2017 Year in Review

Here it is, the final sum up! I’ve spent the last month assembling pictures and gifs and I still don’t have it quite all together so, whatever, get it done, get it out! That’s what this is all about, yeah?

  1. Drink more water. This was a big fail for the year. Instead, I drink the statistically improbable quantities of coffee that actually reduce your chances of getting stomach cancer. but don’t worry, this super cliche resolution will be carried over to 2018 because it turns out it actually does matter. 
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Here I am in December drinking not-water.

2. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. The year was really up and down, sleep-wise, and wrapped more on the “down” end–too much zoning out in front of the TV, wrapping presents, decorating shit, gluing tiny eyes on toddler projects, and watching cheesy Christmas movies. This is another one I’ll be carrying over to the new year. I do better when I really stay on it–it just never quite successfully becomes a natural habit. I get up too early to stay up so late. I’m doing it again…I’m doing it right now….I’ve been up an hour too late looking for pictures to correspond to each resolution from the last year….goddammit.

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Saw a lot of these this year.

3. Aim for 7. NOPE. See above.  

4. Exercise 5 days per week. As reported in October, I haven’t missed a yoga video on a weekday morning since, like, June. That’s a huge step forward from the big fat nothing I’d been doing for the prior two years…but 12-minute-videos that don’t raise my heart rate or cause me to break a sweat aren’t really sufficient. Onward and upward in the new year.

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5. Eat more vegetables. ✓ Yeah! We did well! I now regularly cook things like broccoli and cauliflower from fresh, which seems like a low bar to clear, but I’d literally only ever microwaved frozen florets before. Like, in my life. I don’t know why I thought it was hard. It’s not, they’re delicious, and we *have* made a good pattern of this. Keep it up next year, self! And branch out to try some new things!

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I don’t take a lot of food pictures, so the only evidence I have is when I burned the shit out of my arm on an unexpected tidal wave of steam rolling out of the oven when I was roasting a bunch of shit.

6. Be kinder to my spouse. ✓ I can be a snippish person and I am sure I’m not easy to live with. And in general I need more physical, mental, emotional, and auditory space than is actually available to me. But I’m really working hard at not taking that out on the person who has to spend the most time with me. It helps, too, that we did get out “alone together” more frequently this year than any time since Liddie was born. It’s always lovely to be reminded how much you actually enjoy each other’s company.

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A date night–one of several this year! Woo!–in March

7. Be less rigid. This one, and the three following it, were not “SMART” goals, in that they were not specific, measurable, achievable(?), or time-bound. And, as a result, I have no idea if I met them! I do think I made some progress this year in proactively tending to anxiety, which tends to show in all of these. I think I took more chances and leaps of faith, and “spoke my truth” more often. I’m not sure how well or how often that translated into actual flexibility or funheartbreak.gif8. Have more fun. I will say that age 2 was–overall!–a fun year for me as a parent. One was really hard. And three is shaping up to be….exciting. But two was for the most part, really fun. It felt like we’d hit our stride, for a lot of the year. ohyou.gif9. Roll with the punches. I don’t know if this quite applies, but I’ve noticed this year that I’ve become much less of a perfectionist–in a good way. I’m willing to ask a “dumb” question, to risk misspeaking rather than not speaking at all, to muddle through rather than remaining paralyzed. I’m prouder of this than I would have expected 10 or even 5 years ago.

julie.gif10. Take the long view. Everything is temporary. Everything can change. Indeed, everything will change, whether I want it to or not. ????lucille.gif11. Take myself as seriously as I expect other people to take me (like, carry business cards and shit). ✓ You know, I have rounded out the year feeling really good about my professional trajectory. I applied for promotion and in mid-December agreed to step into a new, exciting, and challenging role at our library that will be stretch–but also one that I’m fully convinced I’m prepared for and the right person to take on. I fell short in some ways–I had like three opportunities so publish (or try to publish) research this year and I basically just dropped the ball repeatedly on deadlines, follow-through, straight up doing the work. I am really struggling, there–that will be my focus in the coming year. But on the whole, a really good year, and at least in part because I started to get more serious about what I can really do with the skills and experience I’ve been developing over the last eight years.

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Super professional picture of my colleagues dumping out leftover baked beans at the company picnic.

12. But also take stuff in general less seriously. I don’t know?? 200.gif13. But also do not become complacent/paralyzed/ apathetic re: the world/our nation/social justice. Yeah, I totally did become complacent and apathetic. And now I’m back to feeling paralyzed. I need to find a good handhold to reach in, grab on, and sustainably contribute to pushing the rock back up the hill.pastriarchy.gif14. Just keep grieving ✓ It’s a process, it’s a process, it’s a process. I’ve found proactive ways to honor and celebrate my dad’s life, and my grief. I made a killer chocolate cake on his birthday. I took the day off on the anniversary of his death. We’ve been through all his belongings. I’ve digitized family films. I’ve got his artwork on my walls; I’ve shared his cameras with other photographers. I swing back and forth between feeling like I’ve betrayed him by never *really* talked about him, to feeling like he’s *all* I talk about (“Hi my name is Becky and my dad is dead.”). Liddie is at a stage right now where she asks me like 50 times a day where my daddy is, so I’m getting a lot of practice talking about it in a brief, matter-of-fact way. It’s with me all the time, even when it doesn’t immediately feel like it is. And I’ve basically become obsessed with end-of-life planning/decisions/care, hospice, palliative care, death, grief, and everyhing related to it. I’m reading everyhing I can find, and making everyone else read everything, too. Trying to channel this in a positive direction is on my list for 2018.

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I took the day off on the anniversary of my dad’s death. I happened to put these socks on. I’ve had them for, like, years and never noticed the words across the toes until that day.

15. Pull my weight re: nurturing friendships; do my fair share of organizing, hosting, prodding, reaching out, reminding, and lowering the overhead as much as possible for busy people to spend good time together. YES to the max! This year I coordinated two girlfriend reunions, and hosted multiple weekly get togethers at my house. A lot of people drank a lot of cocktails and ate a lot of ice cream and laughed a LOT and shared their stories and troubles because of me. This was the best, most important thing I did this year. cheers.gif

16. Participate in the weekly Sunday night potluck dinner organized by a former neighbor at least quarterly. Aim for monthly.  Goal retired (abandoned) This never happened. [sad trombone]

17. Cook more real food for dinner at my house. Yes! We’ve settled into a good, solid weekly routine. It could definitely use some shaking up with fresh ideas and recipes, but on the whole we’re doing a lot better than we were 14 months ago.

