Friday, January 27, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Mostly About Cute Stuff

--- 1 ---

Last Friday and Saturday Scott and I went to visit my family. At one point, I was entertaining Teresa by showing her pictures of the Bettinelli children. (Yes, we start 'em blog-stalking young.) Inspired by this post, she lined up our six dining room chairs into two rows and roped various people into riding on the "train." When Dad got roped in he was holding Matthew; she told them that they were going to get to ride to Disney World. Then she got mad because apparently Dad got off before they got to Disney World.

(Teresa also asked if she would someday be allowed to vacuum all by herself after seeing Bella doing it. We'll see if that inspirational moment pans out.)

--- 2 ---

My elder babysitting charge made this for me on Wednesday:

An example of one of the inner pages:

It is quite possibly the best gift ever. Seriously. I love it.

--- 3 ---

Speaking of best gifts ever, here is a drawing Teresa made for me.

Explanation: She was looking over my shoulder while I was checking Facebook and saw a girl with pink hair. Then she told me about how last summer when we were at a baseball game she saw a girl with green hair. So I told her maybe when she was older she could dye her hair green. (I am a bad, bad big sister. *grin*)

When she presented me the picture, she said, "It's me when I'm older and have green hair."

--- 4 ---

I'm out of grocery money for the month, pretty much. So I've been trying to come up with meals that use whatever odds and ends I have left in the apartment.

We happened to have half a pork roast left. So far we've had it with olive oil and rosemary and some other spices twice and with barbecue sauce once. I could've done bbq again, but I felt like trying something different. I remembered that we had seasoned salt and googled "Can you put seasoned salt on pork?" and got this recipe.

So after work yesterday I sat at my computer and drank hot cocoa and bossed Scott around and he sliced up the roast and made the pork chops. He also made some buttery garlic rice.

It was awesome.

--- 5 ---

The best post I have read this week: Bene, bene, bene by Simcha Fisher.

--- 6 ---

My mom's latest Facebook status:
Teresa didn't even let me get any caffeine before this conversation. TJ "I want a baby sister next time." Me "Sweetie we're not getting any more babies." TJ "Two babies are not too much work for me. "

--- 7 ---

I have no more ideas, so I am going to link to the other best thing I saw on teh internetz this week: This post, because of the picture. To paraphrase what Mari said when I showed it to her: It's like a visual representation of everything good in the world.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Theory

I have this theory that in my case, my anxiety disorders arise at least partially from the fact that I have above average intelligence. (Like how Matilda has superpowers. Except my superpowers look like this. [Scroll down to Take #5; this was before I started using Jen's awesome HTML anchors.]) Basically, my brain has a LOT of processing power, and its preference is to devote that processing power to imaginative pursuits. (This is why I hate math even though I'm good at it.) When my brain isn't occupied by something creative, it sort of turns on itself and starts devising elaborate scenarios about how WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!11!

I am posting this mainly so I can refer to it later. Be prepared. (But don't hold your breath. That's bad for you.)


My family lived in a particular house from the time I was about 5 to when I was 14 and a half. This house had a very large back porch. Underneath that porch was all sorts of stuff, but mainly landscaping timbers. Most were 6 or 12 inches long, but a few gems were about 18 inches. They were about as big around as a loaf of bread.

Andrea and I used to spend HOURS playing with those. We'd crawl under the porch to retrieve them, then use them to build log cabins for our Barbies and corrals for our horses and all sorts of other stuff, then shove them back under.

I was just recently talking to Mom about this for some reason and she said that she used to think that was the most disgusting thing EVER. The under-porch crawlspace was dirty and nasty; the timbers were old and half-rotten some of the time (please note: We never played with the rotten ones; we tossed them aside) and so on and so forth.

Funny how things can look completely different depending on your perspective.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seven Quick Talky Takes

--- 1 ---

I've been stressed out this week. I'm trying to remind myself that I'm still in the adjustment period for my new job, that in a month or so I'll have nailed down a schedule that works for us and won't lie awake at night thinking about everything I have to do.

Of course, then my cynical side says that as soon as I do get adjusted, Scott will get a job and we'll be thrown into confusion again.

