Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year

Here we are on the 'Eve, and Bryce has suddenly come down with a 102.5 fever. Poor kid woke up red faced and howling, I picked him up and it was like holding a hot water bottle. He's since cooled down, and calmed down, and he's watching some old Sesame Streets with Courtney in the bedroom. And so, it looks like out New Year's Eve will be spent hoping he feels better in 2010, maybe waking up to comfort a few times on either side of the year. Not that we had plans, mind you, but it's too bad to spend an evening feeling sorry for a baby rather than waiting out the old year in contentment.

But it is a New Year coming up tomorrow, and that means some consideration is in order, perhaps even a resolution or two?

The Old Year-

Relatively peaceful compared to 2008, no cancer, no birth, no book.

Well, the book did come out in 2009, of course, and a brief flurry of signings and events was pretty fun. Some doors opened, and I accomplished some more writing-related goals. In that regard, I end 2009 in a better position than I've been in before, and many things that I found intimidating (article proposals) are no longer things that I really worry about.

Bryce has gone from a barely walking, barely talking infant to a real, honest to goodness toddler, full of energy and a constant stream of commentary. His memory often surprises me (he easily rattles off the full alphabet, and recites long passages from his books on a regular basis). Parenthood is, well, incredible, and I don't know how we managed to get along without him for so long. What did we do with our time? I guess we just watched a lot of movies.

Courtney is plugging away at her job, which will soon be coming to an end. In order to increase her prospects she obtained her licensure this year, and is eager to take a crack at the job market sometime in the fall.

Overall, just a feeling of steady advancement on our life-path, and after the turmoil of 2008, I am pleased with the relative gentleness of 2009.

Now, how about the Future?

That's a tough thing, isn't it, to verbalize one's goals. I have some, mind you, but I intend to stalk them quietly through the year and then climactically leap upon each one and throttle it into submission. For that sort of thing, you need quiet, you need tactical advantage, you need the element of surprise. If I were to write it down here for all to see, well the goal would find out and take the initiative to flee and I'd never be able to catch up. No, this is better, circumspection, silence, soft-footedness and patience.

Besides, if I wrote them out here and didn't accomplish them, then next year I'd just keep reloading this page and crying and crying. And I already do enough crying now that youtube has made it so easy to rewatch all the "very special" episodes of Diff'rent Strokes.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post-apocachristmas

It's December 28, 2009. I've propped myself up in a corner table at the local Flying Star (which I still call Double Rainbow out of habit, despite the name change having occurred, what, ten years ago or so?), in front of a window affording a view of the abandoned mixed-use condos across the street (fluorescent green posterboard "for rent" sign hanging akimbo from an aesthetically rusted porch, the empty, mostly-finished shop space behind it still visible despite the gauzy curtains that someone put up in a half assed effort to block casual eyes). Got a moment here away from the baby, away from family, some time to catch up on various to-dos.

This is one of them.

The subheading on this blog reads, as it has for over six years now (!), "Harrowing Tales and Thrilling Adventure!". Christmas, I suppose, counts for both. Christmas happened, and it was our biggest and most complicated for many years, involving not just Bannermans, but also Kronemans and FitzGeralds. Brittany, my sister of course, lives here now, as does Robert, Courtney's brother, and Denise, her mother. Throw them into the New Mexico Christmas mix, along with my grandmother and uncle, and my mother visiting for the holidays. Bryce is now almost, very very close, to two years old (22 months in January), and thus aware of the X-mas thing in a way that he just wasn't last year. We have a real tree festooned in the appropriate way, and he is very good at "looking but not touching", bending way over to peer at the ornaments on his level, being oh-so mindful not to touch, until, of course, he forgets himself and pulls a skiing reindeer, his particular favorite, off. The Christmas tree is not the first source of "time-out" (that would be his experiments in dog torture), but it his most frequent.

"Remember Bryce, look but don't touch."

"'Member Bryce, don't look but don't touch."

"No, you can look, but don't touch."

"Don't look! Don't touch!"

But the fine point is irrelevant now anyway as he is exploiting what he hopes is a loophole in the instructions.

"No, Bryce, don't touch the tree with your face either."