18. Eat dinner as a family, at the table Yes. This came in time, as the child grew, started eating better and (vaguely) more like us. The downside is her bedtime is drifting later and later and later to make this possible, which can be hard on us all. If I’m honest I sometimes miss throwing her in bed and eating my dinner in front of the TV with a glass of wine. But it’s a good evolution.

19. Make time to speak with my mom at least weekly, more if possible. Probably most of the time? Our schedules don’t always align, and that’s hard.

20. Make time to speak to my aunt and my grandma at least monthly, more if possible. Did not speak monthly, but saw this branch of the family five times this year, which is UNHEARD of. It is important to maintain contact, and I’ll keep trying, but I’ll also take that facet time as a good thing. 

21. Curtail Facebook usage (unless actually writing meaningful messages to the above or others) NOPE. GOAL RETIRED BECAUSE I NO LONGER CARE ABOUT THIS. crankyann.gif

22. Blog more. Eh, I keep trying. 

23. Write more letters. Nope. Maybe next year.

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24. Make a weekend with Kelsey and Robyn happen. 

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Girls’ weekend in Boulder and it was GLORIOUS!

25. Visit my aunt and grandma in Denver . ✓ TWICE no less–once in February and once in August

20170811_18161726. Get my high school girlfriends to Michigan for a visit. ✓ Well, mostly. Only Lisa and Eve were able to come…and then Lisa had strep and we spent most of the first evening at urgent care / Walgreen’s. But we still had many adventures, such as seeing a real, larger than life Little Caesar’s statue.20170729_14252827. Take one awesome, adventurous, ambitious family vacation.  ROMA, BABY. It was a dream come true, what I’ve always wanted, but more and better than I could have imagined. Plus also so much toddler drama. But still. I will treasure it always.20171126_160854.jpg28. Make our bedroom a nice, warm, comfortable, functional, attractive, calming, intentional place to be, rather than the garbage pile where we hide everything that we don’t want anyone else to see. Paint. Window treatments. Closet. A bed. ✓, but goal modified: We did get a bed (though it took literally months to assemble fully) and we now have two temporary crappy closet solutions. But then we sort of gave up on our room and switched our attention to Liddie’s room–where we’ve actually made a lot of progress, and just moved her into it on Jan. 1. I’ll take it!20180101_15440329. Renovate our kitchen. No, but small steps were taken. While we were away, my brother house-sat for us, and painted our cabinets. This small makeover doesn’t improve the functionality of our dysfunctional kitchen, but it does make it look nicer, which makes me less angry every time I walk into it, which means the renovation can wait. At one point we really did make some significant progress picking out cabinets and counters from IKEA, but then we got bogged down re: trying to schedule a consultation with them and gave up. Put it back on the list for next year.

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Freshly painted cabinets + the brother who did the work.

30. Establish a personal desk/table/corner/space for my crafts/personal projects/special off-limits pens/whatever  ✓ Yes and I love it and I don’t allow anyone to sit in my chair or touch my stuff. It’s as close as I’ll get to “a room of one’s own” in this life and it is precious to me and has dramatically improved the quality of my life.20171210_224955

31. When not on vacation/sick/out of the office, respond to email within 48 hoursAs if.
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32. Fix our goddamn roof. ✓ This took several rounds of work and ultimately ended in a full roof replacement. Not an expense we had expected this year. But one we were able to swallow without much harm (thanks to the sale of our old house), and it’s definitely a relief to have this properly dealt with and–in theory!–good to go for the next 25+ years. We still have a little clean up/patching/painting/touch-up to do in the hallway where all the leaks were happening.

33. Obtain access to a functional and comfortable bicycle. ✓ Just under the wire! This was my Christmas present to myself, and now it’s in the garage, never to be seen again until the thaw that I assume will come one day.20171027_19364734. Create playroom space in our basementNope 

35. Swimming lessons for Liddie. Nope–on the list for 2018 

36. Take Liddie ice skating. Nope–on the list for 2018

37.  Help my mom move out of our family home. Ease this transition as much as possible with significant practical and emotional support, i.e. a substantial stay with her this spring. Cry as much as needed. Do not withdraw, do not fail to show up for this ✓ It was a doozy–it took 4 or 5 separate weekend visits–but we did it.IMG_20170618_130009_537

38. Cruise on my brother’s schooner!!! IMG_20170905_174635_55039. Make regular donations to worthy causes. 20161214_203215

40. Visit with Liddie’s birthmother in person at least once. Aim for three times. No luck here. We made contact via text several times, but never managed to meet up. We’ll keep trying.

41. Do something fun on purpose for my birthday. ✓ An adventure, dinner, and a show with good friends. It was really lovely.

20170610_19153842. Participate in the neighborhood yard sale. ✓ Made less money than in years past, but got rid of a lot of stuff.IMG_20170603_170303_476

43. Go to the beach. ✓ Gorgeous Lake Michigan holiday weekend with familyIMG_20170702_095822_89944. Find a way that also works for spouse to regularly schedule to space and time to myself that does not involve staying up puttering until 1 a.m.: mental health days, Saturday mornings out, whatever. This remains a work in progress…smile.gif45. Set up auto-pay or reminders as appropriate to pay all bills on time. In the end I did some remedial work, like, not continuing to accidentally pay the water bill at my old house. Progress. But yeah, the credit card bills…always a disaster. Keep trying, self.giphy (3).gif

46. Clean house more consistently. Sweep, vacuum and bathrooms weekly, that would be a significant improvement and good enough. NERP

47. See more movies in the theater. Enough movies that I’m not devastated every time I manage to go and it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love going to the movies. It brings me joy and it is probably the number one thing that I used to do a lot of and now do practically none of. ✓ LaLa Land, Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, the Big Sick, Atomic Blonde, Loving Vincent, Star Wars: the Last Jedi–that’s a lot more than 2015 or 2016

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Getting ready to watch Star Wars and discovering the new reclining seats at our local movie theater.

