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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getting healthy! monthly check-in

It’s going…  OK. I’ve lost 2 more pounds since I last wrote… not as much as I would have liked (I was shooting for 1lb/week), but still, a loss is a loss. Considering how one of those weeks was particularly difficult due to travel, and how I haven’t really pushed myself very hard, and how I just went back to work in late November… let’s just say there were enough obstacles that I should probably consider those two pounds a huge success under the circumstances.

(And hey, my house still looks fantastic!)

I was particularly nervous about going back to work, but I think I’ve found a routine that’s going to stick. Currently I walk to and from the office most days, which nets me about 4-5k steps total. Tim takes the girls to school/daycare so I’m free to walk in the morning, then I’ll sometimes walk home for lunch or across campus to Ellie’s school at the end of the day. Two of the three walks per day, plus a concentrated effort to get up from my desk every half hour, is usually enough activity to finish my evenings with relatively little effort. There’s some flexibility built in and I’m always on the lookout for alternatives in the event I can’t do one of my daily walks–for example, I walk to meetings whenever possible or I’ll jog up and down the stairs in my building during breaks. If it gets too cold to walk, I plan on firing up the Wii again.

I also started playing Health Month in earnest, and while I thought the idea was a little hokey at first, I’m surprised at just how motivating it is. I haven’t walked less than 10k steps a day since the start of December because I’m held accountable to that goal every day. Funny how something so simple can be so effective.

There’s also something to be said for the fact that I feel better, not just physically but mentally as well. I noticed after our trip to Santa’s Village that I was not nearly as exhausted as I would have been before–I was tired and sore being on my feet all day, sure, but I didn’t need the following two days just to recover. I also feel more capable, if that makes sense–tasks that used to seem impossible become manageable when I remind myself that little steps add up to big things. It’s a refreshing new way of looking at the world and I’m enjoying it.

So in summary, I’m keeping at it. Some days are easier than others and I suppose it will always be that way. I have to remind myself that weight loss, while a nice side effect, should not be my primary measurement of progress. I’d be happy to maintain my current weight as long as I continue to make small changes toward bettering my health. I want this process to evolve organically in hopes it will become habit and not a dreaded daily chore.

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