Year in Review

I’ve written “most of this already”:, but in the interest of having a New Year’s Day post…

The year started off like every previous year, just working, working, working, lots of ideas and plans for the company and looking forward to another great year for the site. Gay was five months pregnant and I was getting anxious and nervous about being a dad and trying to figure out how I’d be able to concentrate on work yet give her enough attention. It turns out that was easier than I thought. More on that below.

We finished having the house painted, which took two months, and we were getting the nursery and her bathroom ready. Gay was buying all the furniture, baby carriage, car seat and clothes — the UPS guy was the only person outside of the family and circle of friends who knew a baby was coming. We knew it was a girl and we were picking names. Gay was spending less time working at this point and I was trying to keep busy working because I knew I’d be working a lot less in the weeks after she was born. I had no idea that it’d be months of hardly working! It turns out there’s a reason people get maternity/paternity leave, I always thought they were slackers.

In April, Havana Elle was born, happy and healthy. Seeing your baby born is one of life’s great experiences. People who had babies told me that and I always nodded politely and said “Yeah, I can imagine”, but I assumed it was just one of those platitudes parents have to say. She looked like an alien with a huge head and eyes and black hair and crying. I wasn’t looking forward to it and didn’t know how I’d handle it, but I’m glad I was there and I’ll never forget the instant I first saw her. It helps that they do a good job keeping the blood and gore out of sight and they clean ’em up really quick. Since we knew she was a girl, I could appreciate the experience without having to ask “Is it a boy or a girl?”, it’s enough to figure out if she has the proper number of arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, ears, etc. (She does).

Right after she was born, I took up the shortest-lived hobby I’ve ever had: cigar-smoking. I got 10 Cuban cigars, Cohibas no less, to give out to people because of tradition, but mostly because her name was Havana. Five were Robustos and the other five were Siglo IIs. I didn’t know anything about them, I just picked them out of a line-up on a web site. They weren’t cheap, the 10 of them cost me $350! But it was money well-spent, I loved those cigars! I ended up smoking four of them and only gave out six. I don’t smoke and have never liked smoking, but those cigars were amazing. I bought myself a humidor, a cutter, a nice lighter and, not wanting to make a habit of skirting the US embargo on Cuba, I ordered a dozen Dominican cigars of various brands. I hated them all. But I didn’t give up that easily. I splurged again and got a five-pack of “Davidoff’s”:, which are supposed to be some of the best outside of Cuba. I didn’t like those either. At this point, I’m an even bigger supporter of “ending the Cuban embargo”:, but until it’s over, I’ll have to confine my cigar habit to trips outside the US. And my humidor will be empty.

Gay’s mom, dad and aunts visited for a few days a few weeks later and I was an old pro at taking care of her. She cried and it didn’t bother me at all and the first few weeks in I was a way better dad than Gay was a mom, if I do say so myself. Then it all changed. The cry-eat-cry-sleep-cry hourly cycle was wearing thin. I was sick of waking up at all hours to try to get her to go to sleep or change a diaper in the dark. Havana and I were bitter enemies for many months. Now it’s safe to say that Gay is the better parent and I’m just the guy who helps out here and there when the nanny isn’t around.

In May we agreed to sell our company and by July, the deal was closed and I was ready to get back to work on the site that had been kept alive by our hard-working employees. Gay went to Spokane for her 20-year high school reunion the next week with Havana and I enjoyed a couple days of peace and quiet and alone time, something I get very little of these days. We went to Walla Walla for a weekend for Gay’s 15-year college reunion, 16 years after graduating (2007 minus 1991 equals 15 if you go to a liberal arts school), and we visited a few wineries.

Work was boring, our responsibilities were almost completely taken away and we were kept at arm’s length from the site. We could have worked for years doing nothing and earning fat salaries and enjoying good healthcare but we were both miserable. After eight years of loving your job and being excited to get out of bed in the morning, even a few weeks of boredom in your job and wondering why you should get out of bed in the morning, or worse, having to get out of bed to attend a conference call, was unacceptable. Our days were numbered.

In September we went to Hawaii for a week. Neither of us had been there before. It was relaxing, all we did was hang out by the pool with Havana and enjoyed the weather. Hawaii is like the American version of Bali to me, but the type of American that is supposed to be an improvement on the real thing and never is. But it was easy and sedate, which is what we wanted. The day after we got back, we quit our jobs.

Gay’s mom visited again for a week or so in early November and she acted as a fill-in nanny while our nanny was in Brazil. My parents made it out for Thanksgiving and to see Havana for the first time in person, and they also acted as nannies. Until then, regular Skype video calls were a great replacement for face-to-face contact — they could see her grow from the beginning thanks to Skype. As Ali G says: “Tekmology!”

Havana “can almost crawl”:, but if you hold her hands she can walk anywhere she pleases. She seems to love the freedom of being partially mobile. She doesn’t talk yet either, just makes the same noises like “Baaa Baaa” and “Maaa Maaa” (which I assume is “Mama”), she grunts a lot when she’s trying to crawl and she still says “Gack!” a lot. She’s even developed “an odd laugh”: She likes to reach out and pet the dogs. Ouzo puts up with it but Illy gives us a look like “Can you make her stop? I’m sleeping here.” She’s been eating solid foods for a while now, even adult food at times, and can hold her own bottle of milk and feed herself. She loves Cheerios and bananas for breakfast, peas, apples, pasta, baby food or really anything for other meals, she doesn’t appear to be picky. It’s all finger-food now, she’s not yet figured out the spoon herself. She sleeps through the night usually too, which is a boon to Gay, but I learned to sleep through the night (and her cries) many months ago.

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