48. See at least one live theater performance✓ And now all I want to do is see more musicals all the time.

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At Fun Home in East Lansing with Kelly & Mallory

49. Have a big-ass Christmas tree. IMG_20171203_170341_724

Completed: 25/49

In-progress/ongoing/undefined: 5/49

Did not complete: 19/49

Other things I accomplished this year that I didn’t predict or make a goal for!

  • Got a piano
  • Replaced our last old, beat up, worn out car
  • Found a new doctor who I really like, and who helped me take some really important steps forward.
  • Hosted family for Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • More work travel than (I think!) any year ever
  • And [drumroll] [burying the lede] we are trying to adopt again!
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Unquiet Time

I get up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. every weekday. I do this because it’s the only way I can get some dark, quiet, alone time in my own house. I use this time–usually at least an hour, some days closer to two hours–to walk the dog, do a yoga video, drink a whole cup of coffee while hot, make and eat my own breakfast, empty/re-load the dishwasher and, if there’s time, make L’s breakfast and maybe pack our lunches.

This time keeps me calm and sane and helps me start the day off on the right foot–i.e., means I have plenty of time to complete my metamorphosis into a human before I have to parent, spouse, adult, or anything else. This is not just about my mental and emotional well-being (which is important!) but also about just keeping ahead of the entropy of the house. Dishes, laundry, meal prep, wiping down surfaces and floors, clearing fossilized leftovers out of the fridge–this all happens in that uninterrupted early morning window.

And so, it drives me CRAZY when I don’t get it. Specifically, when the 3 y.o. wakes up at 4:54 am, wide awake, demanding breakfast, and raring to launch into an argument about why she won’t use the potty first.

This is harder for me than when she won’t go to bed at night, or even when she wakes up in the middle of the night, because, well, it feels like she’s sticking it to me on purpose (obviously not true…I mean, I wouldn’t put it past her, but she doesn’t have a clock in her room and she can’t tell time). But really because it just throws the entire day for a loop from the very first second we’re awake. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, we can get her back to bed or, in a pinch let her come into our bed. If everyone in the house is, in fact, sleeping, she is likely to settle down and at least stay quiet-ish and still-ish in the dark for awhile.

At 4:57, there’s no going back to bed, because in fact, I’m up, the dog’s up, there’s movement, there’s light, there’s clattering in the kitchen and the smell of coffee and she *knows* it’s not nighttime and nothing will convince her otherwise, even if it is pitch black outside. It also means I can’t just go walk the dog, unless S also gets up, an hour before he normally would, to make sure she doesn’t wreak havoc on the house in the 15 minutes I’m gone. And then he is up, too, which is good and helpful, in terms of childcare and prep for the day, but also a further chip away at the quiet time that I literally trade my sleep for: another person in the kitchen, all the lights on, all the clatter, all the animals, at 6 am instead of 7.

So, obviously, this is all frustrating, but also straight up part of parenting a small child. It’s to be expected. I know, I know. What I’m not sure about, and the line I’m trying to walk, is how far to go showing her that every minute of the day doesn’t revolve around her. This morning when I got back from walking the dog, I gave her a choice: stay in her room to play/look at books, or come downstairs while I did my yoga video, and either do the yoga with me, or look at her tablet on the couch.

She chose tablet on the couch, which was actually the worst because in fact TABLETS ARE THE WORST! Every 12 seconds she has unplugged the headphones, turned off the tablet, switched user profiles back over to me and locked herself out, run into a pay option in a kids app that’s preventing her from going any further (embedded purchase/upgrade options should be illegal in apps for small children, but I digress). In a way that would have been uncannily humorous, if not so enraging, I would be, like, in downward facing dog. She would demand assistance with some problem. I would pause my video, solve the problem, settle her down, start the video, get back in position and literally, as soon as my body would settle into where it needed to be….”MOMMY! I’M TANGLED UP!” and the headphone cord is wrapped around her toe.

I was starting to get really short with her: “What? … WHAT!?…. WHAT DO YOU WANT? CAN YOU PLEASE JUST STOP FOR LITERALLY TWO MINUTES!?”

I could feel my heart rate going up. I don’t think this is how yoga is supposed to work.

And I was feeling bad about it, but also just completely frustrated. Like, there’s only so early one can get up in the morning and still even pretend that it’s not the middle of the night. I am pretty much already at that place. If she starts getting up at 5, there’s nowhere for me to go, and when I contemplate this, that’s the feeling I literally have, this panicked, claustrophobic response. If this becomes a pattern, there’s. nowhere. for. me. to. go.

Last June she started getting up between 4 and 5 every day for like two weeks. Not coincidentally, I think, around this time I broke down crying in the doctors office and started an anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication. There were lots of reasons for this, this wasn’t the *cause* of my depression and anxiety. But I do firmly believe that it was the loss of this early morning, dark, quiet, low-sensory, no-people, morning warm-up time that destroyed my ability to cope/manage it.

So, back to today. Finally, I sat down with her on the couch for a chat and I said, “Look, you woke up almost 2 hours earlier than usual today. This is my quiet time, when I do other things. I’m getting frustrated because I really need that time, and to do those things. I am happy to see your face, but the rule right now is that you need to sit here, play by yourself, and be quiet until I am done. I get very frustrated when you interrupt me.”

Not that this was actually that *effective.* She’s barely three. She doesn’t necessarily even have the impulse control or awareness of other people to wait and choose to try to solve a problem by herself, before demanding assistance.

It felt good and reasonable, though, to make clear to her that not every minute is about her; that our household has other rhythms and requirements than her personal whims; that stuff happens that has nothing to do with her; and that she’s welcome to be a part of that, if she follows the rules, but if she doesn’t, I will be annoyed with her. This message will need (gentle) (and firm) reinforcing over years, I know. But laying the groundwork felt right–and helped me feel even a small measure of control over my blasted morning.

And yet it also felt questionable and subversive. Is it really ok to tell your kid, “I’m annoyed because you’re talking to me and I don’t want you to talk to me right now?” (actually I didn’t even put it that bluntly–maybe I should! That might help her to at least grasp what is going on). It seems better than just getting increasingly rageful, impatient, and resentful without explaining why. Or maintaining fake cheerful, patient facade that suddenly shatters into the horrifying monster beneath.

