2015 in review

Man, did this year go by fast, or what?

January

I turned 40!

In Barcelona!

Then celebrated again with my friends once I was back home.

February

Not much besides Mardi Gras, really.

My Achilles’ tendon started hurting.

Went to Vegas for Kiki’s 40th.

March

Spoke at my first WordCamp, in Dayton.

Ran the Shamrockin’ Run for the third time.

Emily and Ellie visited.

Scott Bakula was in our front yard.

April

Kiki came to visit and we had a garage sale.

We also went on a big boat and watched missed seeing Heather finish her first Ironman triathlon.

It was…a slow month.

May

I took the boys to Virginia.

The boys made a movie.

Miles danced.

I wrote a v popular post for the New Orleans Moms Blog.

Started physical therapy for my Achilles’ tendon.

June

George and I gallivanted around England.

July

I went to NYC for BlogHer.

Completed my third (and last) triathlon.

August

Got the attic insulated.

My coworker came to visit.

I photographed my friends’ wedding.

The boys started 2nd grade.

I went uber-Goth for the NOMB Mom’s Night Out.

September

We got a new fridge!

I was volunteer coordinator at WordCamp DFW.

The boys started playing soccer.

October

We were devastated by the loss of our dear friend Gareth.

I went to Park City again for the Automattic Grand Meetup

I got another tattoo.

Ran my twelfth half marathon.

November

George and I celebrated our tenth anniversary!

We went on a big cruise.

December

The boys turned 8!

We got a dog!

My ankle still hurts.

In blogging news…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 8 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Star Trek 2: Electric Boogaloo

Two years ago, we took a photo of the boys in George’s Star Trek shirt and shooter thingy from his childhood. Since we had the backdrop out anyway, we made them do it one last time. (The shirt barely fit over their heads.)

Today:

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Linus, Oliver, Miles

October 2013:

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Miles, Linus, Oliver

I can hardly stand how old they look now. It’s insane! They look like bored teenagers now! Gah!

(And yes, extensive use was made of Photoshop since we only have one shirt and one toy.)

Quick Christmas recap

Christmas 2015: It was hot.

There.

Oh, well, there’s more.

I made us all steak and crispy gnocchi for Christmas Eve dinner (and now I’ve found that they love gnocchi so win!) and put a batch of eggnog French Toast in the fridge to soak overnight. And then drank the rest of the eggnog with Winter Pimm’s, which I’m sorry to say is impossible to buy in the US but is really good in eggnog.

I also spent made lemon cake and lemon bars from the lemons on our tree in the backyard. I am quite proud of that, I have to say.

Christmas morning, the boys were kind enough to not leave their room until 7 am (remember that one Christmas when I got up before them and got to enjoy my coffee and sit in front of the fire? (Of course I mean “the fire channel on TV.”) Yeah, that was nice. Maybe it’ll happen again when they’re teenagers.

So at the stroke of 7, the gift opening commenced!

Gifts from Santa were opened first…Linus got a 3DS game that he’d been coveting, Oliver a couple of books and a Rubic’s cube, and Miles got some accessories for his faux GoPro. I think Oliver got a bit cheated, Santa-wise. Dang that Santa. Sigh.

Their favorite part is opening the gifts from each other. Miles got Linus an Amiibo, Oliver got Miles a DVD with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and some kinetic sand, and Linus got Oliver a Diary of a Wimpy kid activity book and a little binder for Pokemon cards.

I got to open my gifts next. A silly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ mug, some dog toys (well, they’re for me in that…the dog will stay occupied while I work?) and an Instant Pot. I’m really excited by that, I’ve been wanting a pressure cooker for a while. I made hard boiled eggs in it (easy!) and a pot roast (may have overcooked that.) So if you have any pressure cooker recipes that you like, send ’em my way.

My mom and Larry came over for Christmas dinner, which was delicious.

Later, we went to Chris and Steph’s house where we, you know, ate a little more, and Ziggy wore himself out playing with the other dogs.

All in all a pretty calm (I was going to say “chill” but it was SO FREAKING HOT AND HUMID I cannot even use that word) Christmas, and hopefully next year the boys won’t be so dang hard to shop for.

It’s Christmas Eve Eve!

And the boys’ Christmas present is feeling much better. Which equals more hyper and more chewing on random things, like my favorite pillow that I brought back from London, and the loop on Oliver’s stocking.

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He’s a little bigger now.

I mean, nothing too bad, nothing that can’t be clumsily repaired or anything. But still. My main concern is my beloved ottoman that I got this summer. I’m sure it’s extremely tasty. Oh, and his harness. So that means we can’t go for a walk until I go get a new one, which means he has a lot of energy that he may funnel into chewing inappropriate things.

