Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2016 in Review

2016. What can I say? We, like the rest of humanity, are happy it's over. But it wasn't ALL bad. Much like Jennifer Anniston's "The Rachel" hair-do, it just had a lot of extreme highlights AND lowlights. But we're just going to focus on the awesome shall we?

Maxwell & the Evolution of Dance

Maxwell picked up crawling after 2015's Christmas break and was walking by April (at 10 months old!)  Once he started, he couldn't be stopped. He truly has no fear, with the exception being umbrellas and the fleeting internet sensation, "The Chewbacca Lady." Maxwell is truly a child, gifted in movement. it was only natural that he'd turn to dancing.

First came the "Donkey Kong raises the roof." An enthusiastic but primitive dual arm swing that he learned from us helping him "conduct the music" when at church. Then his booty got bouncing and we'd find him holding onto couches for support and twerking it out to Adele. As his balance improved he experimented with a gleeful pelvic thrust. This quickly evolved into the walk backwards into your legs laughing and bumping you with his booty and wiggling all over like Baloo the bear and the palm tree. He leaned into that wiggle and tried the other direction- a dramatic swooping, side-to-side which he finished off with a low, full-body head bob. If he get's really riled, he'll shriek and run up and down our hallway with just one arm swinging. We got him a little bluetooth speaker which he holds over his head and sometimes just on one shoulder like a boombox as he lets the music take control of him. We bought the one that was both shock absorbing and waterproof with adult only button control, planning for every type of toddler mayhem except for one major oversight: The classic sneak-it-in-the-trash when Mom's not looking, which is what we suspect happened to the first one.
Other than that, 2016 was the year Maxwell went from baby to toddler. Towards the end of the year he transitioned out of his aggressively trying to kill himself phase. Not only can he climb up crap but he can get himself down. We are very proud. However, our oven does remain knob-less and our toilet seat booted shut. We all lost privileges in that one. All Animals are "dog!" and dogs are the doggiest of them all.

On a more serious note, the thing we are most proud of Maxwell this year is his healing from his birth brain injury. Max no longer needs seizure suppressors and monthly EEG appointments and has passed beyond the dangerous watch period where the more serious repercussions would have manifested. We're very relieved to no longer have that fear looming over our heads! We'll probably do a few check-ups here and there to make sure he's doing well but we feel very blessed that the only thing we've had to deal with were hospital bills.
It took the entire year for bills to come in, get sorted through insurances, contested, redacted, go back through insurances and finally, just in time for Christmas, fully paid off. We officially own our child now. We like to say that he is our favorite, most expensive thing.

January-June, in which we find that making too many good choices if made at once is a bad choice.

Great choices:
  • Working full time (Tricia)
  • Being a full time student (Adam)
  • Being a parent
  • Law Review Journal (Adam) 
  • Working Part Time for a clinic (Adam)
  • Traveling the World (Adam) 
  • Having friends 
  • Community involvement & service opportunities
Bad Choices:
  • Doing all of those things all at once. 
We were so worried about depriving ourselves of great opportunities we started missing others, such as... eating well, or at all, living in a clean house, bathing. 

Anyhooz, life was nuts, maybe even Hellish but all the things we were doing were really great. It's like Death by Chocolate I suppose. And we had a balance set, even if it was the type of balance demo'd in those insane rock art pieces people leave on beaches.  
Adam would take Max for the first half of the day while I worked, and then go to his afternoon classes. I finished my work day while Maxwell took his afternoon nap. Adam would come home around 6 and play with Max or take him to get any groceries or minor errands we needed for the next day while I got dinner together. Then I'd put Maxwell to bed, we'd eat and and Adam would study while I did any housework needed. Then go to bed and start over. Weekends I'd run errands while Adam wrote papers for Law Review and then we'd work on our church service commitments: teaching primary kids and then Adam was the new president of the teenage boys organization. It worked but there was little room for error, like getting sick. which you can imagine, happened to us a lot under these circumstances. 
The reality check came in April when I was asked to be on a panel for the Law school to advise other spouses & partners on life logistics and general Chicago survival tips.  I found myself being able to say, "oh yeah, we're doing that" to waaay too many inquiries. Feeling dazed with this sudden realization we went home and bought tickets to Costa Rica. (another great choice.)

We dialed back. In June we got a friend to help out with Maxwell during the day and in July I stoped working and took over the childcare/housecare that Adam and I were splitting. 

Adam spent the summer working for a law firm in the heart of Chicago. Although working probably isn't the right word for it. Unless you count getting schmoozed at nice restaurants and hanging out at ballgames with clients "work." But it all paid off. He got an offer to join their firm after he graduates and passes the bar. And then they'll really work him. What really sold him was the jar of his favorite candies they had waiting for him on his desk on his first day. It's good to know Adam's soul can be bought for exactly one bag of sour watermelons.  
Fun Fact- Sidley Austin is the same firm Michelle and Barack Obama worked at when they met. I hear they tried to get him with the chocolate turtles. 

There was almost a two month gap between his Summer at Sidley and the new school year so we just played a ton. It was awesome. Then when school started up again for Adam, he was in his last year, had a job secured and was no longer doing law review so life was pretty chill. Basically we spent the second half of the year recovering from the first half of the year. We visited friends and family and were lucky to have friends and family visit us!

I interrupt this blog post for a quick and shameless plug for Chicago... Sure, we'll cram you in our 2br apt on a super luxurious air mattress but there's a LOT to be done, seen and eaten! So come visit!
Culture and Entertainment. Hamilton on Chicago Broadway (It was incredible!) Also top notch comedy shows like Second City and Improv Shakespeare! 

Pizza. Good pizza.
Not that crappy stuff you're eating, trust me. And this is just one of the places. There are more.
And not just pizza, Chicago likes to eat. 
Cubs games at Wrigley Field! (2016 world series champs!) 

Ok, back to our adventure highlights! 

Spring Break: ISRAEL
Overlooking the Dead Sea
A group came to Adam's school looking to take a few students on an expenses-paid vacation to Israel including amazing food and adventures to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Mesoda, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Gaza Strip, Spice Markets, The Mount of Olives, swimming the Dead Sea, and traveling the Judean wilderness via Camel to a Bedouin tent experience. Adam talked about it all weekend after hearing about it, incredulous and saying, "Why isn't everyone jumping on this?!" I said most people, like me, probably thought it was an obvious organ harvesting ploy. If he could prove he was legit and safe, he had my blessing to go. He ran with that response and had an awesome Spring Break vacation in The Holy Land (without us) and happily came back with both kidneys. 
Some men go to strip clubs when away from home, Adam went to the Gaza Strip. Not sure which one Tricia would have preferred.

Summer Vacation: COSTA RICA
Adam & Max to the left
It was a much needed vacation and Maxwell had a lot of fun too. Rainforests, beaches, smoothies, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, whales, dolphins, turtles, toucans, crocodiles, monkeys, scorpions, exotic waterfalls, zip-lining, and taking a cuddle nap with Maxwell in a hammock on the beach in a lime tree. 

Maxwell providing theme music with his coconut maracas.
Home life: CHICAGO

Maxwell was "Max" the king of The Wild Things for Halloween and it was adorable. 

Oh and Pokemon Go happened. Yay.