One lesson I took away from How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk was the recommendation, which seemed counterintuitive at the time, to *let* your kids see when you’re getting annoyed, *before* you become enraged. Because it gives them information they need, so they can adjust their behavior. On the one hand, you don’t want to play into their pushing your buttons and deliberately riling you up–which definitely happens. But also, it’s not fair to be like, “It’s fine, it’s fine, everything is fine, you’re my precious angel, so sweet, so funny, so clever, life is a game, I AM GOING TO BURN THE HOUSE DOWN.”

I work full time, so my only time with my kid during the week is before and after daycare. It seems like I should treasure an extra hour with her in the morning. But no, not so much, if from the very first second (“Come back upstairs, please.” “NO, I WANT BREAKFAST”) it’s a battle that neither of you are well equipped to navigate healthily. There’s this feeling that if you’re not patient, fully attentive, and responsive to your child’s needs at every moment, that you’re not a properly loving parent.

But it turns out that three-year-olds can’t differentiate between a need and a whim and an unfamiliar feeling or a random observation. They have no filter, they have no framework for making decisions about when and how to spout something. And there is *always* something bubbling up in those little minds of theirs. And I mean ALWAYS. It never, ever, ever, ever, stops. We have to establish this for them–help them learn to triage, and to read the room: this can wait, this never needs to be said (ever), this is an actual emergency, this feels scary but we can figure it out together, this is fine for later but don’t approach mom right now. Right? Otherwise we would all go absolutely mad?

So: while I will work on tone (ugh, nobody ever likes hearing “WHAT!? IS!? IT!?), I think after this morning I’m going to practice making it clear to her that 5-6:15 a.m. is my time, and if she’s going to be up and moving around then, so be it, but it will be on my terms. And there will be absolutely no toys, games, or shows of any kind with sound, and I am not open for questions. We can co-exist downstairs, or she can choose to have her own quiet time in her room (this is a skill I would really like for her to cultivate anyway!)

Also, she was basically falling asleep by them time we dropped her off at daycare, and threw a tantrum seconds after we walked in the door, because there were no seats available next to her BFF/frenemy. STAY ASLEEP LONGER, CHILD.

My reading list for illness, death, and grief

Most readers of this blog will know that my dad died, unexpectedly and awfully, almost exactly a year and a half ago. Some of you may even read my other, semi-secret blog specifically about that experience (if that’s something you’re interested in reading and you don’t have access to it, just let me know).

In that time, I’ve read a lot about death and dying and grief (sometimes it’s felt like that’s the *only* thing I could read about!). Some of these have helped me to process and heal; others have helped me to wallow; others have been acutely painful, but made me feel less alone; some were just numbing or a distraction. Below is a list of my “top” recommendations for someone facing the death of a loved one. They’re in no particular order because there’s not really a meaningful ranking here. This is just as they occurred to me. Continue reading

June Check in (or: oh shit, the year’s half gone)

Hey, it’s been awhile…let’s check in on ye olde resolutions.