And around we go, until the dreaded "If you touch it again, that's a time out". "Time out" is still a novel concept and at this point he is just as likely to take one of three options- 1) Stop touching, with a vaguely defeated look on his face; 2) Keep touching in feigned obliviousness; or 3) skip to the chase and with an announcement of "Time out!", walk into his bedroom and take the appointed "time out" seat.

Time-out lasts for 15 seconds, at least when parentally initiated. He sits by his big stuffed bear on the floor and I stand in front of him with arms crossed, a serious expression on my face, and we count. Typically he lays down after a second or two, simply stating "Laying on top of big bear". I suppose that's okay, but attempts at standing are met with me picking him up and putting him back down. It's sort of a game more than half the time, but it does serve to interrupt his desired activity, and is thus successful at causing him to consider the consequences of touching the tree or stomping on the endlessly patient Sharka's tail, or what have you.

And there were presents of course, lots of them, way too many, probably. And now, three days later he is still asking for more- "Want to open another present! A present from Nonny!". We tell him that the presents are "all gone", and he accepts it. We've hidden most of his gifts away from him for now, the theory being that it's best to parcel them out in a rotating fashion.

Christmas for the grownups was as it should be- frantic, stressful, wonderful. Every one of us undoubtedly had our moment of "Oh, shit, why do we do this again?" and also our moments of love and comfort. Most of the planned events went semi-awry but also worked out just fine, and a good time was had by ALL, hopefully. There was eggnog and rum and wine and mulled mead (a revelation! Sure to reappear next year) and beer. Ham and cookies and candy and more candy and more candy. And, of course, the candy. We made an attempt on a farolito walk and made it a whole block before the baby decided that he was both too cold AND unwilling to put a hood or mittens on.

And now, things are winding down. Courtney has the rest of the week off and my mother's in town till Wednesday. Things are quite now, peaceful, the only big family thing left is the requisite trip to see Avatar just like every other family in America. Oh, I suppose New Year's is coming up, but we've always been quite reserved when it comes to that day, usually opting for a night of board games or a few movies instead of whatever it is that you people do.

Speaking of you people, here's to wishing that your holidays were as enjoyable as ours, and as stressful, because why should we suffer alone? And a Happy New Year to you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cars

We are rapidly approaching the time when we will be needing a new car. The Rav-4 has 170k on it, and though it is still running well, it's got an oil leak that we've already sunk $1500 into to no avail.

What we need: a solid vehicle with good gas mileage that can accommodate 2 dogs and a car seat. My ideal would be a wagon (SUVs are too big, gas-guzzley, and the dogs can't see out the windows when standing on the floor).

What I'm looking at: Mazda5, Hyundai Elantra Touring (surprisingly well-ranked by Consumer Reports), Pontiac Vibe, Kia Spectra5, Toyota Matrix. I would love to consider a Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen or a Subaru Outback, but both of them are a bit pricey. Maybe an older model...

If anyone has any recommendations I'd happily entertain them!

Happy Holidays!

Home for two weeks!!! God, I love working for the University.

This was Bryce's first Christmas to actually be somewhat aware of what was happening. He now knows who Santa Claus is, and he seems to have developed an insatiable desire to open presents. He had something like 50 of them, and even today he is asking for more. The joy seems to be in the opening of them rather than in the gifts themselves. I'm thinking of getting him a refrigerator box... can you still get such a thing? Best playhouse I ever had...

Trying to decide what to do with all this free time has been something of a challenge. We'd like to go on a sleigh-ride or sledding/tubing one day, but GOD it's cold in the mountains right now. I guess that's the price you pay for winter sport. Bryce did get a smashing snow suit from Grandfather JD and Grandmother Cora, so we certainly better put it to use. Just got to find him some mittens that he can't take off.

Ty is enjoying his new e-reader and has already loaded almost 20 books onto it. He has it in hand more often than his laptop these days. Dad sent us a webcam that is VERY unfortunately not mac compatible (despite the indication on Amazon that it IS). So hopefully we can exchange that soon and take our Skyping to the next level.

Hope that everyone had a lovely holiday, and that you all have a wonderful 2010!