On microhistory and meal planning, part 7: New Year’s Day edition

This post is only partially about meal planning, but I thought the microhistory thing might lend itself well to a recap of 2015. If it were only about meal planning, I would have called this “Meal planning: gang aft agley edition” since best laid schemes and all that. Luckily, there were no mice involved. Though at one point I did drop a bunch of my bagged freezer meals on a propane tank in the garage, puncturing the bags with the sharp edge, which could have attracted mice if they hadn’t been frozen since they would have leaked everywhere.

Narrowly-averted mouse infestations aside, we were about 50/50 on following the meal plan. Mostly we ended up having to shift things around because of forgotten ingredients, but we did eat most of what we planned, if not in the order I’d mapped out. This organization thing is kind of a pain, but it definitely pays off when life gets in the way. Like when we came back from my parents’ place a day early because the small one apparently hates travelling now, and luckily we had a spare freezer meal for the extra night at home. Also, thank goodness we were only an hour away and could escape pretty easily. Lesson learned: no more overnight trips until she sorts out her issues.

Anyway, let’s look back on 2015, because it was an interesting year for us.

I’ll start with last New Year’s Eve, because it’s my blog and if I want to include a 2014 day then I get to. It’s not a democracy (I don’t have the resources or infrastructure in place to run an election, and also GET YOUR OWN BLOG). December 31, 2014 was both an ending and a beginning for us  – I guess you could say that for every New Year’s Eve. Or every day. But work with me here, okay? For us, this day’s ending/beginning qualities were especially pronounced because it was the day we moved to the suburbs.

While people everywhere celebrated the new year, we grabbed dinner at the only restaurant open past 8pm (because deepest, darkest suburbs), then unpacked and watched the fireworks explode across the river from the small one’s future bedroom window. I still haven’t fully let go of Vancouver and our old neighbourhood, but I don’t miss our inability to buy anything larger than a shoebox, and it’s so nice to have a house of our own. Plus the river trail (which, incidentally, is pictured in the header of this blog) is really peaceful and lovely.

Thus began a dreadful daily commute, two hours in the dark each way, because when you live in a new neighbourhood on the outskirts of a city that is not Vancouver, TransLink couldn’t possibly give fewer fucks about you. We eventually devised an intricately choreographed system of semi-carpooling and coordinating work schedules, which halved my travel time and also eliminated the 25-minute trek through an endless chain of big-box-store parking lots (because suburban planners build cities around cars, so why bother with proper sidewalks?) to get to our house from the nearest bus stop.

Oh, and I got gestational diabetes. Or at least I was diagnosed with it – I remain unconvinced that it was true, but it was a bummer anyway.

We started wondering what kind of world we were bringing our then-fetus into: it’s astounding how connected we all are in this modern (let’s give the microhistorians of the future a second here to snicker at my use of that word) age, when things like the attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the indiscriminate slaughter of black youth by American police officers reverberate so forcefully that they feel like they’re happening right here, to all of us. And I guess when you think about it, they could.

I finished work in April and spent the first week of my mat leave filling my freezer with meals, which in retrospect was the beginning of what became a full-blown meal planning fixation. Small one was due on the 19th and I was convinced she’d come early, but in the end I had nearly a month off before she arrived. In hindsight, I wish I’d focussed more on enjoying those last few weeks rather than trying my damnedest to get her out ASAP, but it was nice not to have to go to work, at least. Also, when you have a baby just before a heat wave hits … your freezer meals are going to last you a long time. Nobody wants lasagna when it’s a million degrees out. Another lesson learned.

And then the world changed. The whole world (because in a way it changes every time a new person arrives, right?), but especially ours. Just when we were thinking we’d have a May baby after all, small one proved us wrong again. And … there she was. In all her screaming, pooping glory.

