34 Before 34: Halfway There

So every once in a while, I remember that I continued with my tradition of writing a birthday to do list back in July. The list isn’t really at the forefront of my mind these days, although it does contain some stuff that I really do want to do. As a way of reminding myself about it, I thought I’d catch us on what I’ve managed to do so far. I’m including the original list below, with notes on some of the items that I have actually worked on.

  1. go on dates with Dan
    We have actually done this! We went on two dates to celebrate our second anniversary in January, and my sister watched Ben just after the new year so we could see The Hobbit. It’s not as easy as it was before, but I definitely want to keep working on this.
  2. host a party of some sort (dinner party, housewarming, football party) for more than 4 people
  3. shoot at least one roll of film each with the AE-1, instax, polaroid
    I started working on this in a roundabout way in December, when I finished up my year of daily photos with daily instax photos. I ended up going through almost four rolls of film, and it got me really pumped to get out the AE-1 in particular.
  4. make a wedding album
  5. make wedding albums to give to our parents
  6. visit the ocean (at least 5 times)
    So far I’ve gone twice – once in August in Cape Cod, and once in January.
  7. walk across a bridge in NYC
  8. visit a new local brewery
    Dan and I visited Carton Brewing Company in Atlantic Highlands back in July with my brother, sister, and brother-in-law. Their IPA 077XX is one of my absolute favorites. Even though this one is technically complete, I really want to visit another small brewery near my hometown, Kane Brewing Company before my birthday.
  9. make pom poms
  10. eat at Pete and Elda’s
  11. make quote wall art
  12. crochet a giant scarf
  13. get another tattoo
  14. hang a photo gallery wall in our new place
  15. go to a Patriots game with Dan to celebrate six years since our first spark
    done in August, and now Ben is part of the tradition!
  16. make a new dessert
  17. get a sewing machine
  18. and sew something simple
  19. make a wreath for each season (summer, fall, Christmas, winter, spring) for our front door
    I did make a fall wreath, and it was simple and SO worth it. I haven’t made any others, but would consider this one complete even if I buy a few more seasonal wreaths so we can always have something on our front door.
  20. decorate the living room and the dining room
  21. write in a paper journal three times a month
  22. blog more
    I’m working on it, right? Ha.
  23. learn how to be a mom
    I wrote this knowing that it would always be a work in progress, but there really are a lot of days when I really do feel like I know how to be Ben’s mom. (Of course… there are other days when I super don’t but I am gathering that that’s part of the whole deal, too.)
  24. try NOT to overthink things so much
  25. go on a photo excursion (by myself or with friends)
    Yes! And I blogged about it last week. I am hoping to do this again, though.
  26. thoroughly purge my closet (again)
    I couldn’t stop thinking about this, and went through my closet rather harshly over the summer. I got rid of a bunch of stuff, and boxed up some more, partly because Dan was kind of appalled at how much I wanted to get rid of. (Honestly? I would have gotten rid of almost every piece of clothing I owned, at the time, and still kind of feel that way.) The box is in the basement, and if I don’t want anything out of that box for six months, that’s going, too. (And I may do another pass when it gets warm again, because I just have SO MUCH that I don’t or can’t wear.)
  27. start building a new wardrobe
    I can’t really say I’m working on this; clothes fit so strangely now, and until I start exercising I’m sort of at a stand still. Baby steps.
  28. collect more bracelets for an arm party
    I am doing this, thanks in part to a very nice Christmas haul. Maybe I will blog about this, although I can’t imagine too many of you are dying to see photos of a bunch of bracelets.
  29. grow out my hair
    Whoops. So I totally forgot I had this on my list, and have obviously chopped off my hair completely. Ha. (I am LOVING having super short hair, though, more than I ever expected. It is AMAZING and I haven’t regretted it for a single second.)
  30. plan an awesome first birthday for Benjamin
  31. eat healthy food and exercise (and okay, also lose weight) to really stave off diabetes
    I can definitely be doing a better job on this than I have been so far. Exercising in particular, which I basically… don’t do. It’s hard when it’s so very cold outside.
  32. keep up with Project Life and Ben’s baby album
    I have been doing this, and absolutely loving it. I have plans to blog about my latest creations soon!
  33. choose a positive outlook even when things are hard
  34. laugh more. feel the wind. go for walks. read books to Ben. savor the snuggles. tell Dan how awesome he is. love big. breathe deep.

