Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Frustrations Resolved

First day back at the office. After being gone so long, my work area was a mess of papers, so I sorted everything that needed to be done, made a to-do list, and did part of it but not all of it (after all, some of it needs to be done tomorrow.)

I also discovered that one of my roles at work involves listening to Justin vent when he encounters something frustrating. The last couple of days have been more full of frustrations than usual. I don't know if it's simply due to being gone so long and under pressure to catch up, or if it also involves some emotions related to his mother's death, but either way, he has gotten pretty mad a few times in the last two days. Today the biggest issue was the new computer program he's mostly learned to use to draw the cabinets, but he couldn't get it to do something he needed it to do. He explained in detail, passionately, what it was supposed to do, and what it was doing instead, and it was all Greek to me. Something about "layers" not working right and the dimensions not printing even though they showed up on the screen. But I was appropriately empathetic and he went back to messing with it (and figured out how to make it work later on, after I'd left. Wait, maybe I'm the jinx?)

Speaking of frustrating technology, I have started to rely on being able to use the Bluetooth link in my car to a) talk on the phone while driving; b) listen to audiobooks and Pandora. Today I could do neither. When I pushed the Bluetooth button it showed that my iPhone was connected, but at the next screen it said "No Data." I checked to make sure the Bluetooth was on on my phone (it was) and I tried turning the phone off and on again. Nope. I had to drive all 45 minutes listening to commercial radio. First world problems, I know. When I got home from picking up four kids at three schools, I called tech support. Did you know they have tech support for cars now?

To make a long story short(er), the very nice young lady helped me delete my phone's connection, then reconnect it. None of this was in the Technology Reference Manual or the car tech support website, I might add; but she was great. I hope she is making an excellent salary for her ability to help the technologically incompetent, and not sounding condescending even once.

Oh! I was proud of myself tonight for improvising dinner. Usually I have my recipe ingredients, and if anything goes wrong, oh well, we're eating out or it's everyone for themselves. Some things that can go wrong: a) I forgot to buy an important ingredient; b) I forgot to defrost the meat; c) I ruined the food; d) I'm too tired to cook.

d) hardly happens anymore now that I'm not nearly as stressed. c) is rare since I don't experiment as much as I used to and I have better cooking skills. Also, one of the reasons I don't cook when d) happens is that if I'm that tired, I'm probably going to ruin the food anyway. Now, b) can still happen and if the meat can't be quickly defrosted and there's no other quickly defrosted option, then I find it hard to improvise. I know many people have no issues with a); they just substitute something else, or leave that ingredient out. It blows my mind that there are a lot of people, my brother included, who DON'T COOK WITH RECIPES. They don't buy specific items to cook a specific dish. This means that they are always able to put something together from what is available, but the downside is this: they may produce something exceptionally delicious, and because they are not measurers, they will never make the dish the same way again. I have gotten a LITTLE less married to exact recipes and know what substitutions might be likely to work, but even that is usually planned in advance and specifically shopped for.

Well, tonight was headed toward d). I had planned, with it being St. Patrick's Day and all, to make a shepherd's pie, because that seemed vaguely Irish and I don't know how to make corned beef and cabbage. Well, I was going to make a cottage pie, actually, as it was to be made with beef and not lamb, but that's neither here nor there. This evening once the kids I watch after school were picked up, it all just seemed like too much effort to cook the meat and vegetables and mash the potatoes and then have to wait another 30 minutes while it baked. It's possible I was just hungry. Whatever. I didn't want to make the cottage pie although it's delicious. I remembered making meatballs and gravy from a book called, appropriately enough, I Hate to Cook. I had all the ingredients except bread crumbs, so I used buttery cracker crumbs (improvising!), and the meatballs were delicious. We had the mashed potatoes and some green beans on the side and no one was frustrated.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Losing Sleep

What goes through my head every night the second the kids go to bed:


"Okay, now TONIGHT I am really exhausted. I swear I'll go to bed earlier tonight... unless I get engrossed in something online and Justin is watching something on TV. Who am I kidding, it's going to be 11:30 again, isn't it?"


