Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Review

And here we are once again! Time for another Year in Review. The trick this year is that I haven't been blogging regularly and therefore can't easily go and reread old posts to jog my memory (Facebook is kind of a pain to search). Let's see how I do, shall we?


2013: The Year of Being a Peopleguy


January

  • You may or may not recall that our cat, Rhombus, chose New Year's Eve 2012 to pass away after a nice long life. It was sweet (she came and said goodbye to each of us before going downstairs to her favorite box for the last time), and also put something of a damper on our January as you might imagine. Also, FYI, if a pet dies the night before a major holiday, the vet and other "afterlife care" peopleguys will not be open for a couple of days. Which makes things awkward at the house. Just sayin'.
  • We had the puppy spayed in the first week of January, because there wasn't already enough pet-related trauma and drama going on. She had some complications and it took her a full two weeks to completely recover (she's fine now).
  • Also, we officially launched our CrossFit Kids program this month. I have had a great time coaching these kids all year and I've learned TONS about coaching (both kids and adults). 
  • Speaking of CrossFit (as an aside, there is no secret handshake in CF, but they do tell you to begin every other sentence with "Speaking of CrossFit...." in case whoever you're talking to has forgotten you like to do CrossFit---kidding!), I participated in a team competition on January 19th. Really, it was so much fun, and I am still impressed with how my teammate and I did on WOD 2 (remember that one, T?)
  • The kids went back to GA-EPH, our wonderful homeschool enrichment program (that I often refer to as a co-op, even though it is not strictly a co-op in some respects). 
  • I ran in the Hot Chocolate 5K in downtown Atlanta. They aren't kidding–it IS the sweetest race!



February


  • The major event this month was that I became an aunt! My niece, Anna Jean, was born and I flew up to Indiana to love on her some and teach my brother how to do a proper swaddle. She is super cute and my kids ADORE her. I am determined to out-aunt my sister, but admittedly I'm the underdog as she has auntie experience already because she is Super Auntie Extraordinaire for my own kids. Still it's fun to try and I'm sure Anna won't mind. And I'm SURE my sister-in-law and brother won't mind all of the spoiling this kid will get as the object of TWO motivated aunties! :)
  • ATLOSCon 2013 planning was well underway, and I remember having a couple of planning meetings to choose the classes.
  • I read Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, and I'm still thinking it over nearly a year later.
  • Wow, I'm wracking my brains to remember what else happened last February, but I'm pretty sure that apart from Anna's arrival and my short trip up there to see her, we had a pretty regular normal month. 



March


  • Speaking of CrossFit, once again, I competed in the CrossFit Open. I mostly did okay, though I am apparently still pretty irritated about failing so many 75# snatches in the first event because I find myself just sitting here stewing about it. In my defense, I had done 70 burpees and 30 45# snatches by that point. But STILL. Hmph.
  • I did make modified Kid WODs out of the Open WODs and that was SUPER fun and I plan to do it again in 2014.
  • We received an offer on the cabin this month, our first since listing it for sale in August 2012. I didn't expect much to come from it, but everything actually worked out in the end. And really, WAY faster than I thought.
  • We celebrated one year of living at Wildhaven on the 17th. As of this writing, we are still not completely unpacked.
  • I submitted a couple of proposals to GA-EPH to teach some classes during the 2013-2014 year. To my shock, they were accepted and so I participated in an Open House.
  • Somewhere in this time frame, we finished up watching whatever show we were watching together on Netflix (this is our family evening activity, hanging out on the big couch together and watching something). So we decided to go ahead and watch this Doctor Who show all of our friends have been talking about for a while. We started with the 2005 reboot of the series, and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Miss Morgan turned EIGHT on the 30th. How is that even possible, I ask you? 




