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

How often can you wear sweats and still be considered as having a "fashion concept"?

32. What kept you sane?

My husband, family and friends. Exercise. Sunshine. Books.

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

Can I just say that I LOVE the word "fancy" in this context? I admit, sheepishly, that Obama's grin makes my stomach do a few flip-flops from time to time.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Again with the Prop 8.

35. Who did you miss?

All my friends and family who live too far away. I hate the phone. I hate to say goodbye. I hate that our country is just so damn big.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

My talkative toddler. Who is this amazing, chatty, genuinely interesting PERSON?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

Listen to your child, let her know she has been heard, then be sure you are the one in charge.

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

"Can't do it alone. I've tried." - The Show, Lenka.


Does it hurt me more than it hurts you?

Dear Zoe,

My heart is aching. I need to hold you, kiss your cheek, hear your voice tell me to "Wait. WAIT Mommy. WAIT till I run to Daddy." when I try to tickle you. I just sobbed my way through "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" because there was always some baby being born or some Mama being kissed or some beautiful and true and trite line about love lasting forever and it was more than I could take.

I am so sorry to have left you this long. I know you're too young to really understand the calendar we left for you with its boxes to check off and the day when we would come home starred at the end of the page. I know you don't understand why we can call you on the phone but can't "come home RIGHT NOW!". I know you'll probably never remember this in the long run (in even a week or two?).

I know that you've cried yourself to sleep at least once.

(I'm so sorry for that.)

I also know that you haven't asked for us once today and got to have a cookie AND whipped cream for dessert tonight so maybe you aren't as desparate as we are for a reunion.

I know that we'll see you soon and hug and kiss you and in a few days, we'll be home in Pasadena and it'll all be back to normal with me sometimes looking forward to your naps and bedtime for a little time to myself again.

I know that this Mt. Vesuvius-sized zit smack dab between my eyebrows is from the stress of missing you (and the stress of realizing that we will soon enough be moving to this crazy part of Northern Virginia we're visiting, with its odd lack of history and character and organic, layered, natural development. I hope we can find a nice community here. One that isn't too sterile and devoid of edges and depth.)

We'll see you tomorrow, sweet girl. I'll do my best not to smother you with kisses and endless weepy hugs.


your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Away from the manger

My purse is empty of every crayon, Little People person, baby wipe, pull-up, spare underwear (size 2T), plastic hair clip (not that they're ever worn but JUST IN CASE), sippy cup and snack trap. It is half its normal size.

I am not responsible for keeping track of any one's nap schedule, bodily functions/outputs, bedtimes, moods or entertainment needs except my own.

I am able to carry on a conversation with my husband that does not include any whispering, spelling out of words or interrupted trains of thought (except when my pregnancy brain takes over, of course).

I will be able to sleep in tomorrow (theoretically) and wake up to no one's voice calling insistently for me.

I will spend the next three days looking at towns and homes in what will be our new home state: Virginia. With CG. Without Zoe. I spent the two flights it took to get here reading. WHOLE CHAPTERS AT A TIME. And brazenly eating peanut M&Ms and bad-for-you "snack mix"es at a non-official snack time.

I can't believe I'm spending this much time away from my baby. I know she will be fine. I know her Nana and Papa are taking good care of her. I know this is important for us as a family, to really take time to explore our new home state before the new baby comes and we're moving and it's too hard to figure out where we should live. I know it's important to us as a couple to have time away and not have every moment revolve, at least a little bit, around our joyous, demanding and chatty whirlwind of a daughter.

I can only hope I don't miss her so much that I fail to enjoy this precious, precious time alone with my husband. Everything I see or hear, I imagine her reaction. On the drive from the airport, I pointed out "horsies" to CG in my excited mommy voice. It's so hard to turn that part of my brain off. I don't really want to.

Except, for maybe, just a few days.


Postcard from Arizona

Holiday greetings from Tucson!

Hope you are warm and bundled up wherever you are.

(And that your stuffed seal has a good view out the top of the blanket.)


The big guy with all the magical power

I think one of the coolest, and one of the scariest, parts of being a parent is that you get to decide what this little person learns about the world.  When Zoe was first learning to speak, I was freaked out that I could just tell her that a cup was called a "napkin" and a dog was called a "goojimiwhatsit" and she would be effed, for a little while at least.  The power was stunning.

