End of the year whirlwind

December is already a madhouse, but so much more has been going on than just the holidays. At our house, we don’t worry about Christmas decorating too much. In fact, the past six years my husband and I were married, we didn’t decorate for Christmas at all, aside from putting Christmas cards from friends and family up on a wall. Michael would love it if we did, but he won’t miss it if we don’t at this point. Later, we will get into it, but for now, we’re too busy getting through the end of the year and preparing for his 1st birthday.

Oh yes…the 1st birthday party. I know everyone says 1st birthday parties are really for the parents, but can you imagine trying to forego the 1st birthday party? That would be terrible! The poor child, when looking through his scrapbooks (if the parents got around to one) would be like….”you didn’t throw me a 1st birthday party???” Can you imagine that poor child’s wide eyes, beginning to shimmer with tears??? AWWWW!

Oh no. Michael’s birthday was a foregone conclusion. In fact, I had plenty of big, splashy ideas for his first birthday. First — Disneyland! Then….the LA Zoo! Maybe…Travel Town! Later, I downgraded my plans and began looking into indoor play spaces, but those joints are expensive. I do not anticipate spending $400 much less $600 for Mikey’s birthday, so those were out of the question. After all, what did we need? A spot to put out food and eat. A space where Mikey could crawl around. A playground for older kids. Sounds like a park, right? But the wrinkle is that Michael’s birthday is New Year’s Day — a birthdate he’ll love later, but is a headache for his parents while he’s a kid. But we decided to risk it and do it anyway, so we’ve sent out the Evites and are making the plans for his 1st birthday shindig. Let’s just all pray the weather is nice, like it usually is for the Rose Parade!

Then, came the decision about the Christmas card. We were of course going to send a Christmas card, and while we were discussing it, my husband asked whether we would take a family picture. I at first said, nah, let’s just use existing photos, until I thought….wait a minute! It’s our first year as a family, we really should take a family photo. So I set up a quick photo shoot with my buddy Bryan Frank from work, and we took our first family photo. The shooting session was a crackup….when I take photos of Michael, I get great shots because I’m always making faces at him and doing whatever I can to make him smile and laugh. But with Bryan taking the photos, Michael just looked at him blankly like…..”what do you want from me???” It wasn’t until I got out of the picture and made goofy faces at Michael from behind Bryan that we got some adorable baby smiles. At any rate, we still got a couple of shots that were card-worthy. I found this great card on Shutterfly (which was not in the easy to find religious card section, by the way; I spent a few hours searching the entire stable of cards on Shutterfly to find this one), they were printed and sent to us in just a few days, and I sent them off yesterday. Yay!

Of course, in the midst of all this, there were some money….complications. We won’t call them troubles or problems, just complications. Turned out my company hadn’t taken all the disability payments out of my paychecks, so it turned out they were going to be taking a hefty chunk out of my last two paychecks of the year. I think I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw that email. This is how that works: The state covered the majority of my paychecks while I was on disability and later maternity leave, with my company covering the rest. In reality, what happened was, I got disability checks and paychecks at the same time, so it seemed like I was getting paid double! Yeah, but not to worry about getting paid double — when I went back to work, my company took out what had been overpaid. However, they didn’t take out enough, which is why they’re taking those chunks out of my last two paychecks, to get everything square before the end of the year. Whew.

And in the midst of all this, Michael is evolving into an even cuter baby boy. His curls are even curlier, his smile is even wider, and he’s now got two bottom teeth! He’s learned how to clap, drop things on the floor (we don’t pick them up right away, we just pick them up later to wash and dry in the dishrack) and grunt and growl. The grunting and growling is hilarious — he’ll play by himself in his playpen, just grunting and growling as he shakes rattles, bang toys together, whatever. Check it out.

Check out those teeth!