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?

Week in Review: 22-28 July 2018

Yes, I’m back. I’ve taken an assessment of all that I have going on in my life and decided that blogging can fit in. A few things got taken off my plate to accommodate it (regular letter-writing, most notably) and I’m pretty confident I’ll be sticking with this for awhile. So, let’s get going, shall we?

Life of Lizzie

This week, she picked up a habit of saying, “Get it?” Except she’s not using the typical application of saying it after a joke that didn’t land well, but for just about any declarative statement. “I had a Popsicle today. Get it?” “I want to wear this dress today. Get it?” Once I figured out it didn’t mean she had tried to make a joke, it made everything make much more sense.

The non-allowance allowance experiment continues. This last week, we owed her two week’s worth, $8, and she decided to spend it on the fish-catching came that I remember from when I was a kid. Turns out, it’s pretty hard for her so she quickly forbid Matt and I from playing and chose to play it by herself for quite awhile the day she got it. I need to encourage her to try again so she doesn’t forget about it entirely. Maybe we’ll even be allowed to play with her again.

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On Thursday night, I took her out for a special “date” so she could have extra time with me before I was gone for the weekend. (More on that later.) The original plan was to wander around the toy section at Target then go to Chick-fil-a. We did wander Target very, very slowly. After she got her game, she insisted we get 1) Cheerios – “they’re for the weekend” and 2) crazy-shaped Annie’s boxed mac and cheese. I will admit I pushed her to the mac and cheese rather than going out as I’d had Chick-fil-a for lunch and it was going to start pouring soon.

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(Yeah, that’s her feet under a toilet stall door. She does this anytime I need to do my thing, to make sure she stays close. Very literal interpretation of “I need to be able to see your feet.” I try not to think about the fact she’s got her face pressed up against the door.)

On the Needles

Most of my week was spent knitting – then pulling out and re-knitting the Campside shawl from Alicia Plummer in Berroco Ultra Wool DK in the Heather colorway. More about what happened with the first attempt in a bit. The second attempt is going really well and I’ve only got the final pattern of eyelets then the ribbed border to go. This will be given to a coworker who enjoys a muted color palette – and is opening her house to our team to watch Spaceballs next Friday.

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I’ve also made a tiny bit of progress on the Vestigial socks in Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio Sock in the Parkland colorway. I like the pattern plenty but haven’t been in much of a sock mood. These will be my on-the-go project next week so I can make some real progress towards completion. The recipient lives here so obvious doesn’t need them for quite awhile but I hate having something hanging over me like this. (I’ll post a pic next week.)

Adventures and Discoveries

Yesterday, we went to DC for the first time in months to see a special exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. Lizzie was very impatient on the walk from Archives to the museum but happily walked through the exhibit with Matt on Dutch paintings of watercraft. (I stayed in the courtyard and knit on the socks in peace.) We were all very hungry at that point, so we went to b DC, a burger place. Lizzie didn’t eat almost any of her mac and cheese, but Matt and I really enjoyed our burgers and sides (tater tots for me, truffle fries for him). She really wanted to see the butterfly exhibit at the National History Museum but the line to get in was, no kidding, two blocks long. Guess everyone else was happy to finally be out of the house, too. Amd, you know, tourists. We promised her we’d get back to see them in the fall. I, of course, was too busy sweating and avoiding people to take any photos.

 

Oye. Ugh. Sigh.

Several things didn’t go so great this week.

My trip to Cleveland for a friend’s baby shower got cancelled due to a traffic control issue and no available flights that would get me there in time. I got a refund and immediately spent the money on a new watch and sock yarn from Miss Babs. Thankfully, I found out hours before I went to the airport and the United folks were great in trying to help me fix things.

It rained almost all week. Lots and lots and lots of rain. The immediate issues of cabin fever, getting soaked, and needing to carry an umbrella everywhere were easily dealt with. Harder was the water that came into our basement and wet our carpet when the outside drain was clogged with dirt. Thankfully, our cleaning lady discovered it after a few hours so we were able to unclog the drain, get the water up with a shop vac, and finish drying it out with a fan pretty quickly.

