What’s up?

It’s been a busy few weeks!

We had a brand new heat pump system installed in our house, which means our office is functional again! I’m impressed with the amount of heat these things put out. We’ve only had to turn the oil furnace on once or twice, when it got really cold outside. Hoping this will save us some cash in the long run, and reduce our dependence on oil.

I’ve joined Goodreads and am tracking my reading habits; until now, I’d been reading mostly fanfiction (there is so much good X-Files fanfic out there!) but I’ve been sitting on a stack of unread books for years. Currently working my way through Justin Cronin’s The Passage series from the beginning, so I can pick up a copy of City of Mirrors and actually understand what’s going on.

I also opened a new store at Redbubble, something I’ve been meaning to try for ages but hadn’t gotten around to. Inspiration finally struck when I needed a new phone case and couldn’t find any designs that caught my attention, so I thought I’d use one of my own. That led to my adding a bunch of work there, and I’ve been drawing/doodling more stuff as a result.

What else? I was called for jury duty in January, so at the end of this month I’ll find out if I’ve been selected for a jury. My first! It’s an interesting time to be part of the judiciary process, given everything that’s happening on a grander scale in the US. That’s also been taking a lot of my energy; keeping up with the latest in our nation’s steep decline into madness.

Pokemon Go recently released a bunch of new Pokemon, so I’ve been walking more. The Apple Watch app is super handy for this, and it nudges me to get up and move more often. It’s even been warm enough outside to go for the occasional walk!

Then there’s the usual work and family stuff. It looks like I’ll be traveling to Montreal for work at the beginning of May. My fifth anniversary with Automattic is also coming up, so I’m preparing for a three-month sabbatical starting mid-May. Every five years, Automatticians can take two to three months off to completely disconnect from work — travel, spend more time with family, explore a pet project, etc. It’s an excellent perk, and I’m excited to have the time off. I haven’t taken three months off since I had Gwen, and this time I won’t have a newborn to care for.

What will I do? I haven’t made any concrete plans, but I’m thinking we’ll visit friends out of state, maybe take the kids somewhere new, and I’ve been saving for a comic con in case Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny make a joint appearance this summer. I may also work on a fanfic novel I’ve been mulling over for ages.

I’ve managed to keep the winter blahs at bay with all this activity, although I’m very tired of snow and ready for spring. Only a couple more months before things start to warm up!


Slimy Times

Her face says it all. Joy, wonder, intrigue…EW.

I don’t know where I first encountered the homemade slime thing (…it was probably Pinterest) but it’s been stuck in my mind for weeks. I have vivid memories of playing with Gak as a kid, and this is basically the same stuff.

I knew the kids would love it; Gwen especially enjoys tactile things, and the more rubbery “slime” works with her Play-Doh toys. It’s also a cool introduction to non-Newtonian fluids, which my young geek, Ellie, would appreciate. Yay science!

Pretty innocuous looking, eh? Like puddles of paint.

I followed this recipe, the gist of which is white glue, borax, water, and food coloring. It’s easy to make, but the process is messy. Thankfully it’s also washable (I’m told vinegar will do the trick if plain water doesn’t work).

The above recipe is straightforward so I’m not going to copy it here, but I did learn a few things in the process of making our own goop:

  • Add the borax solution a teeny, tiny bit at a time for the best results; I made the mistake of adding too much too quickly, and my goop was more rubber than slime. Still fun to play with, but not as stretchy as I wanted.
  • You’re going to get to a point where stirring doesn’t really work, and you have to knead the borax solution in. To avoid the sticky mess all over your hands, put the goop in a zip-lock bag when you do this. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you!
  • If it’s too rubbery, add more glue and water.
  • If it’s too sticky, add more borax solution.

This stuff is a pretty great stress reliever. I have a habit of twirling my hair and picking at my scalp when my anxiety is getting the best of me, and I’ve found playing with slime keeps my hands occupied so I don’t pick.


2016 in review

I ended my 2015 review post with the following quote:

Most of all, I hope 2016 takes it easy on us during this next trip around the sun. And in the unfortunate event it’s not so kind, let me get through it with grace.

