Friday, January 2, 2015

2014: The fastest year I've ever had

(Previous years: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007)  

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Traveled with two children. Went to New Orleans as an adult of legal drinking age. Fed solid food to a child who actually likes to eat. Got an au pair. Finally saw Sarah McLachlan in concert. Took on a more senior management role at work. Cleaned up astronomical amounts of baby vomit.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I didn't make resolutions, per se, but I did say that I was hoping to maintain the organizational levels that I was achieving on my maternity leave nesting kick, and actually, we were very successful at that, and I've discovered that it makes me feel way better about our lives in general to have an at least partly organized house. This year I want to do some more organizing (nursery and basement closets: I'm looking at you), blog about something real from time to time, get the kids' college funds in order, and take more photos with our real camera.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My sister, Noemi, and a bunch of beloved Twitter friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

None this year. I did, however, take Annika to Phoenix for PJs at TJ's; meet up with my parents in Maine with Torsten and the kids, including a night at Jonna's house in Boston on the way; go to Atlanta and Chicago for girls' weekends; spend a lovely last-minute fall weekend in Aspen with Torsten and the kids; go to DC for work; spend a few days in New Orleans with Torsten, the kids, and our au pair; and visit my parents in North Carolina twice.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Hm. An international trip? But that's a gimme because it's already in the works.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I noticed that Meredith changed this from "dates" to "moments" and I'm going to do that too in future years. So let's see. Seeing Callum and Annika become really-truly friends. Meeting my baby nephew for the first time. The moment our au pair called us in hysterics after being in a car accident (the kids weren't involved and everyone was fine). Watching Annika adjust to her new daycare as though a switch had been flipped in her head, and seeing how happy she is there. Seeing Torsten work so hard on building a fire truck costume for Callum for Halloween. Driving up Pikes Peak with both kids in August and encountering snow at the top. Finding out about Hugo's diagnosis, and finding out about his miraculous, incredible response to treatment.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
After some growing pains, I think we've managed to figure out a daily routine that works well for all of us. I'm feeling like I'm thriving at work and doing pretty well at parenting, most of the time, and Torsten and I are starting to hit our rhythm as a couple with two kids. I feel like we've done a lot of work this year and managed to find some really important balance in our lives.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting frustrated with the people I love for being human, and reacting with stress. Not working out enough.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A nice comforter. Good-quality makeup that I can put on in five minutes. A new car that Torsten and I both love. Bikes.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Torsten's, like every year. The transition to two kids was tough on him, even before he changed jobs to a challenging new position, but he did an amazing job dealing with that, finding ways to figure it out, and stay involved and loving and supportive throughout.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Nobody in my personal circle, thankfully.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Same answer for the fourth straight year: our mortgage and childcare.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Watching my kids develop an amazing sibling relationship with each other. Not having any more babies and seeing our life start to stabilize and balance out a bit.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Like everyone else: All About That Bass.

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

a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier
b) Thinner
c) About the same - maybe a little richer in the boring ways like retirement accounts and home equity

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

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

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent the five days leading up to Christmas in New Orleans with the kids and our au pair, which was amazing (and it was great having our au pair with us because we were able to go out for cool New Orleans dinners that were not kid-friendly), and then flew to my parents' house on Christmas Eve and spent Christmas with them. My sister and her family came down the day after Christmas so we had a few days of a delightfully full house.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?


22. What was your favorite TV program?

Downton Abbey. House Hunters.

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

24. What was the best book you read?

Let's see. I really liked Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and One Plus One by Jojo Moyes.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Like last year: I'm not sure I made any.

26. What did you want and get?
A settled, thriving family of four. Bikes. A work situation that I'm really happy with. Regular date nights.

27. What did you want and not get?

A zen attitude. Bigger muscles.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

We only saw one movie in the theater this year, The Judge, which I liked. Not exactly a favorite film of all time, but it was good.

