2017 Resolutions In Review

1. Eliminate credit card debt.
Done. With a balance transfer about to start accruing interest, we decided the best thing we could do was use some of our savings to pay off the remaining debt.

2. Take action every week.
I kept this up for a couple of months, but like many, I lost steam.

3. Finish Brain Pickings book club list.
Good enough! We didn’t finish the list, but we kept the book club going all year, so I’m going to treat this one as a success.

4. Incorporate professional development into my schedule.
I managed the conferences, but didn’t manage much else. I have a couple of things that I want to work on this year, so maybe I’ll rededicate myself to this one in 2018.

5. Finish weaning.
Despite my sad post a couple of months ago, we’re still nursing pretty regularly. I broke out the pump last night, and that made me feel like I was ready to be DONE all over again.

6. PR at any distance.
DONE. I blew away my 5K time in Champaign in April. I had hoped to PR in the half, but considering how hard I’d run the night before, I was totally fine with just finishing.

7. More regular visits with family.
Done. The kid absolutely will not nap when we’re out in Rockford, so since he’s doing better with car naps (and in the car generally), we were able to make more day trips happen.

8. At least two blog posts/month.
Technically done. By the numbers, this was a success, though posting dropped off pretty significantly after the beginning of the year.

9. Try at least four new recipes/month.
Done, for sure.  The My New Roots cookbooks were my go-to source.

10. Make time for monthly dates.
Monthly dates didn’t happen, but we did manage some child-free time about every other month. In 2018, I would love for us to GET AWAY! OVERNIGHT! WITH NO CHILD! but that continues to be a tall order.

Five minutes of appreciation

1. I am the current chair of a local professional development group, and it has been an absolute pleasure. We’ve just wrapped up a search for new members of our steering committee, and at every step, my colleagues on the committee have proved themselves to be thoughtful, generous, and engaged. I don’t know how I happened into such a wonderful bunch of colleagues, but Library UX Chicago, you guys are the absolute best.

2. My Brain Pickings book club is also the best. We met today to discuss our most recent book, but were interrupted in the middle of a really personal conversation about how reading about death has informed the ways we are choosing to live our lives right now. It takes vulnerability and openness to return to that conversation and go even deeper. I am so grateful for these friends – long-time and new-to-me – and our ongoing engagement with books and each other.

3. I am also extremely grateful for a number of thoughtful colleagues (local and distributed) who regularly challenge and support me in all facets of my life. Whether it’s texting about data points during a meeting or inviting me to a running group or sharing very personal beliefs or talking about why goat pupils are unsettling or just bringing donuts – I can’t believe how lucky I am to be surrounded by such fantastic people. If you’re wondering if I’m talking about you, I probably am. Thank YOU for the gift of you.

2016 Resolutions

1. More letters. I’m aiming for a letter each week.

2. More books. 16 sounds like a nice round number. I’m on track to finish my first this weekend.

3. More miles. Barring injury, I’m aiming for 750 running and 2000 biking. I also really want this to be my marathon year, but I’ve said that before…

4. More movies. We saw a grand total of 6 last year. 12 seems possible.

5. Less meat. I’m not ready (or interested, really) in going back to being vegetarian, but I am interested in expanding my repertoire of meat-free meals, particularly since Nicolas has been pescatarian for nearly a year.

6. Less debt. We’re on track to pay off all of my debt by the end of the year. I really want to make that happen.

7. Less complaining. This might be the hardest resolution on this list.

8. Less guilt and regret. This one is hardest to quantify, but I’m pretty over beating myself up about things I can’t control, or things that aren’t mine to begin with.

2015 Resolutions in Review

While I didn’t knock any of these out of the park, I made diligent progress on six out of eight, and made responsible decisions to postpone the remaining two. Hooray for adulting!

The fun:
1. Run a marathon.
I struggled with letting this one go for a couple of months, but it just wasn’t feasible for me or my family this year.
2. Read 12 non-parenting books.
Once I gave in and started reading exclusively on my phone, I found that I was actually able to read more – a few pages here and there while waiting in line, pumping, on the train, putting the baby to bed. I finished 9 books – short of my goal, but a very good showing, particularly since at least 3 of those were monsters.
3. Complete 12 more items on my Chicago Bucket List.
I managed 3: Calumet Fisheries, the National Museum of Mexican Art, and a new street fair (Fiesta del Sol). Not bad.
4. Keep a journal.
I kept up with a daily journal through the end of August, then made the fairly deliberate choice to quit during a very bleak period of sleep deprivation and other challenges that I frankly didn’t want to remember. I’m glad that I kept up a journal as long as I did, and am also very OK with quitting.

The practical:
5. Rebuild my savings.
We decided to prioritize debt reduction this year. It was more than a little scary to let go of my personal safety net and trust Nicolas’s, but it was the right choice for us right now.
6. Reduce debt.
Thanks to an error in my deductions that went unnoticed for 10 months, I had a huge financial windfall towards the end of the year that helped knock a big chunk off of my debt. We’re now on track to paying off all of my debt by the end of 2016, if not earlier.
7. Take better care of my skin.
I have been diligent about cleansing and moisturizing, though less so about sunscreen. Baby steps.
8. Start flossing.
While I can’t say that flossing has become a daily habit, I’m flossing much more regularly than before, to the delight of the dentist and the hygienist.

