Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Year in Review

Overall, what a great year! And maybe this is just a function of getting older, but WOW did it ever go by quickly!

I've been writing these end of the year reviews since 2001, and putting them on my blog since 2005 (I think--I'll have to go back and look). I am so happy that I've taken the time to note down our adventures.

One of the main reasons I started up this blog is so that I can remember things--believe it or not, I have a difficult time remembering what I've written. When people start talking to me about a particular post, it often takes me a few minutes to recall what it was about, and sometimes I can't remember having written it at all! Memory is a crazy thing, isn't it? So I'm glad I blogged in 2011, because I will be using the posts I wrote as a way to jog my memory about the other things that occurred.

The theme this year was CONFERENCES. I attended four, spoke at three of them, traveled out of town for three of them and helped arranged one. Really, that makes me sound kinda professional and fancy. :D 

2011: The Year of the Conferences

  • Our New Year was pretty quiet, and then we got lots and lots of snow ALL OF A SUDDEN. It was a respectable snowstorm here in Georgia, finally, and deserving of all of the school and work cancellations. 
  • Sadly, that was the weekend I'd intended to go up to the cabin to remove the holiday decorations. I didn't go, but somehow I thought I'd gone. Whoops.
  • I did a lot of ranting about Tiger Moms. Good times.
  • I gave myself two personal challenges for January: a burpee challenge and a declutter drawers challenge. I stuck with them pretty well, though toward the end of the month I skipped some days doing both and then had to play catch up--not fun. I think I'll give myself another challenge in January 2012 and I hope I heed the lessons of January 2011. Because 17+18+19+20 burpees in one day really sucks.
  • We started planning for ATLOSCon 2011: This Year, We Kinda Know What We're Doing. And it felt good to, you know, kinda know what we were doing.
  • I got to go to Shakespeare Tavern for the very first time and it was so much fun. Kelly and Aaron are the best! I really need to go again. Oh! I just checked the calendar--Canterbury Tales in May 2012!!!!
  • I also saw Cake in concert and they were really good.
  • Our friend Earl was in town briefly, so we got to visit with him a bit.
  • I kept going to CrossFit in the bitter cold. Still a nervous newbie. Wow, okay, that part feels like a long time ago.
  • All in all, a very full January!

  • I read The Hunger Games trilogy and enjoyed it thoroughly.
  • Hah! I blogged a Day in the Life. Funny to read that again after all this time.
  • My in-laws came for a visit, always good times.
  • Kelly and I started working on our talk for SnowCon in March. We had a new take on some of the ideas we'd learned from Positive Discipline and were very excited about presenting these parenting ideas to people who weren't necessarily parents.
  • I celebrated George's birthday with a blog post.
  • I finished more knitting projects and learned how to follow simple patterns, hooray!
  • I registered for my first ever 5K race in April. 
  • Kind of a leisurely month after the crazy January--but I think I probably needed that.


  • March began in a rough way, with Brendan losing a (young) aunt to cancer. :( He went up to Chicago that first weekend and I stayed home with the kids. 
  • Except when I didn't stay home--I kept the babysitter I had lined up and went to a friend's 40th birthday party and did karaoke for the first time. Good stuff.
  • The second weekend found me in Denver, all alone without my posse. It was fun, but I remember being stressed and somewhat lost without my kids up my ass every second hanging around me all the time.
  • And the whole reason I went to Denver was to attend and speak at SnowCon! Kelly and I gave our joint presentation called "Effective Communication: How Objectivists Can Use Positive Discipline Ideas in their Adult Relationships." Which is a long title. Basically, it's about using the communication techniques I (usually) use with and teach my kids with well, everyone! Because we don't parent to teach our kids how to be good kids--we parent to teach them how to be good human beings. The talk went really well and I got a margarita afterward! I also learned that I am a Brand Name Intellectual, so there you go. :P Here, I wrote all about it. 
  • ATLOS celebrated its official one year anniversary on March 16!
  • Ha, reviewing my blog posts from March reveals several parenting and homeschool challenges that I dealt with, many of them which still plague challenge me today. Say it with me: Parenting is nothing if not repetitive. Parenting is nothing if not repetitive. 
  • For the first time ever, I decided to write about my Perfectionism Monster on the blog because it needs some smacking down. I'm glad I did that, as it helped me make much progress on killing it this year.
  • At some point this month, it turned into spring. And then I remembered to go up to the cabin and take down the Christmas decorations. Oops.
  • It was somewhere during March that I started going to CrossFit three times a week on a regular basis, and also stopped being scared of hurting myself when lifting heavy things. And so commenceth Operation Turn Into A Badass.