And I pulled a very Angela move at one point and left my badge inside my work area when I went out of it to use the restroom. Thankfully, someone was coming out very soon after who went and got my badge from my desk for me. I almost never take the thing off, too.

 

A Better Me

This was week two of my combination Weight Watchers restart and gluten, dairy, and soy elimination diet. Almost no headaches, at last! No real signs of improvement, health-wise but it’s only two weeks in. Lost 3.6 pounds since last Sunday. Had some issues actually eating enough points; turns out most of my points before were eating all the cheese and bread. This whole thing resulted in a few great culinary discoveries: almond-milk lattes, spicy eggplant dip, rediscovery of yumminess of Mojo chicken on the grill, Wegmans chicken tortilla soup.

 

On Tap

  • Kid’s birthday party at the community pool
  • DC Pen Show,
  • Likely shawl FO and Vestigial socks FO

 

Have a great week!

Personal Commandments

I mentioned before that I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, during my commute. She took a year of her life to actively work on being happier, by choosing overall “commandments” to live her life by, as well as a few concrete things to focus on each month. 

While I do not have the attention span for a year-long project, my giving up on One Little Word no later than April each year is proof of this, I do want to work to apply the ideas she has. 

I started with not the questions she listed on her site, but with creating my own set of personal commandments. (She wrote about it here, where you can also browse what many others wrote for themselves.)

  • Think before you speak. 
  • Be authentic. 
  • Go with the flow. 
  • Comparison is the thief of joy. 
  • Take care of yourself. 
  • Write it down. 
  • Less is more. 
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. 

What are your personal commandments? What things do you need to remind yourself of as you go through your day?

Not Enjoyable

I learned something about myself today. Nothing really earth-shattering, but important. I keep doing things I don’t actually enjoy. And, worst yet, keep doing them despite the fact I *know* I don’t enjoy them.

Today, for example. I was ahead on my hours at work so, great, I could leave early and do whatever I wanted for a few hours. First, I’d go to the mall and look for some new clothes for work. Then, after an hour or two, I would come out and sit out in our screened porch and knit or write or blog or all three. It’s not too hot today and there’s a fan out there, so it’d be perfect, temperature-wise. I could even listen to whatever music I wanted loudly without bothering anyone. And Matt would be out of  my hair, too (and Lizzie, who is at her grandparents’).

So I went to the mall and wandered around. My big idea was to look for a couple of specific pieces…which I did not find. What I did find was that I was too warm for walking around and everyone and everything was getting on my nerves. So I left after less than an hour of wandering, despite the fact it was only 3:30.

Arrived home, changed into a comfortable skirt, grabbed my supplies – laptop, cold drink, notebook, pen, laptop, Echo Tap – and went out to the porch. Where it was too warm and humid and something was trying to bite me.

So, here I am. Annoyed with the world and with myself for being annoyed with the world. And it’s Friday. A Friday where I got to leave work early and the forecasted rain stopped early. Ugh.

I’m reading this book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. (Okay, I’m actually listening to the audiobook but that’s a topic for a different post.) She chose a single year to make a purposeful attempt to make herself happier. After a lot of research and planning, she worked each month to add a handful of new habits to her life, shown by science to make people happier.

One of those things that makes people happier? Not continuing to do things that make you unhappy but that they felt compelled to do because others enjoyed them. Literally the topic I heard about on my way to work yesterday.

Guess I’m one of those people who has to learn things herself.

Today showed me two things I don’t enjoy: shopping for clothing for work clothes and hanging out on the porch by myself.

Other people love shopping for clothing or being by themselves outdoors. Shopping for clothing is stressful for me because clothes are expensive, rarely fit me correctly, and are something I think of as really important to my happiness but then settle with. (I also feel constantly judged by salespeople as they almost always ignore me completely until I go to buy something. I dress very casually when shopping – more comfortable that way – and don’t tend to look like I can afford their wares, I guess?)

Being alone outdoors sounds lovely in theory, but it makes me long for more comfortable temperatures and seating options.

So, if I want to be happy, those are not things I should do. Anyone want to take bets on how many more times I have to learn this lesson?

How about you guys? Are you doing something you don’t enjoy but do merely because someone else likes it or because you’re supposed to enjoy it?