We’re just learning as we go along. But even with the occasional accidents (Ziggy does not like going outside in the rain, I mean, I don’t blame him or anything, and it’s been raining all week) he’s been a good doggy.

He also keeps my treadmill warm for me.

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In other news, I’ve taken all three boys shopping for gifts for a brother and Daddy, and it was nice yet again to get that one on one time with them. For my records: Oliver went first, and shopped for Miles; Miles went second and shopped for Linus; and finally, Linus shopped for Oliver.

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Ollie the elf!

We also watched Home Alone for the first time, which the boys found hysterical.

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Oliver said it sounded scary, because being left home alone is basically his worst nightmare, so I had to prove that it actually isn’t a horror film.

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Holiday decorating has taken somewhat of a backseat this year, between Ziggy and annoyingly warm temps, but I did get this adorable Wapuu ornament. Awwww!

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We took the boys to see Star Wars last weekend. It was entertaining! High praise considering I’m generally not a fan of the franchise or anything. It was very bright when we took this picture. Heh.

Today I’m off work and the boys are at holiday camp, so I am going to enjoy my day with some solo shopping (for a dog harness) and a movie with a friend.

Well, this has been a week

And it’s only Thursday? Argh.

Monday was possibly the worst, with sickness of the human and canine variety, but Tuesday came in a close second. I drove the kids to school (each trip is about an hour round trip – longer during rush hour, maybe a little shorter when it’s not) in the morning. And then a couple of hours later, I got a call from the school nurse. No, not Linus. This time it was Oliver.

I was in the middle of the first of two interviews I had scheduled, so I asked if he could hang out in the nurse’s office until I was free. She said okay, so around lunchtime, I made the trek to get Oliver.

He just needed a little medicine and a breathing treatment, but before too long, he was fine. Whew.

And then two hours later, we had to make the trip again, this time in afternoon rush hour, to pick up from school. (I don’t usually drive in the mornings, only when Mary Catherine travels for work, which fortunately isn’t that often. And it’s fine because I travel for work too.)

Okay, driving to school three times in a day probably didn’t warrant four paragraphs. I’m being overly dramatic.

Wednesday was fine. No one was sick. Ziggy’s digestive system is definitely responding to his meds and disgusting wet food. Yay! Finally got my correct Christmas cards in the mail (from the other family, not Minted) so now I just have to go stand in a very long line to get postcard stamps.

I did write a scathing (well, for me) review on google of the place the boys had their party at last weekend. I’m not ready to think about that yet, much less blog about it.

But how in the world is it only Thursday?

Tomorrow will be good. I don’t have to drive to school at all! Ziggy has a vet appointment, and fingers crossed he gets the all-clear and his vaccinations so we can start going on walks again!

In other news, happy birthday to my mom! Since we gave her her birthday gift last weekend (a giant framed copy of this), now I can share:

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My mom’s birthday gift 7 years ago was an engagement ring from Larry. So glad she said yes, and not just because we got a free cruise. Ha!

Sickness everywhere

I feel like the past four months have been nothing but illness around here. Our next door neighbor is a pediatrician and she opened her own practice a couple of months back and I’m fairly sure we must be her best patients. I remember telling her before her practice opened that we’d probably hardly ever be there because the boys hardly ever get sick.

And then they proceeded to be sick constantly. Last week they were all coughing and having a touch of asthma, but Linus just couldn’t shake it. We got him on steroids last week, he was okay over the weekend, and then this morning, he woke up wheezing bad again. So back to the doctor today. The kid hasn’t been at school since Wednesday.

In fact, I just got a call from my friend Alicia, because her daughters were so worried about Linus (he’s their favorite.) Anyway, he’ll be back at school tomorrow, whew.

The Zigster is another matter. He has been having digestive issues since before we got him. We thought they were resolved, but apparently not. So I took him to the vet near us today and it turns out he has hookworm. I was having nightmare visions of surgery to remove a lego or something, so I’m quite relieved it’s treatable.

The vet thinks he might also have IBS of some sort (irritable bowel syndrome) which would mean having him on bland food for a while. For now we have him on this wet food that is so disgustingly repulsive. I swear, I was able to bring a sample of really gross stuff (I won’t go into detail) without gagging but opening that can of food almost had me barfing everywhere. Yuck.

He won’t be able to go on long walks until he’s better (plus, we don’t know if he’s been vaccinated) but at least we reinforced the iron fence this weekend so he can’t get out.

Pics!