--- 2 ---

What's even worse is the awful dreams I've been having when I do fall asleep. Just for example: I had a dream Thursday morning that one of Scott's brothers had died of complications from diabetes. (That brother does have Type 1 diabetes.) Then he turned into a malevolent ghost. Then Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer tried to turn him into a vampire, but of course it didn't work because he was already dead. Then I was driving somewhere and was so distracted by the traumatic occurrences that I misjudged a yellow light and ended up stopping with the front of my car over the white line and there was a cop waiting to go straight and she gave me a ticket for $634,000. (I remember that, but I don't know what the significance of the number is.)

The blend of realistic and NOT realistic things was seriously like my subconscious playing good cop, bad cop with my...conscious.

I spent the rest of the day feeling all out of sorts, mostly because I kept remembering the part of the dream where my brother-in-law was dead. I happened to see him later that day and let me tell you, I have never been more tempted to give someone an awkward spontaneous hug. I refrained, though.

--- 3 ---

Scott and I have a new couch! Well, not "new." It belonged to a family in Scott's old homeschool group; the parents had had it since they were newlyweds.

I'd take a picture of my nice newly-arranged living room, but I'm lazy.

[here imagine that several hours elapse]

Okay, pictures!

This is the couch itself. Scott actually LIKES the upholstery. I...don't. The blanket is on there nominally to cover up the (smallish) holes so nobody sits on stuffing, but actually to keep the pattern from offending mine eyes. Apparently the people who reupholstered it last time are still in business right here in this suburb, so Scott and I will probably see how much that costs. I'm pushing for something involving blue and cream, for reasons you will see momentarily.

Behold, our blue recliner (which we got for free from a friend of a friend) and our cream-colored Poang chair (which we got as a Christmas present from Scott's parents). In this shot, you can also see our floor lamp, which I got as a shower gift from my mom.

In this shot you can see our front door. And my pretty brick wall. I am going to miss that wall when we move. (Which will not be anytime soon; I just know we won't be in a one-bedroom apartment for the rest of our lives.) I have some white bookcases along that wall and they look very pretty against the brick.

Of course, NOTHING in my living room matches anything else. I kind of want some little end tables or something, but since the Poang chair has light wood and the couch has darker wood I have no idea how to pull the room together into something matchy. *despair* How do people do this kind of stuff?

(Answer: They buy all new furniture all at once from the same place, and then their furniture matches. Right? There's not some magic way to make random gifts and freebies go together?)

This is a tiny plastic axe that fell out of the couch when we were moving it. I love it and want to keep it. Is that okay, or do you think somebody is missing their tiny plastic axe? (The youngest child in the family we got the couch from is apparently our age. But I'm 22 and I love the tiny plastic axe; maybe this other 22-year-old does too.)

--- 4 ---

Funny conversations with my elder babysitting charge:

"Do you have any kids?"
"Nope. Not yet, anyway."
"Are you married?"
"Yes, but I've only been married a couple of months."
"Oh. A couple of months is not long enough to have a baby."

"My dad was a missionary before he had a family. One time he did a stupid thing and went up a volcano."
"He doesn't recommend that?"
"No. Fortunately, it was dormant."

--- 5 ---

When I first started babysitting I had a hard time adjusting to the fact that the little boy doesn't talk (he's a little less than a year and a half old). I haven't babysat anyone under 2 in a year, and the 2 2-year-olds I've babysat were both girls, who allegedly talk earlier than boys. (I babysat one of them starting when she was 1, but that was a long time ago.)

I'm starting to get the hang of communicating with the little guy, though. Mostly he just points and babbles but he does use a few meaningful words. For example:

"Woo-woo": Literal meaning: Train. Broader meaning #1: Anything with wheels (trucks, motorcycles, you get the picture). Broader meaning #2: The television. (His favorite show is Thomas the Tank Engine, but if he points to the TV and says "Woo-woo" he'll be perfectly content with Word World or some other non-train show.) (No, I don't turn on the TV every time he asks.)

"UH-uh!": Literal meaning: Uh-oh. Broader meaning: "Hey, you, my ball went under the desk again. Get it out." (It's hilarious the TONE he uses when this happens. It goes from genuine distress to imperiousness real quick.)

