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2011

Well, another year has slipped by. I am still practically 5’6″. Still spill more food on me than in me. Still take too long when telling a story.

The best type of life is the one no one suspects. A friend told me that once. It’s true.

I like to think that I’ve got some edge left in me — some sharp shards of myself lost in smoky back patios or dancing ankle-deep in spilled booze. But I don’t, not really. The days and my hair are too long for those sorts of nights.

Not that I would go back. I am not a different lady than then — just a finer version. Each year that I tack on to my total, I can feel an ease to my step. Life is more manageable then it was made out to be, I’ve learned.

This has been a year of a different sort: my first full year as a mother. And so the ever-present 2011 anthem persisted: my life is no longer mine alone. It stopped belonging to me when I provided rent-free occupancy back in 2010 (utilities included), but it was made perfectly obvious this year that my needs are secondary. I was prepared for that, though, and I like it very much. As expected.

At any rate, other major firsts — my first year in a new town, my first year as a college student, my first year of being a wife, my first year teaching — they can’t compete. They don’t even try. They know. Chickens jacking my style. I don’t know why I felt the urge to add that.

What I’m trying to point out is that 2011 will forever be framed in the greenness of parenthood. Despite being unrelated, events that had no correlation with my having Carter were shaded differently because my entire world was an original color this year. Life is incomparable now.

On with the show. I’m not going to do this justice, not at 1:32 am. Meh. In no particular order, some of this year’s important happenings:

Baby Landry’s Debut

Hello, Landry. 2011 was a better year because of your arrival. You are very small and have good kissing lips. You smell like milk and soap and are a little ornery. I like all of that about you. I know you and I are going to be great friends.

Carter’s Firsts

First smile, first laugh, first tooth, first kisses. First bath, first all-night sleep, first solid food, first book, first trip, first word, first roll, first crawl. First spring rain. First warm summer day. First fall. First born, first son, first.

I think I’m mispelling that word now. I can’t look at it. It suddenly looks oddly German.

This list will always come back to Carter. If you’re wondering why it’s not longer, you can return to this.

Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Apparently, 25-26 is a perfectly acceptable age to be married. Nobody bats an eye anymore. And so being married for 6 years when you are 26 feels a little like knowing an inside joke. Those two people up there have grown up together. Together, running just a fast as we can, holding on to one another’s hand… It’s like that, still.

Miley Goes to Preschool; Teaches Aunt a Thing or Twelve

A few days ago, my best friend Miley said to me, “I don’t wish you a Merry Christmas.” It was matter-of-fact. She didn’t mean it to hurt my feelings. She just didn’t care to spread the holiday cheer. All people should have the freedom to be so honest.

My precocious niece started preschool this year. She teaches us more than she’s getting out of the public school system. I can’t count how many 2011 significant moments centered around Miss Mi.

“I love you, too, Aunt Hedder,” she greets me. I don’t say I love you first, she just fills in the blanks for me.

Family

Didn’t go anywhere far in 2011. A few trips here and there — the beach, a swing in a hammock up north, a few long drives. We traveled a lot in mass numbers. What I’ll remember best are family dinners, nine or more of us crowded around a table, not including the highchairs — or family car rides, all seat belts taken and probably someone in the back — a lot of chaos, and a lot of love.

I think often about how lucky I am to be so close to my family. How blessed that Carter gets to stay with his grandparents while I work. How easy it is for me to call up one of my sisters for advice or a shoulder or a laugh. How hard my brother makes me laugh. How grateful I am for Jordan’s family. How much I enjoy having Derrick with us during the week. How fortunate I am to have grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts so close.

Lady Life-ing

Many of my favorite moments from this year have been spent with Erin participating in one of our usuals:  drinking Mexican mochas, cruising in her FJ, hitting up the craft store, knitting at soccer games, eating downtown, picking subpar movies (ok, that’s my fault).

But arguably the best night this year was when we decided to get “crazy” and show the haters just how adventurous we could  be. In case my grandmother is reading, let’s sum it up with this life lesson learned: don’t go into the shadiest dive bar you can find unless you know what wearing a glow bracelet stands for.

Ok, ok, and this section can also represent all of the double dating nights with Alex and Jordan: Fifa, Bohnanza, adventures, and tacos. Especially the tacos.

The Adopt-a-Family Insanity

This year, I was on the look out for a project based learning opportunity. So what do I do? Adopt three in-need families, one for each of my freshman classes. And then plan a project around these very real families that is due in two weeks. At the end of the semester. On top of finals.

This was seriously one of the most stressful things I have ever done. Yeah, it was for a good cause, but it was one terrifying moment after another — 1) Freaking out about not succeeding and ruining these families’ holiday. 2) Hosting a carwash on a Saturday in December with 65 14-15 year olds. 3) Watching aforementioned 14-year old boys wrap gifts. But we didn’t fail, and the blisters I got chasing freshmen girls off the median on 67th Avenue are almost gone. We raised over $1,000 in two weeks, not to mention all the gifts donated by the parents. The kids blogged about it as we went (go look & comment — they’re pretty sweet).

Childhood Friends

Know what’s weird? Driving somewhere with someone you haven’t really hung out with since you were 14. That happened a few times this year, and each time, I was flooded with the urge to explain the steps I took to being able to drive.

It’s really refreshing to be with the people you shared your first skinned knees/hearts with. In a selfish way, it’s eye-opening. Oh, that’s who I am. I’d forgotten, just a little.

I’m really tempted to post a bunch of very cute (of them), very embarrassing (of me) photos from the latter half of the 1990’s. But this segment is not about 1998, it’s about 2011, and my old friends have only gotten more awesome with time. I’m really thankful for the happy chance to reconnect.

Coletta’s Visit…and Coletta’s Engagement

Everybody knows that Lauren Marie Coletta is one smart lady. But her travel history hints otherwise. See, she’s visited me in Phoenix several times over the past decade, and she repeatedly and only arrives in the middle of summer. This year, it was August. Ooof.

When I found out Coletta and her Dave got engaged, I danced in the grocery store. I am so, so excited to watch this lady get hitched in a few months to the luckiest man this side of Jupiter.

Run, Heather, Run

Pregnancy/birth does ridiculous things to your body, but I think maybe it affects how you see yourself so drastically, that you moreso can’t help but question which parts are yours for the keeping. That’s how it was for me anyways. It’s funny now, looking back at last summer and how hard I tried to get in shape. Little did I know that true fitness comes with the territory of raising a toddler boy.

In retrospect, I feel a little silly about near-daily blogging about fitness. But at the time, it seemed that it needed to be done. So thanks to all of you who supported me there. Especially you, Satan Jillian Michaels.

Fourth Year Teaching

Four years ago, I was convinced I wouldn’t have a job the next year because of continuous budget cuts.

Not that much has changed, ha.

Most days, I can’t imagine doing anything different as a career. I’m proud of my growth as an educator. I love English and literature and all that comes with the curricular territory, and I also genuinely enjoy the unfiltered, resilient, fresh, ambitious clientele. I hope I am able to provide wholly positive experiences. That’s what English class is for.

My career has brought about a lot of wonderful things this year — I really need to tell the people who make my life better every day thank you. Also, hello technology year of the gods. I’ve gotten so many game-changing opportunities to share and teach and collaborate using new tools in the classroom.

 

Goodbye, 2011. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot. There wasn’t enough live music, there were too many people I missed, and I quickly learned how much more was on the line. But you made up for it.

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