2018: Year in Review

What a year it’s been. I’m sure I say that every year, but this one has been particularly full of ups and downs.

January: Made lots of small cross stitch samplers for friends and coworkers. Went back into therapy for a few months. Matt helped out with robotics, I did not. Made several trips to the local trampoline park with Lizzie. Started winter ballet class. Took one of our cats, Willie, to the vet to figure out what made him lose lots of weight – turns out he had liver damage which didn’t really have a treatment. (He’s less skinny now but whines all. the. time.)

February: Spent a weekend in Florida to see my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. Visited Johnathan Dickinson State Park for the first time since I was a kid. (Finally!) Learned how Instagram Stories works. Spent an entire Sunday by myself in DC.

March: Went on our annual ski trip with friends, probably the last one we’ll ever take to Davis, West Virginia. Threw a St. Patrick’s Day party with decorations Lizzie helped me make. Got a light snow.

April: Lots of letters written – over 50 in total by month’s end. (Note to self: Don’t do this again.)Ate our first dinner of the year out in the porch. Weekend in Shenandoah. Attended the Unicorn Festival.

May: Trip without Lizzie to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Ran out of craft projects while on vacation for the first time ever. Slimmed down my yarn stash quite a bit. Got a horrible eye infection.

June: Weekend at Great Wolf Lodge with family. Lots of trips to the community pool. Saw Sound of Music sing-along. Homemade super hero cape for Lizzie. Switched up anxiety / depression medication – so, so happy I did so. Got new coffee table and side tables for the living room off Reddit, of all places. Found out my dad had a new cancer recurrence and needed to start chemo, after all.

July: Family reunion in Edisto Beach, South Carolina. 13 people in one house for 4 days – whew! Went off dairy, soy, and gluten in attempt for solution to tummy and skin issues.

August: Stopped elimination diet due to horrible abdominal pain. After several tests, found out I have Crohn’s Disease. Spent a weekend in Shenandoah with friends. Start of birthday party season for Lizzie’s friends.

September: Lizzie started Pre-K (and loves it). Spent weekend in Florida for my birthday. Old friend from LA came to visit – went to Harper’s Ferry, National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and National History Museum during his visit. Lizzie took her first ballet class at school. Off to Italy with Lizzie.

October: Italy trip! Shenandoah weekend soon after. Had first colonoscopy and learned of colonic stricture. Found out my mom has breast cancer. Made our own Halloween decorations for the living room. Lizzie dressed up as Ariel (in a store-bought costume she decided she wanted at the last minute), Matt as Prince Charming, and me as a bee. Handed out candy with neighbors on our driveway, taking advantage of unseasonably warm temperatures.

November: Saw a surgeon to talk about stricture repair options; confirm with second surgeon that surgery was only valid course of action. Spent a weekend in NYC for a friend’s 35th birthday. Several cycles of feeling fine for a few days then miserable for a few. Had family and friends to our house for Thanksgiving.

December (so far): Lizzie turned 5! Had a right colectomy and am home, recovering and trying to use it as an excuse to fully relax.

 

How was your year?

How do you BuJo?

A few years ago, I saw someone mention something about Bullet Journaling. I know it was a few years ago because this mention was done on Flickr, back when we were all using it for photo sharing (gee, thanks, Yahoo!). The person just put a simple note under a picture of what looked like your basic to do list: Setting up my first Bullet Journal!

BuJo-what?

As I do with anything I hear about for the first time, I Googled it and came up with the official site. Watched the video and, well, judged the whole concept harshly.

I thought it was all pretty “duh” sort of stuff. Make a list of everything you have going on or have to do in a given day. Use some sort of a key to sort between levels of importance and tasks vs calendar items. The idea of writing a new page for every day made sense; you get a daily reminder of that task you keep not getting to.

I tried out the concept – the cool kids call it BuJo for short – for a month or so but found it a waste as I didn’t have that much going on in my life that I wanted/needed to track. A basic running list on a Post-it was fine. I basically forgot about the concept until about a year ago, when I started seeing about how to extend the concept, particularly Collections and Trackers.

(Collections are a list that follows a theme. Books I Read This Year. Places I Want to Travel. Recipes Tried. Trackers are a graphical way to stay on top of goals or count things. Mark off when you drink 8 glasses of water a day. Record that you met 10,000 steps. Keep track of your mood with color-coded boxes.)

How I BuJo

At the start of April, I pulled out a rather bright yellow Leuchttrum I was saving for who knows what special purpose and started to really, truly try out this BuJo thing people keep raving about.