--- 6 ---

Scott made a pork roast all by himself this week. Because of work, I wasn't going to be home in time to put it in the crockpot myself. So I left him painfully detailed instructions along with a recipe and he did very well. Of course, my first comment was "Oh, I just remembered I usually halve the pepper." Yes, I'm really fun to live with.

At some point, I want to do some more detailed food posts/recipes, mostly just for my own reference. I guess we'll see if that ever pans out.

--- 7 ---

The other day, Eldest Younger Brother and Scott were annoying me by doing that thing where they stand around talking FOREVER. This usually only annoys me when I have places to be and they are slowing me down. Anyway, leaving aside who's in the right here, a funny conversation:

Me, irritated: "You are some of the talkingest boys I know!"

EYB, not particularly irritated: "Well ... you talk less than most girls I know."

Me, cheerful: "Thank you!"

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seven Quick Jobby Takes

--- 1 ---

Remember that family I babysat for last week? Well, what I didn't mention was that it was a trial run for a part-time nannying position. I'm supposed to work 2-3 days a week from 7:30 to 3:30. This week I did 7:30 to 3:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and then "my" family ended up needing a babysitter today as well. I was supposed to work 9:30 to 5:30. And then the kids' dad's car's battery died, so he didn't get back from work until 6:00. As I write this sentence, it's 8:15 and I haven't had dinner yet. (It's cooling on the stove. I did have hot chocolate once I got home and a few handfuls of mozzarella while I was making the pizza.)

--- 2 ---

My favorite part of babysitting: On Tuesday, the 8-year-old girl was saying grace before her lunch and after the usual "Bless us, O Lord..." she ad-libbed some stuff she was thankful for and one of the things was that she got to spend the day with "the best babysitter in the whole world."

Yes, I DID melt into a puddle right there on the kitchen floor.

On Thursday she told me I was a great babysitter two more times. The first time, we were playing Battleship together while the baby napped. (She won fair and square. It's strange but true that sometimes randomness beats strategy.) The second time, we were all sitting at the window watching snow fall outside and Girl made a comment about how this might be the first snow Baby remembers and I replied that I don't remember anything that happened when I was 1 and that started this deep philosophical conversation about memories. After which she told me I'm a great babysitter.

Today the little boy (a 6-year-old who goes to a Catholic school rather than being homeschooled like his sister and was only present from 3:45 to 6:00 today) said that the baby was the best brother EVER. The girl piped up with "And guess who's the best babysitter ever?" The boy guessed right. AM DEAD FROM THE CUTE.

--- 3 ---

I am really happy about this job because 1) Most weeks I will not have to work more than 24 hours, thereby freeing up more of my time for housewifely pursuits and leisure and stuff while still making me feel like I'm doing my part to keep us from starving to death. 2) Kids make me happy. It never ceases to amaze me, because I'm the kind of person who doesn't like loud noises or sticky things or...any one of a number of other things one generally associates with children. But taking care of real live children just makes me all peaceful and fulfilled in a way almost nothing else does.

Half of the time I think this is awesome because that means I will totally rock being a stay-at-home mom. (It's babysitting minus the daily dose of things that tend to make me anxious, such as driving and associating with grown-ups I don't know well.) The other half of the time I worry that I am getting an excessively rosy picture of things and the first day I'm home alone with a baby I will be cruelly disappointed that its parents are not coming to pick it up and become terribly depressed as a result and be so scarred by the experience that I never want to have a second child and all my hopes and dreams will be dashed, etc.

Aren't you jealous of my brain?

--- 4 ---

I've noticed lately that I'm REALLY bad at small talk. I started noticing it while wedding planning, because I think people expect you to be REALLY! HAPPY! or a bridezilla or something and they didn't quite know what to make of the girl who sat there and nodded quietly as they discussed their hall's catering policies.

We will here pause for a moment and laugh at the idea that somebody like me has the social finesse to successfully identify a look of unmet expectation. Probably people's faces just look like that all the time and I never noticed before.

Anyway, I'm not used to this happening with babysitting because most of my recent babysitting has been for 1) My mother 2) My old youth group director or 3) My Ministry to Moms mom, who I stuck with for 2 of my 4 years at college.