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

We went out for lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant, then spent the afternoon walking around Arvada in the sunshine. In the evening Torsten and I went out on our own for dinner at my favorite restaurant. Torsten gave me a beautiful Kate Spade watch and awesome purple earrings. I turned 30.

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

I'm going to borrow part of last year's answer: Truly, nothing. I'm ending the year with a happy marriage, two healthy kids, and a job that I like. Like I said, there were some growing pains and some tough work as we figured out our new normal as a family of four after I went back to work and Torsten changed jobs, but it was necessary, and productive, and I feel good about having gone through it.

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

I tried to wear tops that were nicer than just t-shirts. Also to put on makeup at least some of the time when leaving the house.

32. What kept you sane?
My little family. My group of best friends.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I'm bad at this.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Pretty much all of them. Health care is a big one.

35. Who did you miss?
Same answer as the last five years: Most of my friends and family, since pretty much all of them live far away now.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My nephew.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
How things are right now isn't how they're always going to be, and I have some influence over getting them to where I want them to be.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I don't think there is one. There pretty much never is.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

12 months old, by the numbers

12: Months old!

84: Gallons of formula/milk drunk

5082: Hours spent sleeping

2241: Diapers changed

113: Hours spent nursing

1: Stomach bug

2: Ruptured eardrums

5: Words you say

0: Foods you dislike

23.6: Pounds you weigh (93rd percentile)

31.25: Inches tall (98th percentile)

7: Teeth

6: Flights taken

4: Flights barfed on

2: Siblings who adore each other

1: Delightful, perfect, red-haired baby (toddler?) girl

Monday, October 6, 2014

Eleven months old

Dear Annika,

Four days ago (sorry!), you turned 11 months old. Meaning that next time I do this, you will be ONE!

This month has been another month of explosions for you, the two biggest being that you have started to walk and you have started to say a couple words. A couple weeks ago you took a few tentative steps, and you have slowly been increasing since then. By now you walk steadily for 8-10 steps at a time, and occasionally walk as a mode of transportation, even though crawling is still faster. You've also figured out how to stand up without pulling or bracing yourself on anything, by pushing into a downward dog and then straightening upright. You LOVE walking and get a huge smile on your face, usually accompanied by delighted laughter, whenever you do it.

This month you've also started saying some words. You definitely say "doggie" (pronounced "dah-gah" like your brother before you), and I'm 95% sure you say "Mama" and 90% sure that you say "more." You follow instructions, or make deliberate decisions not to, which is hilarious--you hear a request, light up with a knowing grin, and then do the exact opposite (such as crawling away when we've asked you to come here). You've also started pointing this month, and will point at the dog or at things you want (mostly food), though you still aren't super consistent about this one.


You're really into toys by now,with a tractor that makes noises and drives as your especial favorite. You are starting to develop your own ideas about how the world works, such as trying to fit a giant teddy bear into a small toy race car in a very determined manner, or copying things your brother does. You also love the toy kitchen, and can happily stand there banging pots and pans together and opening and closing the doors for basically indefinite periods of time. You seem to have a preference for variety, and are happiest when we are out and about with things to do and look at.

You are still eating and sleeping well, without much variance month to month. You still sleep 11-12 hours at night with a 2-3 hour nap most days. You eat every solid food we offer you (pulled pork continues to be a favorite and you also love broccoli, bananas, all meat, and basically everything new), and are eating about 35 ounces of formula most day (this will be milk in the near future!). You got one new tooth this month, for a total of six.

Mealtimes are as joyous for the dog as they are for you, as you've discovered the delight of sharing your food with her. Throwing food is a hilarious new pastime for you, though I personally could live without it. You continue to follow your growth curve perfectly--I think you're about 23 pounds 3 ounces (93rd percentile) and 31 inches (99th percentile)--and you're still solidly in size 18-month clothing.

