Wednesday, 31 December 2008

In Lieu of Resolutions: Reflections

The New Year is typically a time in which we look ahead and make resolutions that, more often than not, end up being broken within the first week of January. At least, that's been the case with me. So instead of lamenting over the things I haven't done and being disappointed next December that I still haven't done them, I thought I would take this time to reflect on the things I have done.

The following "survey" comes courtesy of another blog I read, "Making It Up" by Therese Fowler; I think she got the list from somewhere else, so it's no doubt made its rounds on the web. Feel free to take it from me, if you're so inspired, and have some fun with it yourself.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars (Does camping in a tent count?)

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world (I've been to both. I think I enjoyed it more when I went back to Disneyland when I was 22 than when I first visited when I was 5!)

8. Climbed a mountain (I climbed Diamond Head in Hawaii in the middle of July, not something I'd recommend.)

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris (Several times, for work and pleasure. I can now successfully order food in French, but I wouldn't know what to do if a waiter/waitress spoke to me in return.)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (I've learned lots of arts, but none that I have actually taught myself.)

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning (I would not recommend reheating crab rangoons!)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables (No, but my husband has.)

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (On a quick whizz through the Louvre. We could barely see through the throngs of other tourists that surrounded it.)

20. Slept on an overnight train (Had an eventful journey from Florence to Paris, which you can read about here.)

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked (Sort of; after missing the last bus in a small town in Norway, a friend and I hitched a ride with the bus driver – probably not something I would do now, but I was 18 and a little na├»ve.)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run (Once that I can remember; it was during a whiffle ball game in sixth grade!)

32. Been on a cruise (Not unless dinner cruises and sight-seeing cruises count.)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I spent five weeks in Norway, where my mother's family is from, in 1998. I'm hoping to get to Slovenia, where the other half of my family comes from, in a couple of years.)

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Not completely, but I'm working on it! Besides, it would be pretty sad if I needed money to be truly satisfied with my life...)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (Not the original, but I have seen a replica in a piazza in Florence.)

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (My one trip to Rome was for business, so I didn't see much, but I did see the outside of St. Peter's.)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Three times, actually. The second and third times I only made it to the second level. I don't recommend the ascent if you have acrophobia.)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (I spent practically an entire week underwater in Jamaica during a field study in college.)

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business (No, but I have been self-employed.)

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen (I volunteered at one in college once.)

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving (My present from my parents for my nineteenth birthday was a tandem sky dive. I don't think I would do it now, but it was an amazing rush at the time. Surprisingly, I'm afraid of heights!)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (Been to two, actually: Dachau in Germany and Terezin in the Czech Republic.)

67. Bounced a check (Hasn't everyone done this at some point?)

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (Considering I live in London, it would be pretty shameful if I hadn't seen this time-honored – and overrated – tradition at least once.)

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book (Nope, but that's something else I'm working on. According to my “life plan,” I have seven more years if I want to achieve my goal of publishing a book by the time I'm 35.)

81. Visited the Vatican (I spent about ten minutes in St. Peter's Square – enough time for a quick photo – on a whistle stop tour of Rome while on a business trip.)

82. Bought a brand new car
(My 2002 Honda Civic will probably be the only new car I'll ever have had.)

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
(Does fish count?)

88. Had chickenpox (Yes – at 22!)

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous (I met Tori Amos before a concert in 1996. I also met Steve Burton, the guy who played Jason Quartermaine on General Hospital, at a CVS in Sanford, North Carolina.)

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Saturday, 27 December 2008

'Tis the Season

It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Christmas 2007, and here we are again at the end of another holiday season. Or are we?

Since I have assimilated into The Other Half's English family and adopted their traditions, Boxing Day has fast become my favorite holiday. While I adore Christmas, it just doesn't last long enough. We spend weeks – sometimes months – preparing for this one day, and it's over before you know it. Nowadays, people can't wait to put Christmas behind them. Growing up in North Carolina, we often saw Christmas trees out on the curb on Christmas Day night. I suppose if you put your tree up on Halloween, you're probably ready to see it go by the time Christmas rolls around.