  1. Drink more water. Still still still no.
  2. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. Still no. This is getting better-ish, though, as a few major committee obligations have wrapped up and everyone shifts gears into the generally more low-key summer pace of life. 
  3. Aim for 7. NOPE.
  4. Exercise 5 days per week. Absolutely no success here, until this weekend, when we walked to the pool and swam twice. Now, this was bobbing about in the shallow end, not laps or anything, but I did a lot of moving around this weekend, and it felt good. At a doctor’s appt a few weeks ago I expressed my concerns and dismay about this and she basically gave me absolution, like, if I’m not already doing this because it’s personally important to me, I need to be realistic about the fact that I’m probably not going to suddenly start going to the gym five days a week, and just focus on moving more, as much as I can. Feels like a cop out, but also feels like a relief to hear someone say, “look, you work full time, you have a two year old, don’t lie awake feeling guilty because you’re not following the generic universal guidelines for cardio.” That’s not to say that this is an excuse, or it’s impossible to do–of course many working parents run marathons (including some readers of this blog). But whatever. I’m not right now, and I can and should focus on smaller steps, and not get so overwhelmed and discouraged I abandon all hope. 
  5. Eat more vegetables. Keep this up OK, though my love affair with roasting is less appealing as it gets hotter and hotter in my a/c free house. Next step: get the grill out and working? 
  6. Be kinder to my spouse. Feels like this is going well lately. 
  7. Be less rigid.
  8. Have more fun.
  9. Roll with the punches.
  10. Take the long view. Everything is temporary. Everything can change. Indeed, everything will change, whether I want it to or not.
  11. Take myself as seriously as I expect other people to take me (like, carry business cards and shit). I still really struggle with OWNING my stuff, preferring to see myself as a marginal helper on everything that I’m responsible for. Think about that later. 
  12. But also take stuff in general less seriously.
  13. But also do not become complacent/paralyzed/apathetic re: the world/our nation/social justice. I’m glad I set up all those monthly donations because it means I’m contributing *something* to the overall good even as I’m doing shit all else–which, alas, does continue to be the case. 
  14. Just keep grieving. Getting over the one year mark was fascinating because because I felt, like, a physical weight lift. It’s not like it made everything go away–far from it–but it somehow felt like permission to have hold this at the top of everything in my mind and heart. The Victorians knew what they were about, maybe. 
  15. Pull my weight re: nurturing friendships; do my fair share of organizing, hosting, prodding, reaching out, reminding, and lowering the overhead as much as possible for busy people to spend good time together. Yeah! Starting last week we launched Welzillian Wednesdays, open cocktails/snacks on our back patio on Wednesday evenings after L goes to bed. Now, we’ll just wait and see if anyone shows. 
  16. Participate in the weekly Sunday night potluck dinner organized by a former neighbor at least quarterly. Aim for monthly. Goal retired.
  17. Cook more real food for dinner at my house. Doing OK–probably 2-3 properly homemade meals per workweek, mixed in with 1-2 more semi-homemade/prepared dishes. As the weather gets warmer we eat lots more salads, and experiment with interesting ones, which is good all around and always feels like an easy, low-prep meal except for all the goddamn chopping. 
  18. Eat dinner as a family, at the table. Last time I checked in on these I was happy to abandon this goal–just for this brief stage of life– in favor of a relaxing evening enjoying my dinner. But now that she’s getting older and the days are getting longer (at this time of the year in Michigan it’s like until like 9:30) she’s staying up later. I think SK would like us to use this to eat together more. But from my POV, it’s still just as difficult to prep food and simultaneously chase her, and we still wind up having to leave half eaten food on the table when she can’t make it through the meal. It doesn’t solve any of the problems, just means we can’t eat until like 9 p.m. I’m feeling very protective of my extremely limited time to just chill and eat, the summer transition is becoming a problem for me. 
  19. Make time to speak with my mom at least weekly, more if possible. Yeah.
  20. Make time to speak to my aunt and my grandma at least monthly, more if possible. I haven’t kept up well with this. My grandma is now in the hospital post-surgery and my aunt is totally drained from care-taking, so I need to step up here. 
  21. Curtail Facebook usage (unless actually writing meaningful messages to the above or others) NOPE.
  22. Blog more. Meh. I guess monthly re-hashes are better than nothing? 
  23. Write more letters. Not yet. But my desk is all set up with my stamps and my address book and everything! 
  24. Make a weekend with Kelsey and Robyn happen.
  25. Visit my aunt and grandma in Denver .
  26. Get my high school girlfriends to Michigan for a visit. It’s booked!
  27. Take one awesome, adventurous, ambitious family vacation. It’s booked! Roma, here we come! 
  28. Make our bedroom a nice, warm, comfortable, functional, attractive, calming, intentional place to be, rather than the garbage pile where we hide everything that we don’t want anyone else to see. Paint. Window treatments. Closet. A bed. OK, as of like a week ago our bed is finally finished being built/hacked (it has a storage headboard that mounts to the wall, but we had to cut some rather ugly notches into it to fit around a windowsill. It’s IKEA, it’s fine). It’s super functional and having this done is prompting us forward…..slowly. 
  29. Renovate our kitchen. NOPE.
  30. Establish a personal desk/table/corner/space for my crafts/personal projects/special off-limits pens/whatever YES, DONE, AND IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! 
  31. When not on vacation/sick/out of the office, respond to email within 48 hour. LOL 
  32. Fix our goddamn roof. YES DONE! (Now just to fix/clean up the interior wall/ceiling that got all fucked up from the water)
  33. Obtain access to a functional and comfortable bicycle. NOPE
  34. Create playroom space in our basement. NOPE
  35. Swimming lessons for Liddie. NOPE, but we have taken her to the pool and she LOVES it, and we’re working on going underwater, kicking her feet, etc. I know that proper swimming lessons would be a really, really good idea, too, but I feel like we are taking big steps to get her comfortable and safe in the water. 
  36. Take Liddie ice skating. NOPE
  37. Help my mom move out of our family home. Ease this transition as much as possible with significant practical and emotional support, i.e. a substantial stay with her this spring.  Cry as much as needed. Do not withdraw, do not fail to show up for this. I’ve made three weekend trips in favor of this cause already. This weekend is *finally* the “real” move, and I wasn’t going to go because she had other help lined up, but that has fallen through for various awful emergency reasons, so now I’m trying to see if I can….
  38. Cruise on my brother’s schooner!!! Booked for Labor Day weekend!
  39. Make regular donations to worthy causes. Ongoing.
  40. Visit with Liddie’s birthmother in person at least once. Aim for three times. We have had some contact via text and agreed to a plan, but have yet to schedule it–I think this will be the hard part…
  41. Do something fun on purpose for my birthday. YES! Over the weekend Kelly, Mallory, and I went to East Lansing to see Fun Home–which I am still thinking about constantly–and enjoyed a sushi feast with tasty cocktails to boot. Good birthday. Alos, on my actual birthday, I told L. what day it was and completely unprompted she started singing to me, so, best present ever. Goal complete. 
  42. Participate in the neighborhood yard sale. Done, though not as spectactularly successful as in years past. We made a dent in the stuff in the basement, and then the next day realized that we completely forgot to put out a stupid chair and lamp that are taking up a huge amount of space in the basement. I really, really don’t want to hold them till next year, so maybe we’ll just put them on the curb. Goal complete. 
  43. Go to the beach. House booked for family beach vacation the weekend before July 4. 
  44. Find a way that also works for spouse to regularly schedule to space and time to myself that does not involve staying up puttering until 1 a.m.: mental health days, Saturday mornings out, whatever. This has stagnated and it shows…. 
  45. Set up auto-pay or reminders as appropriate to pay all bills on time. This really remains more of an issue than it should be. 
  46. Clean house more consistently. Sweep, vacuum and bathrooms weekly, that would be  a significant improvement and good enough. Nope. Has completely fallen off a cliff.
  47. See more movies in the theater. Enough movies that I’m not devastated every time I manage to go and it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love going to the movies. It brings me joy and it is probably the number one thing that I used to do a lot of and now do practically none of. Saw Wonder Woman, which  makes….two movies in a theater so far this year? At least I liked both of them, which is a lot of progress over 2016. 
  48. See at least one live theater performance. YUP–Fun Home, as above. I absolutely loved it and feel every human should see it. Was hoping to also take my mom to My Fair Lady at the Lyric Opera, but that didn’t quite work out. Will try to be more proactive about looking for more opportunities, but technically, goal complete. 
  49. Have a big-ass Christmas tree. Brought back an artificial tree from my mom’s house. I don’t think it’s that big, but at least we’ll definitely have a full size tree this year. And it was free, so that’s cool. I love decorating a Christmas tree, so looking forward to it. 

Almost halfway through the year, I’ve made progress on many. 8/49 are fully completed. Many more than that have significant progress, or are open-ended in such a way that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to call them done. Tolerable.

