So why have I waited until the second week of 2011 to review 2010? I could say that the extra week gave me additional time to look back on the year and process what happened. Or I could say that since the Cutlet had her six month birthday last week, it also allows me to incorporate some more lessons learned from her first six months.
Of course the real reason is because I’ve been busy at work and I’ve been writing some other stuff, and I haven’t had the necessary time.
So now that I found a few minutes to spare, I’ll take a look back at 2010, and include some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Lowlight of the year (Non-baby division): The Snowpocalypse
I’ve talked about this before, but at this stage of my life, I no longer find large amounts of snow to be an enjoyable adventure. Instead, it’s become an infuriating inconvenience.
During the Snowpocalypse of 2010, many of my friends had a great time. They had off from work, went out and had snowball fights and then drank themselves silly at bars. Under different circumstances, we might have had similar fun too.
Except that we live near an above ground Metro station that closes down when there’s heavy snowfall. So we couldn’t really go anywhere. And we lost our electricity, so we were stuck in a cold condo with no electronic entertainment. And of course, Mrs. Cutter was pregnant, so she couldn’t walk long distances in the snow, or go out drinking.
So yeah, the Snowpocalypse kind of sucked for us.
Highlight of the Year (Non-baby division): Winning a kickball championship
I’ve played sports for most of my life, from my early days of youth soccer to my current days of adult kickball. I’ve been on quite a lot of teams over the years. And yet somehow, I had managed to never be on a team that won a championship.
Sure, I was on some good teams, and I had a few teams win regular season titles, but any time there was a playoff, my team came up on the losing end at some point.
On the bright side, when I was in fifth grade, I won my synagogue’s youth chess tournament! So it wasn’t like I was a complete loser. Just maybe I wasn’t destined to win in athletics. (And to think, my mother wants to throw out that trophy from the chess tournament)
I played on two different indoor kickball teams last winter, and both of them made it to the championship game so I would have the opportunity to win not one, but two titles! Sadly, my first team got beaten rather badly, and I had to settle for being runner-up. (I’ve dealt with that before. My kickball teams are quite proficient at losing in the championship game)
But thankfully – despite my relatively weak performance – my other team came through.
For once, I got to be a part of a jubilant celebration. For once, I got to wear a shiny medal. For once, I got to carry a large shiny trophy around, and then later in the night, drink beer out of it. It was a glorious time.
Mrs. Cutter wasn’t quite as happy when I brought the trophy home, but I keep assuring her that it will look great in the rec room of our future home.
Best TV Show of the Year: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Have you ever watched a TV show, and wonder if the writers wrote a particular joke just for you? This has happened a couple of times for me. Once was on Family Guy when Peter decides to shave Quagmire’s cat. I don’t think anyone in America could have possibly laughed harder at this than Squinty and myself.
Another moment happened recently during Always Sunny’s Christmas special when they made a Von Hayes reference.
I’m sure that most of the people watching had no idea who they were talking about. Mrs. Cutter certainly did not. As a Phillies fan who grew up in the 80s, I found it to be hilarious.
It’s just one of the moments that makes this show great. On just about every show, you can see exactly where the plot is headed, and yet, they still manage to make it funny with jokes both subtle and not.
And if you’d like to learn more about Von Hayes, here’s a helpful link: http://www.startwedman.com/2010/12/always-sunny-and-von-hayes.html
Movie of the Year: Tron Legacy
Was there any doubt? I didn’t get to see many movies this year, so I didn’t have a deep pool of candidates from which to choose from.
And while I saw some good movies this year, (Inception and The Social Network were both good as well) I don’t know how I could pick against my most anticipated movie ever, when it (mostly) lived up to expectations.
Song of the Year: Power – Kanye West
After his detour into trying to sing, Kanye came back and remembered that his skills were as a rapper. And we got Power, which is an incredible song. So please, Kanye, no more singing!
As expected, the second half of my year was quite different from the first half. The first half was all about preparing for the baby and transitioning out of my old lifestyle. The second half has been mostly about trying to raise this child. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Lesson learned: Giving up drinking is not that difficult
I decided to stop drinking upon the birth of the Cutlet. There were a few reasons for this, but mostly it comes down to not wanting to make an alcohol fueled mistake now that I have another human being depending on me.
I wasn’t sure how easy this would be. For better or worse, my social life has been based around alcohol and bars for the past 14 years. Would I be able to still socialize if I wasn’t drinking? And would I be able to maintain my sobriety while socializing?
Aside from a few gulps of wine here and there (I’m not an alcoholic, so the occasional sip isn’t going to do me harm) I’ve been able to stick to it.