Now I'm with new people and they ask stuff and I answer and then there's that awkward pause where I feel like I am supposed to chatter about something and my mind is totally blank. Like: "How was the drive?" "Fine." [pause]

That's actually a bad example, because now I know that when asked about the drive I should comment on the traffic and/or the weather. The weather has been cooperating with my need for small talk fodder lately; I can discuss the fact that it was raining on my way there and is expected to snow in the afternoon or whatever. I am also building a stock of things to say at the end of the day when asked how the kids were. (At first: "They were good." [pause] Now: "They ate these things for lunch and we played these games and Girl is really mastering two-digit addition and subtraction.")

Is there like a small-talk manual somewhere out there so I can pick this up faster?

--- 5 ---

It has been pointed out to me that some person from Scott's homeschool group found this blog and realized it was Scott's girlfriend's blog (well, not anymore, but you get the idea). Hi, random person! If you're still reading, you should comment sometime!

It has been further pointed out to me that now odds are good that the existence of my blog has been leaked to the Western Ohio Homeschool Mother Grapevine, and therefore I should watch what I say.

Now I'm thinking of that scene from Dr. Horrible where he says he needs to be more careful because Captain Hammer and the chief of police watch his vlogs.

Anyhoodle. I have a long-standing policy of not saying bad stuff about bosses or professors on my blog, so if I DID have bad stuff to say about my current bosses I wouldn't say it here. I can't say that everything on this blog is something I'd willingly say to someone in person, but bear in mind that I'm painfully shy with everyone over the age of about 12. So this is kind of my outlet for all the things I'd say if I was an extrovert. And long-term readers could tell you that I'm okay with admitting that I'm wrong if I say something regrettably stupid. (Mari in particular might remember one hours-long Skype conversation about a post I wrote a few years back. I ended up admitting she was right and I was...less right.)

--- 6 ---

In other job-related news, Scott had an interview on Tuesday afternoon. He said it went well. Prayers would be appreciated.

The attentive among you might notice that I was working Tuesday and might remember that Scott doesn't drive. (Yet.) Fortunately, we live all of 3 miles away from his family and managed to prevail upon them to give him a ride to the nearest bus stop so he could take a bus downtown for his interview. (He is a public transportation rockstar. By which I mean that he knows how to take a bus and I don't so I'm impressed.) So it all worked out beautifully, though for a while it seemed like one of those riddles where you have to get the fox and the chicken and the bag of corn across the river without anything getting eaten.

When Scott actually gets a job, we'll have to figure out a long-term solution to getting us both to work (even after Scott gets his license, we'll still only have the one car), but I figure we can cross that bridge when we come to it.

--- 7 ---

I have discovered that it is kind of awesome to come home from work cold and tired and hungry and find that the kitchen which was covered in dirty dishes is now spotless thanks to your awesome husband. And all I had to do was ask nicely!

I am currently working on developing a chart of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, partly so Scott knows what he's supposed to do without even having to be asked and partly so that I know what I'm supposed to do. (Like, I realized we haven't cleaned our tub since we moved here. It gets soap and water in it when we shower. That makes it clean, right?)

I'm also planning to make a master grocery list of sorts with prices for various items so someday I can email it to Scott and then he will be able to benefit from my grocery-shopping wisdom and perhaps someday even make a list and go shopping all by himself. (After he learns how to drive, obviously.)

Bonus take: I got my new Social Security card in the mail today. Something I didn't realize is that the issue date is on the card, so I get to see 1/6/2012 on there every time I look at it for the rest of my life and smile because I love Epiphany. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Monday, January 9, 2012

And I would do it again

One thing I like about my tradition of posting T. S. Eliot's The Journey of the Magi every year is that the last couple of years I would pick out a line that struck me and use it as the title (or adapt it slightly for use as the title). This year I didn't repost it, which was okay because nothing in particular leapt out at me when I read it on January 6.

Well, today I read it over at Melanie's and had a delayed "favorite line of the year moment."

And I would do it again, the narrator says, after spending half the poem discussing the hardships of the journey.

Since we got married I've remarked to Scott a couple of times how HAPPY I am that we're not in a long-distance relationship anymore. But I've never really taken time to reflect on it.