How sad is it that 11:30 is TOO DARN LATE for me to be up? Well, to be fair it's been too late for...let's see, twelve years. Almost thirteen if you count when I was pregnant with my daughter, when I would fall into a coma by 8:00. But that was less of a choice than a physical mandate. And then once we had a finicky sleeper it was always, "I'm going to bed the second the baby does so I have a chance of getting a couple of decent hours of sleep because she's probably going to wake up twenty-seven times tonight oh God what have we done to our lives?" So obviously 11:30 was out of the question unless I had gone to bed at 9 and was up for the FIRST time (but never the last).


Not that I'm bitter or anything.


Actually, I've never liked losing sleep, so early bedtimes are not really a function of my age. When I went to slumber parties, the older girls would often threaten to play a prank on whoever fell asleep first. They spoke of freezing someone's bra or putting the victim's hand in warm water so they would wet the bed. Even though I wasn't even old enough to need a bra, this seemed as frightening as the other pranks. I willed myself to stay awake, and long after everyone else had conked out, I was too worked up to sleep. I remember watching the sunrise once.


Man, I could have frozen ALL their bras...if I'd been brave enough to locate them, which I wasn't.


Speaking of sleepovers, my daughter attended one with the girls from her youth group last night. I didn't ask how late they stayed up, but judging from my daughter's mood, it was pretty late. She never takes a nap after one of these shindigs, and she really should. (Yes, I've suggested it, but what 12-year-old girl listens to her parents about such things?) She had her last basketball game today at 4:00 and played well, but afterward she was completely wiped out. We went out to dinner and I picked the most popular place in town, because I am an idiot. We waited 40 minutes for our table, and the rest of us were hungry enough to start gnawing the tablecloth, when C started saying she didn't want to eat anything. She had barely eaten all day and run up and down the court for about 45 minutes. We said she had to eat something. She reacted like we'd just killed her puppy.


At first I was puzzled: why was my sweet, normally even-tempered girl slumped down in the booth, glaring at us with teary eyes?


Justin connected the dots to the sleepover. She was worn out.


It really was like a flashback to her toddler years: exhausted, defiant, determined not to give in even though it was what she needed most. Since it is not my first rodeo in this parenting gig, unlike her toddler years, I just amused myself mentally comparing the ways 12-year-olds and 2-year-olds are really not that different.


At least I don't have to change diapers any more, though. WINNING.


I didn't rage in despair as I might have back then. I calmly ordered her a quesadilla and told her she didn't have to eat it then but if she got hungry at home she could eat that instead of the potato chips or chocolate she likes to snack on (I may have said "junk." I'm not a perfect parent.)


She ended up eating almost all of the quesadilla and didn't cry anymore. Another win.


(Her compliance may have had something to do with the fact that we also said that if she didn't stop taking her rotten mood out on us, I would text her friend's mom and cancel the shopping trip planned for tomorrow. Magically the tears dried up. This is another reason I'd rather have a tween than a toddler. You can reason with a tween.)


I could go back to my theme of hating to lose sleep but suffice it to say that after my son was born I had PPD and the primary symptom was insomnia. In fact, whenever my lifelong anxiety and depression flares up, insomnia is right there with them. Fortunately it is under control right now and even though I claim I'm tired when I stay up too late, it is nothing like watching the sunrise when you've been up all night.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

10 Memorable Childhood Books

Nicole wrote a post about 10 Memorable Childhood Books, and invited us to play along. Write about books YES PLEASE.

1. The Little House books. I can't choose between them. There are things I love in each book. I wanted to be Laura, although when I reread the books I mainly think what a hard life it must have been. Of course, now that we know that Pa made it quite a bit harder than it had to be, that casts quite a different light on the books, but I still learned a lot about a different time.