I have to be honest and say that I’m pretty surprised to have made as much progress as I have. There are about six months left until I turn 34, and my goal is to choose a few things to work on each month. For February, I want to keep blogging more, work on decorating the living room (we have many of the pieces, we just haven’t set them up/hung them up/framed them yet), make or obtain a wintry wreath, and maaaaybe finish knitting the scarf I started for Dan like… three+ years ago so that I can start on the giant pink cowl I bought yarn for over a year ago. We’ll see. (And just to put this out there, mostly for myself, it is TOTALLY okay if I don’t come close to finishing the stuff on this list. Life with a baby who’s more active by the day is, as they say, unpredictable at best.)

Books: 2014

  1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  2. Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  6. Dance upon the Air by Nora Roberts
  7. Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
  8. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  9. Face the Fire by Nora Roberts
  10. Great with Child by Beth Ann Fennelly
  11. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  12. Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher
  13. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. The Search by Nora Roberts
  16. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  17. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  18. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  19. Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

I’m not sure whether to say that I read more or less than I expected I would in 2014. I certainly didn’t make my original goal of reading 30 books (although even when I chose that I knew it was totally arbitrary and quite possibly unattainable). I was keeping up a pretty standard pace of consumption before Ben was born, with audiobooks on my commute and regular books at lunch and at home. Once he showed up, of course, I pretty much stopped reading entirely for a while there. I don’t really understand how people read during middle of the night baby wakeups; I found I was too tired to concentrate on an actual book, but that if I could stay awake enough to read, then I’d be TOO awake to fall back asleep once Ben was asleep again. And now, I’m trying to read before bed like I used to, and after a few nights of reading until 1am and still having to be up with Ben at 5 or 6, really regretting it. But I feel like I’m back in a reading phase (and over the years of documenting what I’ve read, I know that I definitely go through phases in which I just don’t read at all for months), and I’m glad for that.

My favorite books in 2014 were definitely Attachments (omg I ADORED this book. I loved Eleanor and Park, which I read last year, but I was legitimately sad when Attachments was over. I just loved it.), Coincidence (which I finished on New Years Eve; very interesting and different. I really enjoy books whose timelines jump forward and back through time), and the Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which, based on my goodreads friends’ reviews, I expected not to like much, but I listened to this on audio and was pleasantly surprised).

I’m not sure how to approach a reading goal for 2015, to be honest. I’d like to think I’ll be back up to my average of 40 or so books, but life with Ben changes every time I feel like I’ve got things under control, so I really have no idea. But I’d really like to read more (and god knows I sure could use a little less mindless internet scrolling on my phone and a little less daytime tv). I’ve set a goal to read every day, even if it’s just a few lines or pages, or a book with Ben. I’d like to get to all those ebooks I bought just before we went to the hospital to have Ben (seriously, I loaded up the iPad thinking I’d read during labor. Isn’t that adorable? Reading during contractions. Haaaaaaaaa). Overall, I’m setting my reading goal at 30 books. I’m hoping I’ll beat it, but we’ll see.

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

 

34 before 34

It hit me about a few months ago that I had completely forgotten about my 33 before 33 list. I suppose impending parenthood can sort of take over your life in that way. That list wasn’t a total bust, but because I forgot about it so thoroughly, I don’t think it’s really fair to consider it done. Some years, I plan my lists for weeks ahead of time, but today is my 33rd birthday, and I still want to do all those things I thought up last year. So I decided to start a new list for my new year. The first 19 items are from 33 before 33, and the rest are new or just slightly revised for this year. When I turned 32, I was a newlywed who had a lot of high hopes, and adding them to a list helped me feel a bit like they weren’t as crazy as they felt. Now I’m 33, and we bought that house and I had that adorable baby, and I need a list like this more than ever, as I’m learning how to be BOTH the new me who’s a mom and the old me who really needs to create. So here we are. And even if I forget about this list by January, I think it’ll be a pretty good year.