I'm still not at a point where I'm ready to look at those three long difficult years and draw some profound lesson out of them. But I am willing to say that I would do it again.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Seven Quick Epiphany Takes

--- 1 ---

It has been my tradition since the earliest days of this blog to post T. S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi every year on Epiphany, because it happens to be the best poem ever. This year I don't feel like fussing with the formatting (for some reason, copy-paste kills the line breaks every time), so I'll just direct you here, here, here, or here for some poetical awesomeness.

--- 2 ---

Today Scott and I went to the post office, the Social Security office, and the bank. Scott had to come along because we were depositing money in two different accounts.

At the Social Security office, the government employee who happened to assist me had a very fun time saying my new last name over and over in a fake Italian accent while he typed my information into his computer. Apparently his last name also has two c's and it's exciting to meet somebody else in the same predicament. Is this a club or something? Should I be applying for my Unpronounceable-by-WASPs-Italian-Last-Name club membership in addition to a new driver's license and passport?

--- 3 ---

Last month I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I was interested in giving her my little babysitter spiel so she could distribute it to the Big City homeschool group. I never got around to that, but it was on my mother-in-law's radar so when Other Homeschool Mom sent out an email to the homeschool group saying she needed a nanny, my mother-in-law gave us each other's emails.

So on Tuesday I drove down to their house (which is an awesome 100-year-old Victorian with all sorts of weird little nooks and crannies) and met everybody, and on Wednesday I drove down there at the crack of dawn and babysat the 8-year-old and the 1-year-old until 3:30.

It was quite possibly the easiest babysitting job ever. The 1-year-old was easily kept happy as long as I threw balls for him to fetch and fed him goldfish crackers. (I did feed him other stuff. I care about nutrition.) The 8-year-old cheerfully and efficiently did all her schoolwork and then played a computer game for a little while and then got out the art supplies and made a very pretty paper chain for her sick grandmother's hospital room. Meanwhile the baby was napping so I was reading one of the new American Girl books. (8-year-old, seeing me sitting around doing nothing: "What do you like to do? Do you like to read? We have books you can read.") (The old American Girl books are better.) Then the 8-year-old wanted to know what she could do next. I suggested TV, and then kicked myself because I really should learn how to suggest things other than glowing screens. So the 8-year-old watched a few episodes of Word Girl on Netflix and then her brother woke up and I was all despairing because I thought, "Great, now I'll have to entertain him, so I can't do anything enriching with her once she's done watching TV." Well, once the episode was over the girl got off the computer and played ball with her brother. So I didn't have to entertain him and she was doing something not screen related.

Can you believe I made money doing that?

--- 4 ---

In the middle of that last take, I wandered off to make eggless cookie dough. Just leaving the egg out didn't work (the dough was all dry and crumbly and didn't taste quite right), so I used one of the egg substitutes on this page (the one that uses flour and water and oil and baking powder, because I have all of those things).

That worked. The texture is perfect; the taste is perfect. (Scott says it's too sweet, but he's never had cookie dough before so what does he know?)

I have not yet moved on to Phase Two, which involves actually baking cookies using this dough and seeing if they turn out okay. I am not sure I will ever get to Phase Two. Guilt-free cookie dough eating forever!

--- 5 ---

As I mentioned in my last post, we came in a whole nine cents under budget for groceries in December. The only downside was that we kept running out of meat. (This was especially noticeable the last few days of December.) So this month I decided to see how much meat we eat when there's an abundance thereof.

I shopped the sales as much as possible and the result was this:

Pictured: Approximately 6 3/4 pounds of pork, 9 pounds of chicken, 2 pounds of tilapia, 2 1/2 pounds of beef roast, and 3 pounds of hamburger patties.
Immediately after I took this picture I had to rearrange everything because my freezer door wouldn't close.

I also bought one pound of ground hamburger at full (Aldi) price because I felt like making meatballs. When I got back from massive amounts of shopping on Monday I didn't feel like making meatballs just then, but Scott and I both had a hankering for spaghetti, so we mustered our energy and did it anyway. They were delicious.

On Tuesday we cooked half a pork roast (about 2 1/4 pounds). I was going to cook a whole pork roast, but it wouldn't fit in my crockpot so I had to take a big old butcher knife out of my knife block and saw this frozen log of meat in half. That's why in the first picture you can see one long log of meat and one short log of meat.