April

  • I spent much of this month printing, signing, and faxing paperwork to several real estate peopleguys over the sale of the cabin. We were happy to team up again with the awesome realtor who helped us buy Wildhaven (an experience that scarred us all) and extra happy that the cabin sale was pretty smooth.
  • We took a final trip to the cabin, including the puppy, to say goodbye. Our dearest friends came up for a night, too, and really, it was a lovely weekend.
  • Morgan performed extemporaneous gymnastics in the GA-EPH Talent Show, and it was awesome.
  • Ryan turned 11 on the 18th and I still haven't gotten over it yet. ELEVEN, I tell you.
  • We all fell in love with the 10th Doctor (though it was so sad to say goodbye to the 9th), and Ryan took a picture of David Tennant to a hairdresser in order to get his hair cut just like the 10th Doctor. By this point, we were all a little obsessed. 
  • After having watched my friend Lisa do all this crazy stuff with kettlebells for about a year, I was thrilled when she and one of the coaches offered a kettlebell clinic early in the month. 
  • Speaking of CrossFit, I also took the CrossFit Kettlebell Certification class at the end of the month, and the rest, as they say, is history.




May

  • The cabin sold on the 7th, and thankfully, all went smoothly until the end (the Wildhaven purchase has forever made me doubt such things until all of the papers are signed and money has changed hands). And then we paid off some debt and had some savings. Who knew such things were possible? :)
  • We paid our first visit to the GA Renaissance Festival. OMG SO MUCH FUN.
  • My mother-in-law came to visit in the middle of the month for Brendan's birthday and also to see Morgan's gymnastics meet. And we all went to Medieval Times, which we haven't been to since Ryan's 6th birthday (when I was pregnant with Sean). We were all still coming off our trip to the Ren Fest, and Sean in particular was highly impressed.
  • Coming home from Medieval Times, I realized something was very wrong with the insides of my head and thus, my MIL got to spend her last day of her visit babysitting for me while I went off to the doctor to get medicine for my sinus infection.
  • This sinus infection was pretty ill-timed, as ATLOSCon 2013 was beginning in about five minutes. Luckily, everyone, including my houseguests, was pretty understanding about my "it is what it is" kind of attitude toward the house and other things I was in charge of arranging. Somehow we all survived.
  • And not just survived, we thrived! ATLOSCon 2013 was enormously enjoyable. This year we had karaoke, courtesy of Amy and Robert, fantastic talks (courtesy of everyone I went to go see talk), an AMAZING bourbon tasting (courtesy of Guy and Alisa), wonderful babysitters at Wildhaven (thank you, Alizah, Sam, and Annika), terrific houseguests (Robert, Amy, Arthur, Chris, Athena), speaking of CrossFit, we had a super awesome fantastic team WOD at CF Kennesaw again this year, a wonderful script reading of Atlas Shrugged (courtesy of Chris), and, of course, stilts (courtesy of Brendan). Really, you should come to the next one. Because we are awesome. 




June

  • Once June began, our usual kid activities paused. So of course we took up another one. Morgan and Ryan joined the local Kilometer Kids program, which is sponsored by a local track club. Kids train twice a week and then run a 5K at the end of the session. I volunteered as a coach, because apparently I think I can now coach all the things. I actually did pretty well, once having to manage 16 kids on my own due to a shortage of coaches. Not only did I keep track of them all, we all managed to have fun that night.
  • By now I had parlayed my casual interest in kettlebells into a commitment to do a local competition in August. Still not quite sure what I was getting into, but I began training with a coach and prepping for the comp.
  • We went to the Ren Fest one more time, because it was just SO MUCH FUN the first time. This time, Sean got a bow and arrow with his own money.
  • Sean turned FIVE, a WHOLE HAND, on the 20th. How unbelievably rude. 
  • Sean got a ton of Doctor Who toys, particularly Bad Guys (his favorites are Daleks and the Weeping Angels), and had already decided to be a Dalek for Halloween.
  • And then Penny made it to one year on the 25th. Halfway to full grown maturity, wheeeee!