2. Little Women. Like everyone else, I loved Jo, cried when Beth died, and hated Amy. I took it personally that Laurie ended up with Amy. Jo was an idiot, I thought. Recently I read Mallory Ortberg's hilarious book Texts From Jane Eyre and the Little Women texts were some of my favorites.

3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I don't remember how old I was when I read the Narnia books, but I was definitely transported--or I wanted to be. I ached to go to Narnia. The Magicians series by Lev Grossman is an interesting take on what happens to the people who did get to go to their magic land. The main difference is that there is no Godlike benevolent lion to watch over them.

4. The Secret Garden. I read A Little Princess too, but it was this one that captured my imagination. I was oblivious to the racist undertones, or the Christian Scientist ideas of believing until you get better. I remember being a little annoyed by the dialect of Martha and Dickon, but not too much.

5. A Wrinkle in Time. This started me on a journey to read all of Madeleine L'Engle, but Wrinkle remains my favorite of her books. The characters of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are so delightful. As one reviewer on Goodreads put it, L'Engle doesn't write down to her young readers. She assumes they will be able to understand enough of the science she is using to follow along...and she's right.

6. Anne of Green Gables. As an adult, I'm actually not that much like Anne. I don't use comically big words or love nature. But when my husband and I were dating, my mother told my husband that if he wanted to understand me, he should watch the miniseries. I've been told I look like Megan Follows as Anne...or at least I did back then.


 I don't have any pictures of myself as a teenager at the moment so I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

7. I am so unoriginal. Here's ANOTHER book that every woman my age has on her list. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret informed so many of us about bras and periods (I too was mystified by the idea of a belt to attach the pad to; I've heard that the publishers have since updated the text.) Unlike Margaret, I wasn't a late bloomer, so I didn't experience her feeling of being left out, but I did relate to a lot of the book.

8. Anastasia Krupnik. The Anastasia books were just plain fun. I loved the list format and Anastasia's parents were great.

9. The Catcher in the Rye. My dad isn't a reader, but he loved this book. Since my tiny Christian school didn't have a good selection of literature, he took it upon himself to tell me to read this book. I remember being shocked that my dad, a pastor, had recommended a book with so many curse words, but I got over that and immersed myself in the story. Like many classics, the book has meant different things to me at different ages. At first I was like, "This is a teenage book and I will understand it better when I'm older." Then I thought Holden was the coolest. Then, when I was in college, I thought he was a whiny brat. Finally, in my late twenties, I realized he was grieving and it pierced my heart.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird. This is probably my choice for The Great American Novel. (I used to say The Great Gatsby, but my opinions have changed.) I think it's a work of genius and I should definitely reread it before they publish Go, Set a Watchman. I definitely don't think the second book will live up to Mockingbird--but what could?


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Busy Busy

Today was a busy day, as was yesterday. Two basketball games, one dinner with family, one church service, one birthday party. Well, when you put it like THAT, it sounds much easier to manage. And it was manageable; I just like to have longer resting periods in between bouts of activity.

Both kids' teams won their games, so that was nice. L had been having stomach pains the night before, so we questioned whether he should play, but he wanted to. And promptly went out there and scored 20 points, so there. C and her best school friend had petitioned to be on the same team, and the coaches let them, and they lit up the court. C has gotten over her timidity and is handling the ball well. Between the two of them, they had so many steals I lost count. She can now do a very nice layup as well.

Nobody is more surprised than I am when my children perform well athletically.

On Saturday night we were finally able to meet up with my brother and SIL--oh, stop pretending, we were really just wanting to see my nephew. He is everything a one-month-old should be. Super snuggly and just perfect in every way. C loved giving him a bottle and did much better than I would have at her age. L is too shy to hold the baby but pronounces him "very cute."

Justin stayed home all day yesterday and today because whatever upper-respiratory illness he has is proving resistant to any of the medication he got from the doctor. It's been three weeks and he's pretty tired of coughing.