By now you just have so much PERSONALITY. You're very laid back and mellow and can roll with pretty much anything, but you also demonstrate preferences pretty clearly. You spent much of the last week with your Oma and Opa, whom you didn't really know as you were just born the last time you saw them, and while the first day you were a little fussy and clingy with me in the evening, you've adapted quickly and clearly love them, which is adorable and gratifying to watch. You are very active, always on the move, wanting to crawl and walk everywhere and explore every nook and cranny you can find. It's hard to describe, but you're just an incredibly sparkly little person, with a strong and adorable personality. Being with you is just so fun. We are so lucky we get to have you in our family.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ten months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are 10 months old. Ten! Only two more of these until you are ONE, and we are done with the monthly photos. Judging from your desire to rip your 10-month sticker off your onesie while I took your photo today, I'd say that might not be a bad thing.


This month has been all about the standing. You always want to be upright, and you're very good. You pull yourself to standing on almost anything, and you only need a surface of an inch or two (like a puzzle box) to get yourself upright. Once you're up, you no longer need to hold on to anything to stay that way, and will stand upright totally unassisted, clapping your hands and banging toys together. You cruise and walk behind your walker wagon and once--just once--you attempted to take a step without holding on to anything. You failed, and landed right on your butt, but somehow I'm thinking actual first steps aren't too far in our future. You're also a crawling speed demon by now, and you can climb stairs, swapping back and forth between knees and feet, without any help (other than someone hovering behind you in case you lose your balance, obviously).

This has also been a big month for communication. Your babbling has become more varied and distinct, and you say lots of random syllables in combination as though you think you're talking. In addition to "more," which you still seem to be saying but I'm still not totally willing to make the call on, there are two more words that you are possibly saying, but that we haven't definitively determined: Mama (I'm almost positive on this one) and "doggie" (which I believe you use to refer to all animals and not just Montana as you also say it when looking at books that feature animal pictures, but again, this isn't consistent enough for us to be totally sure quite yet). You still clap your hands and you've started responding to other requests too, such as "hooray" (throw your hands in the air), "dance" (you bob your head energetically), and "come here" (you hold up your arms to be picked up). You've also started shaking your head no, which is extremely adorable.

Generally speaking you're just starting to turn into this person who is starting to understand how the world works. You know that hats go on heads, for example, and you will grab them and try to put them on your own or my head. You know how to get dressed and try to help us take your clothes on and off. You're very good at self-feeding and you've figured out how to drink water through a straw. You give yourself your own bottles. You play peekaboo and pat-a-cake and you try to copy your brother in whatever he does. You're also very firm in your opinions, and if something displeases you, you make it very clear. Your new trick is if you're mad and we try to distract you with a toy, you will take the toy, stare us straight in the eye, and then throw the toy down as hard as you can.

You continue to adore your brother, and have a surprising level of tolerance for his shenanigans and horseplay. His toys are your favorite, and wherever he goes, you will crawl as fast as you can to follow. He loves you too, thankfully, and always asks for you and wants to entertain you, and seeing the two of you together, laughing and playing, is basically the best thing that's ever happened to us.

Your eating and sleeping haven't changed all too much this month. You continue to sleep about 11-12 hours most nights, with a 2-3 hour nap most afternoons. Your formula intake still hovers around 30 ounces most days. You still adore solid food--I think you have a strong preference for variety, and get really excited whenever we give you anything new, and I would say that your favorite foods mostly appear to be meat-based. You got three new teeth this month, all on top, for a total of five. You're still in size 18-month clothing (which I expect will last for awhile), and my at-home measurements have you at 30.5 inches long (99th percentile) and 22.5 pounds (94th percentile).

You continue to have a very delightful, social little personality. You still have stranger danger, and have a strong preference for your family and the people you know, but we've learned about you that if we give you some time and reassurance and don't force it, you will, on your own terms, start to migrate away from us to explore new places and interact with new people. You remain extremely happy, and whenever you manage to do something successfully, you give such a huge, delighted grin, and it's just so clear that you are pleased with yourself. It's incredibly adorable. Just like everything you do. It's amazing--you're so little, not even a year yet, and yet you're already so YOU, and so RIGHT. We are so glad to have you.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nine months old

Dear Annika,

On Saturday, you turned nine months old. Three quarters of a year! (Plus three days. Sorry about that.)

