2011 in review

It’s that time again! 2011’s highlights:

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: We had a baby!

serious cute

I spent most of the first nine months of 2011 gestating this cutie, and as such, 75% of the year is a blur. But yeah, she’s pretty awesome. I can officially remove “Have a home birth” from the life list, since Gwen is most definitely our last child and, once again, the home birth didn’t work out. In retrospect, I’m not disappointed with either of my babies’ births. The experiences were just as powerful and life-altering despite having taken place in a hospital–and I got two amazing kids out of the deal so I can’t feel bad about that!

In July Tim started a new work-from-home job, putting his WordPress expertise to work at Automattic. While this isn’t my accomplishment to share, it’s certainly had an impact on our family. Prior to this we worked together in the same office for several years, but he quickly realized he couldn’t keep up with both workloads and resigned from his position at the university in August. The new job also means more travelling and that’s been difficult for both of us. So far he’s been to Montreal and Budapest, and next month he’ll spend a week in Hawaii (the stinker!) Despite those challenges, I really can’t complain–his new schedule offers more flexibility than the university could, the benefits are excellent and it’s a significant step up in his career. We’re still figuring out how to navigate this new world, but I have a feeling it will get easier as time goes on.

I had my gallbladder removed shortly after Gwen was born. Although certainly not something I wanted, in one sense I’m glad it happened. It was the wake-up call that allowed me to take a critical look at my daily habits and take steps to better myself. I bought a Fitbit which motivated me to start exercising and monitoring calories again, and after just a few weeks I feel ten times better about myself and my abilities. It’s a careful balance between doing the work and becoming obsessive about it, and while I don’t always win that mental battle, I’m getting better.

Creatively I don’t have much to show for myself. I’m not feeling the illustration bug, my shops have been dormant most of the year, and I have a few ideas for photo shoots but it’s too darn cold outside and there’s not enough room in our house. Meh. I did spend a few months teaching myself about WordPress theme development and crossed off “learn PHP” from my life list, so that’s something!

Three of my list items had to do with the kids–make their Halloween costumes, make Ellie a birthday cake (I didn’t bake it but I decorated it, so I’m counting this one) and take them to Santa’s Village–so it’s easy to see where my focus was this year. However, Tim and I also took our first “long” trip away from Ellie in April to see Iron & Wine in concert (something I never wrote about due to pregnancy yuckiness) which was fun. And I visited my extended family in North Carolina for the first time, crossing off another state on my “visit all 50 states” goal.

Overall, I would say this was a banner year for personal and family growth, not so much creativity. That’s an acceptable exchange, though. I’ve devoted many years to creative pursuits, so it’s only fair that other things come into focus for a bit. As the kids get older I will have more time to spend with my projects, but right now it’s all about them. Seeing how much Ellie has grown and then having our second child has made me keenly aware of just how fast it goes by.

Next year I’m looking forward to more of the same–more introspection as I get closer to my thirties and more time spent enjoying my family. I’m hoping to travel a bit, too–nothing crazy long distance, but now that we have a bit more disposable income I want to get out of the state occasionally!

Happy new year, all!

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2010 in review

Elspeth's Second BirthdayThe fact that I’m 10 days late with this year in review is appropriate, given how regular I’ve been about blogging lately… which is to say, not regular at all!

One of the things I did start in 2010, albeit a little late, was a regular exercise routine. Since mid-October I’ve exercised every single day in some form or another, and I definitely notice a difference. Without changing my diet drastically, I’ve lost about 10 lbs and I feel so much better about myself. I knew there was a reason I used to do this! I’m sticking to 20 minutes a day of either aerobic stepping with Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution… DDR in particular is a really good workout. That’s one thing I’ll definitely be continuing in the new year.

The other health-related thing I’d like to keep up with: No fast food. I don’t even really like the stuff, but it’s so easy to get into the habit of pulling up to the drive-through when I’m in a rush. Tim and I have made a point of bringing our lunches to work for the last month and it’s greatly helped our budget and health, so this month we’re using the same rule for breakfasts to save even more money.