Resolutions — March Check-in

  1. Drink more water. Still no.
  2. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. Still no. The conference I was planning is over, and we’re drawing near to the end of promotion review season, so we’re maybe, kinda, sorta getting there. But also, it’s on *me* to make this happen. There will always be an excuse to stay up and putter, and I’m so very good at puttering. 
  3. Aim for 7. NOPE.
  4. Exercise 5 days per week. Yeah, I’ve almost completely abandoned all hope here. I’m out of ideas about how to even get started again. No interest, no will, no motivation. 
  5. Eat more vegetables. Doing OK. Not killing it as we did in February, but doing ok. Last week there was cauliflower and roasted potatoes and squash. This week has been all about vegetable tortilla stew and baked parmesan zucchini fries, both from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook. I guess the last two weeks were April, though, so maybe it doesn’t count. In March I successfully roasted up and ate carrots that were in my fridge from THANKSGIVING! Merit badge? 
  6. Be kinder to my spouse. Always needs work, but we’ve managed to make time for some good, serious conversations lately, and we had a date night out in March, which makes two months in a row. Every time we manage to do this I am 1) Shocked by how much I love my husband’s company 2) Shocked and horrified that I had somehow forgotten this in the daily struggle over dishes and poop and commuting and stupid work.
  7. Be less rigid.
  8. Have more fun.
  9. Roll with the punches.
  10. Take the long view. Everything is temporary. Everything can change. Indeed, everything will change, whether I want it to or not.
  11. Take myself as seriously as I expect other people to take me (like, carry business cards and shit). OK, there was some serious excellence and ass-kicking at the conference I helped to plan. Though I did not give out a single goddamn business card. Now that I have them, no one wants them! And now I’m burned out and back in avoidance and self-sabatoge mode. Gah! Stop! 
  12. But also take stuff in general less seriously.
  13. But also do not become complacent/paralyzed/apathetic re: the world/our nation/social justice. I’ve done effectively NOTHING in March. One call to my representative re: ACA. Ongoing monthly donations to ACLU and PP. 
  14. Just keep grieving. I’ve successfully written a lot elsewhere about my dad’s death, which has been helpful in releasing *some* of the stuff. We’re now right in the thick of the one year stuff. In fact, *today* one year ago was (for me) the worst day of the entire time he was hospitalized. 
  15. Pull my weight re: nurturing friendships; do my fair share of organizing, hosting, prodding, reaching out, reminding, and lowering the overhead as much as possible for busy people to spend good time together. Going ok–I feel like I’ve backed off a little this month, but have been thankful that others have stepped up to make stuff happen. Thanks, friends!
  16. Participate in the weekly Sunday night potluck dinner organized by a former neighbor at least quarterly. Aim for monthly. Goal retired.
  17. Cook more real food for dinner at my house. We continue on a sustainable, moderate path. We had friends come last weekend and I really enjoyed preparing a meal (yeah, only one) for them. This weekend we’ll be hosting family for Easter and I’m excited to cook for that, too. 
  18. Eat dinner as a family, at the table. Abandon ship. Here’s the thing: even if we can get dinner on the table while the kid’s awake, dinner is a rushed nightmare. I work hard! Then I come home and wrangle a toddler! I’m tired at the the end of the day! I want to enjoy my food, maybe even with an adult beverage a few times a week, not wolf down half of it while the child melts down and eats only yogurt and grapes. It is important that she see us eating nutritious food together and learn to behave at the table. But not at the expense of, like, the one small joy of my day to day harried routine. There will be time for this. Upside/downside? She now consistently asks me to sit with her while she eats. And, cue guilt. 
  19. Make time to speak with my mom at least weekly, more if possible. I think we’re doing it? It feels like we’re *seeing* her pretty frequently, too, which feels more important. 
  20. Make time to speak to my aunt and my grandma at least monthly, more if possible. Hmm. Overdue to give them a call. 
  21. Curtail Facebook usage (unless actually writing meaningful messages to the above or others) NOPE.
  22. Blog more. Meh. I guess monthly re-hashes are better than nothing? 
  23. Write more letters. Not yet. 
  24. Make a weekend with Kelsey and Robyn happen.
  25. Visit my aunt and grandma in Denver .
  26. Get my high school girlfriends to Michigan for a visit. It’s booked!
  27. Take one awesome, adventurous, ambitious family vacation. It’s booked! Roma, here we come! 
  28. Make our bedroom a nice, warm, comfortable, functional, attractive, calming, intentional place to be, rather than the garbage pile where we hide everything that we don’t want anyone else to see. Paint. Window treatments. Closet. A bed. No progress whatsoever. We hung up curtains in our living room and guest room, though! 
  29. Renovate our kitchen. NOPE.
  30. Establish a personal desk/table/corner/space for my crafts/personal projects/special off-limits pens/whatever YES, DONE, AND IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! 
  31. When not on vacation/sick/out of the office, respond to email within 48 hour. LOL 
  32. Fix our goddamn roof. YES DONE! (Now just to fix/clean up the interior wall/ceiling that got all fucked up from the water)
  33. Obtain access to a functional and comfortable bicycle. NOPE
  34. Create playroom space in our basement. NOPE
  35. Swimming lessons for Liddie. NOPE
  36. Take Liddie ice skating. NOPE
  37. Help my mom move out of our family home. Ease this transition as much as possible with significant practical and emotional support, i.e. a substantial stay with her this spring.  Cry as much as needed. Do not withdraw, do not fail to show up for this. This is scheduled for later this month.  
  38. Cruise on my brother’s schooner!!! Booked for Labor Day weekend!
  39. Make regular donations to worthy causes. Ongoing.
  40. Visit with Liddie’s birthmother in person at least once. Aim for three times. Have reached out to her twice. Nothing worked out yet, but we’ll see. 
  41. Do something fun on purpose for my birthday. Booked! Now, just to get everyone who owes me money to pay me back for the tickets…
  42. Participate in the neighborhood yard sale. The pile is in my basement. 
  43. Go to the beach. Looking into some Michigan camping options for the summer….
  44. Find a way that also works for spouse to regularly schedule to space and time to myself that does not involve staying up puttering until 1 a.m.: mental health days, Saturday mornings out, whatever. This has stagnated and it shows…. 
  45. Set up auto-pay or reminders as appropriate to pay all bills on time. This month I paid my credit card bill on time, but due to various issues failed to pay the water bill for the second period in a row and received a shut off notice. All fixed now (including my name and address on the account so maybe next time I will actually receive the bill) .
  46. Clean house more consistently. Sweep, vacuum and bathrooms weekly, that would be  a significant improvement and good enough. We’re sweeping and vacuuming pretty well. The bathrooms could use more attention and the kitchen floor needs a mopping…
  47. See more movies in the theater. Enough movies that I’m not devastated every time I manage to go and it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love going to the movies. It brings me joy and it is probably the number one thing that I used to do a lot of and now do practically none of. SAW BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND LOVED IT BEYOND ALL REASON, ABOUT WHICH MORE, LATER. 
  48. See at least one live theater performance. BOOKED!
  49. Have a big-ass Christmas tree. LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!