Your world changed a little bit, too, because you wouldn’t be reading this if it didn’t happen. And then you’d be doing something else, like, I don’t know, washing your hair or something. Which might be equally satisfying (depending on how much you like washing your hair), but different from sitting here reading a blog post by me. There wouldn’t even be a blog post. I’d be at work, blissfully unaware of how much better life could be. Also, if you started reading this because you had a baby, then that baby changed my world too, because I wouldn’t be blogging at you right now if you hadn’t. Weird, right? I’m glad we found one another.

The rest of the year was a blur. I remember so little about those first few weeks – months, even – and I’m still not even sure how we got through them intact. We had a pretty major heat wave and the small one didn’t see rain for a good couple of months after she was born. We could barely take her outside since it was so damn hot. I resolved to have any future babies in fall or winter.

Wait, I do know how we got through it. With lots and lots of help, from lots of people. My mum came over once a week, even after she was diagnosed with cancer, because she’s maybe the best person I know.

And so much happened in the world. Beautiful things. Horrific things. Love won. And won again. People died. And died some more. Politicians politicianed. Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump. Stephen Harper. Justin Trudeau.

The refugee crisis intensified and I felt extra emotional about it because on my computer screen was a small boy, lying dead on the sand, while the baby monitor screen showed an even smaller girl, lying asleep in a crib, in the exact same position.

And the Facebook debate raged, as people we thought we knew speculated that this small boy and his family and people like them were threats to our comfortable lives, because they forgot what it was like to be anywhere other than in one of the safest, most privileged countries on earth. And because it hurt less to call them dangerous and shut them out than it would to realize that in our bones we are them. Because then we’d have to admit they’re every bit as real and multifaceted and boring and human as we are, and we’ve been letting them die in plastic boats along with their children. And we didn’t have a solution but we knew it must involve kindness, somehow.

In August I started writing in this wee quiet corner of the internet, and at first I didn’t tell anyone. Then I told two people. And then I told Scary Mommy, and they told everyone. That was neat, so then I decided I’m a writer.

I wrote about my baby, my husband, my cat. About acupuncture, my meals, and my hair. I railed against hashtags. Then I got on Twitter and started using them, because I’m a complicated enigma.

I was featured on BlogHer and Sammiches & Psych Meds.

I even started a Facebook page for my blog, mostly on a whim because I submitted an article to a website and it asked for my blog’s Facebook page, so I figured maybe I should have one (fun fact: that’s also why I started using Twitter. I’m extremely suggestible). Once I made the page I realized I was the only one who liked it, and I considered deleting it but I’d already submitted the article so I had to keep the page because if it gets published I can’t just have a broken link in my bio. All this to say … please like my page?

I started dreading going back to work. I wondered if I could avoid going back (spoiler alert: I can’t.) I felt grateful to live in Canada, where we can take a whole year off, and that I still have a few months to dread going back instead of actually being back.

I planned meals and thought a lot about the world. I stocked the freezer again in preparation for the busy butcher shop season. I became an aunt.

Our small one started crawling, sort of, and immediately set about trying to kill herself by making a beeline for all the hazardous items in the house. I decided to take credit for her lack of success in these attempts.

baby on stairs
(she said, feigning horror when really she was just bragging that her kid could climb stairs now)

I turned 35. That was a good day. On Christmas Eve we celebrated Mum’s last radiation treatment. That was an even better day. Christmas happened and that was nice too. Then the earth moved, just briefly, enough to keep us on our toes and remind us to enjoy the time we have (and also to get an earthquake kit). And New Year’s Eve was a festival of cheese, broth, chocolate and plenty of wine because we’ve all earned it this year.

So, hey, now it’s 2016. We’ve put away the presents, washed the fondue pots, poured the expired eggnog down the sink (we were all out of rum anyway), kicked out the last of the straggling houseguests, and dusted off our brains (which were covered with shortbread crumbs, mostly) for a new year. The sun is shining and we’re ready. No resolutions, but lots of resolve.

Let’s do this.

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Fon-doing New Year’s Eve right. Yep, I said that. Deal with it.

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