Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011

Since it's New Year's Eve, I thought I'd take some time today to reflects on 2011. I'm sure once the new year starts, I'll talk about my hopes for 2012, but for now, it's still 2011. Let's just get this thing started by saying that this has not been a good year, in any sense of the word. A few good things have happened, but for the most part, the bad has far outweighed it. 2011 has been one tragedy after another and I'm not sorry to see it go. I just keep hoping that 2012 will be better, but I'm after the year I've had this year am not holding my breath.

So January started really terribly with the worst flu I've ever had. Really, the absolute worst. I spent almost 10 days really, really sick and still think I probably had swine flu. I didn't go to the doctor, I couldn't leave my house, but Matt had it the year before so I know the symptoms well. Whatever it was, it was the worst way to start the new year.  Then, we learned our only car needed $1,000 worth of work. Work we didn't do, by the way, because we didn't have the money. Our car is still running fine, for the most part, and though we have a little transmission trouble, it's not died yet. The silver lining was that I got a Kindle, which I love, love with all my heart and soul, so the month wasn't all bad.

In February, we had a major freeze. Everything froze for a week, I got a week off work, but we also didn't have water for four days because our pipes froze. No one in town had water after the first day or two, so we were glad we got some, but we still didn't have quite enough to get through four days without. No showers, which really sucked. Then, when that nightmare was over, the damn pipes burst and cost us more than $100 to fix. Then, as if all that wasn't bad enough, I found out someone had hacked my PayPal account and was taking out tons of small transactions, which was bleeding my PayPal account dry. I spent my anniversary, Valentine's Day, on the phone (at work) with PayPal trying to get it resolved--which I did, but my PayPal account was unavailable for weeks after that. Then, Matt's computer decided to act up. Awesome, stupid computer. Thankfully it was an easy fix. The silver lining in February was that Matt and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary.

Thankfully, March went by almost without incident, except that my new oven died. Not cool, and not a big problem since it was under warranty, but just adds one more thing to the list of scream-worthy offenses. When April came along, it made up an almost incident-less March in a big way. My ex-husband's grandmother passed away. Though I hadn't seen her in years, she meant a lot to me, and I was so sad to hear she'd passed. April is never a good month anyway, but this made it so much worse.

In May I dyed my hair the worst color of red known to man. The stupid color came out exactly like the damn box, which it never does. Good going, Kristyn, seriously. In June, I started having more problems with my already problematic cell phone. Namely, we couldn't get phone calls, our texts wouldn't always get there and the ones that did were late, we couldn't get data. T-Mobile has the absolute worst customer service I've ever seen. Also in June, the school library decided to be an ass and not let me check out books because even though I'm a student, I wasn't currently registered. Since I needed the books to work on my thesis, this was a particular problem, but one I found a work around for. The good news for May and June was that Matt graduated (finally!!), and I got my really beautiful class ring.

July and August weren't as bad as the rest of the year, except that it was really, really hot. We had a terrible summer, with drought conditions and excessive heat. It was nasty, but not something terrible for just me. I spent most of the summer just working on my thesis stuff and studying for my comps, which I passed decidedly. I did end up in the ER in August for a torn rotator cuff that everyone (mostly Matt and my mom) thought could be something more serious--that sucked. Oh, my blog also temporarily died and we started having problems with our DSL/phone service, which lasted another three months.

September was actually a pretty good month, except that I got pretty sick. My folks came out to Texas for a very short time to go through some of my grandmother's things. Matt and I went up to Plainview to see them, which was busy but was really nice. My mom gave me my grandmother's antique sewing machine, something I absolutely cherish. I was also back to work and actually teaching my very own College Composition (English 111) course. It was absolutely surreal. The end of September was terrible for us, since we had some job issues I'm not really going to discuss, making it impossible for us to save for our move, and further impossible because we had to spend our savings to stay afloat.