This afternoon I took the girl to a friend's skating party, and jeez Louise, was it loud and crowded in there. I was getting pretty edgy because crowds make me nervous, until we were able to go to the reserved table, and then I was okay because no giant teenagers were in danger of rolling over my foot as I tried to flatten myself against a row of lockers.

While we were gone, the cause of L's stomach pains revealed itself: he threw up twice. And I missed it! Good job, Mom. But he managed to make it from the living room couch to the bathroom without getting barf on anything. What a guy. I still count it as one of my finest moments in parenting when I deliberately moved my body to catch my son's barf on my chest because I clean up more easily than a couch. As sad as it is that such days are gone, I can't say I will miss them. As far as future barf cleanup, we'll see what the night brings.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sing to Me

There are two--no, three--categories of pop songs currently on the radio stations I listen to.*

1. Songs I Still Like
2. Songs I Used to Like But Don't Anymore Because They're ALWAYS ON
3. Songs I've Never Liked

In Category #1, I would currently place:

  • "Blank Space" and "Shake It Off"by Taylor Swift. I love T-Swift. I think she is the greatest mind of her generation. I like these songs. But I'm about to move them to Category #2 pretty soon. However, she'll probably have another single released by then. Side note: when I drove my daughter and her friends to the mall, they sang along to "Blank Space" at top volume. It's pretty funny to hear a bunch of twelve-year-olds singing that they have "a long list of ex-lovers." I turned the music up and sang along.
  • "Lips Are Moving" by Meghan Trainor. I like this even better than "All About That Base." Such a strong female persona. "You're full of something, but it ain't love." Heh.
  • "I'm Not the Only One" by Sam Smith. He has such a great voice.
  • "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. LOVE, especially when I need to wake up for the drive to work.
  • "Don't" by Ed Sheeran. I'm a bit of a hypocrite here because I don't play this with my kids in the car. They don't need to be hearing about "don't f*** with my love" even with the F-word bleeped out; besides, it talks about the faithless girl having sex with a random dude. But it's inventive and catchy and I like that he emphasizes that he isn't just looking for a girl to hook up with.
  • "I Lived" by One Republic. Even though it's pretty much the same idea as "I Hope You Dance."

Category #2:
  • "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. It's an adorable song, but seriously, give it a rest. The other day it was on two out of three stations.
  • Anything by Maroon 5 (Unless it's in Category #3 already)
  • "The Hanging Tree" by Jennifer Lawrence

Category #3:

  • "Jealous" by Nick Jonas. No, Mr. Jonas, it is not your "right to be hellish" because you get jealous. I realize it's probably only in the song because it sort of rhymes with "jealous" but no. I don't want my daughter thinking a jealous boyfriend is a good thing.
  • "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. Wow, I just looked at the lyrics and they're even more sacrilegious than I thought. I don't let my kids listen to this song because we only worship at actual church, not "in the bedroom" as the song says.
I am really getting old, because I find myself compelled to talk back to singers and tell them things like, "You need to run, girl" and "That is just not healthy AT ALL." My 12 yo daughter tells me, "It's just a song, Mom" but I have hopes that my statements might counter the dysfunctional attitudes toward relationships that exist in pop music.

The more time I spend in the car, the more likely I am to skip commercial radio altogether and listen to the satellite radio that came free for 3 months when we got our car. It's helped me discover some new songs, including
  • "Geronimo" by Sheppard
  • "It's Okay" by Oh Honey
  • "Between the Raindrops" by Lifehouse

 The free trial will be expiring soon, and I can't bring myself to pay for it, since I have Pandora which I can stream through my phone's Bluetooth through my stereo system. 

My current Pandora stations are:
  • 80s 
  • 90s 
  • 2000s 
  • The Beatles 
  • Michael Buble
  • Harry Connick, Jr.
  • Frank Sinatra--can you tell I like crooners and big bands?
  • Motown
  • Disney
  • Journey--this leads to a lot of sappy '80s love songs and power ballads which I can't help loving
  • Classical
  • Hillsong United and Praise & Worship--because sometimes I feel churchy
  • Showtunes--so far this mostly plays "A Year In the Life" from Rent and every song from Grease
  • Love Songs
  • Glee Cast--I know. But they're fun arrangements!
Do you have any suggestions for music to try/stations to add to Pandora? 


