Happy 2011.  It feels like a regular Saturday to me, but I want to take the time to reflect on 2010.

There was a lot of health and happiness in my life in 2010.  I read a lot of blogs and articles.  I made some new friends and tried over a dozen new recipes.  I think I made my way through a whopping TWO actual books.  Sad sad sad.  The day after Christmas, my grandmother and I were playing cards when she asked my sister, “What book are you reading?”

It was Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.  My sister remarked that she didn’t care for the author’s style but had an interest in getting to the end before seeing the film version.

My grandmother nodded.  “I read that one.  He also wrote The Remains of the Day.  It’s a very heavy book.  Very hard subject matter.”  My grandmother has torn through most of the Times Bestsellers in the last twenty years.  If I’ve heard of it, she’s already read it.  And she rarely gushes over a title.  Either the book was good or it wasn’t.  When I was a tween, she would praise me for sitting off in a corner with my nose in a book — some mystery novel or a required reading for school.  I don’t think I’ve ever been terribly addicted to fiction.  I just like how quiet my grandmother’s house can be.

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The beginning of 2010 involved a lot of resolve.  I saw an allergist.  I saw my therapist.  I started keeping track of how many “floors” I was tracking on the Stairmaster at the gym.  I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood’s LA headquarters (folding newsletters or sitting behind a table at a college fair.)  I ponied up the money to see a personal trainer who, lucky for me, was super nice.  I couldn’t have handled any abuse.  She told me that I was about 10 pounds heavy, and if I wanted to be considered “fit” by their chart, I should expect to commit to about 9 months of exercise and healthy eating.  I had to smirk.  Nine months of training with you?  To lose 10 pounds of fat? I never intended to reach that goal, but I liked her company, so I continued to pay for sessions.  She showed me how to work different muscle groups, and we talked about our personal lives.  It was like paying for a new friend.  And, at the time, I was willing to pay because I was pretty darn lonely.  I wanted to sweat and feel better, and leave my son in the childcare area for a couple hours.  Also, I was planning a vacation to Hawaii, and I wanted to look sexy for my husband.  Sometimes you need a little “me” time that involves someone standing nearby to listen to you and make sure you don’t slip up.  I am now a big fan of getting a trainer.

A week after I came home from Hawaii (end of May), I went off birth control.  I was pretty set on getting pregnant over the summer.  I suppose my sense of resolve was still going strong.  I started spending a lot more time and energy taking Little J to different places — parks, indoor playgrounds, the zoo, swimming lessons.  If we were going to have quality time, it was going to involve me letting him loose.  My child is in constant motion, as my mom likes to put it.  He’s a climber and he’s fiesty.  He’s also very very friendly.  It wasn’t until June or July that I started to feel comfortable with a new cadre of “mom friends”.  My friendly kid started saying the names of other children in the neighborhood.  He wanted to be with his pals.  I had to grow accustomed to the fact that it is important to have girlfriends with small children, and therefore, I almost had to make all new friends, and get over the fact that maybe I wasn’t feeling so perfect, or in the mood to mingle.  It’s tough to articulate, but I knew that not everyone I came across was judging me.  Still I couldn’t seem to crack through an intense insecurity about my parenting ability.  It had something to do with how wild my kid was.  I had to go back to the library.  I needed to find a book on discipline that would suit my stresses.  It ended up being Making the Terrible Twos Terrific by John Rosemond.  This book really has a solid point of view and it spoke to me.  I was reticent to sing Rosemond’s praises because he also has a popular selection called Parenting by the Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising your Child. And well, yeah.  I haven’t read The Book.  I’m not Christian.  Still, I wanted to find some middle ground that didn’t exist.  Thing is, discipline experts are either A) Christian men, or B) Hippie-shrinks who believe in distraction/redirection and explaining yourself to your TWO year old.  Just because I call myself Agnostic does not mean that I can’t read and learn from all sorts of sources.  That’s what my Catholic father raised me to believe, anyhow.  So I went with group A.

I talked about my feelings and discipline discoveries with my husband.  We both agreed that a firm hand needed to be applied.  It wasn’t easy for me at all.  I guess I don’t like being strict, but shoot, I was already yelling at my kid.  Quite often.  The yelling had to become more direct, less frantic.  And the consequences for acting out, more real.

In July, we had our kitchen remodeled.  For the first time in 4 years, I have a dishwasher and I feel like a lucky lady.  It was totally worth cooking with a toaster and a crockpot for 4.5 weeks.  Totally.

On my birthday, I peed on the stick and saw the word YES blink at me.  Thanks, First Response Digital.  It was a wonderful feeling to know that once again I got pregnant quickly and easily.  I am so blessed in this department.  I knew that I was going to have to get a handle on being a kickass homemaker, mommy and friend (friend to other adults.)  Soon I would be a mother of two.  Double Duty.  I decided to register Little J at the Montessori School down the street.  They recommended five days a week to start off, so as to acclimate him quickly to their routines.  I bit my lip and wrote the check.  This might have been the best thing I did all year.

I am married to a lawyer, which means that sometimes things get so crazy at the office that I won’t see him at all.  The last 3 months of 2010 were very hectic.  With my man pulling 60-70 hour weeks, constantly checking his Blackberry, even flying to China for a week on business, I was holding up my end of the bargain.  And my end was the house and the children.  I would not be returning to the gym at all for the last bit of the year.  No sir.  I purged my closet of clothes that didn’t fit.  I tore through boxes of photographs from college and baby clothes from my son’s first year.  I consolidated.  I slept.  If Little J had been in the house during these mornings I would have gone insane.  Montessori school affords me the space I need to get things done, even do a little freelance work on my computer.  On the weekends, when he naps, I write in my blog.  Finally, some balance!

This Christmas, I was spoiled rotten.  I got so many wonderful things from my parents and sister.  I feel so grateful.  I really didn’t think I needed anything at all.  But sometimes you need to be showered with goodies to be reminded that you are loved and cherished no matter how crazy you feel inside.  Now that Little J is talking more, I can say I love you, and he says it back.  He is turning into such a wonderful little boy, I adore staring at his little face every day.  Of course he’s still fiesty.  He still cries and rolls his eyes when he doesn’t get his way.  But hey, he’s a kid.  What are you gonna do?  I can’t imagine life without my kid.  And now he’s going to be a big brother!  Hello, New Year, how are you doin’?

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