We’re in New York for the holidays and the past week has been a blur of visiting, appointments, and last-minute shopping.  I’m exhausted, in part because I’ve been moving at a New Yorker’s pace for the first time in five months and I’m a little out of practice.  My days have been occasionally triple-booked, like the day I had coffee with Squashedmom, did some errands, met another friend for lunch, went to a doctor’s appointment, met a third friend for a glass of wine, and then met up with my wonderful family, all of whom have converged on New York in December so they could visit with us.

I’d sort of forgotten it was Monday, and then I saw Stasha’s great list about “first things” in 2011–the topic came from Bridget at Twinisms. Stasha’s  list is short so you can read it and get back to the cookies/football/champagne/snow-ball fight.

This year has been full of firsts, including our first Christmas at my sister’s new house in New Jersey, where champagne has been flowing with great abundance. It seems to me that if we could get most of the warring factions in the world on a steady IV drip of Moet or Perrier-Jouet, we might solve a number of the world’s problems.  Just a thought.

Significant firsts of 2011, in no particular order:

1. My sister’s second baby–another daughter–was born in April. She is the second baby but I couldn’t be at the hospital for the first baby’s birth, so  this is a first. Now, in December, that tiny morsel is all thighs and cheeks and big round eyes. Delicious:

2. I rode an elephant.

3. We hired a cleaning lady, which is a bit like suddenly having a fairy godmother.

4. Liam started playing the euphonium in his sixth-grade band. Some children play the flute, or the clarinet. In extreme cases, maybe the drums. My son chose the mini-tuba, which is about as big as his torso.

5. I started stand-up paddle-boarding.  An hour paddling around on the flat waters of the Gulf in the early morning makes everything seem okay.  Santa brought me an underwater camera, so now I can take pictures while I paddle around.  I may start saving my dirham for my own board.

6. The fluffy July trees of Hyde Park got me so inspired I got myself some new kicks and started running. I’m a long, long long way from even running even a mile without stopping, but I still get an endorphin rush that (temporarily) squashes my desire to eat cookies.

7. Finally got through all eighty gazillion pages of Book Five of the Game of Thrones series only to discover that it’s not over. George R. Martin is writing another freaking book that I will probably have to read just to find out what the hell happens.

8. Caleb became a voracious reader. Not sure if that’s a “first,” exactly, but it’s pretty significant.

9 & 10.  Started linking this blog to other sites, particularly (duh) Stasha’s listicles and freefringes lovelinks.  (Hey! I won editor’s choice at lovelinks last week, too. What a nice holiday gift, don’t you think? Winning is like a little black dress: always appropriate and goes with everything).  Reading the writers on these blog lists helped me weather those first weeks in Abu Dhabi; I’m grateful to both Stasha and Erica M for creating these online communities.