  • This was another really really full month, like January and March. 
  • On April 2, I ran in a 5K, I really did! Apart from the fact that these things start REALLY early, I enjoyed the experience (a few friends from homeschool co-op were there, so that made it even more fun). The kids and Brendan--well, it wasn't quite so fun for them, but I was happy to see them clapping at the finish line.
  • I remember working on ATLOSCon quite a bit.
  • Then the Atlas Shrugged movie came to Atlanta at the last minute (with a two-week notice, for real) and I did a bunch of organizing and promotion of ATLOS stuff for that (with lots of help from awesome ATLOS peopleguys).
  • We went to a Seder meal--the first time I've ever been to one. It was very interesting and fun. Ryan and Morgan helped read the readings and I remember feeling relieved that everyone knew how to read out loud pretty well.
  • Ryan turned NINE, which meant that he is halfway done. (Boy that went fast, and yes, it's very unfair.) We celebrated with a laser tag birthday party. I suspect we'll be having laser tag birthday parties for years to come.
  • We gave Sean peanuts for the first time and all was well, yay.
  • We began to contemplate a move to a new home and spent lots of time looking at house on the internet and doing drive-bys. But we ended up staying put for the rest of the year (more on that later). 


  • Busy busy busy. I need to schedule months like February more often.
  • I ran in my second 5K on Mother's Day weekend and actually ran it (as opposed to chit-chatting and half-walking with everyone I knew for the first 15 minutes or so as I did in the first one). 
  • I got a snowman from Sean for Mother's Day. I got gifts from the others, too, but the snowman is what stands out because it was so stinking cute.
  • I made videos for Food Allergy Awareness Week this year. Here's Ryan's. And here's Morgan's.
  • Brendan's grandfather passed away and this time we all went up to Chicago. We all attended the wake, and then Morgan developed a surprise stomach bug (which, amazingly, nobody else ended up catching, and even more amazingly, didn't cause her to puke once during the long car trip home) the morning of the funeral, so the kids and I stayed home from the funeral. It was nice to see the family, though it was a sad occasion.
  • Right after the funeral, we all started driving home, with Brendan's mom, stepfather, and brother in the car behind us. Because I'd had made huge arrangements to surprise Brendan for his 40th birthday with tons of friends in Atlanta, and if we left RIGHT AWAY, we'd have just enough time to make it back to Atlanta to go and do it. So we drove home as fast as we could, stopping in southern Indiana for a night, and got back home with about an hour to spare before the babysitter arrived. Brendan's OTHER brother had flown home to Florida from Chicago, and then back up here to attend, too. And the big surprise was going to The Hackensaw Boys concert! It was fun, but wow, what a crazy weekend--in both the fun and not-fun senses of the word crazy.
  • And THEN ATLOSCon started! I gave three presentations (one solo and two with Kelly) and did some organizer stuff, too. And we had house guests and oh yeah, all the usual kid stuff, too. Fun weekend and I wrote about it here.
  • Just reading about this month makes me tired. I can't believe I actually lived that.


  • With ATLOSCon over, I think I took a couple of days off. Or ten. I don't remember what we did for the first half of the month other than hang out, go to the pool, go to CrossFit and playdates, etc. I think we all deserved some NOTHING after so many, many, many events all stacked up on top of each other.
  • But! That was all nice and good, but now it was time for us to start up AGAIN. In mid-June we all drove up to Wisconsin (by way of Chicago) to begin this year's family vacation
  • First, my brother got married and Ryan and Morgan were part of the show. It was a really fun wedding and weekend. I loved hanging out with our extended family at one of the bars in town (where kids can drink with parent's permission--go, Wisconsin!). The town is really cute and we all want to go back for a visit one day.
  • I gave my grandma a scarf I knitted for her. She is one of my knitting inspirations. :D
  • After the nice weekend with my family, we drove a bit north to spend some time with Brendan's mom and stepdad, who own a second home in the Dells. My parents and grandma joined us for a couple of days and we all . . .
  • . . . helped Sean celebrate his third birthday! I have no more babies, weep (so unfair)! For his birthday, we took a ride on the Ducks and bought sweatshirts because it's freezing cold in the middle of June in Wisconsin. 
  • Then Brendan flew home, only he got to spend the night in the Madison airport first. Fun!
  • Then I drove back to Chicago with the kids and my mother-in-law, by way of Mineral Point, where I got to see Pendarvis, home of my Blewett ancestors who came over from Cornwall. (I'm drinking coffee from my Pendarvis coffee mug as I write this post.)
  • Thus began my solo road trip home with the kids, stopping all the way home with various relations. We went to Purdue for a day and that was fun, too.
  • I think I decided that we are never, ever doing another road trip ever (but that resolution only lasted a couple of months).