We tell our children, in clear and subtle ways, what to believe.  What stories are "true".  How the world works and why.   Our children will, of course, grow up to learn, or make up, their own truths and reject a little/some/most/entirely ALL of ours but what we say still forms the basis for their understanding of the universe.  And that means that I want to carefully consider the stories and "truths" we tell our daughter.

Can you tell we're still over-thinking the whole Santa thing?

Christmas is challenging for those of us who do not subscribe to organized Christianity.  What is it supposed to be about if not the baby who was sent here to save us all or teach us about our sins or, um,  whatever?  We want it to be about family and ritual and tradition; feasting and giving and lights; nature and remembrance and warming yourself by a fire as Bing Crosby sings about exotic things like chestnuts and sleighs and red-nosed reindeer.   Is that too diffuse?  Not "deep" enough?  Should we just switch to a pagan solstice holiday festival and call it a day?  (Festivus anyone?)

I'm slowly beginning to realize that some of these family traditions need to evolve organically and we shouldn't force them into creation all at once.  They don't have to be set in stone and they don't have to be completely thought out perfectly.  

I think Santa will be coming to my in-laws' house this year.  And filling Zoe's stocking.  But the big gifts will be from us.  And we're not going to overdo the Santa mythology;  we still have to decide whether to leave some cookies and milk out for him.  And whether to eat them/put them back in the cookie vat.   Just how far we will go with the story remains to be seen.



My dad's first tests are today.  Just because I'm not a pray-er doesn't mean you can't, if that's your bag.  (Thanks.)

We survived our trip here to Arizona, sans DVDs.  Don't ask me why we're holding out at this point.  I'm not expecting a medal or martyring myself for any deeper cause.  I'm pretty sure we're going to think we were stupid for waiting this long when we finally show her some TV and she doesn't turn into a (somehow simultaneously) hyperactive spaz and drooling imbecile.  It was enlightening, heartening even, to realize that we could make an 8 and half hour trip with a two and half year old without TV and be just fine.  We read books.  We sang songs.  She played with her felt board and her Little People and talked to her "babies".  She ate and slept and only melted down once (at the very end, when we ALL were melting down.  She kept whining "My bottom hurts" and we assumed there was a rash in her pull up that needed attending to and we wanted to wait until we got to the house which was only 15 minutes away to search for the diaper cream that was buried the back of the car.  It turned out to be a wedgie.  And yet another truth was told from up on high;  wedgies SUCK.)  We didn't need DVDs and it's nice to know that.  But we will, at some point, want them.  And I know we will all be just fine.


Why does it all happen at once?

We are waiting for word, most likely by the end of next week, on my dad's tests. Thanks for all your kind words of support. Now we just have to wait. And hope for the only Christmas present I really want.

Me, CG, Zoe and Sweet Dog are all piling into the Prius on Friday for a cozy 8 hour drive to Arizona for the holidays. And we still haven't introduced Zoe to TV. Anyone want to bet how long we last until we're pulling into the closest Best Buy (oh wait, did they just go belly up?) for a portable DVD player? What would be a good starter video for those prone to STARING glassy eyed at the rare glimpse of television? One that won't rot her brain or make us want to pull over and shoot ourselves.

I have spent the last few days googling things like "first foods after vomiting" and "best way to sanitize toys after stomach flu". FUN. (And for you? Do you go the vinegar route or just say F the environment and go right for the bleach?)

After many a fretful conversation and a sleepless week when we thought we might have to move in JANUARY, we have decided to accept a big job offer for CG. That means we will be moving from California to Virginia (not the "real Virginia" though) next August. With our house full of junk, two cars, a dog, a toddler, a THREE MONTH OLD and me, barely clinging to my sanity, no doubt. Anyone live in Virginia? How's the weather out there these days? I'm pretty sure I'm looking at a whole new wardrobe here.

Why do the holidays always seem to get wrapped up with a whole lot of other stress?


Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

I know I'm a little old for this but bear with me. I've been a very good girl this year, paid my taxes, followed basic laws, forgave my neighbors who put up their Yes on 8 signs and all the other basic things that constitute grown-up good girl-ness. I am even carrying a new little person inside me that will maybe one day leave you cookies, if my husband and I can agree on telling our kids that you "exist", and you can decide if she is naughty or nice or the usual combination of both at once, and that must be kinda fun for you.

Now I usually ask for a little something for myself that could brighten up my life. Like a new lip gloss or a massage or three weeks in Hawaii with my husband (and/or James McAvoy) but now it seems I have something more pressing.