July

  • On the last day of June, we headed up to the Midwest for a 2 week vacation. We have never had a 2 week vacation ever and while it was lots of fun, I'm not sure we are up for another 2 week vacation ever again. Because 2 weeks is a REALLY long time to be living out of hotels and in other people's homes and out of the minivan and to have someone keep your dog.
  • The first leg took us up to Lafayette to see my niece and also her parents (heh). My brother let my kids shoot off fireworks in his driveway, to the delight of ALL his neighbors, I'm sure. One day we took the kids over to Purdue and let them run around like crazy people. I've been making visits to Purdue since I myself was an actual baby, and I kind of like that we have continued that tradition. Of course, having my sister-in-law and brother just right there makes it easier, but I think we'd do it anyway, as Purdue is pretty much on the route to Chicago.
  • Then we went back down to Indianapolis, another old homestead, and visited with everyone on my mom's side of the family. We hadn't done that in about nine years, just gotten together for the heck of it, without a side reason such as a wedding or funeral. We had a blast, and the people at the hotel were SUPER understanding (not to mention appreciative of all the custom). We took the kids to see the Indianapolis Children's Museum, which is still my all-time favorite. Morgan rode the antique carousel that I myself have been on many-a-time.
  • On the 4th of July we headed to the greater Chicagoland area to see some of Brendan's people as well as attend a little bit of OCON. I spent 4th of July evening drinking wine with Brendan's sister, having caught the fireworks show a few days earlier at my brother's house. 
  • The next day, we went into the city, which we don't do that often I guess, because the kids were all like, "They have a city here?" We kept them with us one night at the hotel and took them to the top of the Hancock building and Water Tower Place and the little beach that's right there on the lake and walked around the city at night. They adored it. So of course we only let them do that for a day and then sent them right back to Brendan's mom, who took them on adventures for a couple of days until Brendan and I were done at OCON.
  • We met SO many people at OCON, I really can't do it justice now. Standouts include Hannah, Mike, Audra, and David, whom I've known via FB for a while. Oh yes, and I met Jeremy in person, too! I've known him via the internets for a long while. And of course, there was fun with old friends, too, and I went running along the lake with Arthur a couple of times. 
  • Then we headed back to suburbia for a few days. I was invited to teach a Positive Discipline workshop for teachers at Nurturing Wisdom Academy, so I did that and it was fun. 
  • On our way home, we stopped in southern Indiana to see my sister again, her ex (it's all very friendly, yay), and meet her new beau. Then we came home and vowed never to travel again.
  • Speaking of CrossFit, about five minutes after I got home, I went to a snatch clinic at the gym and finally PRd my snatch. So now I'll be stuck at 95# for another year, I expect.
  • And I was training kettlebells during this whole time, at my brother's house, and mother-in-law's house. I have no clue what their neighbors must have thought about that sight.
  • I ran in a 10K race at the end of July. Yeah, you read that right–10 whole actual K.
  • The rest of July was a blur of kettlebells, coaching CF Kids, and unpacking. Still, no complaints. A definite improvement from July 2012!




