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1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
Went to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Touched a whale shark.
Swam with hammerhead sharks.
Hiked to 16,000 feet up a volcano.
Threw a baby shower and became a sort-of (sort-of because we’re calling ourselves aunts, though we aren’t related at all) aunt to Nate and Shelly’s baby Owen.
Began to seriously contemplate giving Owen a sort-of cousin.
Earned my PhD. Officially became a Doctor!
Published a paper from my graduate work.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make an official New Year’s Resolution for 2010. Rather, maybe, the nebulous get healthy/stay healthy goal. And I think I’ve done pretty well. Mentally, I’m in a much better place now than I was a year or even two years ago. Physically, I’ve taken care of some healthy issues, really started exercising more, and have even lost a decent amount of weight. So all in all, I’d say I did pretty well. And frankly, I’ll probably make the same resolution. There’s always room for improvement.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yep, Shelly did! To a beautiful little baby boy on Thanksgiving morning. This is also the thing I’m most thankful for in 2010–that two of my best friends became parents to a beautiful, healthy baby. And that Owen is a wonderful baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though we worried a lot about John’s grandmother due to all the things that contributed to her prolonged hospital stay, which included a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism. But she’s doing much, much better now.

5. What countries did you visit?
Ecuador and the Galapagos (same country, but vastly different). Both were amazing.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
Health care through my job.
More financial security.
A larger living space.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Owen’s birth.
My fifth wedding anniversary.
My dissertation defense date.
My graduation ceremony.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Earning my PhD.
Getting healthy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
With the goal of mental health, I’m not answering.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw my shoulder out again on December 26th, 2009, and thus spent the first 3-4 months of 2010 re-healing it.
I was diagnosed with a fairly non-serious medical disorder that is now under control.
Mild aches and pains at times, especially when I took up running again.
But in general, pretty healthy, especially right now!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Baby clothes for Owen.
A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos.
Perfect Christmas presents for everyone. It took awhile to find just the right thing for each and every person, but I did! This is, quite honestly, my favorite part about Christmas.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and groceries and utilities and boring adult things.
Paying for my own health care for the second half of the year. Maybe I should have re-thought that whole graduating and no-longer-a-student thing. But it was worth it.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Owen’s birth.
Graduating with my PhD.
My new job.
Elizabeth’s residency here in the Bay Area, meaning she and Mark will continue to live here and we can see them all the time.
The San Jose Sharks pummeling the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Conference semi-finals.

14. What song will always remind you of 2010?
Black Eyed Peas “I gotta feeling”. (Was that even this year?) But it was a good year and a good song.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

A bit thinner. Maybe happier.
Overall about the same. And happy with that.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Scuba diving.
Running.
Exploring California like we always say we’re going to do.
But in general, it was a really good year just the way it was.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Not much. Complaining, maybe, but I think it was a good year. I like it how it was.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Iowa, surrounded by family, extended family, and in-law family. Laughing, cooking, taking pictures, sharing memories, gossiping, eating, staying warm.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Um, I didn’t watch much TV this year, honestly. Except for sports, like Sharks hockey and college basketball. John’s new favorite show is “Wild Justice”, which is pretty good. “Better With You”. “Better Off Ted”.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
“The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. Love it. Highly recommend it.
Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”, “Tipping Point” and “Outliers”.
Atul Gawande’s “Complications”.
I’m sure there were more, probably in the romance category, but none that come to mind.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Songs on the radio I could sing along with.
Handel’s Messiah, as always.
Christmas music, at least for the last month or so.
The group Cage the Elephant, who’s music is great for exercising.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I think I only went to see two movies this year. A chick flick with Elizabeth, though I can’t remember what it was. And “Eat, Pray, Love” with Shelly. Both were okay, neither were a favorite.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28. My dissertation was due to my committee about a week later, so I probably spent the day working on it. Went to dinner with friends, if not on my birthday, then right around that time.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
It was great as it was. For others, better health for John’s grandmother. Less heartache in the beginning of the year for my sister. A Stanley Cup for the Sharks instead of for Chicago.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
Comfortable.

26. What kept you sane?
John. My friends. My family. Scuba diving. Running. Graduating.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

Learn to be happy with who you are, or work to be who you can be happy being.

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1. I gave John the recipe for dutch babies, and thus he made me breakfast. Delicious, and he gets all the credit! Chivalry is alive and well!

