Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 Resolutions

Happy New Year! And here they are, here are the things I've resolved to try and do this year to stretch and improve myself in various ways, as I have shared annually for...a decade! Welcome to the new decade (everyone who says the new decade doesn't start until next year is wrong, because you start indexing at zero, folks). Anyways, let's get to that list:

1) Get a will
This is one Ryan and I have resolved together. With his new business, things are a bit more complicated and we've been advised to get legal protections setup - so we will, before the year is out.

2) Remodel our Master Bathroom
We've been talking about this with friends for a while, but I'm newly resolved to actually make progress and be finished by the end of 2020. I've called two designers to make appointments!

3) See a comedy show live
Ryan and I have enjoyed Netflix's comedy specials, and so we want to go see one live this year. It will likely involve some East Coast travel to do so, but we're committed to making it happen this year.

4) Sew my own clothing
I wanted to sew my own clothes last year but chickened out, so I've pulled the resolution into the new year. I have the fabric, I just need to be brave enough to cut it and own my mistakes.

5) Add backing to my two quilt tops
I've made two tops, but I need to finish borders and backing to really call them quilts - so that's the resolution this year.

6) Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
Tris were so good for me last year, I'm stretching myself into a longer one this summer. I did a lot of racing last year, and I hope to keep that drive going!

7) Make a grilled cheese from scratch
This is my cooking one for the year - I want to make homemade cheese, and homemade foccacia, and maybe even homemade butter, and turn it all into a single amazing sandwich. If I actually do this, I'll be sure to blog document each step!

8) Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge with Stephanie
My sister Stephanie wants to try the MMD reading challenge again, and I've agreed to do it with her.

9) My Utmost for His Highest daily devos (also with Stephanie)
I have my Dad's highlighted copy of this daily devotional, and Stephanie has a copy as well. She'd like to read it before she gives it away, so we're going to read it together.

10) Finish "While True: learn" game, TIS-100 game, and Human Resource Machine Game
About a week ago I purchased the "while true: learn" video game, which is a fun little game with real machine learning concepts built in. I'd like to finish this and the two other block programming coding games in my game library, so I can concretely recommend games that teach programming concepts to parents who ask me for advice!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Summary of my New Year's Resolutions

1) Sprint Distance Triathlon - 1 pt
If I could give myself more than one point, this is the one that deserves it. I didn't only do a single triathlon, I stretched myself into doing three (one that turned out to have no swimming, but I was prepared for three). And I'm still training (albeit a little slower in the winter) for future races. I've always said I was only "sort-of" a runner because of how slow I run, but you can't be sort-of a triathlete - you either are or you aren't, and this year, I am one. 

2) Chronological Daily Audio Bible - 0.5 pt
I started out so strong on this one, but I got frustrated with the extra, non-bible stuff in the podcast, and stopped. It was interesting hearing the bible chronologically though, as it put a lot of the old testament into context for me. I got through King Solomon's reign in history before falling out of the habit, and it was good to be reminded of the history of the nation of Israel.

3) Jen Wilkin's God of Covenant Bible study - 1 pt
This one was pretty great. I enjoyed my time studying the second half of Genesis having studied the first eleven chapters last summer. And I found myself identifying with biblical characters I have typically ignored. Genesis is a set of stories that you grow up learning as kids, but it was great to read the text of these familiar stories and see new themes.

4) Make a second quilt (gotta use that fabric!) - 1 pt
I did this! I finished a second quilt top, but I still have not bound the quilt from last year, so that extends into next year. I also made some other blocks for smaller quilt projects.

5) Sew a piece of my own clothing - 0 pts 
I had such good intentions here. I bought the fabric and made a paper cutout of the pattern, but then I got scared and never cut my actual fabric. I did do some quick basting stitches to put together this year's Halloween costume, which made me feel crafty, but not enough of anything to call this resolution a success.

6) 2019 Reading challenge - 0.5 pt
So, I failed to finish this challenge, but the intent of the resolution was to broaden my reading horizons, which I would say I successfully achieved this year. I was trying to do the "Reading Women" challenge, which had a list of 24 books with the caveat that they should all be written by or about women. Here are the 15 books I managed to read for the challenge (I read some other books this year too, but they are not recorded because they didn't meet one of the challenge categories).