I chose my bright yellow Leuchttrum because, well, it’s bright yellow (easy to see it in my bag!) and Leuchttrum products really impress me with the quality of their binding and paper. The hard cover, also, is great for my rough-and-tumble ways and the dueling bookmarks make it easy to keep track of, well, two different things. The one happens to be their dotted grid. (Yeah, my Traveler’s Notebook is up in the top of my closet. I got sick of it at some point. Not sure why, exactly.)

[Note: On these pages, you’ll see what look like water droplets. Just ignore those, it’s not my not very great way to smear way some personal info.]

At the start of each moth, I have my Monthly Spread. I tried to keep with the theme of pink = personal; blue = work, purple = holidays but that went by the wayside when I went to add new things to the spread and didn’t have the correct pen color handy. Still, it worked for my initial setup.

I have a couple collections in the very front – the April Hobonichi Challenge and the Yarn Love Challenge, both from Instagram. Another collection is in the back – books I’ve read/listened to this year.

Each day, I try to record what I need to get done along with what I ate. Note this is my notebook for just my personal life, so no work things in here (that’s in another notebook).

[Aside: You’ll notice I’m not great about actually getting anything done on my list but that’s more of a me thing than a BuJo thing. I have yet to get into the habit of actually checking my to do list once I get home – makes it hard to do things I can only do from home like finish a knitting project. Also, I don’t put down things like laundry or do the dishes, things I do every few days, if not daily. My BuJo is for keeping track of bigger things I tend to forget to do if I don’t write them down.]

I also take notes here and there without any sort of structure, right in my notebook. Things like my doctor’s phone number or the quote the pharmacist gave me for my new medication. (Now it makes sense why you don’t get a photo of that stuff, right?)

I’ll admit, it’s not a visually appealing BuJo, but it’s that way on purpose. My nature means I’ll just obsess over it’s looks until I decide it’s not pretty enough and chuck it aside entirely. With having it remain purely functional, I actually use it.

How Others BuJo

So say everyone has their own style would be an understatement. Some are breathtakingly beautiful, others plain. Some are extremely detailed, others more minimalistic. If you want some inspiration, I’d recommend the following folks on Instagram: bluelahe, craftyenginerd, showmeyourplanner, tinyrayofsunshine. Facebook also has a ton of BuJo groups.

How do you BuJo?

Weekend Coffee Share

In an attempt to find something to write about today, I’m turning to another idea from a fellow blogger, this time from Part Time Monster. It’s called Weekend Coffee Share. You write what you’d say to a friend if you were having coffee on a weekend afternoon; what’s going on in your life and/or what’s on your mind.

If we were having coffee right now…I would tell you that I’m happy that Lizzie is asleep. It’s been a hard day, dealing with her. She chose me as her favorite parent for the day so barely left my side from when I got up to when Matt her to sleep. She sat on me on the couch or snuggled right next to me until she needed to get ready. She insisted that I sit on her little stool right next to the tub while she bathed. I had to sneak awake to get dressed in another room – perfectly timed with her dad coming down stairs to ensure her distraction. She didn’t nap at all, constantly making noise until I gave up and let her out of bed. (Yeah, she still won’t get out of bed on her own, despite being in a Big Girl Bed.) She followed me around as I framed and hung new photos and re-arranged old ones. Then she did lots more sitting on me on the couch while Matt made dinner – dinner that wound up taking longer than he expected and she didn’t eat any of.

But, again, she’s asleep now and I’m happy to be able to do my own thing. No one on top of me or at my heels or talking all the time or demanding to watch Hibe (The Hive) or Maya Bee (Maya the Bee). I can just be. Or, crazy thought, go to the bathroom alone!

If you have kids that are older, you’d tell me that this phase ends, that she’ll choose Matt as the favorite parent or she’ll get too big to want to be held. And that I’ll miss her come Monday when I’m at work, alone behind my desk. Right now, though, it’s really nice.


If we kept talking, we’d probably talk about the election. If we have different political leanings, you’d mention it with something non-confrontation like “I can’t believe he won.” If we have the same political leanings, it’s probably be a comment a bit something more like “I can’t believe he won. What do we do now?” You’d seem either afraid or empowered to do something in response. Unless you’re my high school friend LL, you’d talk about donating to a charity that supports women, minorities, etc; if you are LL, you’d talk of participating in the Million Women March.

I’d laugh awkwardly, either way. It’s not something I want to discuss, with anyone, really. Not anymore. I’m no longer angry. Or in disbelief. Just sort of numb. Not yet to the point where I feel like I’m going to do much of anything but trust that things won’t be as bad as we all think they’ll be. But that I should, that I feel guilty.

