So, Ms. Bell’s final challenge of the year forces me to reflect upon plans I had made that couldn’t be followed through with for a very good reason. At the start of the year, I knew I was headed into my second year of employment with UF MSE and would have my coveted two years of experience by the end of it all. I was hungrily eying Southern New Hampshire as a realistic goal for August 2010. We paid our credit card debt down to the recommended 35% mark with our tax return and planned to pay the rest off in 2010 and buy a car. I would polish my résumé and hunt for jobs in NH. I was going to look through different apartments available to work out a realistic salary request. Then we found out our Valentine’s celebrations had resulted in a very big surprise. This news changed our plans — and our lives.
I had to put all plans for Southern NH on hold until further notice. All extra funds needed to be saved. We needed to skrimp as much as possible. We needed to ensure that we could welcome our sweet little boy into the world as securely as possible. On top of that, I couldn’t imagine trying to move across the country a mere 9 months after having a baby. While I know babies are born up north just like they are here in Florida, I also can’t imagine having his second winter spent in dramatically colder weather. I stopped worrying about finding the “perfect” town to settle into — I have standards, you know. (I’m looking for the lowest poverty levels, the highest graduation rates, the best salaries, the most affordable houses, and the optimal people to land ratio. We need a place where we can thrive.)
While I’m incredibly happy with the surprise ending to 2009, I’m also a bit sad that I can’t be planning a move in about seven months. I may revisit planning in the new year, but I’ve been reminded this year that you can’t plan too far in advance because life has a plethora of variables. You never know when things will get shaken up.
If you look around the poster, you will notice I start with spring (my desire to have cherry blossom trees on our land), move to summer (Weirs Beach is this really awesome place where they have the biggest arcade in the world), then onto fall (apple picking, pumpkins, leaves changing color), and winter (snow, skiing, snowboarding). I added pictures of houses I found on Realtor.com that looked nice. I’ve writen “New Hamp$hire or bust” and “Southern New Hamp$hire Bound” to further motivate me. Someday, I’m going to bring my family there where we will settle down in our very own home. We will enjoy growing our own fruits and vegetables, we’ll play in the snow, we’ll have picnics under the cherry blossoms, and we’ll be a homebase for when the kids go off to college. It will be a home that’s ours to stay in, to never have to pack boxes and move away again. We will grow roots.
Since at least a few of you have expressed interest, I thought I would finally get my rear in gear to share my littlest of the brood. What makes this one of my favorites? It actually captures just how adorable he is, and it captures those sweet moments when he curls up on me for a little catnap. It reminds me of when he was still in my belly enjoying the sound of my heartbeat and gurgling of my stomach. One day he will look at this picture and say, “aww, Mo-om! This is SO embarrassing!” And on that day, I will need this little memory the most.
I love paper. I love pens — multicolored are my favorite, actually. I still have a collection of stationery that I haven’t finished using. I hold onto it in the hopes that I’ll have a good use for it. Well, at my baby shower back in September, one of the professors gave me a gift. This gift included a beautiful card inside the most beautiful envelope. I have a penchant for all things shiny, and this envelope was a shimmering silver color. It was so beautiful that I decided to keep it along with the cards I received to put into Brian Jr.’s baby book. If you want to see my eyes light up, give me something shiny — I will immediately revert to my two-year-old self.
On March 20th, I finally succumbed to this craze that is called “Twitter.” A couple of my friends had already started using it, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try out this new social networking medium. I admit I was also interesting in following people like Alton Brown and LeVar Burton, just out of the curiosity factor. 648 tweets later, I think I actually like the twittery thing — I still can’t stand that restrictive 140 character limit, but I’ve obviously made due. It hasn’t exactly changed my life, but it has made life a little more interesting.
While writing my post on Tuesday, I think I actually had my “AHA!” moment of the year. Rather, I set in motion the feelings for the rest of the day that led to my moment. It all started with the assertion that I am, in fact, a full-fledged adult. Now, I was very mousy from middle school onward (you can blame the whole “you picked the wrong people to sit with if you wanted to be ‘cool’ around here” issue — well, I think I picked correctly, honestly), and I had trouble feeling like I “fit in” with any particular group. By about halfway through ninth grade, I began to realize that I shouldn’t bother trying to fit in with anyone. If people were going to be my friends, they should be friends with me because they like who I am — not who they want me to be or who I’m pretending to be.
For several years, I’ve still battled with the issues of “I want people to like me” vs. “I want to be respected and like for exactly who I am.” I’ll withhold information about myself if I think a person will think less of me, for example I might not share with an elderly person that I’m listening to some incredibly loud and offensive metal. I am a product of my upbringing, and my uncle did live with us at one point — I was bound to love screaming, growling male voices set to guitars roaring and drums blasting. I might not admit to others that I’m a Catholic who actually, truly believes in God and Jesus simply because I fear being seen as “one of those people,” as if having religious faith will suddenly decrease my IQ or make my accomplishments any less. For much of the time I was completing my degree, I would conveniently fail to say I was a young wife and mother because I felt like that automatically made me look like ignorant white trash. For me to be ignorant, I shouldn’t have been capable of earning a high school diploma and gaining acceptance to the University of Florida. If I were trashy, I wouldn’t care about finishing a degree. And yet, I still worried about how others perceived me as a human being.
You can probably thank Brenda Della Casa for all her musings because she has been inspiring me to be who I am — in her words, to be authentic. She seemingly has been there, done that on nearly every issue I’ve dealt with in my life, and she has shown to be a woman of invaluable character. When I read her words, I sit back and realize that it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t like me for who I am. If people don’t like me for who I am, then they are not the kind of people I want or need in my life. I need to surround myself with people who respect and encourage me. I think I’ve been doing a fairly decent job of that as of late. I know I still worried about how people would respond to my decision to have my baby at home with a midwife, but I realized I was falling back into the habit of needing to “fit in.” Mainstream is very overrated, and I’m glad to be my own unique individual.
