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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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The holiday grind is gearing up, just as the work grind is slowing down.

Next Thursday, when I come to work for the last time in 2010 (not work for the last time, as I’ll be doing some off-site work, but actually, physically come to work), it’ll be day 40 of a no-days-off-since-early-November stint. Ugh. I could really use a day off!

And I’m so glad I get to celebrate the end of my last day at work by immediately getting on a red-eye flight to Chicago! (Now where is that sarcasm font when you need it?)

Because the last time I did that it was all fun and games. Including a call for medical personnel while we were somewhere about half-way between the Bay Area and Chicago. Yeah, fun and games.

Although my work-life balance is already out of whack, and I have basically no time to myself these days, I am looking forward to the next week or so of holiday parties. Tonight with Mark and Elizabeth. Tomorrow with a friend coming into San Francisco for the week. Thursday night with another friend. Friday to myself, just to be at home with John. Oh, and make tons of food for Saturday, which is the big annual holiday party thrown by James and Cara. Sunday is a smaller party with just us, James and Cara, and Nate and Shelly. And the baby, of course. Then there’s another two dinners next week before we leave.

Speaking of tons of food, one of the things I’ll be making Friday night is my traditional Chewy Molasses-Spice cookies. Best cookies ever. There are some ass-less moles wandering around…. Ha, I crack myself up. And John too. The rest of you don’t have to laugh. BUT! I’ll be guest posting that recipe over on the lovely Abby’s Bright Yellow World, possibly tomorrow, so go check it out!

I can’t wait to give presents and hugs and love to all my friends. I love finding just the right present for someone, and then getting to see their face when they open it. In fact, I’m so eager for this that I already gave John his Christmas present last Saturday. It’s a book that I heard about and knew right away that he’d love, and figured he’d need something to read while we fly home! And he loved it! Go me!

It’s a good thing I love my friends and family so much. This is the pick-up I need right now to get me through the next ten days–something to look forward to nearly each night. Something to make work not seem quite so dreary when I continue to come into lab for five days after the university officially shuts down for the holiday break. Yeah, research doesn’t do itself, sadly.

And although I plan to arrive home early, early, early Christmas Eve morning, have breakfast with my parents, then lunch with my in-laws, and then face-plant on a couch somewhere for a much-needed nap, the whirlwind of the next weeks is going to be worth it.

May it all be merry and bright!

I’m feeling particular uninspired about writing anything, even though I had a really pretty good day.

Lazy morning with John.

Early afternoon playing Aerobie with Mark and John.

SJ Broadway show of The Color Purple with Mark and John.

Visit to Nate and Shelly to take them soups made yesterday and to visit the baby.

Dinner out with John and Mark.

Couple hours in lab. (Yeah, I tried to avoid this. But at least I was only in lab for about 10 minutes on Thursday and Saturday.)

Now a lazy evening watching random TV.

And still, I’m just drawing a blank.

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!

Today I am thankful for…

For my wonderful husband, who is also my best friend, who makes me laugh and smile through life. For his love and friendship every day for the last ten years, and for many, many more.

For my wonderful family, both immediate and extended, and their love and support. For our closeness and our family-ness. For the in-laws that came with John, and the way they have embraced me and welcomed me into their hearts.

For my friends, who are all so wonderful. For Mark and Elizabeth and the way we were welcomed us into their home today for a massive, delicious dinner. For James and Cara, and Nate and Shelly too. For all the laughs and hugs and memories we’ve shared. For the countless others who always make the day a little brighter when I see them.

For our collective health, our jobs, our health insurance, our opportunities, our lives together.

But most of all, today in particular, I am thankful for the doctors and nurses and hospital staff that took care of Shelly this morning. I am thankful that she gave birth to a happy, healthy baby boy. I am oh-so-incredibly thankful that she and the baby are both doing wonderfully well. I am so thankful that Nate and Shelly became parents, and I know they’ll be excellent at it.

The baby is, without a doubt, the cutest and most adorable warm bundle of humanity it has ever been my privilege to hold and cuddle.

Hearing that Shelly and the baby were doing well, and then getting to hold him, was easily the was the best part of my day. (Even more so than the stuffing.)

