Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: Year in Review

I wasn't going to do one of these posts this year. I just kind of felt like it had been played out, and I have so many other posts running through my head that I'd rather write about. 

BUT, I'm a sucker for tradition. And when I have so much to write about, it's easier to just answer a list of questions.

This Christmas break has been nothing short of exhausting--we've dealt with the loss of David's grandma, the imminent arrival of Coco's molars, and an unprecedented amount of rain that resulted in water seeping into our basement and in through a kitchen window. We've spent ten of the past fifteen nights in beds that were not our own, and as we drove back to St. Louis this morning, we were all tired, cranky, I was overcaffeinated, David was overstressed, and the three in the backseat were mildly to moderately wounded (Coco has a scratch on her face from Cooper's paw caused by David; Zuzu has a scrape on her cheek caused by fall on ice; Cooper has puncture wounds in leg caused by another dog's canine teeth). FUN TIMES! 

Needless to say, the end of 2015 is hard to describe in few words, and left me with plenty of material for blog posts (I WILL be recapping Christmas, even if it happens in February and is of no interest to anyone but me and my mom). 

So now we're home. I'm sitting alone in the TV room, sipping on a cup of bedtime tea at 8:27pm. The basement water situation has been dealt with as best we could (at least it's not raining). In the few hours we've been home tonight, we've also mopped up a toilet that runneth over and a cup of spilled milk. There's piles of laundry, and Christmas decorations are still up, and I really need to plan the class that starts on Monday, but that stuff can wait. David is putting Zuzu to bed and I'm going to answer these questions and watch something on Netflix until I start to doze off and have to make myself go upstairs and fall into bed so that I can tackle the mile-long to-do list tomorrow. 

There are worst to end the first day of the new year.

(Also I just want to add that as I went through and updated the answers from 2014, I couldn't believe that I wrote those answers just one year ago--somehow it feels like 16-month-old Coco has been here forever, but I just met her in 2014! CRAZY!)

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
* Successfully potty-trained my kid (ha! Who am I kidding? She decided to do it herself. Finally. In August. Which is MUCH LATER than I would have preferred. I'm starting to realize that my preferences aren't always in line with her priorities. Go figure.).
* Worked out with a personal trainer. (Even though he was an undergraduate doing it for class credit, it still totally counts.)
* Took a family vacation road trip with my kids and my parents AND witnessed my brother get married. (It was fun, and really, I couldn't have chosen a better partner for him if I had picked her out myself.)

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Goals for 2015: 
Figure out how to use my DSLR camera in manual mode.  NOPE. Didn't do it. Didn't use it enough even in auto mode. Relied on the ol' iPhone for pics. And focused on participating in activities rather than worrying about documenting them. So I roll my eyes at this goal. Maybe in 2020?

Be more active. Yep. While I didn't really get going on this until the final quarter of the year, my 8 weeks with a personal trainer made a huge difference in how I felt on a daily basis. 

Don't bring work home too often. I did well on this, mostly because I discovered that it was basically impossible for me to get work done at home. So I occasionally (often) spent longer days at the office than I would have liked, but I was able to spend my evenings with my family and not grading papers.

Make time for yoga. Not as much as I would have liked.

Be energetic and ready for fun. Eh. Maybe? Probably not as much as I would have liked. Note to Last Year Self: Goals like this are annoyingly vague. 

Give proofs of love. If proofs of love equal hugs and kisses for mah bay-bees, then yes. I hug and kiss the hell out of my kids. They are so delicious and squishy.

Goals for 2016 (specific and measurable!):
Read 50 books for fun.
Write (besides blog posts). More specifically, draft an academic article and write at least three other things non-related to academia--fiction or creative nonfiction.
Do something active 2 times a week (minimum).
Get your shit together when it comes to photos--order books, order prints, get organized.

I know I have much room for improvement, but three seems like enough. Also #2 and #4 are really super hard for me, so wish me luck.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Angie had her fourth baby and third boy, Ethan.
My friend Erika and Ben had their first baby and recipient of many Duckworth-girl hand-me-downs, Allegra.
Two new BLM friends had babies this year, and I delighted in the safe arrivals of Dom and Josie. Two dear friends adopted babies this year, and I delighted in the safe arrivals of Ruby and Matthew.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
David's grandma Peggy passed away shortly before Christmas.

5. What countries did you visit?
Stayed in the U.S., but visited three new states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
More time to read for fun, a more organized and functional closet, and an uninterrupted night's sleep on a regular basis (ahem, Coco).