I may point out that I can’t get a single line out of my head: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. That the line is to the tune from a song we sang in church choir when I was in middle school. We sang that song after serving in a homeless shelter in the middle of our annual tour, where we sang in other churches in our denomination. How I still remember how magical that day seemed. Like maybe we were doing something that mattered.


But you’re having coffee with me, I’d not want to linger on the topic for long. I’d make some joking sort of comment about how the election results weren’t all bad, that it’s meant I’ve had lots of energy to focus on knitting. That I finished the first sleeve on my sweater…and tried it on to find out that it makes my arms itch like crazy. I posted this on Facebook and a former coworker has already claimed it, though she’s much taller and thinner so it may be too big yet too short. The sweater is up on my desk in my office, in timeout.

Instead, I’m working on a hat for some coworker, using a pattern a friend designed (the friend happens to be Olga Buraya-Kefelian, the pattern Roku). It’s a sort of mustard but not yellow and going slowly with all of the ribbing but the 16″ needle I got this morning is making me a bit faster than the 24″ one I had on hand when I started. I want to make a whole box of hats, bring them into work, and let the guys I work with choose which one they’d want. Guys are always hard to knit for, all they want is boring hats. That’s why I’m starting with the yellow one.


What would you talk about with a friend, over coffee, this weekend?

Questions, Questions

Awhile ago, I nominated eleven other people for the Liebster Award. One of the few people who actually responded was Jim over at Keyboard Pizza. He posed some really great questions and, seeing as I had no idea what else to write about today, I decided to pull out his questions.

Would you prefer to be secretly incarcerated for a heinous crime you didn’t commit, or free but have everyone thinks you committed the crime? Why?

Free but everyone convinced I did it because you’d have far more freedom than if you weren’t actually in jail. People would hate you and taunt you (and some would probably try to shoot you), but you’d still have something resembling a normal life.

If you could eradicate one colour which would it be and why?

Brown. Because it looks like poop. (Yes, I am five.)

Which movie ending did you really disagree with and what would you have happen instead?

I know they’re based on books and I’ve never heard of a case where the movie gave the book with a good ending a bad ending but I really thought Harry should have died – and remained dead – at the end of Deathly Hollows Part II.

Due to radiation from a passing meteor you now have the ability to pause time for up to an hour (assume that object interaction could still happen during this time). What would you do with that hour?

I would take a nap. Lie down on the floor – or in my bed, if I were at home – and sleep. Squirms is a great sleeper but I still feel like I don’t get nearly enough because I’m too stupid to go to bed when I’m tired.

If you were a comic-book super-villain, how would you do evil?

Some sort a ray-gun type thing that would force people to speak in iambic pentameter. It would infuriate people but they’d be so much more interesting to listen to.

Who would your super-hero nemesis be?

Shakespeare, obviously. Our battles would be centered around him having people whose lives are like the characters in his plays recite their respective soliloquies and monologues to have their normal speech patterns returned.

Tell me one interesting piece of trivia or fact that you don’t think people will know.

I’m one of those people who loves random trivia and facts but can only remember a really lame one:

If you could live the life of any one film/TV character who would it be and why?

Paris Geller in Gilmore Girls. Because I would like to say Rory Gilmore but know I’m basically a slightly more relaxed version of Paris. And I’d get to be Rory’s friend. Though Connecticut is really cold in the winter and I stink at driving in snow. Eh, still, I’d pick Paris.

What’s your favourite thing about yourself?

My blue eyes.

Are you a tea or a coffee drinker?

Mostly, I drink Diet Caffeine Free Coke. I crave coffee for the taste and hot tea for the act of drinking it. Matt doesn’t drink coffee so I don’t ever make it at home. We got an electric kettle when we got back from Ireland, we both fell in love with tea while we were there.

Star Trek Holodecks? A much-needed invention or the end of society as we would know it?

Great invention until they become what they mostly were in DS9 – places to act out sexual and violent fantasies. I’d use one to go back to my favorite places without crowds (Alhambra, Sagrada Familia, Florence).

Fifteen Days

I’ve basically been radio silent for the last 15 days. I didn’t start out the month thinking I wouldn’t keep up the blogging habit – hey, I even made blogging a few times a week one of my goals! But, as usual, life got busy and stressful and I simple had no time, no energy, no desire to write. I did manage to squeak out a book review post becuase, you know, that’s easy. And I wrote a long post for friends and family about something that happened to me (more about that, later). But, yeah, I’ve been away. And now I’m back.

