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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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Merry Christmas to all (or alternatively, Happy Saturday), and may 2011 bring you all you wish for.

Well, when I leave work in a few hours, I’ll officially have survived the going-into-work-for-40-days-straight. Of course, the point of this was to have nearly all the work done for the paper that I would then spend January writing and editing. Of course, the Science Gods have other plans in mind, and something really cool has come up that, while being really cool, will require a bunch more work in January. I’m clearly never going to be finished with this job.

But it’s still finally starting to feel like the holidays. The parties and dinners with friends are wrapping up, and tonight John and I set off on the trek to Iowa, with the hopes that Chicago won’t have airport delays tomorrow morning.

All our Christmas shopping is done, mostly wrapped and shipped back home. A few packages that were delivered straight there are waiting for wrapping paper, and then everything can go under the tree.

Of course, before then, we both have to finish work, pack, and get on a red-eye flight and make it home! But the end is in sight! And it’s an official white Christmas end! Huzzah!

And the thing that I’m going to be celebrating most this Christmas is the advent of a NEW JOB!! That’s right, I was offered the job I really wanted, in the lab I really wanted to join, doing the research that I’m super excited about. And every indication I have about this new job as far as people and work environment and expectations and everything is good. It’s making me super excited. Gotta finish the new job first, but I can’t wait to start the new one, maybe in February or March. Huzzah!

I hoep you all get what you’ve been wishing for for Christmas, and that if you travel, it goes smoothly and safely.

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!

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.

Man, there’s nothing quite like sleeping in, plus sleeping in an extra hour. I finally feel well-rested for the first time in a couple weeks, though I’m sure all that will change tomorrow when I have to get up and go to work. Meh.

It’s been doing anything from drizzling to downright pouring here today, and so my plans to do some gardening–mowing, pruning, sprucing up–were put on hold. Instead, I sat around and watched TV and enjoyed a comfy day with the cats while listening to the rain fall on the sky lights. (Except for the couple hours at work.)

Not too bad, really. Would have been better with a fireplace and a husband at home, but all things considered, pretty good.

I’m not a super big fan of the cold and drizzle, but it certainly creates the perfect reason to stay curled up in pajamas on the couch for as long as I want.

It also means it’s time for cut hats and scarfs and long sleeved shirts. I’m usually perpetually cold, so I like this time of year. I no longer look like the weird girl who’s wearing fall clothes to work in the summer. Granted, they refrigerate our building in the summer, but still.

And it means we’re getting that much closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. Always a fun set of holidays. We’re not traveling for Thanksgiving this year, but instead are having a big dinner with friends here in town. Then it’s off to see our families for Christmas, which should be good times.

Yep, all things considered, I love this time of year. Fall colors and the promise of holidays. Huzzah! (The hockey and the college basketball help too.)

We’re off home for the next week, where there will likely be little internet or time for it, but much fun, laughter, food, family and love.

I hope you all enjoy the same in the next week!

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?

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.

Hope you all have a wonderful day celebrating with friends and family!

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