A Lot Of Words About 2013

Oh hey, remember me? Here I am on the very last day of 2013, squeezing in one last blog post so I can say that I updated eight times since mid-July instead of seven. I mean, I don't know who I think I'd be saying this to—the imaginary blogging police, I can only assume, who presumably monitor this kind of thing?but anyway, there you go. The baby's asleep, Sean's downstairs watching a documentary on large whales with my dad, and I intend to spend the next thirty minutes answering that internet meme I answered at the end of 2011 and the end of 2012 (the latter when I was ten weeks pregnant and very concerned that I was accidentally going to give it away with my thinly-veiled references to how lousy I felt.) 

I know this is probably the sort of self-absorbed, navel-gazing blogging that gives bloggers a bad name—oh, you're going to...ask yourself some questions and then answer them?—but considering it just took me two hours to put my poor (teething!) baby to bed, I'm afraid my mental faculties aren't really up for much more at the moment, so without further ado, please allow myself to interview.....myself.

(Anyone? Yes, it was an Austin Powers reference. Hey, 1996 called and it wants its paraphrased movie quotes back. Also its butterfly hairclips, while you're at it. And its body glitter. And that Gap perfume called Om, in the orange bottle. Remember that thing? Okay, I'll stop.)

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Considering I spent the first half of 2013 pregnant and the second half as a first-time mother to a newborn baby, pretty much everything I did in 2013 was something I'd never done before, and most of it was pretty mind-blowing. Growing another fully-formed human being, for instance. Getting it out. Keeping it alive using only my body. Also I made a coconut cake for the first time in 2013, and that was pretty exciting. 

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for next year?
At the end of 2012, I stole my 2011 resolutions—"work hard, be kind, and let things happen"—and amended them to "work hard, be kind, let things happen, and go to the gym more," which ended up being a total joke, honestly, because I'm not sure I even went to the gym once in 2013. Okay, maybe I did go once. I do remember buying a special workout shirt in Target that I hoped would be loose enough not to be obscene and yet tight enough to demonstrate that I was pregnant and not just eating a tub of Ben & Jerry's every night, so I guess I must have gone, but I'm pretty sure at this point the YMCA is going to open a new wing using only the money I've been paying them every month to not set foot in their cardio room. Whoops, so that one didn't work out! 

I like to think I worked pretty hard in 2013, though. And I think I was kind. And I tried to let things happen. Let's do that again next year. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Me! I did! Also fourteen hundred other people I know, judging by my Facebook and Instagram feeds. This was the year of babies, it seems. Did you have a baby this year? Welcome to the club! Here are your complimentary undereye circles! Oh wait, you have those already. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My sweet Omi, in April. I think of her every single day.  

5. What countries did you visit?
Germany, France, Scotland, and England. Within the US, I went to Charleston, Palm Springs, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, and down to San Diego a few times to see my parents. 

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A full night's sleep. Oh god, a full night's sleep in a cool, dark room with clean white sheets and nobody snoring or crying or kicking me or scratching at the door to be fed. 

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

July 12th, when Hugo was born, and July 27th, when he was supposed to be.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
I spoke at a conference for work in April, and that was fairly terrifying. I hosted a baby shower for fifteen people at my house when Hugo was only eight weeks old, and it was the kind where you go all out, with handmade paper garlands and from-scratch salted caramels in cute little favor bags with carefully-cut-out paper tags and uptight orders for your husband to clean the windows, oh my god we haven't cleaned them since we moved in three years ago, TAKE THEM OUT OF THEIR FRAMES AND CLEAN THEM, people are going to think we're savages. (In hindsight, I think I may have been just a little crazy in the run-up to this baby shower, but my friend was super happy with the result and that's what counts, and also I ended up with tons of delicious leftovers and didn't have to cook dinner for ages because we just ate little tea sandwiches and scones with clotted cream for every meal until they were gone, so, you know, win-win.) 