2010 was a moderately creative year as well. I put all of last year’s doodles in a set and came up with nearly 90 illustrations, which doesn’t even include all the custom design for other clients. Photographically I was also more active in 2010–only 3 shoots total, but that’s a huge improvement over the big fat zero from 2009. And I’m really proud of the work I did produce, so I hope to keep that going this year. And I’m proud of the websites I’ve built for myself this year, even if I haven’t exactly been consistent about updating them!

On a personal note, Tim and I celebrated 10 years together in 2010. We also celebrated Elspeth’s second birthday, and our second year of parenting a toddler–yikes. And we survived our second major home project when we renovated our downstairs bathroom (practically at gunpoint, thanks to water damage and black mold, but still.) I checked an item off my life list when we saw Joshua Radin in concert. We also had our first family vacation and escaped with our sanity mostly intact, which is something.

Phew. I don’t think I realized until now just how busy 2010 was. I have a sneaking suspicion 2011 is going to be just as busy on all fronts. Case in point: There will be potty training.

Bring it on!

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i like to move it move it

Apologies for the title. Last month, I set a short-term goal of exercising every day for 21 days (thinking if I could do that, it would become habit) and I’ve kept it up for over a month with relatively few complaints. My long-term goal is to get in shape, although I really hate that term–“in shape.” I am “in shape” and that shape is a rather large circle. But I digress. Let’s just say I want to feel healthier.

Exercise and I have a tenuous relationship at best. In college I started walking 20-30 minutes a day and that was my primary exercise. I’m not sure what prompted the routine, but I stuck with it for several years (somewhat begrudgingly.) I was temporarily knocked off track (pardon the pun) when I broke my foot in September 2006, and then again when I got pregnant with Ellie. After Ellie was born, I tried to get back into regular activity using the Wii Fit but that got boring pretty fast.

So this time, I’m making an attempt to do some form of physical activity–20 minutes or so–every day. No pressure. So far that involves walking home from work or aerobic stepping on the Wii, and occasionally I’ll substitute another exercise-like activity for the usual 20-minute stint. As far as I’m concerned, if I sweat, it counts. What surprises me is that I rarely find myself thinking, “I don’t want to do this!” If anything, I look forward to the little break each day. I’ve also lost about 5 lbs, which is a nice bonus.

The biggest challenge will be keeping myself interested when winter sets in and walking outside is not possible. I’m considering a new treadmill, but we’ll see how I fare with the Wii for now. I also have DDR in the event Wii Fit gets boring. Month two, here I come!

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a breath of fresh air

ellie plays in the leavesI’ve come away from the long weekend feeling motivated and inspired. Maybe it’s the fall air, or maybe it’s that I finally feel rested and “caught up” for the first time in weeks. We spent a few days at my parents’, and the peace and quiet (and the extra sets of hands for Miss Crazy Toddler–thanks mom and dad) gave me some time to think. And when I think, I make lists!

My big to-do list for the month:

  1. Fix my treadmill–or, in the event it can’t be fixed, purchase a new treadmill–and make a point of walking almost every day. I miss my old routine from a few years ago and I think I’d feel better if I could jump start that habit. In the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of the nice weather and walk outside at least once a day.
  2. Figure out where to configure a small studio space in our home so I can continue to work on photography this winter. One shoot per month would be ideal, more if I have the time/inclination. Research lenses and consider a couple upgrades (a new AF prime would be practical, but a Lensbaby with a few inserts would be frivolous and fun–and who’s motivated by practicality, anyway?) Speaking of photos, I’ll be posting some new photos from a recent shoot soon!
  3. Start mapping out the next few years, to whatever extent possible. I’m starting to feel that late-20’s “itch” (Saturn return, anyone?) to figure out where I want to be and what I want to be doing with my life. Not that I’m not happy with things right now, but I want my daily life to actively contribute to more long-term goals. The problem is, I don’t really have any long-term goals–common sense dictates I should start there, no? Part of this will involve working some more on my life list, which is something I’ve been picking away at here and there but have yet to really focus on.

I also got to play in the leaves with my favorite girl this weekend, which was a joy (as you can plainly see.) It was a reminder of what is truly important… fun times, my family, good health. As a Professional Anxiety-Ridden Worrywort, I often forget how lucky we are. Sometimes it takes a simple moment to bring me back into focus.

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