  • The year was halfway over and I have to say, we'd really carpe-d the ever-loving crap out of it so far.
  • I had a few days of rest and then I was off to Florida for OCON (conference #3)! Oh my goodness--I never really wrote about my OCON experience. Whoops.
  • I'd never ever been and I'm glad I went. This time, I really didn't miss the kids much and I was able to enjoy myself much more. Maybe not having to give a talk had something to do with that level of stress, too. The only time I really missed my family deeply was during the fireworks show, but I got to spend it with another family with a child, so that helped ease my homesickness a bit. 
  • I loved connecting with friends, new and old, at OCON, and I conquered a severe case of stage fright and walked myself up to the microphone to ask Yaron Brook a question in front of about 300 people. I wonder if anyone there guessed how close I was to fainting or puking. 
  • And then, when I got back, we finally got to have some lazy summer. We went to the pool and hung out with friends and relaxed some. There were no kid activities, and the only thing I did was CrossFit and knit and wrote a few parenting posts. 
  • I think this was the month I started going to CrossFit four times a week. God it was HOT in our CF gym (It's freezing cold nowadays and I'm not sure which is more uncomfortable). I got through the heat by imaging I was a badass Caroline Ingalls on the prairie with no air conditioning and a log cabin to help build. 


  • Though we did not make it to the beach this year, August mostly felt like one long vacation for me. I hardly even remember what we did! 
  • Homeschool co-op started back up, and Morgan began gymnastics. She enjoys it a lot and is freakishly flexible.
  • I'm pretty sure August is when we started watching Star Trek: TNG as a family, and Sean became obsessed with the Enterprise D. We are in the middle of Season 5 as of this writing.
  • The kids REALLY missed going to the beach and have been bugging us about it ever since. As you'll see when I write up our goals for this year, we might not make it there in 2012 either, but we have promised that we can at least go to a Georgia beach for a long weekend or something.
  • We still hadn't made up our minds about moving to a new home, so we put the decision on hold for a while. 


  • We drove up to Chicago AGAIN, this time for the Chicago Objectivist Society MiniCon, the fourth and final conference of The Year of the Conferences. This time I was giving the Effective Communication talk solo, as Kelly chose to stay here and go to Dragon*Con (which, I believe, was a difficult and agonizing choice for her to have to make). The talk itself went well, I made my main points and didn't trip over myself or anything, but I only had an hour to present 2+ hours of material, so it felt rushed and crammed to me. Kelly and I have since decided not to whittle down talks to fit time frames any more. Next time, we'll simply create a new talk to fit the time frame!
  • This conference (oh look, here's a blog post) felt like a mini-vacation to me because we left the kids with my in-laws all weekend (oh hooray hooray hooray for them!) and Brendan and I stayed in the city. It was a nice early anniversary celebration.
  • When we got back home, we vowed never to drive anywhere again.
  • We were crazybusy with kid activities and homeschool co-op and museum trips and visits with friends and our usual lives, too. I took time to write a general kid update, a snapshot in time of who they are and how they do so I can remember these days.
  • Somehow, I'd made it a whole year at CrossFit, hooray! I am more badass than ever, and that's saying something. :D
  • Morgan got moved up a level in gymnastics and was invited to join a special class for kids who might end up on the team track at some point. So now she's going to gymnastics twice a week.


  • We visited an apple orchard up in Ellijay with friends and it is totally worth going to see in person because it has the most unintentionally funny-in-a-horrific-way tour of nursery rhymes. It's hard to explain. But next time you visit, we will go see it. Because OMG.
  • Having made lots of steady progress in the fitness/health front, I got to buy a whole new fall/winter wardrobe AGAIN.
  • My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were visiting Asheville, NC, which is practically next door to Atlanta, as you know. So one day during their vacation, we all met up for an afternoon somewhere in North Georgia. It was fun.
  • Oh yeah, Sean finished up potty training this month, and I have to say that (barring any regressions that may lie ahead) it was the easiest of the three. He is even dry most nights, which is quite an accomplishment at three, I think!
  • After a summer-related hiatus from knitting (I know--summer is the best time to knit Christmas gifts, and yet I don't want to knit when it's hot out), I got my knitting mojo back in a big way. And wrote about my two favorite hobbies and why they're similar.
  • We opted for a small Halloween extravaganza this year--just us and Kelly's daughter. Best. Decision. Ever.