But my biggest achievement—cheesy and corny and self-congratulatory as it sounds, considering this happens millions of times a day to millions of women the world over—was having Hugo. And then keeping Hugo alive (and strong and growing and happy) after that. Giving birth to a baby is actual physical hard work, which I wasn't totally expecting, but the crazy rush you get afterwards is like nothing else I've ever experienced in my life. You are HIGH AS A KITE. I swear, I would have a hundred more babies just to get that amazing sense of joy and relief and accomplishment afterwards, which I guess makes babies the gateway drug to more babies, kind of like marijuana, except instead of ending up strung out and coked up and living in a van down by the river, you end up as Michelle Duggar. 

9. What was your biggest failure?
Back in May, I bought these adorable little plastic animals on ebay, plus some grey and white twine and some embroidery hoops at Michaels, because I had this great idea to make a homemade mobile for Hugo. In July, I got around to attaching some grommets to the little plastic animals so that I could hang them with the grey and white twine, but then Hugo came unexpectedly the next week and suddenly I didn't have time to sit around tying little plastic animals to embroidery hoops anymore. 

For, like, six months I didn't have time to do this and then last week, when Hugo was napping, I took out all the parts for the mobile again, and I started constructing it from this idea I'd had in my head, and I was all wow, why did it take me so long to do this? It's going to be so wonderful!, and then when I'd finally finished, it looked like total and utter shit. Plus also a potential choking hazard.

So I opened up the email I'd got that morning for 20% off at Restoration Hardware, ordered a really cute one online, and called it a day. Oh, do I hear the doorbell ringing? Is it the UPS man? Nope, it's the guy who invented Pinterest, coming to take my crafty overachiever badge away. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, I had my head down the toilet for most of January and February, but that's the first trimester for you. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Would it be crass to say my epidural? Okay then, my epidural. My only "plan" when I went into labor was that I'd see how far I could make it on deep breathing and visualization exercises and loud cursing alone, but that if I felt that I really needed the drugs, I would ask for the drugs and I would not feel bad about it.

I was lucky enough to have a pretty straightforward labor and delivery, but once we'd been at the hospital about ten hours and the contractions were coming a minute or two apart and I had exhausted all my natural resources and was so far over my pain threshold that I was literally walking circles around the hospital room in an attempt to leave my bodyI decided the time had come to allow someone to stick a large needle in my spine. (Actually, for some reason I still felt like I needed to get "permission" to stop being a hero, and so I asked the doctor if maybe it would be okay for me to get the epidural now and the doctor—being rather a sassy sort—said "girl, I would have got it three hours ago." But he was also a man, so who knows.) 

Anyway, when I got the hospital bill a few months ago, my epidural had been quoted at $2000, but because of what my insurance kicked in, I'd only had to pay $76. Sweet deal and everything, but I'm pretty sure I would have paid the full $2000 for that thing if they'd told me in the moment that's how much it would cost, and I probably would have offered to marry the anesthesiologist too. (Do anesthesiologists get a lot of marriage proposals? I'm guessing so.) 

12. Where did most of your money go?
Savings. Mortgage. Home improvement. You know, the wild things in life.  

13. What did you get really excited about?
Aw. My baby. (Hey, did you guys know I had a baby this year? I feel like maybe I haven't mentioned it in the last twelve questions.)  

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
I have listened to a lot of Pachelbel's Canon in D over the last few months. When I was pregnant, my mother made me a CD of classical music to play for the baby, and that one always made Hugo start jumping around in utero and jabbing me with his elbows. Now that he's out, it seems to act as a soothing reminder of his days inside instead; he can be in the middle of a full-blown, no-coming-back-from-it crying jag and the second I hit play on Pachelbel's Canon—which I now have bookmarked on both my phone and my computer, obviously—he will, nine times out of ten, calm down and fall asleep. Like I said, I have listened to a lot of Pachelbel's Canon lately.  

15. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Happier. Fatter. Lucky to have only paid $76 for an epidural. 

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
When I was pregnant, everyone kept telling me to go to the movies because I wouldn't be able to when I had a baby, but I'm not that crazy on going to the movies, honestly, because....well, other people. But now I kind of wish that I'd gone more when I could, because we went to see Anchorman 2 in the theatre the other day when my parents babysat Hugo and the pure unadulterated freedom of it was like dancing on a bar in a bikini in Cancun at 3am. Pretty darn liberating, is what I'm saying. Are you pregnant? Planning to become pregnant anytime soon? Go to the movies as much as you can, I mean it. (Just don't go to Anchorman 2. It was terrible.)