I am immensely thankful for all this, and more.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

The chex mix is in the oven, the spiced nuts are ready to follow as soon as the chex mix is done, and the plans for tomorrow are set for stuffing and green beans and heading over to Elizabeth and Mark’s house for a grand Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly (sort of), Nate and Shelly will not be joining us.

Because it looks like they’re going to be busy having a baby!!!!!! HUZZAH!!!!!!

I’m going to be a surrogate-auntie!!!!

We’re officially on vacation in less than two days, and I can barely wait. Luckily, we had a three-day weekend to get us in the mindset!

We did a lot of errands, some packing, a lot of prepping, and although we’re not nearly ready at all, we’ll get there.

Saturday was spent lounging, packing a bit, then dinner out at a Japanese restaurant with Elizabeth and Mark. Ramen noodles from a plastic package may be super tasty when you’re sick or need comfort food, but real ramen? Sooooo gooood!

Sunday, a bit of work (oh well, no weekend is perfect), some errands, then John went out for a night with the boys while I had a night to myself. Shelly and Cara were both out of town, so no girl’s night, but I had a pretty relaxing evening just me.

Our Labor Day did not involve BBQs or beaches or anything else normal, but it was by far one of the best days I’ve had recently.

Mostly because it was spent gearing up for hockey season with my two best guy friends–John and James. We had a relaxing morning, then a fantastic lunch out, and I had a Philly cheesesteak for the first time ever. I have no idea how I’d never had one before, but they’re delicious! Two excellent restaurant finds in one weekend!

Then!

Then we went to the Prospects game between the Sharks and the Ducks. It’s basically a game for all the guys looking to get invited to attend training camp in order to try out for the team.

We kept joking it was prospect night for everyone–prospect announcers when they couldn’t quite get the sound system going, prospect zamboni drivers when they missed a spot or two, prospect jeerers when they couldn’t come up with creative taunts but still put in effort. All in all, pretty entertaining.

The Sharks, honestly, had some pretty awesome players. My favorite was a little scrappy 5’6” guy who liked tiny compared to a bunch of the other players. And he was fast. Damn fast. Speedy Gonzalez fast. And he could handle the puck–I was pretty impressed.

There were two other players, also pretty short, who were equally scrappy and good. One of them checked a Duck pretty damn hard, and then was totally willing to throw down the gloves and go at it with him. I don’t think the Shark guy got in more than a punch or two, as the Duck player had probably 6 inches on him, but it was impressive to see him not back down.

We scored in the first period, and had some really good penalty kills. We also had some good power plays–no goals, but they sure shot like they wanted one, which I think sometimes the big Sharks have a problem with. During the power plays, we did the mini Shark bite, since the players were baby Sharks. Fun times.

The second period was pretty dull, and the third one started out so. The Ducks scored, and then not much happened. Just as we started commenting that there hadn’t been any fights, BAM! A couple really good ones. First a decent one, then the scrappy small guy, then another decent one. Always entertaining to watch.

Eventually, we went into overtime, where the Sharks killed off a 4-on-3 two minute penalty, which was impressive. They were really good at clearing the puck, though they needed to work on not icing it!

And then?

Shoot-out!

Their guy missed, so did ours.
Their guy made it, ours didn’t.
Their guy missed…

And who do they send out for that all important shot? A do-or-die shot? Little #70, the 5’6” guy. We started chanting “Ru-dy!” and got a good chunk of the crowd into it.

And he scored!

The! Crowd! Goes! Wild!

All in all, the shoot-out went to 9 rounds, which was impressive–though clearly it went that far because some of these guys weren’t too good at the shoot-out. But also because our goalie was damn impressive. I suppose there’s was too.

And in the 9th round, they sent out scrappy player #2, he of the fight (I think), and he scored the winning goal.

It was a pretty awesome game overall, and a good intro to the upcoming season, which will start right around the time we get home. I can’t wait.

At least I have an awesome vacation to fill some of the time between now and then, right?

Life has been so full of stuff lately that I feel like I haven’t had a chance to sit and breathe, let alone do anything extra. There’ve been scuba classes to teach, research symposium applications to finish, weddings to help with and attend, plus all sorts of work.

The biggest thing John and I had on our plate lately was Elizabeth and Mark’s wedding. We’ve been having all sorts of lunch and dinner parties to help the happy couple make table center pieces or arrange favors or have bridal showers. We’ve been on a number of bike rides to help the bride tone her arms and back. It’s been really great to watch two people so clearly in love, and so right for one another. Plus meeting all of their other friends has been a blast.

