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?

10 Tips for Habit Trackers

If you’ve ever checked out Pinterest or Instagram for BuJo inspiration, you’ve seen lots of examples of habit trackers folks have created for themselves. But, with all of that inspiration comes a bit of decision-paralysis. How do you choose what to track? How much is too much? Here’s ten things to keep in mind when setting up your own habit tracker.

  1. Track positive steps over negative ones. You’re more likely to be motivated by “Veggies as main dinner side.” rather than “No carbs at dinner.”
  2. Don’t track too many items. You’ll find yourself totally overwhelmed, trying to keep up with everything. Your tracker will also wind up being so large you’re likely to go crazy drawing it out.
  3. Include easy wins. Ever made a to do list with things you already did on it, just to make yourself feel like you’d accomplished something? Include something you’re likely to do, anyway, even if you didn’t have the tracker. It’s not fair to include “Made bed” if you already do it 90% of the time, but include things you do most, but not all days.
  4. …and stretch goals. No use tracking all of the habits you already have! Track some things which will need to remind yourself of on a daily basis.
  5. Consider tracking things which are not habits, per say, but things like “Low anxiety day” or “Migraine” or your cycle. You could also track your mood, helping you to figure out how you figure out how your habits impact your mood.
  6. Resist the urge to change the habits you track each month. This may sound appealing, but most of us needs to focus on habits month after month to make them stay. If you feel you’ve mastered a habit, pull it from the tracker, but don’t remove things you only did only some of the time, assuming they’re still important to you.
  7. Review your list every morning (or, if you’re not a morning person, before you go to bed). Every day. It’ll help remind you what’s important and keep your habits in the forefront.
  8. Make your tracker pretty. I know, I know. The habit tracker is really about the tracking part, not the aesthetics, but having a pretty tracker will help you to use it more. Because don’t we all want to look at something that’s visually appealing?
  9. Ensure each item on your list is measurable. Yep, goal-making 101. Record 30 minutes of cardio rather than simply exercising.
  10. Resist the urge to wait until the beginning of the month or week or you get a new notebook. You can start on a random Thursday afternoon. Think of it as a dry-run for a time you feel important enough to get started.


In case you need some inspiration or ideas:

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!


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?

Stash Enhancement (of the Stationery Variety)

This weekend, I sort of fell into a hole of stationery. It started at Michaels then continued at Target and the local Korean store.

Above: Washi tape tube (Michaels), PaperJoy 0.7 gel pens in bright colors (Target), hediwapp travel-themed stickers (Michaels), metal charms (Michaels), and nice pencil (Target).

I have to show off the stickers, because they are really awesome.

I’m hoping to use this when we go on trips, big or small, to spruce up what is usually pretty boring recording of our adventures.

I decided to be fancy and show you guys all of the washi and what the pens – and pencils – look like in my MTN. The InkJoy gel pens are super smooth and have great ink lay down.

I put one of the charms on my MTN right way. Think it perfectly expressed where I am right now, trying to enjoy everything that my life is right now.

Last, but not least – part of my purchase at the Korean stationary store. A pair of these adorable notebooks.