August

  • The very first weekend of August, Morgan, Ryan, and I ran a 5K race with Kilometer Kids. It was Ryan's first race, and Morgan's second, although it was the first one she actually ran (she ran most of it). SO fun. They adored Kilometer Kids, and so did I, but we had to drop it for the fall semester due to other time commitments. We are hoping to pick it back up in the spring or next summer.
  • The second weekend found us in Tybee Island, for a long-promised long-anticipated beach vacation. It was only a long weekend and we brought our pup, to see how she would do on a longish road trip (about 4.5 hours one way) as a trial for the holidays. She did great. We liked Tybee pretty well--we rented a little house near the beach, ate tons of yummy seafood, swam and played at the beach (without the dog however), toured Fort Pulaski (VERY COOL), watched some firefighters put out a hotel blaze, wandered around Savannah's River Street (Brendan and I used to vacation in Savannah before we had kids), took advantage of the fact that our rental house had cable and watched some of Shark Week. We are going to try to get to a beach every year if we can, and that's about when I decided to make Exploring Georgia a fun travel goal. We've lived here for so long, but there is much we haven't seen--the Okeefenokee, Callaway Gardens, the coastal islands, etc. I'm hoping to try Jekyll Island next year for our beach trip.
  • My kettlebell competition was mid-month, and it was so awesome. I competed in Long Cycle (clean and jerk), and got 121 reps with the 12kg bell (which is the "beginner" weight), and won a trophy and a medal. I was so impressed with what the other athletes were lifting and I knew that, while I definitely wanted a break from bells, I would be back at it again soon.
  • August brought the start of a new "school" year for us homeschoolers, and I was now teaching FIVE classes. Speaking of CrossFit, three of the classes are CrossFit: two for kids and one for moms. I also taught Introduction to Economic Concepts to middle and early high schoolers using Peter Schiff's book How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes as the basis for discussions. The fifth class was inspired by Sugata Mitra's prize-winning TED Talk "Build a School in the Cloud" and is called Exploring the Cloud through SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments), which has basically turned out to be an internet research/mystery-solving/critical thinking/team building type of class for 8-12 year olds. I have enjoyed the challenges of each class immensely, and learned a lot about teaching, my students, and myself. I'll be teaching all of these class plus one more beginning in January 2014.
  • And because I wasn't busy enough, I planned out my very first online Introduction to Positive Discipline 7 week parenting class. I am determined to finish my full certification in the next year or two, and I'm slowly getting there.
  • Morgan did gymnastics all summer, too, and was back for the regular classes again (she shows no signs of getting bored with it at all). She wasn't promoted as expected back in May, due to some strength gains that needed to be made as well as some significant changes to the standards at each level. This has worked out very well all around (particularly on our schedule and budget), and she has been progressing nicely this year. I expect her to be promoted on next year.
  • By this point, we were all caught up on Doctor Who, and pining away for the 50th anniversary special in November just like all the rest of the world. One day, I went to the gym and there was a life-size cardboard cutout of David Tennant that someone brought us (thank you, Bill and Gina!) and we brought him home. The dog is still afraid of him, but she's getting over it.
  • We embarked on our first home project that was not thrust upon us by some kind of emergency and decided to have the siding replaced. It was very old, possibly original to this 40 year old home, and we wanted no more critter issues (there were huge gaping holes in some of the siding, inviting mice, rats, chipmunks, possums, and god-knows-what-else to come and enjoy the cozy shelter of our home). So while all this other stuff was going on, we were getting quotes from siding and painting peopleguys and arranging to have the siding replaced in September.
  • The second half of August was all about settling into new routines and getting back to what passes for normal here at Wildhaven.




September

  • And we got new siding put on the house, much to the dismay of the dog, who found the process both worrisome (due to loud sudden noises) and exciting (due to lots of fun new people to play with). The house is now a pretty blue instead of a drab gray, and one of my projects for 2014 is to get a new front door to replace the current one with a huge crack down the middle, and paint it yellow.
  • All of my classes were up and going, such that, if you counted the ones I coached at the gym and my online parenting class, I was now up to 9 classes a week. At some point, it dawned on me that I might be a teacher now. I mean, a teacher apart from "homeschooling mommy."
  • Kelly's daughter Livy had a sleepover for her birthday, and Morgan was invited. And then I invited myself to the sleepover and got to have a fun evening with MY friends, too. Morgan was initially very concerned that my presence would ruin all of her fun with her friends, but as we expected, the young girls stayed upstairs, and we older girls stayed downstairs, and rarely the twain did meet.
  • Speaking of homeschooling, yes there has been some of that, too. Ryan and I embarked on Life of Fred: Fractions, and we are making slow progress. Now that it's cold, neither of us wants to do it because we spent the summer doing math out on the back porch, which feels very nice math-y sort of place to us both, and neither of us cares much for doing math in the kitchen. But we will persevere, I assure you. Morgan started ALEKS math, an online program that I much prefer since the kids can work more independently and at their own pace. She finished one level already and will start the next one in January. We've also been listening to audiobooks frantically, going through the Harry Potter series a second time, all of LotR and The Hobbit, all of the Percy Jackson series (and we just started the Heroes of Olympus series), The Hunger Games is going currently, and I am probably missing a few books. At some point I will insist on Anne of Green Gables, but I'm having fun with this Heroes of Olympus series myself. Oh, and I have The Killer Angels just waiting for us, too. On the way to Chicago in the summer, we listened to a book on the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, which was fascinating.
  • ATLOS had an outing to Martinis and IMAX at Fernbank, and that was Brendan's and my anniversary date. 
  • We visited Hillcrest Orchards with our homeschool friends, an annual outing that has become a Don't Miss event. It's your regular apple orchard, only it's populated by creepy mannequins. It's really indescribable and you MUST come with us next year.