I didn't cook on Wednesday because I was too tired. On Thursday I cooked spaghetti carbonara with chicken. Today we've had some tilapia and will likely have more.

I will report back next week on how much meat we managed to eat between Monday dinner and next Monday lunch.

--- 6 ---

On Monday night I managed to catch the lovely and brilliant Emily on Skype and we talked for the first time since the wedding. Then on Tuesday Grace had a snow day (she's a math teacher) and I got to talk to her for the first time since the wedding. I can now pat myself on the back because I am NOT one of those people who gets married and falls off the face of the earth.

--- 7 ---

I have actually been doing a fair bit of writing and writing-related stuff. I'd post some of it here, but then I'd run the risk of my work counting as "self-published" and then when I query for actual publication it'd be a "reprint." Which is not something I want to get into. Anyway, suffice it to say it is cool.

Also, I re-downloaded the family tree software that I was using back in May to make an awesome 200+ character family tree to go with my novels. The first time I downloaded it was right before a virus almost killed my computer. I'm going for it being a correlation rather than causation thing. If I disappear after this, though, you'll know what did it.

(The program somehow got deleted off my computer, but the file with my family tree was still there. So I can pick up where I left off rather than having to re-enter the first 200 people. Yay!)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 in review

I've seen this at a couple of blogs over the years and decided to do it this year. So.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Well, there were the obvious things. I graduated from college, got engaged, got married, officially owned a car, signed a lease, went shopping for a whole week's groceries...

Also, I drove over 200 miles by myself. Twice. (The previous record was 75 miles.) Well, I had Scott with me both times, but he can't drive. He did serve an important keeping-me-company and handing-me-crackers purpose. (Those Triscuit knockoffs from Aldi? BEST DRIVING FOOD EVER.) However, I did the driving and that is a really huge deal for somebody who tries to keep her eyes closed on the highway because she's scared of semi-trucks. (Please note that I do NOT close my eyes while I'm the one driving. Which is why it's hard and I avoid it whenever possible.)

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

The only resolutions I really made were writing related (to finish the second major draft of Novel #1 and the first major draft of Novel #2). I didn't accomplish either of those. I also didn't win NaNoWriMo, though I did manage to write 37,500 words in a month and then eked out another 3000 the next month to wrap up the story. So now I have a total of four novels languishing on my hard drive, ranging from 40,000 to 150,000 words apiece. (The one I wrote when I was 12-15, the one I wrote when I was 17-20, the one I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2009, and the one I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2011. They've been getting progressively shorter. I like to think I'm getting more succinct.)

I think this year I'm going to try something like monthly writing goals. I can't sustain the necessary concentration for a year, but I can for a month. Or if I can't at least I only feel guilty for 28-31 days before I can start fresh with a different goal.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I had two or three college friends have babies. And Scott's oldest brother and sister-in-law had a baby. I'm not terribly close to them friend-wise, but I'm working on that. And two of my cousins had babies. Basically it's all baby all the time lately.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to Matthew's birth mom, though I'm unlikely to ever meet her in person.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

Does Indiana count as a country? I went there last week after not crossing that particular state line in about a decade, despite spending most of that decade within half an hour of said state line. (I also went to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. And maybe Kentucky. But I think I actually avoided Michigan this year. The Michigan relatives came down to visit us twice, for my graduation party and my wedding.)

Seriously, though. I'm going to have to go to Canada sometime in 2012 just so I can say I've been out of the country.

(I think it's weird that this survey assumes people will have visited multiple countries in any given year. Even people who take annual vacations won't always leave the country, will they?)

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Oh, I am full of wants, ranging from a new mantilla to my own Sims 2 disc (I haven't been able to play since I left home) to a dining room table of my very own (we're borrowing a folding table from Scott's parents) to a gainfully employed husband to...well, you get the idea. I am one big appetite.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Do I really need to answer this question?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

How about I list a few and you can decide? I wrote a 30+ page double thesis and got an A from both advisors. I graduated from college with a 3.95. (My roommate graduated with a 3.98. I still let her be a bridesmaid.) I planned a wedding, which was a total pain, let me tell you. I drove 200+ miles at a stretch and signed a lease and grocery shopped and all those things I talked about earlier.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Wow, survey. That's kind of a rude question.