2. Purchased and/or planned out the last of our Christmas presents. Including an incredible wallet on Etsy for Cara that should match her purse. Can’t wait to see if she likes it. Also, I’m thinking Etsy is going to be a very, very slippery slope.

3. Used the turkey carcass that Mark gave us (Elizabeth, being vegetarian, was uninterested in keeping any turkey leftovers) to make an amazing Post-Thanksgiving Turkey Soup. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, and let me tell you: it’s DELICIOUS! No extra salt or pepper or anything needed. Perfect as is. Though we did add some minced garlic. We’re already trying to figure out how to make it into a chicken curry soup. I’m thinking substitute chicken for turkey, half of the half-and-half for coconut milk, and add some curry powder and fish sauce. Should hopefully be equally amazing.

4. Made gallons of chili, also, and portioned out both soups into manageable portions. Enough for two meals for us, and several meals for Nate and Shelly, too, since we’ll take them half of each tomorrow. No sense in them having to worry about cooking meals when they have a new baby to occupy them! (Thanks again for the tip, Brat!)

5. Combed through all my recipes to come up with other things that make large portions so next weekend I can make them. I’m thinking chicken pot pie and enchiladas are next on the “bake and take” list.

Really, it was a productive yet fairly lazy Saturday. Just about perfect, especially when combined with wins by the Sharks hockey team and Stanford football team. Sadly, Arizona’s basketball team lost. Can’t have it all, I suppose.

Hope you’re having a great long weekend too!

Trivia questions:

There are three hockey teams in the NHL who’s names are not plural. Can you name them? (Admittedly, I got started on this from some blog a week or so ago that I can’t now remember, sorry.)

How about the NBA? How many and can you name them?

Or the NFL? How many and who are they?

And here’s some fun trivia for you, or possible trivia answers:

Hockey-related: Recently, the New Jersey Devils recorded the first home shutout since 1997 for a goaltender NOT named Martin Brodeur.

Men’s NCAA basketball-related:

The longest Division I men’s basketball game went five overtimes (Cincinnati defeated Bradley in 1981). The longest DII game went seven overtimes (Black Hills beat Yankton in 1956 for DII).

The record for DIII schools was just set by Skidmore v. Southern Vermont.

Here are some facts from it:

Skidmore set an NCAA all-division record with 69 points after regulation.

The combined total of 133 points in overtime is the most ever in a men’s NCAA game.

And finally…

The game had more rebounds than fans. 142 people came to watch, but the teams had a combined 166 rebounds. Another NCAA record.

Good for Skidmore and Southern Vermont. What a hell of a game.

I just planned out the next six-ish weeks at work, and it includes working about four of those six weekends. Including Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. Including Thursday this week. Not for long, but still.

I feel like I’ve been focusing so much on finishing up at the current job, and spending my free time either exercising or sleeping, that I haven’t had much time for myself lately. Probably why I’m also throwing posts together before collapsing in bed.

But here are some things I want to do, little things, when I have time time:

1. Finally write up my trip stories about Papua New Guinea, as well as Ecuador and the Galapagos.

2. Make an indentation on the stack of unread books on my bedside table. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of John’s comic books because the (a) don’t take brain power, and (b) I can read a few pages and put it down instead of getting sucked in and reading all night.

3. Work on some of the recipes that I’ve been reading and drooling over in the Fine Cooking that my parents send John for his birthday. They all look so fabulous and tasty, but the last thing I want to do when I get home at 7:45, sweaty from the gym and exhausted from the day, is start in on a big meal.

4. Find some new running routes, either by poking around online or by driving to some different locales and then just running. I know this kind of falls into exercising, but I’m thinking more in terms of the long, casual runs on the weekends. The ones that are about time and distance rather than speed, that are about getting out and enjoying the day rather than making it through a workout before the gym closes. Same goes for bike routes, though it’s getting cold so those are maybe a bit limited by weather, seeing as how they’re longer than a run.

5. This sounds silly, but catch up to where John is on a couple video games. He has a bunch, and I play a few of them, and it would be nice to, say, finish editions I and II so I can start on III, which looks awesome.

6. Declutter my house. It needs it and I need it. But then again, we’re looking to move in the next six months, so maybe I leave the decluttering for the packing and unpacking process? But I feel like I need some change in my living environment.