A book about nature - Old Lady on the Trail by Mary Davidson
A myth retelling - Gingerbread by Helen Oyemi
A book written by a South Asian author  - The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
A book about or set in Appalachia - Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
A book featuring a religion other than your own - Home Fire by Kamila Shamsee
A book you picked up because of the cover - Becoming by Michelle Obama
A multigenerational family saga - Divine Secrets of the YaYa sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
A book by Jhumpa Lahiri - Interpreter of Maladies (by Jhumpa Lahiri, obviously)
A book you bought or borrowed in 2019  - My Grape Paris by Laura Bradbury
A romance or love story  - To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Any book from a series - Always Dakota by Debbie MaComber
A novella - After Many Years, by L. M. Montgomery
A mystery or thriller written by a woman of color - Aunty Lee’s Delights by Olivia Yu
A children's book - Clik’d, by Tamara Stone
A young adult book by a woman of color - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas  

7) 12 baked complexities - 0.5 pt
I was doing pretty well on this for the first half of the year! I made an ice cream cake, DIY pretzels, DIY pizza crust, and a number of gluten free baked goods (not pictured). I didn't do some of the things I wanted to try (like DIY puff pastry or DIY croissants) so I'm not giving myself a full point. I also did the Paleo diet for three weeks this year, which expanded my cooking horizons dramatically!

8) Complete a capture the flag hackathon challenge - 1 pt
I did this because one of my co-workers started a monthly hackathon happy hour, which I have enjoyed. I don't know that I'll do it again, but I'll count it as a pass - thanks to my workplace!

So 7/8 that I made progress on and 4/8 that I definitively completed, I'm happy with that.

I'm still putting my 2020 list together - I'll post that January 1st. Have a blessed holiday, all!

Top Ten Moments of 2019

For the last episode of Rhett & Link's podcast Earbiscuits, they challenge listeners to go through their memories or camera apps to find their top ten moments from 2019 (after they've both gone over those moments for themselves). So, in that spirit, here are my top ten moments of 2019, with images! If you got my physical Christmas card, some of this is a repeat, but the blog allows me to be more detailed.

#10: National Night Out and the Columbia East Buy Nothing Group

I picked this photo from National Night Out in August to represent a whole series of things I've enjoyed/that I'm grateful for in 2019. Over the past two years, I've been trying (with the assistance of my friend Julie, who works for  NavNeighbors) to be more intentional about making connections to the people who live around me. One of the ways I did this was by taking Isabel to National Night out to meet our local police and firemen when they were at the village center, and trying to engage more with the village center meetings. While at one of those meetings, I met my neighbor Mandy, who is a part of the Buy Nothing group I'm a part of on Facebook. I enjoy swapping things on the group for porch pickups and have gotten some great home decor items. There have been two in-person swaps to meet each other (one for clothes and one for toys) and neighborhood walk/bike events that Mandy has organized. I haven't made it to any of the in-person events yet, but I'm grateful to have found this way to connect with those who live in my community.

#9: WELocal and IEEE WIE
I presented on two diversity panels this year at conferences, both due to my connection with the Society of Women Engineers group at the Applied Physics Lab, where I work. I value working at a place that supports my attendance at these events and always love attending them and feeling the energy of a bunch of female engineers looking to encourage and support one another. You can read my post about the IEEE WIE talks from November if you're interested!

#8: Guinness for Ryan's Birthday
I love the new Guinness brewery in Baltimore. I'm not a big fan of traditional Guinness, but I like the vibe and the layout of the place, and have learned that trying experimental brews is usually more successful for me in terms of what I like to drink (the tangerine ale this year was a particular favorite). We went for Ryan's birthday and I enjoy the tasting experience they provide, as well as the space to hangout on the lawn in the warmer weather.

#7: Family Vacation
I wrote about this (and the next one) in great detail on my blog earlier this summer, so you should check out that post if you are interested, but it was a highlight of the year to re-live the nostalgia of my childhood summer vacations with the whole crew again. Also this family froyo selfie is possibly my favorite photo of my family ever taken.