  1. go on dates with Dan
  2. host a party of some sort (dinner party, housewarming, football party) for more than 4 people
  3. shoot at least one roll of film each with the AE-1, instax, polaroid
  4. make a wedding album
  5. make wedding albums to give to our parents
  6. visit the ocean (at least 5 times)
  7. walk across a bridge in NYC
  8. visit a new local brewery
  9. make pom poms
  10. eat at Pete and Elda’s
  11. make quote wall art
  12. crochet a giant scarf
  13. get another tattoo
  14. hang a photo gallery wall in our new place
  15. go to a Patriots game with Dan to celebrate six years since our first spark
  16. make a new dessert
  17. get a sewing machine
  18. and sew something simple
  19. make a wreath for each season (summer, fall, Christmas, winter, spring) for our front door
  20. decorate the living room and the dining room
  21. write in a paper journal three times a month
  22. blog more
  23. learn how to be a mom
  24. try NOT to overthink things so much
  25. go on a photo excursion (by myself or with friends)
  26. thoroughly purge my closet (again)
  27. start building a new wardrobe
  28. collect more bracelets for an arm party
  29. grow out my hair
  30. plan an awesome first birthday for Benjamin
  31. eat healthy food and exercise (and okay, also lose weight) to really stave off diabetes
  32. keep up with Project Life and Ben’s baby album
  33. choose a positive outlook even when things are hard
  34. laugh more. feel the wind. go for walks. read books to Ben. savor the snuggles. tell Dan how awesome he is. love big. breathe deep.

(Pregnant) Confessions

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two) (Confessions Three) (Confessions Four) (Confessions Five)

  • I still feel guilty that I didn’t really have any morning sickness.
  • I didn’t have a magical moment when the + showed up on the test after which I was consumed with love for my unborn baby. It was something a little more like stunned disbelief.
  • I still feel mostly gobsmacked by the whole thing.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about ice cream and seasonal Reese’s peanut butter cups. (Seasonal ones have a much better peanut butter to chocolate ratio.)
  • I’m inordinately terrified that my feet will swell and never go back to their original size. Size ten is PLENTY large enough, baby. (Think of all the converse!!!)
  • I don’t seem to be having stereotypical cravings, but obsessions with certain foodstuffs that burn hot and fast, and after they’re over, I want NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with said foodstuff. (The now-unappealing list includes pumpkin squash ravioli frozen dinners and strawberry Newtons, most notably).
  • In the last week, the baby’s kicks have gone from gentle little rumbles to shockingly strong actual KICKS that often make me gasp out loud. But the new strength means Dan felt one from the outside for the first time, and that was kinda amazing.
  • I’m still caught off guard by people being extra kind and taking care of me (when my sister- and brother-in-law each grabbed an elbow walking through an icy parking lot; when a friend walked me back from lunch to make sure I got past all the ice safely). Not because it’s weird that they’d be nice, but more that I forget, a little, that I need to be 50x more careful.
  • I am surprised that I haven’t had too many overly emotional sobfests (which is not to say that I haven’t had any). I have been SUPER irritable, though.
  • I really, really, really miss beer.

Books: 2013

  1. In the Woods by Tana French
  2. A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  6. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  9. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  10. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  11. What to Expect Before You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
  12. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  14. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
  15. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  16. When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman
  17. The Likeness by Tana French
  18. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  19. Wool by Hugh Howey
  20. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  21. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
  22. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  23. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  24. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  25. Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  26. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  27. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  28. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  29. Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
  30. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
  31. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  32. Black Rose by Nora Roberts
  33. Red Lily by Nora Roberts
  34. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  35. White Cat by Holly Black
  36. Birthright by Caragh O’Brien
  37. The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen
  38. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  39. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  40. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  41. Faithful Place by Tana French
  42. Virals by Kathy Reichs
  43. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Looking back on the books I’ve read this year is something I really enjoy, even though it’s hard to believe we’re here already. My reading goal for 2013 was to read 39 books (my average number of books read since I started keeping track back in 2005). I’m happy to say that I squeaked past that goal with 43, largely aided by a week of intense reading on our honeymoon in June, and a hefty audiobook consumption once I went back to a very lengthy commute in September. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have come close if it hadn’t been for the audiobooks this fall. My side goals were to read one classic that’s new to me (I didn’t do this or even remember it was on my list, honestly) and five novels meant for adults that weren’t mass market fiction. I’m surprised and kinda jazzed to report that I read nine adult fiction books AND two nonfiction books. Reading YA is definitely my favorite (with a healthy dose of romance novels for good measure), and I’m okay with that. But the adult novels I’ve read this year were some of my favorite books of the year. I listened to eight audiobooks (Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was spectacular – read by Gaiman himself. Kathy Reichs’ Virals wasn’t really a super awesome story, but Cristin Milioti’s narration was some of the best I’ve ever heard). I also re-read three books (The Passage, Across the Universe, and Delirium) as refreshers before reading sequels, which I generally like to do.