7. Spend some quality one-on-one time with various friends. For example, Cara. We see each other fairly often, but mostly with John and James in tow. It’d be nice to get in a girl’s night. Throw in Shelly and subtract one-third of the alcohol (she’s pregnant) and it’d be a pretty awesome time.

8. Go scuba dive for fun. I haven’t done this in Monterey in forever. It’s all been classes, which have their own rewards, but are not about me, underwater, blowing bubbles and making friends with fish.

9. Watch more hockey and college basketball. I’ve got to soak it all in for the next however many months before the summer drought (and baseball) settle in.

That’s it, off the top of my head, but I’m thinking I need to make some time to do some of this. Even if it maybe means a few less workouts. Or a few days longer at the current job. My mental health could probably use some or all of the above, just to make me feel happier and more centered and more grounded in my life.

1. My cat, who was the biggest Mama’s Boy until a couple days ago, suddenly wants nothing more than to cuddle with John. Instead of me. In someways it’s a relief from his constant neediness the moment I sit down, but it’s also a bit sad. My baby doesn’t love me anymore!

2. Work is making me so angry these days, mostly because I’m spending a ton of time correcting/working on some stuff that theoretically the person I asked for help should have done. And they’re the sort of person who you can’t yell at, or even tell them you’re angry, because they’ll take it personally and take retribution. And they’re in a position to take retribution.

3. Brussel sprouts baked in a bit of olive oil, some pepper and some salt are delicious.

4. My grandmother-in-law is back in the hospital, but doing much better, and they aren’t going to send her anywhere for awhile. Glad they’re keeping an eye on her!

5. John is going to Las Vegas for the day Saturday. I’m going to see family. We both win, in very different ways.

6. I need a good savory stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. My mom makes the best stuffing, but she says uses a different recipe every year. They all seem the same to me, and are so good.

7. I’ve been reading the comic Fable (highly recommended as a great comic story for adults), mixed in with the writings of Malcom Gladwell (interesting guy, great at getting a point across). Both a commentary on society in their own way. Both very good.

8. Tina Fey is really funny. Really, really, really funny.

9. In all the years I’ve bought running shoes, I’ve always bought them in some form of blue. My new ones are tangeriny-pinkish. I’m loving them.

10. (Geez, c’mon, I can get to 10, can’t I?) (Ummmmm…..) Peach tea is yummy.

11. Oh! Wait! Today officially opened the Stanford men’s basketball season, and Arizona opens tomorrow. Hockey and basketball are both back in my life–I love this time of year.

I’d just like to say I won my NCAA men’s basketball bracket group!

Granted, maybe not a whole lot of people in it, but I still won!!

Go me!!

Thanks, North Carolina!

The best thing to do with a long, hard, painful day?

(Note to self: Never do that much work in the containment hood after physical therapy!)

Sandwich it between a girl’s night out and a great day.

Wednesday night I went out with Cara for mexican food and drinks and some girl time, which we’d both been lacking lately, and it was just a lot of fun.

Then, today, I got good news from the chiropractor–when I first came to see her, she described the muscles in my neck as “solid”, meaning there was no suppleness or give, and she couldn’t feel my joints because of the tenseness. Today, she said there were tense areas, but the muscle is supple again–it gives, and she can feel joints. Thus, I’m getting better, at least in the sore back/neck area. Whee!

The other fun stuff is coffee with Sydney, who’s done with clinics early today, followed by basketball watching. Then I’m off to dog sit for the evening and weekend. This is the same dog we sat for last Thanksgiving, and I think it’ll be a fun, relaxing weekend.

Plus, it’s only the second full weekend John’s had off this year (and it’ll be at least May before he gets another one, given the April schedule), so we’re going to make the most of it. He has a job, so I’m not complaining too much, but geez, it’s nice to see my husband sometimes, you know?

The plan was to dive, but I think instead we’re just going to be lazy–do a bit of dog walking, a bit of gardening, a bit of house rearranging, and a bit of nothing. Okay, let’s be frank, he’ll be doing the gardening and house stuff, and I’ll be helping as best I can, but still.

All in all, a good set of days. It’s always good to balance the lows with the highs.

Hope your weekend is fabulous!

Arizona beat Utah, 84-71.

Other than a couple of tense plays when Utah got within 2 points, Arizona pretty much commanded the game. The whole game. They took off in the beginning and never really looked back. Just the way they should play all the time.