Resolutions–January Review

Well, January felt like the longest month of all months ever. How are things going, resolution-wise? Exactly one thing actually crossed off the list. But progress on some others, and absolutely no progress on other others. Not a terrible start to the year!

  1. Drink more water. This lasted about a week. Now I’m back to my usual dehydrating schedule of gallons of daily coffee. More water necessary. I definitely notice that on the days where I don’t drink enough water, getting through the evening commute/dinner hour/bedtime is rough–I get hangry and light-headed. 
  2. Sleep at least 6 hours per night. See below. 
  3. Aim for 7. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! NOPE. Well, I’m alternating. Work has been busy and I’ve been up crazy late, way too often. Plus reading Twitter and fretting about the state of the world. I do this for about a week in a row until I’m completely exhausted and then go to bed freakishly early on alternate weeks. As usual, I’ve got to get back on a more moderate, regular schedule. 
  4. Exercise 5 days per week. See above.
  5. Eat more vegetables. We’re doing it! See below. Still not as many as we should or could be eating, but there has been a real, significant uptick in the volume of fresh vegetables consumed. 
  6. Be kinder to my spouse. I try to observe and appreciate *everything,* not take anything for granted, and verbally thank as much as possible. Whether in general I’m in a more friendly mood overall, not so sure. But I am trying to be proactively more gracious and appreciative. 
  7. Be less rigid. Eh….
  8. Have more fun. Eh….
  9. Roll with the punches. Eh…..
  10. Take the long view. Everything is temporary. Everything can change. Indeed, everything will change, whether I want it to or not. It’s hard to take the long view when the last two weeks has felt like ten years. Will keep trying. 
  11. Take myself as seriously as I expect other people to take me (like, carry business cards and shit). I think I am doing this. I’m assuming, for example, that I’m not dispensable or an accessory at things, and taking my attendance and contributions and leadership appropriately seriously, and I think it’s making a real difference. Bit by bit. So, I will keep it up. 
  12. But also take stuff in general less seriously. Eh….
  13. But also do not become complacent/paralyzed/apathetic re: the world/our nation/social justice. I stalled out after Thanksgiving and it took until the travel ban to really get jump-started again. We marched in our little city on Jan 21 and that was great and important and galvanizing but let’s be honest, it was also largely a feel-good thing (if also a visibility thing). It wasn’t until I woke up last Saturday morning and read all the travel ban stuff that I got back on the phone with my representatives. I also spent about an hour digging about the Department of Homeland Security website until I found an appropriate number to call and complain, and I shared it with a few folks, who shared it with a few groups, and I know word got out to others. I don’t even know if it was the right number, but I did *something*, and the something had ripple effects. After the election, before Thanksgiving, the idea of having only one action a week felt absurd and not enough. And it probably isn’t enough. But now, now that we’re in it, for the long hall, holding myself to one concrete action a week means I’m *taking* one action a week, and it may help stretch out my stamina to stay in this, as long as we need to. So, trying to stay engaged, but also pace myself. 
  14. Just keep grieving. I feel like Trump has pulled me out of my grief slump kinda the same way WWII pulled America out of the Great Depression. Like, suddenly something so much bigger, requiring everyone to rally and work together and combine resources, has come into being, and as Enjolras put it, our littlel lives don’t count at all. But also: In January we had my aunt’s birthday, Liddie’s birthday, my grandma’s birthday, and my dad’s birthday, in that order. He had a huge sweet tooth, and I made a batch of double chocolate cupcakes–the same ones we had for his 60th birthday–to honor the day.
  15. Pull my weight re: nurturing friendships; do my fair share of organizing, hosting, prodding, reaching out, reminding, and lowering the overhead as much as possible for busy people to spend good time together. Yeah! I’ve re-instated a weekly ice skating lunch with a good friend, hosted a book club meeting, and organized a trip to see a play with friends in June. Doin’ it! Will keep it up!
  16. Participate in the weekly Sunday night potluck dinner organized by a former neighbor at least quarterly. Aim for monthly. Our neighbors are valiantly continuing to host this meal on a weekly basis, and we haven’t gone yet. By Sunday night we’re usually just feeling so tired and anti-social we’re not really up for anything. Will continue to try. 
  17. Cook more real food for dinner at my house. We’re doing it! But, it’s hard to say if it’s worth it. What does “worth it” even mean? These evenings are rough, and cooking with toddlers is rough. I used to think it was just an unfortunate coincidence that everyone I knew who had a bad accident in the kitchen had small children. Ha. THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE. This WEEK alone, I burned my arm pretty badly and cut my finger. I admit that I *have* really been enjoying eating more actual, whole foods and fresh vegetables. Food tastes better and I appreciate it more. Will try to keep this up However, it turns out to be in conflict with the following: 
  18. Eat dinner as a family, at the table. Yeah! Kinda sorta. We’re doing it more than we ever did before, and it’s great! We like it, and Liddie likes it too! She now always tries to get us to sit down with her before she will eat. But cooking *and* eating together is hard. We did it for a week or so and her bedtime kept getting pushed later and later and later. I feel like we need to figure out some kind of balance between nights where she eats with us, but we have a super easy dinner, and nice where we cook something a little more involved and eat after she goes down. But *then* we achieve the goals of cooking more and eating together more, but we don’t have a predictable routine for the girl, and that’s something she likes and needs. *shrug.* So much of working + adulting + parenting = can’t win/do what you need to get by. 
  19. Make time to speak with my mom at least weekly, more if possible. We’re both sick and tired a lot, but we’re doing it! 
  20. Make time to speak to my aunt and my grandma at least monthly, more if possible. Well we’re only a month in, and I have talked to my grandma on the phone once and Skyped with my aunt with Liddie. So I guess technically I haven’t fallen behind yet, though I don’t feel like I’m doing much to reach out and be supportive. Keep it up, self, and don’t fall behind. 