The books that I read in 2013 that I would recommend most highly are some pretty amazing books: all three of Tana French’s books were so refreshing and dark and un-put-downable; The Age of Miracles was a YA novel that tells the story of what happens during an epic natural disaster; The Passage and The Twelve are truly epic doorstops of books but so very, very gripping; Eleanor & Park was a super charming, sad love story; The Fault in Our Stars was just unforgettable.

I’m not sure it’s very smart for me to set a reading goal for 2014, what with the whole baby showing up in late May business. I think it’d be short-sighted of me to expect that my reading habits will remain unchanged once a newborn is in the picture. But I also can’t see myself NOT reading. (Feel free to remind me of this as you laugh at me this summer.) So! My goal for 2014 will be to read 30 books. We’ll reconvene a year from now to see how crazy that notion is.

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

Good Things

  • pink fuzzy slippers from the moment I get home until I get into bed
  • turning down all invitations for this weekend, which qualifies as good (rather than lame) because it means we will have all weekend to make some house progress (unpacking and rainbow-ifying books! maybe possibly setting up the craft room! figuring out the 15 paint cans the previous owners left us in the garage so we can paint over the patched hole the couch made in the basement staircase!)
  • I’m reading SO much lately. (I especially loved Birthmarked. And am cautiously optimistic about Allegiant, which I’m about halfway through.)
  • the smell of fall leaves
  • looking SO forward to a sleepover with two of my best girls in a few weeks
  • dark, moody nail polish
  • the soon-to-be mine orange Filofax. Organizing nerdery, here I come!
  • coming home to the porch light on (because Dan gets home from work earlier than I do)
  • thinking up ways we can decorate our new place for Christmas
  • and how we’ll (maybe) (hopefully) get a real tree for the first time ever this year (while also finding a Place of Honor for the Little White Tree of Legend)
  • and how I keep telling Dan that I’m going to “decorate the SHIT out of this place for Christmas” and he looks at me veeeery warily

Confessions

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two) (Confessions Three) (Confessions Four)

  • My car is almost always full of clutter and at least two empty diet coke bottles. It’s not dirty… but there’s always extra stuff floating around. It only gets worse the longer my commute is.
  • I find it next to impossible to be far away from windows during thunderstorms. I want to look outside, BE outside to hear the thunder, see the lightning, feel the gusts of wind.
  • Triscuits go best with cheddar cheese. Ritz are the preferred crackers for peanut butter. I do not prefer to eat cheese or peanut butter with other varieties of crackers.
  • I always put my left shoe on first.
  • I don’t understand why the internet gets so excited for pumpkin spiced things in the fall. I can’t stand anything pumpkin-flavored (except my mom’s pumpkin bread, and even then, only sometimes).
  • The last 5 shirts I have bought have been polka dots, NOT stripes.
  • I keep buying colored jeans, with the rationale that they are nicer as work pants, that I’m tricking everyone by not wearing blue jeans and therefore looking more work appropriate… and only realized recently that yellow or bright pink pants aren’t really what most people would consider “professional” attire.
  • I haven’t taken my camera out for a real photo walk in months and I feel awful about that.
  • As much as I love slippers and cozy sweaters and giant scarves, I am really not looking forward to the giant chunk of the year I’ve come to think of as the “Elizabeth’s always cold” season.