You probably want to know what I’ve been up to besides the usual stuff in my life like work and cleaning and attempting to remember to wear moisterizer. From the top of my head, here’s what’s happened since I last really, truly blogged:

  • We got a second opinion about Squirm’s strabismus that confirmed the original diagnosis so she’ll have surgery in a few weeks. (Right – must write an intro post to all of that. Another time, perhaps.)
  • Matt and I went on a weekend trip to Charlottsville without Squirms. We ate at some great restaurants, had some amazing wine and enjoyed it just being the two of us on a vacation. (This was also, I guess, our official 8th anniversary celebration.)
  • I finished knitting the February sweater (but still haven’t seemed it).
  • I made part of Squirms’ Halloween costume and started on the second part of it.
  • It got cold in DC. Then got warm again. Now, it’s in the 60s. I’m still waiting for Magic Day – you know, when, like magic, it’s cold and stays cold.
  • I spent the night in the hospital, getting lots of tests that showed nothing abnormal following a day of dizziness and a painful headache. (Turns out it was just a weird sort of migraine. Neurologist visit is in my near future).
  • Squirms wore shoes for the first time. Weird milestone, but she usually just wears socks or nothing on her feet. But it’s going to be getting cold – like, actually cold – soon and I wanted to get her used to the idea.
  • I kept really good notes in a notebook about what happened each day inspired by, of all things, the description in the second Outlander book of a small-village cleric who did the same thing. (Though mine is just bulleted notes vice real journaling like he did. Though I do plan to use December as my big journaling on paper month.)
  • My group at work has moved past the Forming and Storming phases and is creeping into Norming. (It’s a group forming model – Wiki page is here.) Two new members will be added in the next few months so the whole thing is likely to restart then.
  • Squirms has learned to pull herself up to a standing position using us and some furniture as a base. She also once made it onto the landing of the stairs (up one single stair).
  • Matt revitalized his sourdough starter and made an amazing partial whole wheat sourdough French-style bread.
  • We found out two sets of friends are expecting.
  • I lost 6 pounds, though much of that probably came from not eating much of anything that day I was getting the tests in the hospital. (Matt made me take this week off completely this week because “You were in the hospital. You probably shouldn’t go right back into a diet after being in the hospital.)
  • We made two different kinds of sausage for a party we’re having on Saturday. Another kind is going to be made tonight.
  • I cooked dinner twice. One meal was excellent – a frittata with lots of cheese and cauliflower. The other was only ok – a butternut squash pasta.
  • I went through the camera photos from September but haven’t done anything more to make her September scrapbook pages. Really hope my notes are enough for the journaling cards, whenever I finally get around to it.

So – what have you all been up to the last 15 days?

Questioning the Blog

Why am I here? Not in a philosophical “what’s the meaning of life” sort of way, but why am I blogging? I’ve got a million other hobbies (and, honestly, worries) to keep occupied, places to record my thoughts, ways to keep friends and family informed. Why here? Why public? Why now?

I answered a bit of this in my first post here but thought, perhaps, I’d expand a little. Plus, my mind is basically mush this morning (Squirms was up from 1:30 to 2:30 with teething pain) so I have nothing more entertaining or enlightening to talk about this morning. The questions are swiped directly from one of the blogging courses here on WordPress that I couldn’t find when I tried.

Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I actually blog publicly and keep a personal journal, though the later hasn’t had much that “here’s what happened today” type entries in quite awhile. My blog is to share things that are happening that I want other people to know about or otherwise feel I can write publicly about (think book reviews). My personal journal is for those things too crazy or not thought out enough or need to be held close for whatever reason.

What topics do you think you’ll write about?

Anything that comes to mind, really. I used to only talk about school and vacations and knitting, maybe venturing into other things. Well, I’m no longer a student so the topic of school will only come up when I reminisce. And vacations and knitting are very likely to appear. But also posts about Squirms (duh), living a DC suburb, food, books, memories from when I was little.

Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I want to reconnect with friends and family who I don’t see as often but also connect with folks who are not yet friends but are at the same point in their life as me or also love to write or craft. I think we could also use new friends and a connection to old ones.

If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Mostly a record of what happened over the last year, but also having a dedicated set of folks who I know are out there, reading my posts. The blog is equally for my benefit and for the benefit of others. If I don’t think people are out there reading, I’m likely to quit blogging entirely, losing the benefits I get.

So, fellow bloggers – why do you blog? Fame?  Trying to sell something? Recording your life? To practice writing?