November was absolutely unremarkable, except that school kept me busy. December, however, not so much. Once school was over, something I was really thankful for, and everything was done I just spent this month taking some time for myself. Matt and I had a nice Christmas, but after that a mix of good and bad started to occur. I had a day of absolute clumsiness, which was just annoying. Then, my dishwasher died, which I'm so unhappy about since I can't afford to replace it. Then, last night, my damn heater died. We're going to replace the thermostat early next week, but there's no guarantee that's going to fix it. Thank goodness it's not that cold here, but as always, I'm cold so I'm unhappy. I figure that the only good of all that is that the dishwasher and heater died while it was still (barely) 2011. The silver lining this month was that we got a new puppy, Chewbi, who is driving us absolutely insane with his cuteness, and we're loving every minute of it... even if Ani does hate him so far.

Let's see, what else, I've been a terrible blogger this year. I don't think I've written even 50 posts all year, which is not good at all. I think next year I'm going to try to make more of an effort to write here. I do so love blogging, which constitutes taking time out for myself, in a big way, something I didn't do much of this year, even though it was part of my  new year's resolutions.

Some good things did happen this year, most of which I tried to include above. Over the last month, I lost 15 lbs. and all I did was stop eating so many sweets... well, any sweets at all. My teeth have been really bothering me, but dentists are too expensive, so I've laid off most of the foods that hurt them. On the up-side, tooth pain has helped me to kick the sweets, something I thought I'd never be able to do, so that's good. I also got a new phone, an iPhone which I absolutely love, so that was good. Oh, and some of the best news of the year was a clean bill of health. That was awesome. I also consider another year of being childfree a major silver living!  So the year wasn't all bad, just mostly!

So anyway, I'm off. Tomorrow, or the day after, I'll talk about my new year's resolutions from both last year and for the coming year, too. I hope your 2011 was better than mine. Also, if you managed to get through this whole post, thanks for hanging in there with me. If not, I don't blame you at all. Happy New Year's Eve to all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meet Chewbi!!

Yesterday, Matt and I welcomed a new addition to our family, a Shih-Tzu puppy we named
Kenobi Chewbacca. We toyed with other names, like Fitzwilliam and Pemberley, and Matt wanted to name him Wicket or Warrick, we also considered Ares and Valancourt, but in the end we decided on
Kenobi Chewbacca because it just fit him better than any of the other names--Matt just talked me into changing it, on the promise that I can call him Chewbi. We also thought it would be easier for him to learn because of the hard sound at the front, and it works because our other Shih-Tzu baby's name is Anakin!  Win, win. 

Chewbacca is 8 weeks old and will be gold when he's grown, but for now he's this adorable brownish color. He's very playful, loves to nap, eats and drinks quite a bit, and already knows how to use the piddle pads. He's really a wonderful dog and we're so happy to have him.

Unfortunately, Ani's not as happy about it. He's been very skittish about the puppy, he doesn't know what to think of him yet. Whenever Chewbi tries to play with him, he runs away or barks at him. At first, I was actually a little bit worried about it, but I read that it can take several weeks for older dogs to warm to puppies, so I'm keeping an open mind. I'm sure Anakin will grow to love him, but it may take time and the puppy may have to grow a little bit, as right now he's tiny.

Look at those eyes!!

I just fell instantly in love with him!!

He is a bit of a biter, but he's teething so it's expected. I've been trying to give him other things to chew on, but he prefers fingers and pant legs--hence the change in his name to Chewbacca.

Now I'm off to snuggle with the little guy while he sleeps. I'm sure there will be many more pictures to come, I'm a little camera crazy like that!! ~.^

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Strikes Again!!

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the ones where absolutely nothing seems to go right for you. Yeah, well, yesterday was that day for me. A fitting end to a terrible year, I think, and I suppose I should just be grateful that it's still 2011 so I can blame it on my bad year--something further pointed out by one of my friends while I was complaining about it on Facebook yesterday. And you know, I think I complain at the end of every year that I had a bad one, and that I hope the next one is better, but this year I mean it more than I ever have before. This terribly-terrible year puts all my previous mildly-terrible years to shame. It hasn't been a good one, so I'm glad to count it nearly done!!

