Tuesday, December 9, 2008


"You say it's your birthday / It's my birthday too--yeah / They say it's your birthday / We're gonna have a good time / I'm glad it's your birthday / Happy birthday to you / Yes, we're going to a party, party . . . / I would like you to dance [Birthday!"

I turned 34 years old yesterday. I received lots of birthday wishes and gifts and hugs and kisses, and I'm feeling really warm and fuzzy and yummy. Since we started dating, Dusty and I have maintained a tradition of staying up until midnight on the eve of a birthday to "ring it in", like your own personal New Year's Eve. So at the stroke of midnight on December 7/8, Dusty jumped up and down and said "Yay!", gave me a kiss and presented me with a lovely handmade card, as per our tradition. I waved my arms in the air, kicked my legs, and whispered "Yay!" I read my lovely card and then we all went promptly to bed. It was the most low-key Birthday Eve we've ever had.

This is the first birthday I can remember that snuck up on me. At the end of my Thanksgiving visit to my family, my mom piled my birthday gifts up next to my suitcase and it barely registered that my birthday was coming up fast. Usually, my birthday excitement starts building up at least a week before. I start singing, "It's almost my birthday! Not your birthday, but my birthday!" getting louder and more annoying as the week progresses. By the time Birthday Eve rolls around, I'm like a two-year-old who's had a sippy cup full of Dr. Pepper. I jump up and down on the bed yelling "Yay!" and singing, "It is now my birthday! Not your birthday, but my birthday!". I usually can't sleep for at least an hour after Birthday Eve celebrations because I'm too hopped up.

So what has changed? Well, on this Birthday Eve, I was sitting in the living room rocking chair with a soundly sleeping baby on my chest. Given the choice between FINALLY getting my child to bed and having my usual Birthday Eve, I'll happily dial down the hyper and zonk right on out. Even though we went to dinner with friends and celebrated my birthday with cake and gifts, the rest of the day felt like every other day. Diana and I slept in a little longer, but then we got up and it was just Monday. We played and napped and ate and went about our day like we always do.

I did, however, have the rare treat of talking for an hour on the phone with my Sag Sista, Mary, who is a fellow birthday enthusiast. She likes to do BIG things on her birthday and celebrated her birthday last week by going to Cuba. Mary is my hero. I realize this makes it sound like my birthday sucked this year because I didn't do a big thing like go to Cuba, but I think this is the point I'm trying to make: My birthday this year was HUGE.

Every birthday for the last four years, I've wished for the same thing before blowing out my candles. Last night, that birthday wish dug her wee fingers into my cake. I get to play and nap and eat and hang out every day with my birthday wish. How many people can say that? I ended up blowing out my candles three times due to some camera-shy candles, but I forgot to make a wish for this year. I mean, well, what more could I want? I guess I could've wished for world peace, but ohmigaw, like, that is SO Miss America. And we all know the tiara-wearing is the only good thing about being Miss America.

I can't remember where I picked up this quote, attributed to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, but I'm so inspired by it that I'll let it guide me to figure out my next few years' birthday wishes: "The criteria for success: You are free. You live in the present moment. You are useful to the people around you. You feel love for all humanity."

May all of you get your birthday wishes granted. Now I'm going to go have cake for breakfast.

"Birthday" by the Beatles. RIP John Lennon . . .

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kind and Generous

"You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving / For your kindness I'm in debt to you / For your selflessness, my admiration / For everything you've done, you know I'm bound / I'm bound to thank you for it"

Diana and I just got back on Monday from a week-long trip to visit my family. We were there to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday, my niece's christening, and, of course, Thanksgiving. Let me tell you, Interwebs, my family knows how to get our Thanksgiving ON. My mom made turkey AND ham; my sister, green bean casserole and yams; my brother, a veggie casserole; plus we had TONS of Pilipino desserts like bibingka, puto, sapin-sapin, and kutsinta. [I'm super hungry all of a sudden.] It's pretty cool that we got to celebrate Thanksgiving twice, one for each country. We have a lot to be thankful for this year.

First, I'm thankful that Diana was born healthy and is a strong, gorgeous, healthy, happy five-month-old baby. My whole family is absolutely in love with her. We almost drowned in cuteness when she was in the same room with her two baby cousins. I think that largely due to their influence, she sat all by herself for the first time while playing with her nine-month-old cousin. She also stood while holding onto her two-year-old cousin's toy box for a few seconds. I half-expected her to imitate her 12-year-old cousin and start squealing at the sight of Joe Jonas.

In case you're wondering, Diana's first-ever plane trip was relatively uneventful. She charmed the flight attendants and slept a lot, especially during the flight home to Edmonton. I tried to sleep a little bit, too, but it's hard to drift off when you're holding a baby on your lap. On each leg of the flight to Maryland, I was lucky to be seated next to a kind woman who helped me survive the flight.

Thank you, Lady in 23D, for holding Diana so I could go for a potty break during the flight from Edmonton to Chicago. I'm sorry she wailed after just three minutes, and I really appreciated your patience. Thank you, Lady in 15C, for being so quick at picking up my sweater when it fell off my shoulders during takeoff on the flight to Baltimore. I'm sorry I inadvertently gave your son an anatomy lesson, but he seemed satisfied with your answer that all I was doing was giving my baby milk. From my boobs.

Second, I'm thankful that Dusty and I are healthy, happy, and relatively sane. We continue to grow and work on our partnership every day. Becoming parents for the first time has thrown our lives into a tailspin, and our priorities have changed. We're getting used to the fact that our end-of-the-day talks have to happen in five-minute bursts while one of us is feeding or changing the baby, or making dinner, or folding laundry. Everything we do takes three times longer than it used to, so we do things as they need to be done. Leisure time for either of us is scheduled in advance, and leisure time for both of us is a rare and wondrous thing.

Thank you, Dusty, for getting up extra early every morning to clean up the kitchen for me. It's always a treat to wake up and make breakfast on spotless counters. Thank you for finally making a habit of reading the whiteboard in the kitchen. It took four years to get here, but you're doing it. Good job.

Finally, I'm thankful for the people who continue to be so good to us. This past year has shown us how kind and generous our fellow humans can be. My family, for example, sent us home with an extra suitcase of awesomeness. But gifts have also arrived from the most unexpected places. Old college friends, co-workers, even people we see or speak to once a year if we're lucky, have given or sent us books, toys, and clothes for Diana. Experienced parents have given us things we never thought we would need, but which have become indispensable. We would never have guessed we'd need a microwave bottle sterilizer or an electric breast pump, but our friends did. Sometimes, people seriously rock.

Thank you.

"Kind and Generous" by Natalie Merchant