Liebster Award

Apparently, I am award worthy. Wayne from Wayne is Weird (he really is quite normal, with a geeky streak) nominated me for the Liebster Award, an award for bloggers, by bloggers. And only those who don’t have giant lists of followers can be nominated as a way to spread the love amongst the little(r) people of the blogosphere.

liebster2

When nominated, you are to:

  • Thank your nominator (thanks, Wayne!)
  • Answer the 11 questions posed by that person
  • Nominate 11 people to answer the 11 questions you write

 Thanks

I’ll start with my thanks to Wayne. I feel quite honored that my blog, evem in its newborn (hopefully not premature) state, made your list of eleven blogs you’d like to highlight! I really enjoy reading about movies and superheros on your blog and hope others go and check you out.

Onto Wayne’s questions, which focus on movies…

Wayne’s Questions to Me

Wayne: What is your favorite film of all time?

Me: Mary Poppins. There is singing and Julie Andrews and a silly premise and dancing penguins. It made me want to have a nanny as a kid, because obviously all nannies are that awesome. (Yes, PL Travers hated how her film was adapted but I still love the movie.)

Wayne: least favorite film of all time?

Me: Being John Malkovitch. Matt and I saw it the summer we spent in California before we both decided to move there. It messed with my mind so much, between the half-height floor and the puppets and the whole mind swapping thing. Ugh.

Wayne: who is one actor that everyone loves but you hate?

Me: I can’t think of anyone I hate, though Tom Hanks seems to think he’s far better than he is.

Wayne: Favorite genre of film?

Me: Probably comedies because you always need a laugh. I like dramas but I’m not always in the mood to cry or generally be moved. Musicals are fun though I don’t ever think “Oh, I should watch a musical!” (Yeah, I know, I just said a musical is my favorite movie, but it still doesn’t cross my mind.)

Wayne: If you were to write your own script/story line for a film, what would the film be about?

Me: Hmm. Maybe about women in engineering where the women are neither stupid or total geeks with no social skills. Like an Office Space with a more realistic male/female ratio and updated workplace annoyances (Power Point presentations, people who text in meetings, and non working Keurigs).

Wayne: continuing off the last question, who would you want to star?

Me: Elizabeth Banks would be the lead because we were just talking about her this morning and I think she’d do great playing a more accurate engineer.

Wayne: Favorite film from the last 10 years?

Me: Probably Love Actually. I watch it almost every Christmas. It’s funny and sweet and has Hugh Grant and Emma Thomson in it.

Wayne: which actor would you kill to meet?

Me: George Clooney because he’s dreamy and seems like a genuinely nice guy. Wait, scratch that. Matt Smith (the eleventh Doctor) because he’s all that and a dork.

Wayne: What film has the best score, in your opinion?

Me: I love the score from the Harry Potter films. It’s so moving and fits the story perfectly. Anytime I went to see one of the movies, I’d get so excited as soon as I heard the opening theme with the chimes (or is it a xylophone?).

Wayne: What’s a trope in a movie you can’t stand?

Me: Someone who has promised to be in two places as the same time and, instead of just telling people he screwed up and double scheduled himself, he races back and forth between the two situations. It was a cute trope when I was nine but now it’s annoying because the guy won’t admit he messed up.

Wayne: are you following me on Facebook if you aren’t already? (find the page here) why or why not?

Me: I don’t follow you and now I feel pretty bad about it. But I follow so few people and things, overall, that I just don’t think about it. I will correct that shortly.

Nominations

Nomination time! I’ve picked blogs that I’ve mostly just discovered, with a few I’ve known about for years thrown in.

Love Plunge

wherever the sun is

Won’t He Do It

Frog me Knot

Stuff and Nonsense

Keyboard Pizza

Geek Ergo Sum

Tealight Taylor

Perfectionist Rehab (she just got back into blogging, go say hi and be nice, we’re related)

Hearts and Laserbeams

Unfrogged

My Questions to the Nominees

If you accept the nomination and challenge – here’s my questions to you. They, like me, are a bit all over the place, though all tie into creativity which I’ve been reading about a lot lately. I’ll probably answer, myself, at some point.

  • Is your day job creative or are you only creative outside of your job? Or do you not see yourself as creative at all?
  • What advice do you have for people to be more creative in their everyday lives?
  • How would you define art versus craft or are they the same thing?
  • If you could have any creative talent, what would you choose?
  • Who or what inspires you in your creativity?
  • What artist / writer / songwriter do you love but no one seems to know about?
  • When was the last time you drew something?
  • Do you sing in the shower? To family, friends, or the dog? In public?
  • What would you name your band if you started one today?
  • Expanding on that last question…what would be the title and topic of your first big hit?