Oh yeah, yesterday, so I got up with an overwhelming desire to clean my house, something I had been feeling on Christmas day, too, but ignored. This doesn't happen to me often, it really has to be a mess before I actually want to clean it. You see, I hate to clean, hate it, but I love to live in a clean house. A problem, I know, and something I'm working on. The funny thing is, when the house is clean, I can usually manage to keep it that way with 15-20 minutes of work a day, no problem, but if I let it slip a few days, all my previous efforts were wasted because the house looks like a tornado blew threw it. An issue compounded by the fact that we don't seem to have enough storage space, so even when everything's clean and tidy, it feels cluttered. Something we're going to work on by purchasing another filing cabinet. That should take care of some of the clutter. Amen!

So, I start cleaning up and that's when the problem's start. Matt volunteered to help me (a Christmas miracle!!), and while he was up and around I got the bright idea that I'd clean up behind his chair, where a few things had fallen. Okay, no problem, I sat down in his chair, reached back, and rather than getting stuff I hit the surge bar and turned off his computer, monitor, the printer, and the modem for our net. Brilliant, really, brilliant. He was annoyed, but laughed it off after I got the problem resolved and we went about our day. This, however, was only the beginning and not an issue in itself, except that it initiates a whole string of stupid issues.

You see, after we get the living room picked up, I'm dusting around the TV when again, like a dumbass, I bump into another surge protector. The TV, TiVO, Blu-Ray player, X-Box, telephone, and scented wax warmer all go off. Matt looked at me like I'd lost it, and then burst into a fit of laughter at my clumsiness. Great. So I get that all turned back on and go about my business, into the kitchen, where it's a disaster.  This is when I find out, after loading the dishwasher, that the dishwasher is actually dead. Fantastic. Really, seriously, fantastic. Fortunately, I wash all the dishes really well by hand before I put them in there so all I needed to do was rinse them, dry them, and put them away... of course, I have like five loads to do, so a broken dishwasher is not on my happy list because now I have to wash them all by hand.  Suddenly the dishwasher is nothing more than a glorified dish drainer.

So, what do I do? I walk over to the fixture on the wall, you know the one with the little red and black button to reset some of the electricity in the kitchen, and push the button when again, everything goes off--my thought process here is that maybe the dishwasher just needs to be reset. This time, everything on that side of the kitchen, including the coffee pot which was in the process of brewing, and again the TV, TiVO, Blu-Ray player, X-Box, telephone, and scented wax warmer, because apparently the surge bar that stuff is plugged into is in a socket that's on the same circuit as that side of the kitchen. By this point, I am really not happy, and Matt's laughing hysterically, except about the dishwasher, about which he seemed to have a lot of sympathy for me--if you saw my kitchen, you'd understand.

Okay, so cleaning the house is turning into one oops after another, and I'm trudging on because it's a big mess and I'd really like to get it cleaned up before the new year. Great. So, I start working through the dishes--by hand--when a glass I'm washing breaks in my hand and cuts my knuckle open. I wasn't even scrubbing the damn thing, nor was I holding it very tight, so why it decided to break in my hands is beyond me, but now I'm bleeding all over the place, which ruins the current dish water and means I have to run another sink. Grrrr!! At this point, I actually considered giving up and trying again another day. But no, I'm not that smart.

So, I fill the racks in the dishwasher with clean dishes to dry, clean up my bloody finger--which hurts like hell, by the way--and go into the bedroom to turn off the breaker circuit that's associated with the dishwasher, because if it's not working there's no reason it should be plugged in. Okay, but I don't know which one it is, so I flip off two or three when Matt starts having a cow, then laughing again. Turns out, in my breaker flipping, I managed to turn off everything on that side of the house. The dishwasher, the stove, and the circuit that has the TV, TiVo, et al. plugged into it, so that stuff goes off... again! Okay, so I had a little fit, I admit it, then I unplugged the dishwasher, and turned all the circuits back on so that stuff could reboot again.