…and I’m not sure 2016 took it easy on us, huh? But on a personal front, it was a pretty good year.

It started off with a new season of The X-Files and all the excitement surrounding that. The season itself was 50/50 for me, but that exceeded my purposefully low expectations. It looks like we may not see another season for a while yet, if ever, so I’m disappointed in the show runners for ending on a major cliffhanger. Ah well. We’ll always have Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-monster.

I spent some time in Vancouver for a work meetup and organized a little tour of X-Files filming locations while I was there. I fell in love with the city; it’s quite possibly the only urban location I’ve visited that I could see myself living in and enjoying.

In May, I saw A Streetcar Named Desire in Brooklyn and met Gillian Anderson for the first time. That was probably one of the biggest highlights of the year for me; her performance was stunning and not something I’ll soon forget.

Over the summer, we finally had the upstairs room renovated into an office/guest bedroom, making a large portion of our home into a functional space. I love having my own office, and I pampered my inner geek by dedicating a whole wall of it to X-Files fan art. Unfortunately, it’s been too cold to use it recently, since it’s poorly insulated and relies on heat rising from the lower level of the house. If it ever warms up a little this winter, we’ll have a new heat pump system put in to fix that.

We attended Boston Comic Con as a family, met Gillian Anderson (again, because why not?), and I took a long vacation involving lots of time outside with Pokemon Go.

We also lost our oldest kitty, Nala, which was very sad.

The kids started kindergarten and second grade, respectively, which means we’ve had a lot more quiet time in our lives since September. I remember when they were babies, how it seemed like life would never feel “normal” again, and the daunting task of being responsible for small humans seemed to infiltrate every aspect of daily living. Five years down the road, I think we’ve reached our new normal.

At our company’s annual Grand Meetup, I walked my first 5k, went to meetings, worked, went to more meetings, and got two new tattoos (the second of which is behind my ear, so I’m constantly forgetting I have it) (which makes occasionally catching sight of it in the mirror kind of thrilling, TBH).

I worked hard, with my role shifting even further to the management side, but I also took more time off, and took a more relaxed attitude toward vacation overall. That was good for me. I celebrated 4 years at Automattic in May, and I remain thankful for the opportunity to work with the people I do.

My brother and his fiancée were married this fall, and I saw my husband in a tux for the first time. Highly recommended, A+++, would tux my husband again. Speaking of my husband, we celebrated 9 years of marriage and 16 years of good times.

The election drudged up a lot of, well, drudge. On one hand, it had the important effect of making me more politically aware and active; on the other, I have a new source of anxiety to contend with.

I traveled to Barcelona in November, and saw some beautiful architecture, ate delicious tapas, and hung out with my spiffy coworkers.

As the year came to an end, after feeling a bit lazy on the creative front, I challenged myself to write for 30 days straight. As a result, I started 2017 with a bunch of new short stories and drafts. I think I’m going to try to do the 30-day writing challenge every few months as a way to create new material for editing.

We celebrated a quiet, relaxed Christmas with our little family to end the year.

…and now, here we are. 2017, I’m not sure how I feel about you yet. Right now, it feels like I’m trying to keep my head above water, which I attribute partly to seasonal affective disorder and partly to the political atmosphere in the U.S. We’ll see how that plays out.


Christmas 2016

Wrapping up a successful Christmas; Santa was good to us this year. He seems to know how much we enjoy LEGOs, but he also came through with new card/dice games and expansions for old favorites, and sleds for outdoor fun.

We’re having quite the Classic New England Winter (TM) so far; lots of snow, regular pristine, white coatings of the stuff, which means a fair amount of plowing and shoveling and sending the kids outside dressed like waddling, hot-pink-and-purple marshmallows. In an effort to ward off the winter blahs, I’ve strung lights up to the point where our living room can probably be seen from space.

I scheduled an extra-long winter vacation, without realizing it would be almost as long as my summer break was. Not that I’m complaining, but I’m at a bit of a loss since I didn’t have any plans save for 1) surviving the holidays and 2) catching up on a backlog of fanfic reading. With the first one out of the way, I intend to start on the second, with a bit of writing of my own thrown in for good measure.