  • Even though it was only last month, I can't seem to remember what we did. Funny.
  • ATLOS hosted a talk by Andy Bernstein, which we were able to do because our conference was so successful last summer.
  • My parents came for a visit and we all went up to the cabin for a day to decorate it for Christmas. I'm optimistic about my chances for de-decorating before March of 2012.
  • I turned 41! I have to say that so far, the 40s are AWESOME. The Decade of Awesome, I'm calling this.
  • After a few months of not running in 5K races, I decided to run in one on Thanksgiving morning. I didn't PR, but only by about 45 seconds, and considering this one had lots of hills, I was pretty pumped with how I did.
  • We had a lovely Thanksgiving, just us and a few friends over, and I made a yummy yummy dinner
  • We watched all of the Lord of the Rings movies with the whole fam. It was a huge hit, and Morgan is as likely to draw you a picture of the Great Eye as she is a dog these days.
  • The older kids discovered something called Minecraft, and haven't come up for air since.
  • What else? Well, the "should we get a new house" conversation started up again in earnest, so that's something. And all of the usual kid activity, book reading, co-op, museum trips, hanging out, arguing, knitting, not cleaning the house, etc. 


  • The first weekend of December was another travel weekend for me and Ryan. My cousin got married in Arizona, and Ryan was my date to the wedding. It was a fun wedding, and great to spend a lot of one-on-one special time with him. The other kids had a great time with Brendan, too. 
  • I went for a run one morning in Arizona and didn't hate it. Yes, this is noteworthy.
  • My brother-in-law came to visit during the second weekend and we all had a great time with him. As usual.
  • ATLOS had a holiday party on the third weekend and it was awesome. I dressed up fancy (which is not something I tend to do) and was introduced to the wonderful cocktail that is a Manhattan. I've had them before, so I suppose it wasn't a true introduction, but somehow it never really stuck. This time, it did.
  • The fourth weekend of December brought Christmas, and I got a lamp so I can see while I knit, a Glock (oh yes!), and the complete AbFab series on DVD. 
  • We also decided to really really buy a house and this last week of December, including the very last day of the year, has been full of home research and driving by properties and looking at properties with a realtor. I'm ready to move forward with this and now is a great time to buy. We are hoping to get into a comparable or larger home on more land and out of an HOA (not that ours is terrible, but we have some restrictions that we no longer want to deal with). I'm nervous about the whole thing, but this is a good decision for us right now. So probably I'll be bitching writing about this on the blog a whole lot next year.

And whew! That about wraps up 2011. I don't really expect anyone to read this kind of post thoroughly, but if you did and made it to the end, great! And hello from me! And thanks!

Stay tuned for a post soon about my goals for 2012. Hint: there will be a new house (I hope) and even: A DOG.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope your 2011 has been as awesome as mine, and I wish you an even more spectacular 2012 full of love and laughter and hard work and accomplishment.


bofroggy said...

Ah, the apple orchard...I do so love that place :) Hope your house searches are on my side of town!! Would love to have you guys closer!

Jenn Casey said...

That apple orchard was memorable enough to make the Year in Review list! Next time I want to go when the talking cow is going. :)

We're looking at TWO houses near you today! We did a lot of soul-searching and discussion, but we really need a non-HOA deal, otherwise.... :( Mixed feelings about it really. Wish us luck today, especially because we'll be taking the kids.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Good luck on the home search. Moving is an incredible pain, and I keep saying I will never do it again, but I have moved three times in the last ten years!

I always enjoy your year in review! Happy 2012!

Jenn Casey said...

Thanks, Elisheva! I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself and worry about the details that will need to be done in the future. Trying to take it one step at a time. And I'm mostly succeeding (so far!). One thing that will make this easier is that we hope to buy, move, and THEN sell our current house. That will make the process take longer, but there's no way I can shop for a new house and fix up this house at the same time, let alone keep this house in condition to be shown.

One thing at a time, one thing at a time...

Happy New Year to you and your family, too! Wishing you all the best for 2012.