If last month was the month of gradual skill-building, this month was the month of the breakthroughs. The biggest is that shortly after you turned eight months, you started to crawl. You were cautious at first, and often switched between two knees and one knee and one foot, but by now, a few weeks later, you have it down, and go zooming by on hands and knees, invariably on your way to grab something you shouldn't be touching. Baby-proofing is a lot tougher this time around, because the house is full of your brother's choking hazard toys, and of course those are your very favorite. Well, it's a close call with the dog's water dish, but either way, we spend a lot of time chasing after you and moving you away from things, only to have you crawl right back over three seconds later.

Also on the gross motor front, you have figured out standing this month, and you are SO proud of yourself. It's adorable. You pull yourself to standing on anything and everything--your crib, your baby jail, furniture, and most recently, the cover of the grill (which was lying on the patio). You've learned to sit back down from standing without falling, so that's very convenient, and you've also gained enough motor control that you can now bend over to pick up a toy and then stand back up, holding it delightedly. I wouldn't say you're cruising just yet, but you are surprisingly migratory on your feet somehow--some combination of moving your hands along things while shuffling your feet and suddenly you're in a whole new place.

Also this month you've started clapping your hands upon request, and you are so incredibly pleased with yourself when you do it--you get a huge grin on your face and usually end up squawking with delight, like you just can't contain yourself over how cool it is that you! Can clap! And it makes everyone! So happy! You also love peekaboo and pat-a-cake, and are occasionally doing "so big" on request, though not yet consistently. You also love to nod your head yes, though you aren't doing it with meaning--you just find it to be a hilarious game. You also love it when people wave hello or bye-bye to you, and I've found you opening and closing your hand experimentally like you're trying to figure out what the deal is. You are extremely chatty, and vocalize with all sorts of different consonant sounds, and have a great time experimenting with different tones. You still love toys, and have started clapping them together for fun. You've also learned to offer/show us things in your hand, and will hold out your toy or food proudly for us to inspect, then pull it back so we don't take it away.

You continue to eat anything and everything. We still haven't found anything that you don't like. The other day you ate an entire bowl (kid-size, but still) of pulled pork, and the sheer delight radiating off you was a wonder to behold. You kept pausing in your eating to give us a huge pleased smile, all with strings of meat hanging out, and occasionally hold out a piece of the meat for us to see. I think pulled pork may be your new favorite food. You still have just the two teeth, on the bottom, but I'm assuming, since your teething schedule started off pretty close to your brother's, that your top middle teeth will pop through at some point in the not too distant future.

You remain large, but comparatively reasonable when we think about how big your brother was at this age (he was six pounds heavier and an inch taller). You are fully in size 12-18 month clothes by now. Your nine-month well visit got pushed back to the end of the week, but my amateur home measurements have you at 22 pounds (94th percentile) and 30 inches (99th percentile). That's a gain of only a couple ounces over the past month, which makes sense since you became mobile this month. You've also tapered off on your formula intake a little bit, and usually eat between 28-32 ounces per day. You continue to sleep well, with one long nap during the day and 10.5-12 hours overnight.

You are still just the most delightful, happy, squeezable little baby. You are just so HAPPY all the time, and light up delightedly over every little thing. You are so pleased with yourself and your circumstances, and you never radiate more happiness than when your brother is in the room with you. The two of you play together so well by now, and you have such high tolerance for shenanigans with him, and love when he roughhouses with you, even while we stand by cringing. You shriek with laughter whenever he's near.

Generally speaking, you're just really cheerful almost all of the time, and your face and particularly your eyes just give off a vibe of infectious delight and pleasure. You are just so GREAT, I want to eat you. Don't worry, I won't. But I do an awful lot of squeezing. We are so lucky to have you in our family, in all your squishy, squeezable, lovable glory.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eight months old

Dear Annika,

Today you are eight months old. We are in prime Peak of the Baby season, and it is glorious.