*I should say that I have deplorable musical taste. When I was a teenager I owned albums by New Kids on the Block and Michael Bolton while completely missing out on Nirvana et al. Right now I listen to stations that play "the 90s, 2000s, and TODAY" because my older kid wants to hear current stuff and because they don't play anything really offensive.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering the Fearful Years

I wrote this last night when I should have been sleeping. I was just trying to get in my 750 words (I'm using 750words.com to write more, and it's working) but I got into it and wrote about 1500. Here's what I was remembering...

It sounds like L and his buddy have stopped talking. Little boys have no volume control--no matter how many times you say, "Whisper!" I remember a comedian saying that boys and girls go to sleep differently, and that's certainly true with my two. Little girls get their lovies all arranged just so and get a drink and another story, Mommy, and curl up like little kitty cats until they drift off. Little boys are like, "HEY MOM, GUESS WHAT? WE PLAYED FOOT--ZZZZZ." L is not one to insist he's not tired, though. He's always been one that likes sleep. Which is why I'm not surprised that he and his friend have dropped off.
C, now...that child never wanted to sleep more than she absolutely had to, even as a baby. I know I should be grateful that she did go through spells where she took decent naps of an hour or more and slept through the night--and I WAS grateful. The problem was that these spells never lasted all that long without interruptions. Anything could disrupt her sleeping pattern--teething, sickness, travel, Venus retrograde in the house of Mercury...you name it, it would cause C to start waking up around 2 AM. She was chipper as long as you held her all night long. And a snack wouldn't go amiss, either. PAR-TAAAYYY IN MY ROOM, Y'ALL!
Anyway, we got through the baby and toddler years and then there were the Fearful Years. Mostly during preschool, but we had issues from time to time up until third grade or so. Something would trigger her fear, and she would come out after we followed the bedtime ritual to the letter (including tucking in her 576 stuffed animals--I kid you not, they were piled three-deep along the side of her bed, from the head to the foot). She was always a sobbing wreck when she came out, five minutes or less after we'd tucked her in, when she'd seemed perfectly fine. I would be just sitting down with my chocolate from my secret stash, about to congratulate myself on finishing another day of Keeping the Children Alive and (Mostly) Unharmed, and here would come this small person.
"Mom? Dad? I'm scared because I heard that the SUN IS GOING TO BLOW UP AND NO ONE WILL BE ALIVE ON EARTH ANYMORE." That was an actual conversation we had when she was six. Damn you, Educational Scienc-y Channel! I remember saying, "IF that happens, it will be in about 500 million years!" and trying to convince her that if it were going to happen any time soon, didn't she think it would be on the news? Logic: such a great idea to try to use it on a terrified second-grader. Eventually my persuasion worked--that time. Most of the time I didn't have any logical response. Mainly because her anxiety triggered a very primal response in me. I don't remember having a lot of these types of fears, but maybe I had more than I realize. I certainly am more anxious and fearful that the average bear NOW, so maybe I was then, too. Anyway, I remember my mom coming to lie in bed with me when I had nightmares because my dad wasn't so good at waking up and also because he wouldn't try to couldn't sleep with kids in their bed. (This may have been why we always had full or queen-sized beds.) If my night terrors happened before my dad went to sleep, he would come in and talk to me logically and pray with me, and that worked pretty well. So that's what we did with C. One of us would take her back to bed, and talk a little about it--what was real, what wasn't--and then pray for her, and quote, "God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind--say that with me, Chloe, now breathe in, breathe out" (this was my idea, but I think it helped her keep from having full-on panic attacks. And I would scratch and/or stroke her back for a while.
The hard part was that she was never, ever ready for me to leave when I was desperate to leave. She does not fall asleep quickly, even now when she doesn't have night terrors. She would get still and I'd ease up off the bed (chocolate, I'm coming for you!) and her big wet eyes would open. "Mama?"
I wish I could say I always stayed, that I was always a fountain of consolation. But as she got older and these periods of fearfulness would reoccur, Justin felt that she had to learn some self-soothing skills. And I was so tired and ready to eat my dang chocolate and watch mindless TV.
I also knew that I wanted her to learn that she was working herself into a frenzy and that she alone held the key to her mental prison. As much as I wanted to, I could not banish her fear for her. We had given her some self-soothing techniques. Now it was time for her to learn to use them for herself.
It was REALLY hard for me to send my sobbing child back to her dark room--it felt like I was being heartless, no doubt because I felt like I was abandoning my own small self. I had to tell myself that what she wanted--curling up between us on the couch and watching TV--was not really going to help her. She was going to have to learn to go to sleep by herself anyway, and staying up late would only exhaust her for the next day. It was basically "cry it out" all over again, including the minimal soothing to let the child know they aren't being abandoned but not enough attention to make them feel it's worth staying awake for.
She'd come out crying, we'd hug her and pray for her, remind her to quote her Scripture verse and "think happy thoughts" (she was probably thinking, "You try that, Mom, when you're worried about supernovas!") to replace the scary ones. Interestingly, the scary thoughts only came to mind at bedtime. Things that didn't seem to bother her at all at the time--a mildly intense scene of an action movie, or a trailer for a horror film (I hate those--aired on prime-time "family" shows!) could send her into hysterics later that night. But we had to remind her that with Jesus's help, she COULD conquer her fears.
It worked. At twelve, she falls asleep every night  without assistance (I do let her read a little while past her official bedtime if her brain just won't turn off), and I eat my chocolate without interruption. Of course, she's an adolescent, so she's sometimes not sleepy at bedtime, but she's not fearful even when reading a YA dystopian novel. (She also never wants to wake up at 6:15, either. Thanks, teenage hormones!) Tonight we watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I am willing to bet there will be no nightmares. I hope she doesn't struggle with anxiety like I have in my life, but if she does, I will try to help her learn to manage her own fears, because some things I can't do for my children, as much as I'd like to.
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Shake It Off: 2014 in Review

