Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A "C" Average Resolutionary

Ah, New Year's Resolutions… Every year I make a dozen, accomplish a few, and forget the rest, and this year was no exception. Here's my end-of-the-year New Year's Resolutions report card.

My original New Year's Resolutions post is here, and my mid-term review is here.

Eat cleaner. Specifically, I'd like to bake my own bread and granola bars. (B-)
As I mentioned in July, we cut back on the (non-whole wheat) bread, processed granola bars, and processed snacks that, while never staples in our diets, probably appeared a little too often. I still can't find a bread machine recipe that produces good sandwich bread, but I found a 100% whole wheat and sugar-free store-bought bread that we all enjoy. When it comes to granola bars, it turns out we don't miss them when we don't have them so I haven't attempted any new recipes since August. And the processed snacks? They occasionally make their way into our kitchen, but not nearly as often as they once did.

Spend less. I don't spend frivolously, but in the coming year I plan to keep better track of where our dollars go and purchase only what we really need. (C)
I oscillated between success and failure when it came to this resolution. I tend to get carried away around birthdays and holidays (and did so at least a few times this year), so to make up for this weakness I did my best cut back in between these special occasions.

Streamline my volunteer efforts. This will occur naturally come fall, when both Will and Hallie attend the same school, but I can expedite the process by simply waiting to say "yes" to volunteer requests until I've had the opportunity to evaluate whether or not the nature of and time commitment for the request make sense for me and my family. (B-)
Yes, the kids attend the same school so I'm able to dedicate my school-related volunteer efforts to just one academic institution, but that one academic institution keeps me pretty darn busy. I continue to volunteer for the American Red Cross, but I've gotten better at only taking on assignments and projects for which I know I have the time and energy.

Date my husband. Traditional weekend evening dates don't always work for us, both because of our vastly different schedules and because paying for good childcare makes child-free activities cost twice as much, so our plan is to trend toward lunch dates, coffee shop "work" dates, and at-home-after-the-kids-fall-asleep dates. (C-)
After failing miserably for the first 10 months of the year, we aced November and December. Two dates in November and two dates in December brought us to five dates total for the year. I hope to carry this dating momentum into 2015.

Stop feeling guilty. About eating a brownie two brownies for dessert, drinking a Blue Moon on a Tuesday evening, reading a book instead of writing or researching while the kids are at school, and focusing my energy on people who build me up (instead of on those who weigh me down, which I admit to doing in the not-so-distant past). (C)
Still working on it.

Teach Hallie to read and tie her shoes. Though teaching Hallie to read made it onto my 2013 list, she just wasn't ready last year. Now that Hallie's both academically and mentally rearing to go, I plan to help her reach her goal. And along the way I'll teach her to tie her shoes, because just like parents reach a point when they're ready to be done changing diapers, parents also reach a point when they're ready to be done tying shoes. I'm there. (A)
Done and done. Bam.

Finalize our will. Though we've made arrangements for our children should something unfortunate happen to us, Tom and I MUST finalize this document before the end of 2014. (F)
I'm embarrassed to admit that we still haven't done this. Can anyone recommend a good lawyer (preferably in BCS) to help us with this project? I absolutely MUST cross this one off my list in 2015!

Paint my front door. Red? Green? Black? I'm conflicted. (A+)
Crossed this one off the list back in March. Still love it in December.

Learn American history. I recently realized how little I know about American history. My fifth grade teacher spent 30 minutes a day covering the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, but after I graduated from Mrs. Nowakowski's class I never saw another American history text book. Not in middle school, high school, or college. As an educated adult and the parent of a school-aged child who will soon embark on his own journey to learn about the history of our country, I find this gaping hole in my education appalling, so much so that I'd like to begin filling the gap. To be clear, my goal isn't to become a history buff. My goal is to understand a bit more about who we are and where we came from…and to be able to hold my own should I ever appear on the game show "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?". (D)
For nearly 12 months, The Complete Idiot's Guide to American History, 5th Edition and the "History of the United States, Volume 2" DVD collection sat,  virtually untouched, on my nightstand. In January and February I found a few free minutes each evening to read a chapter or watch a DVD segment, but when I discovered that just a few days later I couldn't remember what I'd learned, I grew frustrated and started picking up novels and watching Netflix instead of shoring up my historical knowledge base. I've decided to hold off on any additional American history lessons until Will reaches this subject in school; when that time arrives he and I can learn (or relearn, in my case) the information together.

Learn Texas history. What better time to learn about the history of my current home state than while I'm already learning about the history of my home country? I hope these history "lessons" turn out to be educational, yes, but also fun and something Will (and maybe Hallie, in some cases) and I can enjoy together. (F)
I forgot about this resolution during the first six months of year, and yes, I forgot about this resolution during the second six months of the year as well. I found an interesting educational website - - back in July and planned to visit it with the kids "during our downtime" in August, but we never actually had any downtime in August. Or September. Or October. And so on. Maybe next summer...

Read books and watch movies. It seems silly to include reading and movie watching on a New Year's Resolution list, but because I have trouble finding the time to do both, onto the list they go. (B)
Here are a few of my favorite books and movies from the second half of the year, along with what's next on my reading and viewing lists.

Maybe this is why I didn't get as much
reading done these last few months.
Four, Veronica Roth
Hector and the Search for Happiness, Francois Lelord

If I Stay, Gayle Forman
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (preparing for Mockingjay, Part 1 in November)
Divergent, Veronica Roth (preparing for Insurgent in March)

I didn't get to Don't Kill the Birthday GirlIn the Garden of BeastsAccusedAll Fall Down, and The Fever, so they remain on my list, and I've added That Night, Eyes on You, and Station Eleven to my list as well. I also plan to read Insurgent (again) in preparation for the movie release in March.

Our Idiot Brother (I wouldn't recommend this one)
The Monuments Men
Planes: Fire and Rescue
Earth to Echo
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Maze Runner
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (this one is a must-see for kids and grown-ups alike)
Gone Girl
The Book of Life
Mockingjay, Part 1 (three times)
Big Hero 6

And of course we watched (most of) our Christmas favorites like The Santa Clause, Four Christmases, Elf, Home Alone, and Christmas Vacation.

I still haven't seen Ender's Game, Draft Day, Maleficent, and Tammy so hopefully I can find them OnDemand or on Netflix soon. Over the holidays I hope to fit in Annie and Into the Woods, and I have Unbroken, American Sniper, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Wild, Paddington, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and the new Cinderella remake on my list. 

So how did you fare with your New Year's Resolutions?

For fun, I calculated my GPA based on the letter grades I gave myself above. I earned a 2.10, which while only a C average, is 0.03 points higher than I earned during the first six months of the year. Progress is progress, right?

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 By the Pictures

The paragraphs and statistics are no doubt valuable, but as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are about 48,000 words worth of pictures...a glimpse back on 2014 through the lens of my camera.