  21. Curtail Facebook usage (unless actually writing meaningful messages to the above or others) That’s a big NOPE. I even blocked it from my work computer–and then unblocked it after two days. 
  22. Blog more. Not yet…
  23. Write more letters. Not yet….see below: at some point I’ll unpack my stationery, pens, and address book and then I’ll get on with things. And I just wrote my first postcard of the year! (it’s to a friend, not a political protest) Now to actually mail it….
  24. Make a weekend with Kelsey and Robyn happen. Yes! It’s happening! It’s booked! First weekend together in like ten years. I can’t wait! I’ll officially cross it off the list after it happens. 
  25. Visit my aunt and grandma in Denver Yup!–I’ll tack this on to the front of the weekend with Kelsey and Robyn. But, this is only a half success, I’d say: I’m not bringing Liddie on this trip, which will leave everyone in the family unsatisfied. 
  26. Get my high school girlfriends to Michigan for a visit. No plans yet. 
  27. Take one awesome, adventurous, ambitious family vacation. No plans yet. First concrete step: get Liddie a passport. I’m irrationally paranoid about doing this because I’m somehow afraid that the record of her birth certificate–literally the only evidence that we are family–will somehow disappear in the process, or that something will go terribly wrong. Need to just get on with it, as it will open up our options so much! Also to be prepared in case of emergency bug-out. 
  28. Make our bedroom a nice, warm, comfortable, functional, attractive, calming, intentional place to be, rather than the garbage pile where we hide everything that we don’t want anyone else to see. Paint. Window treatments. Closet. A bed. OK. We have a bed. It’s 90% assembled–the last step is going to be a stupid doozy. And no progress on anything else. 
  29. Renovate our kitchen. No progress. I’m coming around to really liking some parts of our kitchen. Other parts (portable dishwasher that connects to sink, flat white cupboards that show every single stain and grease spot) I am SO done with. I also feel wary, like, we shouldn’t spend so much money with the way the world is right now. I’d rather have savings in the bank and not luxuriate/spoil ourselves when the world is so rough. I don’t know. We’ll see. 
  30. Establish a personal desk/table/corner/space for my crafts/personal projects/special off-limits pens/whatever. Well, the table is ready, but covered with junk. Oh man, keeping surfaces free of garbage/other people’s mail takes such freaking EFFORT. I have an empty set of plastic drawers set up under the table. Next step: unpack all my desk stuff from the old house. I still have no stationary, pens, stamps, my address book, etc., at hand. 
  31. When not on vacation/sick/out of the office, respond to email within 48 hours. I think I’m getting better, but how can one know for sure? Just kidding. I know one can know for sure. I think to test myself on this it would be a good idea to put some kind of alert on emails that haven’t been dealt after 48 hours. 
  32. Fix our goddamn roof. YES DONE! One actual task checked off the list!
  33. Obtain access to a functional and comfortable bicycle. No progress. 
  34. Create playroom space in our basement. No progress. Jeez, the basement is still half full of packed boxes from moving. 
  35. Swimming lessons for Liddie. No progress. 
  36. Take Liddie ice skating. No progress.
  37. Help my mom move out of our family home. Ease this transition as much as possible with significant practical and emotional support, i.e. a substantial stay with her this spring.  Cry as much as needed. Do not withdraw, do not fail to show up for this. I’ve blocked a week on my calendar in April when I might go, stay, and help, but need to, you know, talk to Mom about this and make sure it works for her schedule. 
  38. Cruise on my brother’s schooner!!! Mom has booked her trip for the first week of August and invited Sam and me to join. We need to figure out what we’d do with Liddie and if we can manage it in general–but the door is open. 
  39. Make regular donations to worthy causes. Yes! Ongoing! Monthly gifts set up to ACLU (doubled my existing monthly gift after the travel ban) and Planned Parenthood. Annual memberships to the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Art. Instead of signing up for TSA pre-Check as I had planned, I gave the $85 as a one time gift to the International Rescue Committee.  Add to this existing monthly gift to the Uganda Community Project. 
  40. Visit with Liddie’s birthmother in person at least once. Aim for three times. Need to get in touch with her. Sent some pictures after Liddie’s birthday, but haven’t tried to set up a meeting yet. 
  41. Do something fun on purpose for my birthday. This won’t be til June.
  42. Participate in the neighborhood yard sale. See above. 
  43. Go to the beach. Ehhhh, there’s time, there’s time. 
  44. Find a way that also works for spouse to regularly schedule to space and time to myself that does not involve staying up puttering until 1 a.m.: mental health days, Saturday mornings out, whatever. Well, I was sick yesterday and slept literally the entire day. Does that count? Also, Sam took L to the grocery store this afternoon (right now) and I am supposed to be vacuuming (see no. 46)
  45. Set up auto-pay or reminders as appropriate to pay all bills on time. Well, I got in a fight with a customer service rep at AmEx because I couldn’t log into the site on the day my bill was due, and wanted them to waive my late fee, and they did, but then the guy got condescending with me about why it was my fault that I couldn’t log into the site….so, that counts, right? In all seriousness, I am starting to get a fresh handle on our finances in this new house world and that’s a good thing. 
  46. Clean house more consistently. Sweep, vacuum and bathrooms weekly, that would be  a significant improvement and good enough. I’m hitting maybe 50% of my very minimal house cleaning goals. We are constantly drowning in laundry and dishes, and getting out in front of that often feels impossible and discouraging.
  47. See more movies in the theater. Enough movies that I’m not devastated every time I manage to go and it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I love going to the movies. It brings me joy and it is probably the number one thing that I used to do a lot of and now do practically none of. So far zero movies in 2017. 😦 
  48. See at least one live theater performance. Booked! Going to see Fun Home in June when it passes through East Lansing. 
  49. Have a big-ass Christmas tree. A little early to tackle this one.