By this point, I actually did decide to quit. Then, Matt ran out to Wal-Mart to get a few things we needed and while he was gone I managed to step on one of the floor registers in the kitchen--one of the pains of living in a mobile home, by the way--and the slats in the register in the kitchen are rusting, so they break out under me and I nearly fall into the vent. I manage to avoid it by a narrow margin, but now I'm falling backwards and about to crack my head on a piece of rather heavy furniture. Not cool, thankfully I managed to catch myself on time. Ugh. I just sat down and tried not to kill myself while he was gone.

The last straw, however, was lunch. He got me chicken lasagna at the grocery store, something I love. So, I heated it up and was eating it when I actually broke a fork. That was the absolute last straw! I swear, if I wasn't on meds, I'd have likely just flipped out and lost it. That poor, broken fork would have been too much for me. Again, though, Matt thought it was hilarious. He got me another fork, which was nice of him, but he could hardly contain his laughter. I'm so glad that my tragedy can bring a smile to his face.

After all that, I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, watching 'Property Virgins' on HGTV. Hours of that--and I do mean hours-- drove Matt so crazy that he asked me to put in Mama Mia and then he actually wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice. So, my bad day had a good ending, but now I still have a ton of cleaning up to do, so I'm not terribly pleased with that. My dishes are only half done, my bathrooms need cleaning, the floors need mopping, and I'd really like to shampoo the carpets in the living room. Ooh, and I have like ten loads of laundry to do. So, it's going to be another long day, but hopefully it won't just suck the way yesterday did!

Fingers crossed!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas!!  I hope wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, you're having a wonderful day. Matt and I are spending a quiet Christmas at home together and will probably go look for something to eat around mid-day. I decided I wasn't going to spend Christmas cooking this year, so we'll probably have Chinese food, which is something of a tradition for us as this wouldn't be the first year we've done so. We'll also talk to family, though I've not called them yet since we've been up since 7:30am, too early to call California. All in all, we're just spending the holiday relaxing, which is really nice!!

Of course, when we got up this morning we opened gifts, which was a ton of fun!! My family sent us gifts, and my in-laws gave us a few, too, so we had quite a lot of packages to open. We divided them up and sat down to see what they had sent, which is always awesome. I love to get gifts and can't think of a time I've received a gift I didn't like; my family knows me well, so it's always a treat.

From my family I got a pair of really pretty earrings, a very warm pair of slippers,a soft brown and black scarf which is so amazingly lovely, a pretty wire dress-form, and two vintage apron patterns along with fabric, thread, and trim to make one of them!! I absolutely love it all, especially the patterns and all that goes with it. My folks, and Candi, know me very well, indeed.

Matt got a really nice men's care gift set,  a coffee mug, coffee in every flavor imaginable (he's currently drinking "Southern Comfort" and loving it), and a heated ice scraper for the car (which is really neat!!). He's quite happy with his haul this year, too. He loves coffee in a way that's not even natural, so this year was very good for him!

My in-laws got us each a calendar and donated, in our name, to a charity that brings food and water to hungry children in Africa. My friend Nikka also got me a really pretty Vera Bradley 'Frill' wallet. Ooh and we got a BHG Scented Wax Warmer, which we love beyond reason--currently melting Orange Clove Pomander which smells like Friendship tea!

Anyway, I'm about to be off so I can shower and get around, call my family, and go find something to eat. We were under a snow alert for last night, but it didn't quite get cold enough. So, we're having a gray, chilly Christmas, which is just fine with us. Merry Christmas again, I hope it's as wonderful for you as it will be for us!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

I've been on break for almost a week and it feels wonderful!  I finished up working on Tuesday afternoon, putting my students final grades in the system, and cleaning up my office for the holiday break. Who knew one small office could collect so much stuff?! I do now! Once everything was finished up and cleaned up, I went home and don't have to go back until January 17th, for which I am eternally grateful, though I'm sure this break is going to fly right by... they always do! This one particularly so because I've decided that I really need to write two chapters of my thesis if I'm going to graduate in May. No easy task, that, particularly because I'm stuck--surely a post for another time.