Their wedding was last weekend, and it was beautiful. Hot as hades, but beautiful. Full Catholic mass ceremony, which was a bit much for a non-air-conditioned church (one of my friends from high school nearly passed out but made it through), and a great reception. We’d helped set up the reception area beforehand, so knew how nice it was going to be. There was also a post-wedding brunch, for which my oven was on at 400deg for 2 hours on Saturday, while the outside temperature was hovering around 100deg. Hot, but the food was oh-so-tasty.

Elizabeth and Mark are off on their honeymoon for the next couple of weeks, and I’m sort of sad to not have them around, and to have no more wedding party excuses for getting together, but we’ll be back to our usual routine the minute they’re home, I’m sure.

The other big thing that’s been taking up my time, and absorbing most of my words, is my paper, which was submitted Monday to a journal, and has been sent out for review. Such a relief. I went home Monday, sprawled on the couch, and didn’t move for hours. That may have been due to the heat, in part, but still. It’s done, or at least I don’t have to think about it for 4-6 weeks. Cross your fingers for me, will you?

I’m pretty proud of this paper. Yes, maybe it’s not as great as it could have been with massive more experiments (there’s always another paper, I suppose), and no, it’s not going to change the world, and yes, it’ll likely be one of two instead of a whole handful that I end up graduating with, but that work? It’s mine. I did it. I completed it, with lots of help, but it’s still mine. And I’m pretty proud of that, regardless of the comments that have been thrown at me in the past about it.

Now to just get a second paper out and aim to graduate sometime. Key word: sometime.

But hopefully with the paper done, I’ll be around a bit more. I’ve clearly kind of forgotten how to do this whole blogging thing, but hopefully it’s like riding a bicycle, which, hey, I’m allowed to do again! Here’s to the paper being sent off, and theoretically only 2-3 more months of physical therapy! Whee!

Life has been scattered lately. So has my brain.

We’re making massaman curry chicken for dinner. I’m super excited. And hungry.

Easter was lovely. Good time with family, and lovely to see my grandparents doing well. Of course, after the left, things got even livelier–liar’s dice and lots of wine were involved. Lovely.

Not so lovely: I’ve been wondering if things don’t work for me in experiments because they just don’t, or because I’m not good at this whole science thing. Other people can make similar experiments work, so I’m starting to feel it’s just me. And I already feel like I suck at science, so this isn’t helping.

On a positive note, though, I got dismissed from being on a jury last week because the case involved disputed scientific evidence of the sort that I am familiar with. Neither the defense nor the prosecution wanted me. I’m guessing one side thought I’d agree with the evidence, and the other side thought I’d agree with the dispute. So apparently this science thing is somewhat worth it. And thankfully I won’t miss two weeks of work!

We went “fun diving” this past weekend with James, Cara and Sydney. We saw a thornback ray. The conditions weren’t great, but the ray was awesome. Plus hanging out with the three of them was awesome.

We’ve got a scuba class next week, and I’m super excited. Sydney is taking it, and I think I’m going to be allowed to carry gear, and hence be a useful member of the staff, so it should be awesome. And if involves boat dives! Whee!

I’ve managed to get rid of most of the tension and pain in my shoulders and back. Now I’m just working on making my muscles strong enough to do normal everyday things.

For the first time in about three months, I don’t have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning. So excited. And starting next week, I only have two a week instead of three!

I’m allowed to bike again, and Elizabeth and I went out this past weekend. It was freakishly hot, but well worth it. We got in a good 15-20 miles, and had a blast. There are plans for a repeat this coming weekend!

My mom, too, is doing really well. No further complications from surgery, energy recovering, doing well. We keep getting favorable reports from John’s mom, which are much appreciated. And I get to see my mom with my own eyes in just over a month. Sweet!

On the flip side, John’s grandmother went into the hospital with lung problems again recently. It didn’t look good, to the point where we were ready to pick up and fly home, but thankfully she too is recovering and back at home.

I still miss my bunny, but it’s getting easier every day. I’m starting to even think of doing something with his cage. John has vetoed that “something” being filling it with a new bunny. Bah. Though I really appreciate all the condolences.