My diminished social life has made it much easier. Mrs. Cutter and I aren’t going out and partying every week, so there’s much less opportunity for me to drink. And typically when we do go places, someone has to drive. So my opportunities to drink are lessened.
Plus, I was never someone who drank because they liked alcohol. I would drink because that’s what people do when they socialize.
If I’m ever tempted, I can also remember that hangover or not, the Cutlet is going to be waking up in the morning, and somebody is going to have to take care of her.
Lesson learned: The Cutlet may have a future in opera
I’m sure that every parent thinks their baby cries a lot. But I’m telling you, the Cutlet not only cries a lot, but she almost seems to actually enjoy doing so.
Apparently, the Cutlet is not one to quietly suffer. No, when she is unhappy, she let’s the world know about it. And when she’s really upset, she releases an unholy sounding loud, high pitched shriek. I don’t know how my child has such anger in her, or why she is so high pitched, but if there are any “loudest baby” competitions out there, I think I will have her compete.
Lesson learned: A sleeping baby is wonderful
While we can complain about the Cutlet’s crying habits, I certainly can not complain about her sleeping habits. She sleeps long, and she sleeps soundly. I guess all that crying really tires her out.
A couple of months ago, we had made the mistake of overreacting to the sounds she makes in the night. Then we realized that like most people, she sometimes wakes up in the night. But she’s shown the ability to go right back to sleep without any help. Once we realized this, we turned down the volume on the baby monitor, figuring that if she was really upset, we would hear her. (Remember that she’s the loudest baby EVER)
As a result, Mrs. Cutter and I have also been sleeping well. And that is a very, very good thing.
There are also times during the day when she takes naps. During those times, I sometimes let my guard down. I start to think, “This is nice. Just a quiet afternoon at home. Not a worry in the world.” And just as I’ve started to relax, I’ll hear a cry, and be quickly snapped back into reality.
Lesson learned: Time is valuable
With a baby, free time is a luxury. Maybe some babies are content playing by themselves. The Cutlet is not. She can play by herself in her chair or exersaucer, but she seems to always want to verify that one of her parents is watching her. She’ll start to cry out until we acknowledge her, and then when we do, she smiles brightly at us.
While that may be very adorable, but it also means that as long as she’s awake, someone has got to be paying her some attention, or else we’ll probably hear some crying.
Side note: This may actually be our fault. We might be too quick to attend to her, and because of it, she isn’t learning how to self-soothe. It’s possible that we’re overstimulating her with our attention, which causes her to sometimes go into fatigue related tantrums on the weekends. Sigh…I wish these things came with instruction manuals.
Anyway, we’ve learned that free time can absolutely not be wasted. If we’re not taking care of her, we pretty much need to be cleaning something, fixing something, or buying something. Which leads me to…
Lesson learned: Babies are expensive
There is a never ending parade of items that you have to buy for babies. Every time you turn around, the Cutlet has outgrown something. This usually means that newer items must be purchased. And this usually results in a trip out to Buy Buy Baby.
Buy Buy Baby should have a big sign at the entrance saying “Nobody gets out alive.” There is no such thing as a quick, easy, or most importantly cheap trip to this store.
Sure, you might walk in with the best of intentions, thinking that you’re only picking up one item. But then Mrs. Cutter realizes we need more bottle liners. And we could use some extra diapers while we’re at it. And look! That’s a good price on baby food. We’d better get some.
By the time you’re done, you’ve got a basket full of stuff, and you start to think it might be easier to just have your paycheck directly deposited into Buy Buy Baby’s account.
We have learned that we can’t fall into the trap where we buy the Cutlet an outfit because it is “adorable.” Every piece of clothing for a baby girl is adorable. For us to buy it, it needs to be both adorable and necessary.
Lesson learned: Conversations can be more difficult
When non-parents ask how the Cutlet is doing, I wonder how token of a question it is.
I’m guessing they want to hear quick answers like “She’s good. Weighs 20 pounds now,” and not more detailed responses like “Well, the first ointment we tried for the diaper rash wasn’t working so well, so we had to try a new brand,” or “She’s spitting up all over the place. Half of my clothes are ruined.”
And I’ve found that even though I don’t want to be one of those people who only talks about my child, sometimes I can’t help but bring her up. When you’ve got something that occupies about 75% of your brain power, it can be difficult to think about much else.
I sometimes tell people that I’m not used to having normal conversations with people, and that I’d probably communicate better if they started screaming in my ear. Thankfully, nobody has taken me up on this yet.
Lesson learned: Despite the price in time, money, and hearing, having a child is indeed worth it
Not much more that I can say. Hope everyone had a good 2010, and here’s to a good 2011!