Can you deliver something else? Like a negative test result for my dad who it seems might have lung cancer?

That'd be swell. There'd be lots of cookies for you and warm milk and OH GOD PLEASE.


one Clueless But Hopeful Mama (and Daughter)


Dance party

Last night:

I am not as brave as you all think! I chose a blouse-y dress (some might say "muu muu") that maybe would have hid the bump a few weeks ago but these days? NOT SO MUCH. But it was a treat to be out on the town, CG looked so dapper in a three piece suit (What is it about vests on men? I LOVE THEM.) and I was comfortable. Well, about as comfortable as I could be in high heels, on a concrete floor, in a Clockwork Orange-y former power station-turned circus cabaret club complete with nearly nekkid ladies hanging in sheer fabric slings from the ceiling. Add in the loud music and young hipsters drinking all around me and, well, I felt pretty darn wrinkly and shrivelled and yet BLIMPLIKE. It was strange to be without a cocktail in my hand and I had no choice but to accept the forcible offering of a mouthful of cotton candy from the bosom of a woman (?) dressed as Marie Antoinette (don't ask). Also, I have apparently forgotten how to make small talk, witty banter, or even hold BASIC CONVERSATIONS. Oy.

But the only really sad part was: THERE WAS NO DANCING.

I watched the women hanging from the ceiling and later, the circus women dancing in a circle and I felt a pang. I used to do this. Well not this. But something like it. I used to be fit and nimble and OH MY GOD MY HEAD JUST WENT TO "JACK BE NIMBLE". It's way past my bedtime.

This morning:

I got up with Zoe and she wanted a dance party before breakfast. She chose"1234" by Feist, her current favorite dance music. And then she wanted to see the 1234 video on YouTube, the one with the "dancers and tumblers and lady in the blue dress". We watched it and tears sprung from my eyes. I love that video. I want to be in that video, to crawl inside and live in that video. I want to move like that again, be apart of something like that again. Dance.

So we danced.

(By this point, I was tired and Zoe had moved on to "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by the Ting Tings, or, as she calls it, "the stomping song". [Okay, NOT the best choice of lyrics for those of us who hope to instill manners in our children. However, I have held firm and not introduced Zoe to one of my current favorites: the expletive-happy Kate Nash.] Notice also that there is a "baby" having a nap under the blanket on the floor, a toy store threw up behind our leather chair and there is a distinct possibility that my daughter has a shot at starring in "Breakin' 12: Electric Poopaloo".)


Fergie has her humps. I've got my bump.

Tonight we're going out to dinner and a club to celebrate the birthday of CG's work friend. She's renting a limo for the group of us and we're supposed to "dress to the nines". This being LA and all, I assume that means my current favorite stained sweats are out.

Contrary to my usual appearance, my closet is not a completely sad, barren place. I have short little black dresses. I have ruffly, swirly, pink dance-y dresses. I have tight, slinky patterned dresses.

I also have a medium-large bump. And I'm not sure exactly how to act as an obviously pregnant woman at a club. Obviously, I will not be drinking or looking to pick up the bartender. However, I will be wanting to shake my groove thing (Where is it again? Is that it over there....?) and not terrify or disgust people while I'm at it. Should I go for the "Hey, here's my bump and I don't care" look or the "Ha ha! Nothing to see here except some loose fabric and too much beer!" look?


Wait for it.

Last night I returned home from the last of three incredibly long days of an incredibly wonderful Pilates workshop.

CG had had a hard day and once Zoe was asleep, the venting began. I heard all about the diaper/potty battles, the picky and yet painstakingly slow lunch time, the inexplicably strange moods that morphed without warning and I truly felt for him. (I also got in touch with how hard it can be to come home to all THIS when I had had my own hard day, thankyouverymuch, NOW WHERE ARE MY SLIPPERS AND CIGAR?) All along, though, I was thinking "Now maybe he gets it".

His venting slowly gave way to other matters, the business of the week, the plans, the parties, the minutiae of household management. I found my mind wandering, waiting for him to say something heartfelt and appreciative about being on the other side of the childcare equation. Something about how he now truly appreciates the impressive work I do at home after three days of doing it all himself (*ahem* without doing the laundry or cleaning or food shopping). I even found myself formulating possible ways to ASK for the appreciation I wanted, from snarky asides to needy pressure-filled declarations.

The conversation came to a lull (perhaps because my mind was ELSEWHERE) and CG turned to me, his arm around my shoulder.