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I really, really, really wish I'd done less stressing out about having a baby. I mean, that's kind of just my personality type so I probably couldn't have avoided it anyway, but I worried way too much about things that never happened, and I bought way too many things before I actually needed to buy them, and I just generally freaked out about what I needed to do to prepare for becoming a mother when it turns out that a) you kind of can't, and b) you end up just muddling through anyway, through some combination of instinct and on-the-job training. I wish I hadn't been so scared of it all, because it turned out to be so much more enjoyable and wonderful than scary. 

18. How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents and siblings and husband and son (!) in San Diego, where it was ridiculously warm and gorgeous, and Hugo had four outfit changes (Christmas Eve day outfit, Christmas Eve evening outfit, Christmas pajamas, Christmas day outfit) because come on, like I'm going to miss an opportunity to put a small child in red smocked overalls with embroidered reindeer on the front, even though the rather unfortunate placement of the pompom noses did make them look everso slightly like nipples. 

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Sean and I, having never seen Breaking Bad, got super into it during those hazy newborn days and ended up watching all five seasons before Hugo even hit two months old. I did sort of keep wondering if we were doing terrible things to his development by providing a near-constant background noise of gunshots and meth-making, but he seems to be okay so far. We also devoured Orange Is The New Black in a similar fashion, and I really enjoyed this year's season of Mad Men

20. What were your favorite books of the year? 
I counted this morning and I read 25 books this year, which I was actually pretty pleased with, considering I didn't even count Brown Bear, Brown Bear or The Very Hungry Caterpillar among them. My favorites were probably Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. 

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Oh, who can remember? I listened to a lot of old Lemonheads songs, like always. Some Teenage Fanclub. Some Milk Carton Kids. The new Head & the Heart album. I also co-wrote (and sang aloud) a lot of original melodies like Why Are You So Cranky, Do You Need Your Diaper Changed? and Please, Please, Please, Please, Please Go To Sleep. 

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I eagerly anticipated—and then very much enjoyed, satisfyingly enough—Before Midnight, the third in that Richard Linklater trilogy that includes Before Sunrise (still one of my favorite films, oh young Ethan Hawke!) and Before Sunset. I thought it portrayed long-term relationships in such an honest, refreshing, recognizable light and I kept thinking about the ending long after it was over. 

23. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I was 33 in February and Sean did that thing that I've always wanted someone to do, where they whisk you away on a weekend getaway and don't tell you where you're going until you're almost there, just like in a Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy. He took me to Sonoma, where we stayed in a lovely hotel and ate delicious food and anxiously googled "can pregnant women take hot air balloon rides?" when he revealed the surprise he'd planned for us the next morning. (The consensus, unfortunately, was no, so we had to take a raincheck, but don't think I'm not going to remind him of it this year.) 

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I had a pretty satisfying year, although I probably could have been a little bit better about managing my time. These days, everything needs to get done in 45-minute increments when the baby's napping, and it took me quite a few wasted opportunities to discover that. 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Voluminous. Elastic waistbanded. Designed to hide my midsection for the first couple of months, highlight it gloriously for the next few, then hide it all over again after that. 

26. What kept you sane?
Sean, as always. My parents, particularly my mother, who has been a food-making, advice-giving, hand-that-baby-over-so-you-can-sleep-a-little-more godsend to me since I became a mother myself. And you, dear readers, who have left such lovely comments and sent such lovely emails and answered questions and commiserated on weird pregnancy symptoms, and who continue to come back here, even though I'm now so rarely here myself.  

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Life zooms by so quickly—make it count. Also, if you want people to like you, consider becoming an anesthesiologist.

Filed Under:
Dec 31, 2013

Many blessings to you in 2014, Holly. My son turns three tomorrow (!!!) and he gets funnier and more interesting every day. And we all sleep through the night now, so that part is good, too.

Dec 31, 2013

You're the second person to recommend Life After Life to me. I'll take it as a Sign.

Also, I wish you a wonderful 2014. There's nothing more amazing (or more cliched, but shut up) than watching your baby grow into a noticing, understanding, walking, talking person.

