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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.

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.

Two-thirds done with NaBloPoMo. Thank goodness! I’d remembered how easy it was to write when I had something to say, but not how hard it was when I had nothing.

So this weekend was a Family Fly-by. My parents were here Thursday night, on Friday we blasted up north to see my grandparents and my mom’s sister. To spend as much time as possible with my grandparents. Because we can. Despite hearing stories repeated, or repeating comments louder and louder. To see my aunt, and help her pack and start to move. Because we’re nice people. Despite the snappiness.

Saturday was more of the same. Moving. Talking. My mom and I got in a bit of shopping. Big dinner with my dad’s sisters, their families, and my grandparents. That was fun. I always love to see that family group–there’s no pressure, I can just be me. They treat John and I like adults, even though we’re part of the “kids” generation. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really know them as a kid, and they only really got to know me as an adult. Of course, this meant the “are you going to have kids” questions have started to emerge from the woodwork. Um, not yet.

Today, I had breakfast with my parents and grandparents at the retirement community my grandparents now live in, then came home. I spent most of the day doing errands, like trying to get the Thanksgiving food shopping out of the way, and at work. I need to teach my viruses to know when it’s the weekend and to wait until Monday for attention.

The weekend had it’s moments for eye-rolling, it’s moments of “WTF?”, but also it’s moments of laughs and smiles. Sort of like any family gathering. Good times. My parents stayed up north today, and are flying home tomorrow. I’ll see them in a month, but it never seems soon enough. All part of being family, I suppose.

My day has been great so far:

Breakfast at a local cafe with John and my parents.

A nice drive up north along a pretty scenic route.

An afternoon with my parents and grandparents.

Fancy candlelight dinner at my grandparents’ place.

A swing band playing afterwards.

And now sitting in front of the fire with my parents, my aunt and my aunt’s cats.

All in all, a pretty good day.

Hope yours was good too!

The tiredness and stress headache (probably more that than a migraine) were probably just the culmination of a bunch of small things stressing me out.

But my parents arrive in town tonight and I get the next three days basically off, until I have to go into work on Sunday afternoon.

It’ll be some good family times to kick off the holidays, which I’m really looking forward to.

AND!!!

Today I got some awesome news on the job front. I’m not going to jinx it, but things are looking really rosy.

And the Sharks are winning 4-2, possibly 5-2 if this goal is good. Never mind, just 4-2. But still, winning 4-2. (Okay, on a side note, that’s the 4th disallowed goal we’ve had in the last 4-5 games. WTF?)

Off to the airport and listening to the rest of the broadcast on the radio, then a celebratory dinner for the good news.

Bad news comes in threes, right?

Friday, we found out that John’s aunt has breast cancer. In both breasts.

Saturday, we found out that my great uncle had a rare form of lymphoma–and that it had already traveled to his lungs and kidneys.

Sunday, after leaving here and arriving in the town in which my great uncle and aunt live, my mom ate dinner at a restaurant starting with “mc” and ending with “onalds” and possibly connected with a “d”–and promptly got food poisoning.

So that was our three.

Now here are three requests:

John’s aunt has surgery Thursday–a double mastectomy–please keep her in your thoughts.

My great uncle died yesterday, and I found out this afternoon–please keep him and his family in your thoughts.

And my mom recovered. Thank god. But any of you who want to keep her in your thoughts anyway, in the hope that her cancer never comes back, are more than welcome to do so.

It’s been a tough day. Kind thoughts are much appreciated.

It’s been an interesting week. Lots of random stuff going on, and all I want is a good night’s sleep.

All my co-workers are away for a conference, so it’s been mostly just me in the lab, with the exception of one or two other people. It’s been nice, but I’ve gotten some cool data that I need to talk to people about. And I have a kick-ass experiment in the works that, if it works like I hope, will be super kick-ass! But I have to wait until next week at least to get the results.

Also, the reviews came back for my paper, and provided I can answer the reviewer’s concerns and change/correct/whatever what they had problems with, it should likely be accepted. But there’s been no one to celebrate with in lab, even if the celebration would be for a not receiving an out-right rejection as opposed to an acceptance. Such is life. In any case, HUZZAH! Not rejected! (Yet.)