There may have been other teams better qualified to join in the Big Dance, but Arizona was put in the bracket, and I think they way they played showed that they deserved a shot. Which they got. Whee!

Pac-10 went 5 for 6. (Sorry, Cal.)

For us, next comes Wake Forest on Sunday. It’s a long shot, but who knows what might happen? (Or maybe Cleveland St can take out Wake Forest first and we’ll face Cleveland St? Yeah, we’re most likely, almost 100% positive, playing Wake Forest.)

And now we’re going to party like it’s 1997!

Just gotta find another hummingbird on Sunday, apparently!

EDIT: Cleveland St beat Wake Forest. Wow.

Arizona went 19 and 13 this year, and 9 and 9 in the Pac-10. They had some quality wins, but a number of not-so-quality losses, too.

Common consensus was that they needed to go far in the Pac-10 Tourney to make it into the NCAA Tourney this year.

They lost their first game.

So when Sydney schedule her house warming party for today, Sunday, from 3-8pm, I figured I’d have something to do to keep my mind far away from the Selection Show.

So we went, we drank, we ate, we played games, we talked, we laughed. We had a great time, and met some really fun people, as well as reconnected with some others. We met Sydney’s new boyfriend, admired her new place, and talked about exploring her new town. We left behind some cake and pasta salad but came home with some tri-tip and some brownies. It was a lovely afternoon.

Upon arriving home, we lounged on the couch for awhile. We did the dishes from the afternoon of cooking some stuff to take to the party. We laughed at the cat when he put his head in my water glass and then got it stuck momentarily. We talked about the upcoming week, with me reminding him to remind me of my doctor’s appointments and him reminding me of his days off.

It wasn’t until John idly flipped back to the TV and Sports Center came on that I thought to check.

And then, there it was. Arizona. A 12-seed.

I don’t know by what grace they got in, but they did.

And so, ladies and gentlemen, come Friday, we’re dancing!

Since John’s had such a crazy schedule recently, we went out for Valentine’s day on Thursday. No, not really, neither of us felt like cooking, and so it seemed as good an excuse as any. Besides, Thai food is tasty. And I ended up with lunch for both Friday and Saturday!

We’ve approached this holiday along the same lines we did Christmas: let’s enjoy each other and not worry about spending money on presents. Economy and all, people. Besides, we’re going on three fantastic trips in the coming year and a half, and I’d rather save my money now and spend it then.

At Christmas, we bought a new TV, as the picture on the sides of our old one was going. Other than that, our purchases were mostly for family.

At Valentine’s day, John lucks out easily. The jewelry is mostly tasteless, I don’t want chocolate that I’ll eat a ton of, and if he gives me flowers, the cats eat them and then puke everywhere. *sigh* I lucked out easily because there was nothing he even wanted.

So instead we had Thai food Thursday, then spent Friday night at a bar by his work, enjoying happy hour (mmm, free appetizers with the tasty purchase of a strawberry margarita!) with James and Cara and watching the Sharks game. They lost. Now let us not speak of it again. Regardless, it was a fun evening, and we hadn’t seen our friends in awhile so it was nice to catch up.

Saturday, John worked, and I spent the day alternately glued to the TV, or doing my own work (damn paper!). The glueing to the TV part came from the Arizona-UCLA game, in which Arizona took off with a double-digit lead around 12 minutes into the first half and never looked back. Granted, UCLA was down 25 points at one time, and came back to be down only 9ish when Collison remembered how to play the game, but my boys pulled it out in the end. Woot! I was jumping up and down in the living room, and when I called John at the buzzer, I think my message was totally garbled.

Then, to celebrate that night, we did what all romantic couples do.

We went grocery shopping.

What, don’t you do that too? So romantic, to wander the aisles, trying to remember if you needed milk or not.

Okay, okay, fine, then we came home and cooked ourselves a nice steak dinner, popped open a bottle of champagne, and enjoyed the evening. All in all, a pretty darn good three days!

And now I’ve spent all of yesterday (except when I was watching the Sharks lose…again) working at the kitchen table, and a good chunk of this morning, and I’m thinking I should probably drive into lab just to get a change of scenery. Oh, and to take care of all those cells that don’t celebrate President’s Day. Bah.

Happy Monday off!

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