I got this questionnaire from Temerity Jane's blog, and jumped on it.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you've never done before?

I was given the assignment to teach English I and co-teach English I, which meant being responsible for the English I End-of-Course exam, which students in Texas must pass to graduate from a Texas public school. Also, your school's rating is dependent on the kids' scores, and every sub-group, including recent immigrants, low-income students, and students with learning disabilities, have to pass. I was also made the English I level lead, despite having no experience teaching that grade. No pressure!

The only other new thing I can think of was starting the Couch-to-5K running program when I hadn't run in 20 years (and was never good at it back then). I discovered that I still don't like running but I do enjoy STOPPING. I got insanely busy when school started and didn't run the 5K I had signed up for.

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

I haven't made New Years' Resolutions for several years now because I don't need that kind of negativity in my life. I did write a post about my word for 2015 being "Abundance" and I do think I made progress in embracing the concept especially since I realized my job was NOT the only way we could be provided for (more about that later.)

I don't have a specific word in mind this year. I want to get back to exercising and continue writing on 750words.com (I'm up to a streak of 4 days! Woo-hoo!) and on my blog. I also set a goal of reading 55 books this year, which is hardly a stretch since I read almost as many last year when I was "too busy to read." I'd like to stretch my reading horizons a little and read some more challenging nonfiction and classics now that my brain won't be mashed into pulp by grading papers every weekend.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No,  but my sister-in-law is due any minute with their first baby! If she doesn't go into labor by Monday, the doctor will induce her by Tuesday. We're all excited to meet Hutson Owen (Owen was my maternal grandfather's middle name).

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What other countries did you visit?

Sadly, none.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Time to relax and enjoy family and do things around the house.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched in your memory?