Dec 31, 2013

AMEN on the anesthesiologist! I ended up with a very non-straightforward labor and birth and when I met the anestesiologist on my first day in the hospital I declared to my husband that he seemed like a 'most frightfully cold cold fish'. By the time I had my eventual c-section on day 4, and he was in the delivery room I found him way more comforting and wonderful than anyone else in the room, not least because of the sweet-sweet relief he delivered. Then h showed me video of his 18 mo old and I fell in love a little bit. What a wonderful year for you and Sean and Hugo. Here's to much more of the same in 2014!

Dec 31, 2013

I'm so glad that you did this. I love that you did this because although I read your blog and follow you on other various sites it's nice to catch up with this. Also, my phone thinks Sugo is a valid word. So I probably need to stop bothering you on twitter.

Dec 31, 2013

Happy New Year, Holly! All the best in 2014 to you and your family.
I fell in love with my anesthesiologist too. He was kind and straight-forward, plus had a lovely South African accent. I was so out of my mind in pain that the thought of having a needle stuck in my back stopped bothering me all of a sudden.

Jan 01, 2014

I like the Jim Gaffigan reference in #1...you're not completely 90s (not that would be all that terrible!).

mary w.
Jan 01, 2014

This is the most awesome list ever and I want to marry you more than I wanted to marry the anesthesiologist. Or would have wanted to, had I been able to have an epidural, which I was not able to do because I was induced and I didnt really dilate until my water was broken by the OB, and I went from 3 cm to 10 cm between contractions and gave birth a few minutes later.

The songs you co-wrote? The titles make them sound like something off a Smiths album. I can just hear Morrissey singing, "Please, please, please, please, won't you just go to sleep..."

Jan 01, 2014

Happy New Year to you all, may 2014 be even more wonderful.

I am still reading whenever you write and look forward to any updates. I'm glad you did this 2013 recap.

Pretzel Thief
Jan 01, 2014

Holly, you're the best. FACT. Your writing, just...maaaan! Heh heh. (But seriously, you rock the casbah!)

Happy New Year! Wishing you all oodles of health, joy and love, now and always.

Jan 01, 2014

Happy new year to you and your wonderful family! I love reading whatever and whenever you write no matter how rare.

Carrie (in MN)
Jan 01, 2014

Happy New Year Holly and family! So nice to see this update. Could we get one wee little picture of Hugo or do I remember that you decided not to do that? Best wishes for the new year.

Jan 01, 2014

Delightful, as always. But DAMMIT I'm kicking myself about #16...I've been on bed rest for the last five months of this pregnancy and have a list of "to-see" movies about a mile long. I'm already planning on one of our first dates post-baby to be a movie one!


Jan 01, 2014

So glad I stumbled over here today, hoping that you'd written. I miss your writing, and am envious that Hugo is taking your time away from us readers. Hope you guys have a wonderful new year!


I'm always so happy to see that you've blogged. Love your writing, it's always so entertaining. Why haven't you written a book of essays? So many others bloggers(who aren't always so great) have books and I'd sure love a nothing but bonfires book. :) Anyway, happy new year! :)

Jan 01, 2014

Lovely! This is why we keep checking back even though we know that you're snuggling with your boys! Thanks for the end of year interview.

Jan 01, 2014

Happy New Year to you and your family and thanks for writing the hands-down best blog ever ever ever.

Jan 01, 2014

You really do seem like a lovely person. Happiest of New Year's to you! Also I loved Life After Life and it makes me happy that you also liked it.

Jan 01, 2014

Happy New Year, Holly. So glad to hear from you whenever you are able to write. I'm so happy for you and Sean and Hugo. Happy 2014!

Jan 02, 2014

This was awesome and solidified my girl crush on you.

Jan 02, 2014

Have a delightful, calm, and creative 2014 Holly! Thanks for recapping yoru year!

Jan 02, 2014

Happy New Year!

I have a Pachelbel's Canon in D video you might want to watch. It's all I could think of when you mentioned it. Knowing your lack of time: It's a comic RobP and his relationship to this song. It starts out a bit slow...but you'll see what I mean and how you might be able to open it up to other songs, really: http://youtu.be/JdxkVQy7QLM

Wacky Mommy
Jan 02, 2014

It was Glenn Gould for us, inventions (Bach). Happy year of the horse to the 3 of you!