This month it feels like rather than any major breakthroughs, you've been working on building upon the skills you already have. You sit endlessly by now, and are happiest like that, playing. You've spent a lot of time this past month working on getting up on all fours--you can get up on your knees, though you don't usually hold the position for long, and you also do a lot of planking and downward dog. It seems like progress toward crawling, though I think that may still be a ways away. You're also starting to be very interested in standing, and can hold yourself up for quite some time if we put your hands on the furniture.


This month you've expanded your communication skills, too. You babble a lot and have started copying a bunch of our noises. You vocalize instead of crying frequently when you're upset, and if I didn't know better I might think you're saying the word "more"--every time you run out of food at a meal you wave your arms and repeat "meh, meh" until we give you more food. It's very consistent, but you also seem fond of that sound in general so unless I see more conclusive evidence, for now I'm chalking it up to a coincidence. You also know your name, and consistently respond to it. You're very interested in clapping, and get a huge smile on your face when we ask you to do it, and you've even managed to do it on request a few times, though not consistently.

You are as into toys as your brother was, and play with them constantly. You love to wave them around and bang them on the floor, and have recently started banging toys against one another to play. Your fine motor skills continue to be strong, and you're surprisingly good at picking up little things and maneuvering them how you want. You also continue to love peekaboo. You are really into going out and seeing new places, and will get fussy if we keep you cooped up at home for too long. This month has been the first month of summer vacation, so you've been spending many days at the pool with your brother, which you love--you splash and kick and don't even seem to mind when you get water in your face.

You remain very social, giving us huge smiles and squeals when you see us. You love other babies and mirrors, and light up with a giant smile whenever we take you near a mirror you know is coming, and reach out to pat your reflection as soon as we bring you close enough. You've also developed separation anxiety this month, and will cry if we hand you to anyone you don't know, though it passes fairly quickly after some time together.

You continue to love eating, and we still have not found a single food you don't like. You hoover up whatever we give you, most often items from our own meal, and squawk for more. You've also upped your formula consumption this month, to about 35 ounces a day, sometimes creeping up toward 40. You weigh just under 22 pounds, which puts you at the 97th percentile for weight, and I think you're about 29.5" long, which keeps your height off the charts. You're just starting to move into size 12-18 month clothes. You still have two teeth, the bottom middles, and I suspect one of the top teeth might make an appearance sometime in the next few weeks.


Your relationship with your brother remains the sweetest thing I've ever seen. You two just love each other so much, and it's so incredible to watch. You play together so much, and you're so interested in each other. There's a lot of hugging and even some roughhousing, which you don't seem to mind at all. Whenever Callum is in the room, you just light up, and gaze at him adoringly with a huge smile on your face. He can do no wrong in your eyes, and sometimes watching the two of you together, I get the briefest glimpse of the team you will become, and it's just the best thing ever.

You also continue to sleep great. You are still in your routine of sleeping about 11 hours, sometimes 12, straight at night, from about 8:30 to 7:30 or 8 most days, with one nap, usually 2-3 hours long, during the day. You ruptured your eardrum twice this month--the first time it was because of an ear infection we didn't know you had, and the second time was bad luck due to flying not long after the first rupture healed. You seem to have a high tolerance for pain--ruptured eardrums are supposed to be incredibly painful but both times you continued sleeping fine and acting normal, and we would never have known anything was wrong if we hadn't noticed the drainage from your ear. Your eyes are still blue, and your pediatrician commented that she thinks they may stay that way, as if anything, they seem to be getting lighter.

You remain the most delightful, cheerful, adorable little baby. You are just so chubby and happy and I just want to squeeze you and eat you right up because you are so deliciously amazing. We all feel the same way about you--you are just the perfect addition to our family, and you make everything just right.