So far, though, I haven't done anything and it's been really nice. I've just spent the time with Matt, doing absolutely nothing because, well, I need the break! I haven't even cleaned my house, which is usually my first priority on school/work breaks. So, while my house is an absolute disaster, I'm not really moved to clean it up. No will to do so, whatsoever. The only thing I seem to have the will to do is game and watch Being Human (U.K.), which is an amazing show, by the way, and a definite post for another time!

For now, I wanted to share with you the Christmas card I made, on PowerPoint, for this year's Christmas.  I'm still quite a novice with this process, so the card isn't a standard size and won't be printed. Still, I wanted to share it here.

What do you think?! Although the card was made with PowerPoint, I did the lettering in Photoshop and dropped it into the card as an image. That way, the letters come out looking crisp and have effects I can't seem to get with PowerPoint alone. I guess what I'm saying is, I cheat! The photo on the card was taken in August, but is a fairly recent picture of us, so I thought I'd use it. We don't really have a Christmas picture, or a recent professional photo, though I'd really like for us to get our pictures done again sometime soon, so a candid was all I had laying around.

Anyway, I'm off!! If I don't drop in to post again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday this year!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa, Self-Esteem, & The Spirit of Christmas

The classes I teach, and the one I observe at 8:00 a.m., are doing presentations this week over their research prospectus projects. For the most part, all of the students chose topics you would expect, like the legal drinking age, wildlife management, and teen self-image, but today, during my observation hour, one of Dr. M's students gave a presentation about Santa Claus, which I thought was not only fun, but was also quite seasonally appropriate. I thought it was so fun, in fact, that here I am writing about it myself... in the spirit of the season, of course!

The student took a few interesting stances: that telling your kids that Santa's a real guy, who brings presents, can be damaging to a child's self-esteem, and that kids should be taught about the spirit of Santa and not that he's a real person. While I didn't initially see the connection between Santa and self-esteem, as she spoke I came to understand what she meant. I also agree that kids would be much less damaged by learning about the history of Christmas, and the mythology of Santa Claus as St. Nicholas, rather than teaching kids that a fat guy in a suit will bring them toys if they're good, and not if they're not.

On the self-esteem point, the correlation seems to be that for many kids whose parents cannot afford to give them as much--or anything at all--whose parents can't afford to buy them netbooks, iPods, and cell phones the perception is that they weren't as good or worthy because Santa didn't bother to bring them something as nice--or something at all, in some cases. Not only can I see that point, but I think that as Christmas becomes more commercial, and consumerism makes it possible for kids to ask for things like game consoles and iPads, the idea of Santa is also damaging to parents. Parents who can afford a nice Christmas, but maybe not to fork out $500 per kid on the latest gadgets are crippled by the folktale, stuck between giving their kids something they can't really afford to buy and breaking their hearts by breaking it to them that Santa's a myth, rather than a reality.

To that point, I recently heard someone say that when their kid asked them for a iPod for Christmas, and they said no, the kid came back with, "Why not?! You don't have to buy it, Santa will bring it!!"  If anything, this made me more glad I don't have kids to buy for. Santa and the consumerism of Christmas is making kids bold and parents broke! And really, most people who agree (on some level) that presents aren't really supposed to be the point of Christmas. Whether you believe it's religion or just simply family togetherness, presents are secondary to the spirit of the season, or they should be, at least.

On the second point, that kids should be taught about the spirit of Christmas and St. Nicholas, rather than that he's a real guy, I've always agreed with this point. I still remember when I found out there was no Santa (and likewise no any other imaginary holiday thing) and I remember how upset I was. Why tell your kids a lie, purposefully and knowingly, only to later admit to said lie? To me, it seems almost malicious. It's a tradition and one people follow without really giving it a lot of thought, but to teach kids not to lie, and then lie to them, only to later retract the lie and tell them it was for their own good to have been lied to, well, it seems wrong. I cannot fathom why people do it, except that they believe that to not do it would be bucking the tide and robbing their child of childhood experiences. To teach them about the spirit of Christmas seems a better option, but requires more faith in the child's ability to comprehend notions like history and mythology, something most people are unwilling to do.

So now that you know what I think, tell me what you think!!  Do you think we should tell kids about Santa and let traditions stand?