Annie D
Jan 02, 2014

So nice to read your New Year interview....but such a shame your family scratch at the door to be fed these days ;) All good wishes for 2014 :: mummyhood is the best!!

Jan 02, 2014

Oh, sooo sorry about the Pachelbel's Canon. That is the one piece of music I think I could live quite happily without ever hearing it again. Blech. (That said, cool that there's something that gets the baby to settle down! :) )

Happy new year, Holly!

Camels & Chocolate
Jan 02, 2014

Re: #10, did you so quickly forget your near-trip to the emergency room? Yes? Maybe that concussion was more lasting than you thought...

Miss you, friend! Hope to see Hugo again in 2014. And, OK, you, as well (packaged deal and whatnot).

Jan 02, 2014

I've thought of your pregnancy and birth reports often of late as our daughter-in-law is approaching month 3 of complete bed rest and our fingers remain firmly crossed that she too will be producing a happy and healthy little boy for us to love on one of these days. Hugo is such a doll, and so very lucky to have found you to be his parents. (I know I said that at least once before, but it definitely bears repeating) Much love and every happiness to you this beautiful new year, Holly!

Chris G
Jan 02, 2014

So glad I stumbled over here before going to bed. I love your voice and the recap was nice. Its great to hear from you whenever you write....I really think writing a book is in your future. You and the boys have a Happy 2014

Jan 03, 2014

I've been reading since 2005 or so, and I just wanted to say: thank you for not going crazy with advertising, sponsored posts, product reviews, or over-promoting yourself. Your genuine love of writing about your experiences is what keeps me coming back for updates. And it's why I started reading blogs in the first place.



Lisa Y
Jan 03, 2014

I waited far too long to get an epidural having my first daughter and by the time the anesthesiologist came in, I would have given him my car, my house, AND my hand in marriage. I think that spreading numbness was the best feeling I have ever not felt in my entire life.

Being a little farther down the motherhood road (my youngest is three) I am excited for you and all you'll experience with Hugo in this year ahead. Sure, the teething stinks but they just get happier and happier until at about 11 or 12 months they are just little balls of pure joy. I always wished I could freeze mine there, but three, four, and five are pretty great too!

Jan 05, 2014

Happy New Year Holly and clan! Glad to hear all's well with the wee bairn.

Liked your list, all except the movie-going thing. I've basically gone completely off movie theaters, because even if there's a movie that's actually worth seeing, say once in a century or so, the idiots in the theater ruin it for me.

Cell phone call takers, texters, people who inexplicably pay for tickets and snacks and then spend two hours talking to the person next to them instead of watching the movie, people so sick they should be in a hospital coming to the theater so they can sit right behind me and cough phlegm into my hair and infect me with whatever disease they've got, people who inexplicably get up and leave the theater and then return to their seats every single time a really important scene in the movie is taking place, people who bring non-theater approved snacks from home that have cellophane bags that crackle loudly every three seconds when they reach inside... and that's not even mentioning psychos strapping themselves up for the apocalypse and shooting randomly into the audience.

With the advent of really great home theater setups, flat screen TVs, and sound systems that could drown out WWIII, there is absolutely no reason I can think of why a movie in a sticky-floored theater full of annoying people would be preferable.

Whew - here endeth the rant! Didn't realize all that was bottled up inside, just waiting to fly out into the ether.

Glad to hear from you again... hopefully 2014 will be the year of longer naps and sleeping all the way through the night, and we'll see you around here more often!

Jan 06, 2014

I went back and read your 2012 post which led me to your "I like big book and I cannot lie" post - http://nothingbutbonfires.com/2012/01/i-like-big-books-and-i-cannot-lie -
If you ever have a chance to do another one of these I'd love it. I got a lot of book inspiration from this post (just placed a library request on a few I missed too!)
But I seriously know what it's like to be a sleep-deprived new Mom (my daughter just turned one in Dec.).
Cheers to 2014!

Jan 06, 2014

Happy New Year! And hey, if you've already got Hugo trained to scratch at the door to be fed, you're ahead of the game!

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