The day I realized I HAD to quit my job if I wanted to stay sane and that I could do it; the day I realized my daughter is closing in on her teen years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I took a big leap of faith by quitting. It was the right thing to do to take care of myself and my family.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I spent a lot of time tying myself in knots over grading and sobbing in the shower, so I was not very emotionally available to my family. They say they have forgiven me. :-)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My mental illness became a significant factor again. I realized that it's okay to take care of myself instead of "soldiering on."

11. What was the best thing you bought?

We bought a new car--a 2015 Honda Pilot that I love, especially because it has Bluetooth for my phone and heated seat warmers (or as C calls them, "butt warmers"). It seemed scary to me to buy a car when I was quitting, but since I will be driving a lot more, my husband wanted me to have something safe. The other car was starting to have some problems so it was a good time, and the new one is expensed through our company, so win!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I'm copying Temerity Jane's answer on this one and the next: "The Internet (parts of it) has really stepped up for a lot of people this year, and that was great."

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

"You know what, I’m going to stick with the Internet for my answer for this one, too."

14. Where did most of your money go?

The usual things--house payments, car payments, FOOD. My kids either subside on air molecules or they scavenge everything in sight.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?

Hmmm. I keep talking about quitting, but that made me really, really happy.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? I think about the same.
c) richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Reading with my kids. Date nights. Writing of any kind. Exercising.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Crying. Caring what people think about me. Procrastinating.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

At home on Christmas morning, opening presents, then over to my mom and dad's house for lunch and more presents. This year my brother and SIL were there as well as her family, since she was too pregnant to travel. It was fun!

21. What was your favorite TV show?

Well, OF COURSE Doctor Who. I agreed to get U-verse again just so I could have BBC America to meet the Twelfth Doctor. C also got into Psych and went way past where I had stopped. She asks me about allusions Shawn and Gus make and then says, "Ohhhh, THAT makes sense" when I explain.

22. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate at this time last year?

Only random people on the Internet who were extremely annoying and horrible. Then I mercifully forgot them.

23. What was the best book you read?

Checking on Goodreads... The only book I gave five stars to was Longbourn by Jo Baker, a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a focus on the servants which forever changed the way I will view Jane Austen's novels.

Honorable mentions:
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, based on the lives of two abolitionist sisters;
Fangirl and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, both of which sucked me in immediately;
Various Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, which are perfect to read when you want something light and funny but decidedly NOT mindless. And there are so many of them!

However, I will say that the only book I got up IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and finished was Who Is the Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series by Graeme Burke. Make of that what you will.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Nobody new. I am incredibly uninteresting in my musical taste.

25. What did you want and get by year’s end?

FREEDOM! (In a Braveheart voice.)

26. What did you want and not get by year’s end?

I can't think of anything. How blessed am I?

27. What was your favorite film of the year?

I quite liked The Fault in Our Stars. I went by myself and sobbed into my popcorn.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I actually don't remember. Oh! I don't remember where, but we went out to eat with my family and then we had a cake made of meringue and chocolate shavings from the Swiss Pastry Shoppe which will forever and ever be my birthday cake of choice from now on.

29. What do you think would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A million dollars.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Whatever didn't have to be ironed.

31. What kept you sane?

My husband, friends, and kids, who made me laugh in spite of myself.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

David Tennant. I've told my husband that if the Tenth Doctor every shows up at our door and asks me to run away with him, I'm going. My husband, knowing the odds of this are less likely than being struck by lightning, agreed to this deal.

33. Who did you miss?

My late father-in-law was one of the best men I ever knew. He's been gone nine years and I still miss him.

I also missed the juniors I taught the year before, even the ones I thought were stinkers because they were WONDERFUL compared to the freshmen.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

A new teacher who moved here from El Paso, who delighted me with his intrepid sarcasm.

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Do what you gotta do and don't feel bad about it.

36. Quote a song lyric that sums up the year.

"I'm just gonna shake it off, shake it off!"
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