"You know, this weekend definitely made me appreciate all the things you do around here."



Sickness and lycra

Today is the first day of a three day Pilates workshop that I stupidly signed up for even though it's occurring at this most stressful time of year when really an entire weekend with a bunch of other ladies in lycra talking about breathing and posture and abdominal support is not quite as important as decorating the house with broken twinkly lights and baking disgustingly sweet holiday cookies and trying to figure out if it is indeed possible to do my ENTIRE Christmas shopping list from behind the comfort of my laptop keyboard. But I need this workshop for the continuing education credits and CG is totally capable of taking Zoe for three days of Daddy Fun Time. Why, they can go to the zoo! Or the park! Or do all our Christmas shopping at some socially responsible local artisan - and yet TOTALLY CHEAP - store!

Today is also the first day of what sounds like Zoe's first monstrously bad cold of the season and she's.... less than pleasant about it.



Today we saw the beating heart of our baby.....


Upon rereading my last post, I think I knew underneath my "knowing". I knew on some level that I was destined to have two girls.

No penis showed its ..... face this afternoon at our ultrasound and our OB said, based on the view he got, he was 95% sure we were having another girl.

I will get to revisit all of Zoe's clothes. I will have yet another version of the mother-daughter bond that I cherish with my own mother. I will get to know a sisterly bond, if not from the inside out, at least from the top down. I will go into mothering this child thinking that I know a thing or two about her because we already have a girl and really, how different could they be? (hahaHAHA).

I will not get to see a little boy run through this house, with blond curls like his daddy as a baby. I will, someday, stop daydreaming about what a son, our son, would have looked like.

I will forever wonder what we would have done about circumcision. I will never know what it would have been like to wipe lava-poop from the tiniest of scrotums. I will not get sprayed in the face at diaper changes and purchase a "pee-pee tee-pee". I will never have to teach a son how to aim for the potty, talk to a girl he likes, be open and caring in a world where being a tough guy sometimes seems like the only option for boys.

I will try not to apologize to my parents who, it seems fairly certain, will have 3 granddaughters and no grandsons.

I will stop repeating the boy's name we had picked out when I rub my belly. I will let go of that name, the ideas and dreams I had attached to that name.

I will create new ideas and dreams for a new name. A girl's name.


Boys and girls

The weekend is barely over, we still have thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge and gravy boats to put away. But suddenly I realize that tomorrow is a very big day and it has totally snuck up on me.

Tomorrow I will be 18 weeks pregnant and I have an ultrasound. One that will hopefully reveal the contents of this baby's nether regions.

I am so nervous and excited about it I can barely stand it.

When I was pregnant with Zoe, I so desperately wanted a girl. I am very close with my mother and wanted to recreate some version of our special bond. I identify with girls and was scared of the stories I'd heard about destructive, rambunctious, difficult boys. I was also scared of practical things like what to do about circumcision and the terrifying statistics about autism in boys. But I didn't want to be sad upon learning it was a boy so I spent weeks trying to make myself feel okay about the possibility. I did such a good job that when we found out it was a girl, I cried tears of joy AND sadness (Poor CG got emotional whiplash that day).

Whether this baby is a boy or a girl, it is our last. We are done. And so there is a loss either way. Some days I hope for a girl; I always wanted a sister and wonder what it would be like to have two girls. I would love to revisit some of my favorite baby's clothes of Zoe's. Other days, I hope for a boy; I wonder what it would be like to parent a boy, to raise a confident yet respectful man.

I didn't have a strong feeling either way when I was pregnant with Zoe. But now I'm convinced I'm carrying a boy, mostly because this pregnancy has been SO different than my first. With Zoe, I was exhausted and STARVING, gaining 20 pounds in my first trimester alone. With this pregnancy, I was so ill and depressed in my first trimester I started to totally lose myself. I could barely eat and when I did, it was mostly TERRIBLE food. In my second trimester, I am at turns angry and randy and I can't help but blame some miscreant testosterone for it all.

Since I started to admit to myself and others that I think this baby is a boy, I watch the little boys I know and love and imagine what our little boy would look like. I imagine a little CG running around, a strong, sensitive, inquisitive little boy. I question my friends with little boys and I seem to see happy, easygoing little boys everywhere.

I will be surprised if a penis doesn't appear on that ultrasound screen tomorrow. And I'm surprised to say that I'll be a little bit sad.

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