I failed at not freaking out over everything and bursting into tears at random intervals. But that's nothing new, and if I get all worked up about it I fall into a death spiral of anxiety. So I prefer not to think of it as failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not really. I got cold/flu/blah stuff a lot (my immune system rolls over and dies in the face of stress) and just a week or two ago I tripped going down the stairs and pulled my knee out of joint, but that got better in a couple of days.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I still really really like my wedding dress. Does that count?

12. Where did most of your money go?

The wedding. Also, I spent an obscene amount of money on gas this year.

13. What did you get really excited about?

I was too tired to get excited for most of the year. Graduating was fairly exciting after I finished my thesis and got some sleep. And I did manage to get excited about getting married despite being up to my eyeballs in stuff to do.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

I don't know about always, but I was just listening to this song and it made me think of the first half of 2011.

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

– happier or sadder? Soooo much happier, it's ridiculous.
– thinner or fatter? Probably about the same, which is an accomplishment for me considering that when I'm stressed my preferred coping mechanism is to EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE!
– richer or poorer? If you just count the bank account in my name, much poorer. If you count Scott's bank account (which does not have my name on it yet, but Scott will hand over his debit card whenever I ask), richer. If you count gainful employment, about the same. (Scott didn't have a job last January 1 either; he got a job offer on January 28. There's a funny story behind that which I might tell sometime. I had my student newspaper copy editor job, but if I still had that job I wouldn't even be making enough money to pay for our groceries, so it's not a big deal.)

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

Reading and writing and going for walks and taking quiet time for prayer and all the other things that help me manage stress.

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

Stressing out about stuff, obviously.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

We stayed home together, ate good food, and watched a few episodes of Angel. And I cried at one point because the frozen chicken hated me, but let's not talk about that.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Firefly. I watched the entire series from start to finish twice. (Which is less impressive than it sounds since the whole series is only 14 episodes.) And I watched Serenity three times.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

The Samurai by Shusaku Endo, which I had to read for a class, and the Harry Potter series, which I read of my own free will. I also read Watership Down for the fourth time last week. Overall 2011 was not a big reading year for me, sadly.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Well, I discovered Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog this year. Other than that, my guilty pleasure was still Taylor Swift, and my not guilty pleasure was still Matt Maher. (I like Christian rock and I don't care what anybody else thinks.)

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I hope this question doesn't mean movies that came out in 2011, because unless my memory fails me I did not go to the movie theater at all in 2011. This was the year I was introduced to Inception, however. Also The Hunt for Red October and Serenity. (I saw Inception twice and Serenity three times. I need to introduce Scott to Red October if it's still on Netflix instant play.)

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

I babysat my former youth group director's three adorable children. The day before my birthday, I found out our application for this apartment had been accepted. The day after my birthday I babysat said adorable children again and then pretty much went straight from their house to the apartment to sign the lease. (We celebrated my birthday the Sunday before; we had lasagna and dirt cake.) I was 22.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Telepathy. I'm serious. Not the uncontrollable kind where you hear everybody's thoughts all the time, though. I want the kind of telepathy that enables me to take an image or sound or concept out of my brain and deposit it directly in someone else's. It would have made wedding planning so much easier.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

"Whatever's clean and comfy." Just like all the years before 2011. For about a month I had a vague desire flopping around in my soul (like a landed fish...) to Start Dressing Like A Grown-Up. I'm not sure how grown-ups dress but I have a feeling it's not in a denim skirt and a school-related T-shirt every day except Sunday. (During the summer I wear my St. Thomas More Hall t-shirts; during the winter I wear my March for Life t-shirts.)

26. What kept you sane?

The recognition that it's necessary for me to do something brain-rotting like Sims or whatever in order to sort of "reset" things. Otherwise I spend my whole life on the anxiety hamster wheel.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.

That God loves me and wants me to be happy--and therefore there must be some other explanation when it seems otherwise.

Also, that I don't need to freak out about fulfilling my role in God's plan. I don't need to be all hyper-vigilant lest I miss the window of opportunity and RUIN EVERYTHING! God is a big boy. He can take care of himself.

I've been writing this post for 48 hours, so now I'll just post it and be done. Maybe my life lesson for 2012 will be letting go of perfectionism. :)