7. What dates from 2015 will remained etched upon your memory?
July 25 - my brother's wedding and my girls' flower girls debut. And as of right now, that's all I can come up with!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think I did my job really well this year. I don't say that lightly--I stretched myself in my teaching and tried some new things and I really felt like I kept myself organized and used my time at work efficiently. I wish parenting were as easy for me!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting worked up over Zuzu's potty training was a huge mistake!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Mastitis in January. Strep throat in December. Also one night in December I had an upset stomach after making dinner of baked brie and red wine (go figure). So feeling shitty book-ended my year, but the months in between were pretty good!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
These new shower shelves and new containers for flour and sugar. (It's the little things, people! Also I'm not affiliated with The Container Store, but I'd like to be.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
This is super sappy, but I've got to go with David on this one. The way he cared for his grandma in the past two months made me love him even more than I already did (and that's saying something, you guys). 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
First name rhymes with Ronald, last name rhymes with Hump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Montessori Preschool for the Most Special of Snowflakes (Who Occasionally Bites Her Friends) and Daycare for the Squishiest of Babies (Who is Becoming Alarmingly Toddler-Like)

15. What did you get really excited about?
Ikea opening in St. Louis

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder?  This is a hard question to answer. Honestly, I think right this minute I feel sadder--losing David's grandma has made me miss my grandparents more, and wish that my girls got to see my Papa (my dad's dad) more often. Overall, I'd say I'm happier. Life gets easier and my clothes fit better as the girls get a bit older, and I'm looking forward to what 2016 will bring.
- thinner or fatter?  thinner (Thanks, Personal Trainer!)
- richer or poorer?  probably the same... I'm back to work full time, so my salary is back, but Special Snowflake Preschool cuts into Mama's Household Budget

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
creating photobooks and seeing my friends

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
worrying about potty training

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents at our house, then with my brother and his wife and my parents at my parents' house, also with my Papa and my dad's siblings and my cousins at my aunt Tammi's, and then we wrapped up the holiday with New Year's Eve at my best friend's house. It was fun, but I haven't had a good night's sleep since mid-December.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With Jessica Jones on Netflix.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
see above! Although I'm also a fan of The Good Wife and How to Get Away With Murder, and David and I still tune in to Survivor (I heart Joe).

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
#13 might qualify here, although I don't know him personally, so it's hard to say. Maybe we'd get along fabulously and just disagree about EVERY IMPORTANT ISSUE EVER.

24. What was the best book you read?
Definitely Citizen by Claudine Rankin. 

I also really enjoyed Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacquline Winspear (#10 in the Maisie Dobbs series) and In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

25. What was your favorite musical discovery?
Here is where I admit that I actually like this Jason Isbell guy--David is a big fan, so he gets credit for this discovery. I'm always suspicious of his taste in music, but this is pretty great. If you're not familiar, listen to "24 Frames." It's my favorite. David's favorite is "Elephant."

26. What did you want and get?
Red rain boots, a kitchen backsplash, and a new rug for the living room.

27. What did you want and not get?
New light fixtures, a housekeeping service, a desire to cook dinner.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
OMG. Did I even go to the movies this year? I know I did. But what did we see? Oh, it was that Tom Hanks movie about East Germany. It was okay but not a favorite film. I think my favorite film would be Trainwreck because I love Amy Schumer, but I haven't actually seen it yet. Sigh. I should add "watch more movies" to my goals for 2016.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We drove home from Cleveland. I turned 35. NOT a memorable birthday. Maybe next year.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying [besides your first daughter being alive]?
This is hard to say. It was really a pretty satisfying year overall. Sure could use a house cleaning service, though.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Comfortable = Flat Shoes + Skinny Bottoms + Flowy Tops + Scarves + Maybe Some Lip Color Because Now You Are 35

32. What kept you sane?
my girls, particularly when they are sleeping and I feel all mushy and overwhelmed with love for them. (If the question were "What made you insane?" I'd have the same answer, except that's when they are awake.)

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Amy Schumer

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Syrian refugee crisis. It's so overwhelming that I confess my impulse is to want to shut it out instead of try to help, but I donated here, and I encourage you to do the same.

35. Who did you miss?

Eliza, of course, and grandparents whom we wish could have had time--or more time--with Zuzu and Coco. (same answer as last year)

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My new colleague in the English department--I'm so glad we hired someone I truly want to have as a friend.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Different kids require different parenting. You do your kid, I'll do mine. And we'll both wonder most of the time if we're doing it right.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I remember driving the girls to school one morning and hearing this song and straight up crying in my car, and then I got home and e-mailed some friends and I was like, "HAVE YOU HEARD THIS SONG I'M A SOBBING MESS." Because, yes. This is exactly how I love those babies of mine.
So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you,
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye
Wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted,
'Cause we'll never know when
We'll run out of time
(from "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor and John Legend)

Here's to 2016. May it bring you all the good.


  1. Nora and Dom and me and Josie got a shout out! I always love reading this post of yours.

  2. 13 and 23. Oh, I am still laughing. You are so right. And funny. And I had to look at the link in 11. to tell you that you couldn't possibly like your canisters as much as the ones I have, but we have the same ones! And I love them more than I should. We have great taste, obviously. Happy 2016.