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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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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.

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.

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.

It’s only January 22nd and I just received my second purse of the year.

The first came from a friend/co-worker who went to India and brought me back a beautiful little hand bag–black with brown and purple fabric designs.

The second one came from a friend/co-worker who went to Taiwan and brought me back a bag that’s more purse-sized and has some beautiful needlework on it. It actually looks a lot like some of the handcrafted stuff that comes out of Guatemala–she told me that the tribal area that the bag came from has a lot of art similar to that of the natives of Guatemala.

My mother-in-law used to give me purses for every occasion. Some were functional. Some had fringe. It was the thought that counted. John eventually dropped a word in her ear that I had a number of purses and probably didn’t need any more. Tactful, that boy. Truthful, too, although not quite the whole truth. I think it helped that the purse I used for years did come from her, so she constantly saw me carrying it around.

When I helped a local middle school girl with her science project a few years back, she brought me a purse (also from India, I realize) with some lovely beadwork on it. Black, and perfect for fancy occasions. Now I just need some fancy occasions…

I appreciate all these gifts, don’t get me wrong, but it leaves me wondering if I look like a person who needs to carry a lot of stuff around. Or just a person who needs a purse. I dunno. Maybe it’s just the ubiquitous gift to give a girl.

Regardless, I’m starting a lovely international collection.

My parents are home, safe and sound, and we’ve had a wonderful two days together. Sadly, John and I are headed home tomorrow, but I may be coming back soon.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time with my in-laws, and with my sister and now my parents, and have had a lovely time. Part of the charm of being with my in-laws was the complete lack of internet, which meant that, while I couldn’t check my email, I also didn’t need to worry about it! It was kind of nice being so sequestered for a week. We did manage to get a few texts in and out of the dead zone, so we weren’t completely without contact, and got to talk to my parents when they were on the way back from The End Of The Earth. In the meantime, my mother-in-law fed us every chance she got, we played lots of cards, and even did some sledding when the wind stopped blowing for awhile.

We came to my parent’s house a bit early to help Amy get it ready–decorated the tree, stocked the fridge, cleaned the house–and then rewarded ourselves with Thai food and “Marley and Me”, which I can highly recommend as an excellent, if tear-jerking, movie! Especially for those of you who’ve ever had a dog to love!

With my parents back, we’ve been to all sorts of doctor’s offices (all things are good!) and done some shopping, as well as quite a bit of fancy cooking. Today we had Christmas celebrations in the morning and New Year’s celebrations in the afternoon–holidays should always be spread out like this!

In any case, I’m off to squeeze in a few last hours of family time.

May 2009 bring you the joys of 2008 but none of the heartache. Here’s to joy and health and love and living life!

I’m having trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. Not that I’m not excited, but I’m not. Not really. And I think I used up all my useless posting ideas with NaBloPoMo. Ba humbug.

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my parents just left for the distant reaches of the planet, shepherding a bunch of college students, and won’t be back until the 30th. Christmas is just going to have to wait.

They’ve done this several times in the past, and this is the second time they’ve missed Christmas, but it’s a bit depressing.

Yes, we’re going home. Yes, Amy will be there. Yes, we’ll be with John’s family until my parents get back into town.

Right up until we fly home on the 2nd. Thus, I effectively get two full days with my parents. And of course Northwest wanted an exorbitant sum to change my ticket after my parent’s tickets got changed to come back later.

Ba humbug.

The combined therapy of drinks and a long evening of chatting with Rhiannon, some good stuff going on at work, a relaxing evening watching Sharks hockey with John, and a relaxing evening with James F and Cara (which involved enchiladas, more drinking, Fiji pictures, and some geeking-out time), and I’m feeling a bit better.

Not that this changes the situation with niece/nephew #7, or the potential pitfalls already facing this kid and the BIL and current Baby Momma.

But, that said, what’s done is done. And I’m done stewing. Now we just have to figure out how to help out as best we can, potentially hoping for an adoption or (best case scenario but least likely) a massive straightening-up on life by the two “adults” in this situation.

Thus. Funk over. For now. Ask me again in 8 months or so.

So back to Fiji stories now….

Bitchy McBitcherson in full force here, thankyouverymuch! Sorry, I’m off to go get drunk.

Niece/nephew #7 is on the way. This is Niece/nephew #2 from the youngest brother-in-law, following 5 from his slightly older sister (and all 5 before she was 25, too).

And no, this one isn’t planned or accounted for in any way, either, as far as we know.

Just like all the other kids these two have popped out over the years. (Okay, for all I know, SIL’s kids 3/4 [twins] may have been planned. But given that mom and dad divorced before they were born? Bah.)

And no, the prospective grandma doesn’t know yet, either. Joy–do we tattle and tell her, or not?

Meanwhile, Nate and Shelly are starting in on BabyQuest2008 and,given some issues, may or may not ever be successful. These are issues that I theoretically at one time shared (and worry sometimes that I still do), and that Amy does share. Close to home, eh?

Why is it that the people least suited to become parents sometimes seem to be the most fertile??

Because none of these are a “one time oops” story. They’re mostly a “we’re too stupid lazy busy something to go get FREE birth control from Planned Parenthood” kind of story.

Yes, this sort of thing happens, and I get that, but this often to people in a situation less suited to raising children? To people who can’t take care of themselves? To people who social services already visit on a regular basis? To people who are in and out of drug rehab, alcohol rehab and mental care?

God (or someone) help these poor children.

Fiji stories will return when I’m thinking in more than just swear words.

We made it home safe, and I’ll update you all on my mom soon. I think I need a bit of a break to sift through the whole week at home before I can report, though. I have bought tickets to go home again in five weeks for her surgery. That helped.

Quick update on Beatrice: She’s perfectly fine. Her head hurt Saturday, and her elbow, but she’s fine. Pam woke up every couple hours throughout Friday night to make sure, and there are no broken bones or bleeding in the brain or anything. Thank goodness!

Despite the sorting and sifting going on, life is pretty good for tonight.

Work the last two days has been busy, but it’s nice to see my friends.

Amelia and I got all caught up on the last week and a half. I managed to miss lots of drama and craziness. We got pedicures and coffee, and then got her all fancied up for her DATE! She even put on make-up! And was nervous! All good signs!

(I wish I could make it known to this boy how nice he’d better be to her!!)

(GRRRRRR!!!!)

It was just nice to be back, and to chitchat, and to help her get ready for something she was clearly so looking forward to.

And then, when I got home, a thank-you letter from Juliness was waiting for me. Along with some extra love for my hard week.

I just have to say, dammit, friends are wonderful.

Thanks guys.

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