October

  • The first weekend of October, we hosted a small gathering of friends to discuss personality theory. Some people stayed with us and the discussions happened here. It was tons of fun.
  • I also ran a 10K trail race at Kennesaw Mountain with a friend of mine that first Saturday. It had me wondering why I ever run on the roads at all. So pretty and love running trails. Yes, I said "love" and "running" in the same sentence.
  • The next weekend, we had the ATLOS annual fall picnic. Always a fun time and what a beautiful fall day it was!
  • Speaking of Kettlebells, kettlebells started back up again in earnest, having decided to go to a competition in San Francisco in February 2014. I decided to stick with Long Cycle again, but work up to the next bell weight, 16kg. That would put me in a position to make rank, if I get enough reps. It's a lot of work and a lot of fun, and as of now, I'm confident I will not embarrass myself in February, assuming I can get over this chest cold and get back to the gym. But I am getting ahead of myself.
  • Classes were going pretty well. The PD class wrapped up, and while I consider it a success, I was not thrilled with some of the technical challenges to running an online class. I have some ideas about how to make the experience better all around so I'm considering trying it again in the new year.
  • We took our annual trek up to Carlton Farms for pumpkin picking and corn maze hiking. We made it an ATLOS event, and so met Elizabeth and Michael for the first time. And Elizabeth works with Brendan, we discovered. By the way, Carlton Farms is a set location for the film Mockingjay--we are very much looking forward to seeing it in the film and are so happy for the Carlton family because they are really nice people.
  • My sister-in-law got engaged! (I think it was in October that this happened.) So now we have a fun family event to look forward to in 2014!
  • For lots of reasons, we decided against having our annual Halloween bash and looking back, that was a fantastic decision on our part, especially because Halloween was on a Thursday. Middle-of-the-week things tend to be challenging with our busy schedule. We took the kids to the neighborhood down the road, which is much better suited to trick-or-treating. Brendan was Hagrid again, Morgan was Hermione, Ryan was an Empty Child, and Sean was indeed a Dalek. At the last minute, I was inspired to be The Jerk.




November

  • November was classes, coaching, kettlebell training, gymnastics, work, and life. I am enjoying all of the things we do, but I need to learn how to pace myself. Sadly, this probably won't get to happen at this point until after the co-op school year ends. :/
  • Ryan got braces on the 11th. It was a little traumatic, getting them on, but after the first few days, things settled down and he seems to be used to them now. I was not inclined to make anyone get braces for purely cosmetic reasons, and I thought for a while that his issues were cosmetic. However, some consultations over the summer convinced us both that he was probably going to lose a tooth due to some crowding issues and so he made the decision to get the braces (it was his decision, once we determined it was something we could afford). His issues are pretty minor and we hope he will be done in 18-24 months. Fingers crossed!
  • I taught a short online Positive Discipline workshop for more teachers at Nurturing Wisdom up in Chicago. Again, some challenges with the online-ness of it, but fun. I am really enjoying teaching PD more and more and hope to do more of that in 2014. Maybe even an in-person class.
  • Speaking of Kettlebells, I got all officially registered for the kettlebell competition, and my friend and training partner is going, too, so we are representing as "Kennesaw Kettlebells." An official team! Hopefully we can grow our team beyond just the two of us, but we are happy with our tiny team for now. And we have a great coach, Jerry, so I guess it's really the three of us. Maybe we can convince Jerry to compete himself at some point!
  • I turned 43, and while I am no longer the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything, I really still am. I'm just the Answer + 1. So you can calm yourself now.
  • Ryan decided to give rock climbing class a try, at the invitation of his friend (and one of my favorite students) Ethan. He ADORED it.
  • We had an ATLOS hike up and around Kennesaw Mountain. It was chilly, but really a perfect hiking day. I need to hike Kennesaw Mountain more often.
  • Because I am still too cheap for cable or satellite, I made arrangements to take everyone to see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary show at a movie theater. SO MUCH FUN. Very special.
  • Brian and his partner Mik came to town for Thanksgiving. Kelly and Aaron and Livy came for Thanksgiving dinner. The next day, we took Brian and Mik rock climbing and trampolining. It was a fun weekend.