Personally, I'd rather extend the holidays a bit. And that's where Boxing Day comes in. Whoever came up with the idea is brilliant, in my opinion. What a perfect way to wind down after Christmas, enjoy left-over Christmas dinner (including cold meats, salads, and bubble and squeak; mince pies and Christmas pudding; and Turkish Delight and Quality Street sweets, among other indulgences), drink, and be merry.

We've just returned from our own Boxing Day celebrations at my in-laws' house, and I'm as knackered as Crumpet, who is fast asleep upstairs (and who, thankfully, managed to sleep through Christmas dinner yesterday without moving a muscle, situated in her bouncy chair just inches from the clinking of glasses and the scrape of our forks against our plates and right next to a speaker from which several festive holiday tunes filtered into the room). I've had to loosen my belt a notch, and we've got it all to do over again on New Year's Day.

We hope to celebrate Christmas in the States next year, and you can bet we'll be taking Boxing Day with us. I brought Thanksgiving to the English side of the family, so I'll take Boxing Day to the American side. In case you haven't noticed, we take the twelve days of Christmas seriously in our household...

Monday, 1 December 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes (or The Blog Entries That Could Have Been)

I cannot believe Christmas is just over three weeks away and that, soon, another year will have come and gone. As I write this post on the first day of the last month of 2008, I can't help but think about what a whirlwind this year has been and all of the exciting – and challenging – things 2009 has in store for us.

Last year at this time, I had racked up an impressive (or not-so-impressive, when you think about my carbon footprint) number of frequent flyer miles. Between holidays in the U.S. and Crete and business trips to Spain, Italy, and Norway – just to name a few of the countries I found myself in – I was blazing a trail across most of Europe. I had no idea that at a year from then I would be up to my elbows in pooey nappies and burp cloths.

I have had ten weeks to adjust to being a "mummy." During that time, Crumpet and I have gotten to know each other, slowly adjusting to each other's rhythms and settling into our new roles as mother and daughter.

It hasn't all been easy. The learning curve has been pretty steep, especially in those first few weeks, but The Other Half and I have been really lucky. We seem to be past the worst of the "fussiness" and are heading into calmer seas. I've even had a few nights in the last couple of weeks when I've had ten hours of sleep, something that makes the other parents I know, including my sister, quite jealous. Of course, it's not completely restful, as I keep waking up with every little noise she makes. I don't think I'll ever have another night of uninterrupted sleep again.

The best part of my day is waking up to Crumpet's beaming face, staring at me with wide eyes from inside her Moses basket and grinning from ear to ear as if to say, "Good morning. I've been waiting for you." In just ten weeks, she has developed into this amazing little person with quite a personality.

It still amazes me that she is mine. I stare at her in awe as she sleeps, a little surprised that The Other Half and I could create something that is so perfect. Throughout my pregnancy, I often wondered what my baby would look like. When she finally arrived, it was as if I recognized her; although I couldn't possibly have known for sure what she would look like, she somehow fit the image I had subconsciously carried inside me all along. I can't imagine her looking any other way.

So I may not have had that much time to myself lately. I may have only been able to shave my legs about three times in the last ten weeks. I have trained myself to eat spaghetti one-handed when necessary – not an easy feat, I must say. I have learned to multi-task like never before, like brushing my teeth in the shower so the bathtub catches the milk that seems to continuously leak from me. I feel a real sense of accomplishment if I can manage to write more than three sentences in one sitting. And my mind has been cluttered with all the blog entries that could have been over the past couple of months: "Colic 101," "To Pee or Not to Pee," "I'm No 'Dummy'!: Simple (and Not-So-Simple) Ways to Pacify a Baby," "New Sofa + New Baby = Bad Idea," "How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Dinner Between Baby's Naps"....

But I wouldn't have it any other way.