On the flip side of work, we’ve got a weeknight scuba class going on right now with a bunch of kids in it, which I’m super excited about. So lots of fun there, although I’m discovering more and more that I love working with our staff when Greg and James lead things, but Ben’s lack of logistical planning makes me want to climb the walls. Luckily, he doesn’t do much leading.

The sticky part of this class comes in when all these kids, and the other students, get in the pool tomorrow night and the staff could really use the four extra hands and eyes that John and I provide. Especially with Shelly ill and James out of town for a week.

However!

My parents are coming to town tomorrow and staying for a couple days during their Great Road Trip of Western America 2009!

As Amy pointed out, this is probably the first time they’ve been able to wander where they want and stop and look at all the little brown jobies (i.e. non-descript birds, or LBJs if you’re in my family) with Amy and I in the back seat fighting or being bored or complaining about something. Or at least for the last 25+ years or so. So I hope they’re enjoying it.

So far they’ve visited a lot of the northern states, and angled into California yesterday and today. They’re staying with my grandparents tonight, then coming down here tomorrow. So part of me feels an obligation as a staff member to be there in the pool and help out, and part of me feels that my parents are only in town through the weekend, and thus I should spend time with them.

Either way, I’ve been working on cleaning the house like mad. And either way, I’m super excited.

Today is..

(or would have been) the 74th birthday of my father-in-law.

(or would have been) the 106th birthday of my paternal grandmother-in-law.

the 11th cancer-free anniversary of my mother-in-law.

the 6ish-month cancer-free anniversary of my mother.

the birthday of a good friend, made bittersweet by the fact that it’s her first birthday since her brother was killed in a car accident last August.

the 64th wedding anniversary of my dad’s grandparents.

the 4th wedding anniversary of John and I.

“Will you still laugh at my jokes on our 60th wedding anniversary?”

“Who’s to say I laugh at them now?”

Happy anniversary, my love. Here’s to many more in the hopes of making it to at least 64.

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.

Last week, on one of the days John had off, I left work somewhat early and we went out to one of the bayland parks for a walk. Since my activity involving shoulders is so restricted, walking is about my only form of exercise. I’m feeling slothful.

Anyways, we’ve been going out to the park, walking and bird watching. Yes, I apparently am my parent’s daughter, seeing as how I’ve finally admitted an interesting in figuring out what bird I’m looking at and putting it on a “life list”.

Plus, it’s been fun to just walk with John, to catch up and meander and be together.

So last week when we were out there, we’d walked about two miles around the outer park loop and had four ahead of us. It was freakishly windy, so instead we turned back to redo the two we’d already done. There were a lot of little estuaries, most of which were mud as we walked out, but were slowly filling as the tide came in on our way back.

And then, there it was.

A snake.

A big snake.

And no, I’m not exaggerating. John says 3 feet, at least. Brown. Trying to swim across one of the estuaries.

Away from us, at least. Right up until it gave up and came back to the bank that we were on.

I spotted it, and John immediately put the binoculars to good use. He joked about a diamond pattern. Funny guy. Hmpf. (My dad, the snake expert, says it was probably a gopher snake. He was much more excited to hear about it than I was to see it.)

In true form, I froze, but mostly just did that. A bit of shaking, a bit of tear-welling, a bit of jumping at rustling bushes, and a bit of keeping an eye in all directions. But mostly I just stood there. No binoculars for me, but no extreme panic.

I spent the rest of the walk back to the car with one eye in all directions at all possible times, and was a bit jumpy, plus I was pretty thankful to be back safely in the car, but I thought it was good progress.

So apparently, even if I didn’t see a sea snake in Fiji to test out my “okay-ness” with it, the therapy worked at least a bit.

There’s probably more therapy in my future, as I wasn’t entirely okay with the situation, and I still don’t know what I’d do if I came face-to-face with a snake instead of being 40 feet away.

And as I just jumped at the NHL Stanley Cup commercial with a snake in it, and as one of the dive sites in Papua New Guinea is called the “Snake Pit”? Some work still needed, clearly.

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be doing that dive, mmkay?

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