Randomness of the brain: Sometimes helpful. Sometimes not.

I’ve spent a ton of time lately working on a manuscript to give my boss, and the more time I spend working on it, the less time I want to spend sitting around writing other things. So, not so many posts lately.

But now I’m just sitting in front of the computer exporting image files to TIFF files, individually, one at a freaking time, in 5 different color combos, and I’m about to go mad from boredom. I’m really hoping the time this is taking is because John’s old computer is so slow, and thus it’ll be faster if I can find a computer at work, but it may just be the program.

One hour and 47 images down, millions of both to go.

So what have I been up to?

1. We went out and bought a couple hundred dollars worth of school supplies for the school in Fiji–it’s amazing just how much you can get for so little. Now, of course we have the problem of shipping this stuff there. That might actually cost more than the supplies themselves, but it’s a price we all (the people from the trip) are glad to pay. I just feel bad that it took us so long to go and do this!

2. I’ve screwed up my neck/shoulder/side muscles through some random combination of work and diving. The extent apparently has to do with my body trying to compensate for, say, my neck muscle being sore, and thus holding my shoulder funny, thereby injuring it as well. I am not amused. The chiropractor thinks she can help, but if not, I’m off to physical therapy. Grouch. That said, I’d like to be able to dive and bike again soon, so I’m doing what I can. Frankly, there are days when I’d like to take a deep breathe (or sneeze or yawn or whatnot) without intense side pain as if from a stitch. Grouch.

3. We’re going to visit my grandparents this weekend. They’ve been moved down to California, although they would probably term it “they’ve moved to California.” They haven’t done so well this past year, and fall (the month, although it did involve some falls) was hard on them. I couldn’t go help out, as I felt like I’d already taken off so much time to be with my mom, but now I can go and see them and take care of them whenever. Or just visit them. They’ve moved down here to be close to two children and their families instead of just one. Maybe this means my parents will come visit more? I hope!

4. Speaking of which, my mom Facebook’d me. I was amused. And yes, I accepted. I’ve always approached that site with the theory that, if I didn’t want my parents/boss to see it, it wouldn’t be on there. So why not? I’m wondering a bit about my sister, though.

5. We have back-to-back-to-back-to-back scuba classes starting tonight. I didn’t go down to help, but I might get in the pool if I can weasel permission from the doctors. This schedule is going to take the combined work of our entire staff. Le sigh.

6. We had brunch a week or so ago with Elizabeth and Mark, and found an awesome crepe place to add to our list of enjoyable restaurants. Plus, it was just a lot of fun.

7. On the opposite side of the spectrum, James M wanted to get together for dinner Tuesday night. When he was late, I texted. And apparently woke him up. Frankly, we were okay with being stood up. Less awkwardness, as he still hadn’t quite caught on to the fact that most of us are incredibly fed up with him and his lack of help to our scuba staff. Especially with the upcoming classes…

8. My goal for 2009 was to declutter my life. Not so much a New Year’s resolution, which is made to be broken, but a plan to feel better about living in a small apartment with a lot of stuff meant decreasing the amount of stuff. To that end, we took 7 bags of stuff to the Goodwill last Saturday. And that was only one room’s worth!

9. John finally, finally, has a full weekend off this coming weekend. First since December. He still has a job, so I’m not complaining, and I understand that his schedule is wacky because his boss is rearranging the whole schedule to maximize the full-timers, thus (a) protecting them and (b) minimizing the amount of time he has to pay his part-timers. This sucks for them, but not much I can do about it. That said, the lack of weekends off together combined with the number of late nights he’s working isn’t fun.

10. Sydney and I haven’t gotten together much recently, what with her crazy shifts around the holidays, my trip home, and now her trip to Thailand. But she’s home and we’re having dinner Monday! Woot!

Okay, ten seems like a good number. It seems like all I’ve been doing lately is working, going to the doctor, or going out to eat. I’m sure there’s more to my life than that, but maybe not.

Oh, yes, there was the massive Target run and clearing them out of all conceivable school supplies. Fun!

Anyways, John’s almost home and the San Jose Sharks are playing, as are the Stanford boys’ basketball team, so I think it’s officially time to call it a day and shut down the image analysis. Gee, darn!

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