#6: Deep Creek Anniversary Trip
I also wrote about this in great detail, but essentially, Deep Creek was three days of Ryan entertaining my every whim, letting me go kayaking every day, walking around the Oakland B&O station and small shops for hours, and waiting while I tasted lavender everything at the Deep Creek Lavender farms. Our July anniversary means we always see fireworks on our trip, and fireworks over the lake makes not only my top ten for this year, but probably my top fireworks experiences of all time (that's another blog post I'll have to write some day).

#5: Boston's Downton Abbey Exhibit
While we're on the subject of travel, my crazy one-day trip to Boston (I flew in late Friday night and flew out early Sunday morning) to celebrate my cousin Megan's 25th birthday was a pretty epic trip. We went to the Downton Abbey exhibit which was tons of fun, the perfect mix of history and movie magic, walked around Boston for hours, and ate delicious Chinese food together in Boston's Chinatown. I've enjoyed re-defining my cousin relationship with Megan as we've both become adults and can now get together and do fun things without needing to coordinate with our parents. Last Christmas, she and her boyfriend Zach stayed with me and Ryan and we went to Korean BBQ, so this trip was a continuation of our enjoying being adult cousins together. But no matter how old she gets, she'll always be my baby megs!

#4: Meeting Andrew & Bethanie's Baby
Moving closer to the top of the list, this October I got to meet Eden, the firstborn of two of my college friends. Andrew & Bethanie were my Bible study leader & discipleship mentor while I was in college, and they've been praying for a baby. I didn't meet her the way we'd planned - she was in CHOP getting a feeding tube inserted unexpectedly - but I did get to meet her and love her, and gift her a UMBC baby hat (which, her mom tells me, she absolutely hates wearing). But she tolerated it long enough for us to take this matching photo! As more of my friends have kids, I'm consistently amazed at my heart's capacity to immediately love these children because of my love for their parents. I could go on about the other kids in my life, but since baby Eden was born this year, she holds the spot exclusively for this year.

#3: Dress Shopping with Abigail
My sister got engaged this June, and one of the highlights of the year was going dress shopping with her. Dress shopping when you are not the bride is a completely different experience, and I found it amusing to compare my experience to the TV show "Say Yes to The Dress". I went to two appointments with her to shop for her dress, and this photo is from another appointment, when we closed down the David's Bridal store looking for bridesmaid dresses (we did find one that we all liked that night). I fully expect to cry when I give my matron of honor speech in February, even though I've tried to practice it so that I don't cry. I'll post the text of the speech to this blog after I've given it, so stay tuned for that!

#2: Triathlons (& other races)
It feels like cheating to put all three of these into one moment, but I'm going to anyways. The level of training I've put into triathlons definitely is a defining moment of this year, and my good friends Christina (who trains with me) and Dave (who supports and Instagram coaches me in training) made the races even more enjoyable. For all three events, during the swim I thought "this is awful", but by the time I got to the run I was hyped up on adrenaline and thinking "I have got to do this again" - and so I will! I got a USAT membership for 2020 and am slowly re-training my brain to recognize that I can call myself an athlete, and be proud of it.

I also did a bunch of other foot races in 2019 that were lots of fun - Run the Vineyards with Christina and her husband Josh in April, Crushing the Bay cancer research fundraiser run in May to mark the one year anniversary of Dad's passing, the Downtown Columbia 5K, the Ellicott City Turkey Trot, and the Celtic Solstice 5K at Druid Hill Park. I'm no Eric Liddell, but I have gotten to the point where I genuinely enjoy running (even though I'm slow) which I never thought would happen!

#1: Brown Cyber Solutions
OK, by far the biggest defining moment of 2019 was Ryan's deciding to strike out as his own consulting business. This was a huge, huge part of our year, and unfortunately, there's really no photo to show for it! Here's the little logo we designed for his company as the best image I have for it. Ryan has wanted this for a few years, and while he essentially does the same job he did before, he enjoys the fact that he is managing himself now, and we are learning a lot together in the process. We are so grateful that we're both working so that he can take this risk without too much stress, and that it's worked out for him. I'm incredibly proud of him for taking the risk and pulling it off successfully.

My next post (which I will probably also publish today) will be the resolutions post I have done annually for the past decade.