December

  • The first half of December was filled up with classes--co-op (me teaching and the kids taking), CF Kids, CF classes for me, kettlebell training, rock climbing for Ryan, gymnastics for Morgan, and a partridge in a pear tree.
  • We attended three holiday parties this year. The first was the annual Reason's Greetings ATLOS party, at the home of friends Dawn and Dwane. Gorgeous and fun. The next one we went to was Brendan's office party, which was large and amazing as it was last year. Speaking of CrossFit, the third party was our CrossFit party (which I guess can be considered my office party, heh). Always fun people. We are pretty much all amazing and badass.
  • ATLOSCon 2014 planning officially got underway as Kelly, Miranda, Ken and I had the first of many meetings at our favorite centrally-located Starbucks. 
  • Brendan's sister Eileen and her new fiance David (though we've met him before as he has been Brian's friend for years) came to Wildhaven for ONE NIGHT ONLY with their dog Ibi. We had a really nice evening with them, and the kids were very excited to meet their new Uncle. :D
  • We took a one week excursion to the Midwest the week of Christmas, essentially retracing much of our July trip, although on a smaller scale. We spent the first half of the week in Lafayette with my brother and his family, and it was so fun to be a part of Anna's first Christmas. My parents and sister were there, too. Also, it's SERIOUSLY COLD up in the Midwest, and now I remember why we moved to Georgia in the first place. Then we betook ourselves up to Chicago to see Brendan's family. Highlights from this trip include Actual Snow, Restaurant Yoga, Indiana Bourbon, Adorable Baby, Doctor Who Christmas Special (goodbye, Matt Smith, sigh), Arni's Pizza, Lou Malnati's Pizza, and Wonderful People.
  • Oh yeah, and we had the dog with us on this trip, and she did so well. She has now met three of her four dog "cousins": Ibi, Chloe (my sister's dog), and Willie (Eileen's dog who is at my mother-in-law's house still). She has yet to meet Oscar, my brother's dog, but that is unlikely to happen as he is not a fan of kids and whenever we come to visit, we have all these kids with us. But maybe we'll find a way to introduce them. She is fine with other dogs, but I have learned that it will just take a while for all the canines to settle the you-know-what down and simply peacefully coexist. Ah well, now I know. 
  • We are having a nice low-key week to end the year and begin the new one. Brendan is at work, and I'm going to try some kettlebells this afternoon if this dastardly cough doesn't stop me (I think I caught Anna's cold, but of course it was SO WORTH IT). We will putter around the house, play with new Christmas toys, put things away, make some cookies and a yummy meal for tonight, and have a peaceful New Year's Eve with my favoritest people in the whole wide universe. Not a bad way to see 2013 off, really.



So, as you can see, I hardly did anything at all in 2013. :D All in all, it was a fun, productive year full of value-pursuit, love, good friends, self-discovery, and joy. There were struggles, too, though I have chosen not to highlight the worst on my Year In Review, as ultimately they are the kinds of struggles that don't really matter in the specifics. There have been lessons learned and course corrections made, and that's really all the purpose they served.

I have been trying to figure out what I want the theme or focus for 2014 to be. As I mentioned somewhere above, I definitely need to learn to pace myself. I also need to learn to be more present in the moment, to just enjoy the moments and people I am with. So that will be a focus. And yet, I want to have more adventures, too. And it would be nice to get more work done on the house, and maybe keep earning some money (that is nice, I have to say, to have some jobs that pay even just a little bit of money).

All in all, I think we are pretty much kicking butt, and we are all healthy and happy and learning all the time. I don't think I can ask for much more at all. So I hope that 2014 is a continuation of the things begun in previous years, and a little more calm and settled down from 2013 (as 2013 was from 2012). Maybe peace and calm is a bit too much to hope for given all of our projects and impending teenagerhood, etc. But I'll try.

Happy New Year to anyone who made it this far! May 2014 bring you joy and love and productiveness, and yes, even peace!

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