A story of support

One of the things about working for a company that puts such a huge value on great support is that you really notice when other companies do poorly at it. Well, maybe that’s the wrong way to word it. Everyone notices when they get shitty support. But now I pity the people who work for those companies.

This saga started right after we got back from the cruise, and I used the family photos we took to create a Christmas card at Minted. I must’ve looked at a zillion designs before I settled on one.

Minted has gorgeous designs, it can’t be denied, but their user interface is a pain in my ass. I couldn’t decide which card to get, so I would pick one, personalize it, and then put it in the shopping cart. And then change my mind.

You have to put in all of your info every time you do this. So every time I decided on a card, I had to put in our address on the back (I was looking at the postcards) and our last name in this little block under the photo.

(Other companies save that info and populate the personalized spaces automatically so you don’t have to type it in every time.)

When I got the cards, I was dismayed to discover that our cards were ostensibly from The Chandlers. I immediately contacted Minted via live chat.

Yes, technically it was my fault when I finally settled on a design and neglected to change our name from The Chandlers. I freely admit this and I said as much to the agent.

The operator I got was obviously not empowered to engineer my happiness because he offered to reprint them for $37. Which was more than half of what I paid initially. I said no thanks and took to Twitter.

Twitter got me better results, though it took some time. Eventually, someone else (a supervisor?) was able to get the cards corrected and reprinted. It took a week, but I finally got the reprints yesterday.

Except the cards I got were for the R family in Midlothian, Virginia. They are a lovely family. Two cherubic blond children and their attractive parents. I wondered if their photos were also taken on a cruise (they were posed on the kind of glam staircase that you see on a cruise ship) but that would just be too much of a coincidence.

I couldn’t believe I waited this long for someone else’s cards. I hit up Twitter again, and ended up with a refund because at this point, I just wanted my money back.

That would be the end of the story, but the best part is that when I went to Facebook to look up the R family to see if I could maybe send them their cards, they had already messaged me! Indeed, they have my cards, and we’re going to mail them to each other. So there is a happy ending to this story after all.

You know, it’s not about the cards. It’s not about the fact that Minted has a crappy UI. It’s that I’m now even happier to work for a company that trusts us to do whatever we can to make a user happy. If that had been a Happiness Engineer on that very first live chat, a reprint would have been ordered immediately and that would have been that.

I’m so glad I work for a company where every Happiness Engineer has the same power to make our users happy. There are no supervisors, no escalating of tickets.

So the moral of this story is, double check your last name and work for Automattic.

My new model

The boys hate staying still for pictures, but Ziggy loves it! Well, I might be projecting.

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Linus is home sick today so they’re just chillin on the sofa.

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Ziggy got here last night, and it went surprisingly well, especially after I moved his crate into the bedroom so he wasn’t alone. I feel like I just brought home a newborn for the first time. I guess it was almost 8 years ago exactly that Oliver came home…

Anyway. Expect lots of pictures. Lots.

A new addition to the family

Meet Ziggy (I think.)

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That face. I could not resist. You know I am not a dog person. But I kind of figured that it was inevitable that we would get one, one day. I knew it would be good for the boys. Linus even said the other day that he wanted a puppy for Christmas.

Let me back up a little.

A few weeks ago, my coworker (who lives here) mentioned that his roommate had found a dog wandering around in the street. They took him in, tried to find his owner, took him to the vet, and advertised, to no avail. No one claimed the dog. I saw a picture and said, “aw, cute.” My coworker said, “you want him?” I said, “no friggin way.” (They couldn’t keep the dog for various reasons, but not because of the dog, if that makes sense.)

Actually, I’m not sure what happened after that. I guess he mentioned the dog again here and there. I saw a few more pictures. I asked a few questions. I talked to George. I asked more questions. And it all culminated in my coworker and his roommate bringing the dog to our house last night.

We took him for a walk. The boys walked him. They got him to sit. We took him to our friend Steph’s house to see how he acted around other dogs (this is important, since our friends get together with dogs all the time.) On the way, we passed the pub, and the dog went right up to the door, eager to go in. I think George was won over at that moment.

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We got to Steph’s, and our friends that really know dogs checked him out. They played with him, held him, observed him around the other dogs. And he passed their tests with flying colors. So we asked my coworker and his roommate if we passed the test. We did!

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We need a few days to get the house (and ourselves) ready for a dog, so we’re going to get him on Thursday and bring him home.

I know there are people who are going to think I’m crazy. Especially anyone who knew me as a child (I was absolutely terrified of dogs.) But this dog is kind of perfect for us. And I do want the boys to grow up with a dog. So here we go!