When I got my positive result on February 24th, I joked to Brian that he could have just as easily made me happy with flowers and chocolate on my birthday. A Valentine’s conception translated out to a potential for having a fresh bundle of joy on my birthday, or at the very least within a few days of my birthday. On November 3rd, I received the best gift of the year four days after my own birthday — Brian Jr. The experience in and of itself was just so wonderful (clearly I’ve forgotten the pain and soreness), and having that final addition to the family has just been so… soothing. My little Pumpkin has been a sweet baby with a definite desire to become mobile faster than the average baby. Debbie has reminded that he’s had the advantage of no medications in his system — so many babies come out with residual side effects from the pain medications most women receive during labor and delivery. My previous two had the residual effects from spinal blocks used to numb my lower half in order to extract them from my abdomen. No matter what, Brian Jr. is going to be a very different baby than even I am used to. I’m so glad I get to experience it all, and I’m looking forward to ringing in the new year as a whole family. Merry Christmas, my sweet little Pumpkin!
I’m so incredibly grateful today for all the time I’ve had to prepare the final posts of the Gwen Bell Blog Challenge. I’ve scheduled each post to be published on the specific days of their corresponding prompts, and I’m finally happy with how much content I’ve been able to produce during the month. I’m also very grateful that I had the time to devise a new system for the mail (instead of a simple “mail is in/not in” sign, we now have a “[day of the week] mail is in” system). I won’t have to worry about forgetting to change the sign first thing in the morning. Tonight we will be enjoying our traditional meal of roast beast (a nod to Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas) and opening one present each before bed. We will be leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, and I will finish wrapping all the gifts. Tomorrow will be a day of good food, family, and presents. This year, two of my three kids will fully understand the concept of opening presents, and I couldn’t be more excited. I admit I live more vicariously through my daughter than my oldest son because my daughter receives gifts I would also have enjoyed as a child — My Little Ponies. Hot Wheels cars? Not so much.
I hope that everyone can enjoy the simple things in life during this wonderful time of the year. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it!
Writing about a startup company implies I worked with a startup company this year. None of the companies I worked with were startups as of this year, nor can I really think of a true standout if I did indeed work with a startup. I would love to ramble on about my husband’s graphic and website design skills, but he’s currently out of commission until further notice. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it just means we’re living the life of full-blown role reversal. There’s nothing wrong with Dad staying at home with the little ones while Mom basks in her finally-hit-two-years, no-more-entry-level status, is there? You may have seen how offended I get when someone does have a problem with this arrangement, but I may have been a little too [redacted] happy around that time. That’s what happens when you get a little cash in exchange for your words — you start snapping it up as much as possible. I certainly want to get paid to write so I can live that dream, but for now I write for free (or until [redacted] sends decent work for decent pay my way — none of that “get a buck for hocking some spammy filth” nonsense).
Writing about a web tool that’s changed my life almost works — but Adobe InDesign CS4 is not quite a “web” tool. InDesign does have some have some web usage, but it’s more or less used for print-based documents in my personal opinion. I did, however, absolutely fall in love with the program’s applications. It completely changed my views of Adobe in general.
I’ve learned so many things from so many experiences this year that I’m not entirely sure I’m going to write on that prompt. How can I choose one lesson that changed me? I have to admit that 2009 has been quite eventful for me. I’ve also had many moments in which the realization that I most certainly am not a child in any sense of the word anymore (unless you want to count the sensing of being someone’s offspring). I go to work everyday. I pay rent. I pay bills. I have children. I have a husband. I am sprouting gray hairs and wrinkling! The attitude of “I’m not a child anymore” isn’t just an angtsy teenaged outburst — it’s a fact of life. I’m currently nearly the zenith of that hill everyone talks about. You know, THAT hill — the “you’re 30, now you’re over-the-hill” hill! I will gladly accept your flattery that I don’t look a day over 20, but that won’t make the increasingly visible crow’s feet and smile lines disappear. No, I’m just going to have to adopt another frame of thought (Brenda Della Casa replied to my tweet to “think of them as proof of a life well-lived,” actually).
You can count on me to detail the best gift of the year, be it the 24th, the 25th, or the 26th when I actually post about said gift. Insight/aha moment? That may very well be similar to the learning experience of the year. I’ll have a social web moment to share, I have a bit of stationery I’ll talk about, I won’t pick one single laugh of the year, I may or may not finally remember a good ad, and I’ll finish out the year with the resolution I wish I’d stuck with (or at least regret not being able to carry-out). You can count on me to share my gratitude as well. What will 2010 bring? We’ve only got a week and a half left to find out.
You may recall that I had the challenge of learning Adobe InDesign CS4 this year, and you no doubt recall that I said most of my “bests” revolved around the same basic themes. So you may have guessed that the best project of the year was that very first newsletter I designed all by myself (okay, Brian made the cover, but he’s way cooler with his awesome graphic designing skills). If you browsed through it, you can probably tell I may have gone overboard with the special effects, but I had an absolute blast layouting out the articles and pictures, designing the pages, and seeing the final printed product. I may have let a couple of typographical errors slip past my usually watchful eye, but it was overall a lovely project to be proud of.
I’m gearing up to complete the layout of our winter 2009 Newsletter, even though it won’t be going to print until January. I plan to tone it down on the special effects, though. 😉