2015 in Meme

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Discovered exactly how little sleep is necessary to function, watched the Hawkeyes go undefeated in normal season play, visited a Baha’i House of Worship, washed cloth diapers at home, drummed up excitement about an intranet, biked 1500 miles, roasted a zucchini inside an eggplant inside a butternut squash, served on a task force that shaped a survey administered by the federal government, mourned the closing of a bar.

Last Night at Neo//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 50/50. Not bad. 3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Still more babies everywhere, though nothing like last year. A dear friend had her second son in June, Nicolas’s sister had a baby in October, and another dear friend had her daughter just a few days ago. Saying goodbye to our old lady this afternoon.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
4. Did anyone close to you die?
We lost Pandora in September, not long before my sister lost her Spock and my parents lost their Sasha. And my friend Mark died in January. We were never close, but I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve missed him.

5. What countries (or new places) did you visit?
No international travel this year, though we did spend a great week in San Francisco and an overnight in Michigan. Travel with a baby is harrrrrd. Instead, Nicolas’s mom came to us!

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
More dates with my partner. More time with friends. More sleep.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
My baby’s first birthday was pretty damned special.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Keeping a small human alive with my body and not losing my mind through months and months of severe sleep deprivation.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’m sure there are aspects of early parenting that we’ll regret. I wish I were more patient, and that I did a better job of communicating at times.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I threw out my back biking in May, and got a nice bit of road rash in June. The entire family was sick in November and then again in December. Nothing serious, thankfully.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Witch hazel and essential oils for me, stacking cups and a wooden kazoo for the baby.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I am always proud of my sister, but this year she really knocked it out of the park.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Chicago Police

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food and drink and rent. The usual stuff.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Riding my big.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
Much happier

ii. thinner or fatter?
Thinner than last year, and closing in on my pre-pregnancy weight and shape.

iii. richer or poorer?
Richer both financially and personally.

Family biking is the best.//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Riding my bike with my baby. Sleeping. Watching movies. Reading books. Spending quality time with friends and family. Drinking.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Driving. Always.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We drove out to Rockford on Christmas Eve and had dinner with my family, then did brunch and packages the next morning before driving back to the city. I was sad to not spend more time with everyone, but also relieved to be home early and with an entire weekend ahead of us.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With my baby boy and my bike commute and speculaas cookies

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Game of Thrones and Mr Robot

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year

25. What was the best book you read?
While I read other books that were more important, I was completely absorbed by Wolf Hall.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
My child is a kazoo prodigy.

Medal as big as my face//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
27. What did you want and get?
My running form back. Professional opportunities and new work friends.

28. What did you want and not get?
My athletic body back. The opportunity to run a marathon.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I literally only watched 3 movies this year, all of which were in the last month.

35 years/17 weeks//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35. We waited around for a good part of the morning hoping the baby would poop (he didn’t) before heading out to Eataly for a late lunch, and then to the zoo for our annual visit to the small mammal house. We had made dinner reservations at Nightwood (RIP) and arranged for a babysitter, but decided that the baby wasn’t ready (we weren’t ready), so the three of us had dinner at deColores instead. Later in the weekend, I went to King Spa with a group of friends. My mom was supposed to come in for a weekend in the city later in the month, but the baby had hit the four month sleep regression, so those plans ended up being cancelled.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I sound like a broken record: SLEEP.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Easy access for breastfeeding

33. What kept you sane?
Riding my bike, the friends in my phone.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one in particular.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I feel like I’ve learned more about race and privilege in the last year than the whole rest of my life.

36. Who did you miss?
My sister. Our much more flexible life pre-baby.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I’m thankful for new work/professional/mom friends.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015:
Ask for help before you need it. Don’t underestimate the detrimental effects of severe sleep deprivation. Everything is a phase. Everything is a season. The only constant is change.

November Around Here

Unseasonably beautiful weather makes for weekend days full of crunching leaves and golden light. I need to soak up as much warmth as my skin can handle in anticipation of the winter to come.

A sudden windfall in a month of austerity means getting out of debt within the year is now feasible. Being responsible sometimes feels very hard, but also very good.

And for the baby, now a toddler: first tentative steps and a confirmed first word: kitty, which is applied specifically to the cat (his one true love) and more generally to all beloved things. We took him to the zoo, where he correctly identified two kitties (the sand cat and the puma) and other kitty-like creatures (red pandas).

So much hurt and sadness and fear in the world. There are days when it’s all too much, and all I can do is crawl into bed and hold the sleeping baby – for then he is still a baby – to me and cry. But so much love and generosity as well.

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantell, because the mini series was remarkable.
House of Light – Mary Oliver, because reading poetry to the toddler feels like a good use of our quiet mornings
Bedtime in the Meadow – Stephanie Shaw, because try as he might, the toddler hasn’t been able to destroy it, unlike all of his board books
The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson, because she slays me, and her writing about pregnancy and gender and identity feels very relevant
A Thousand Mornings – Mary Oliver
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates, because I have learned more about race and privilege in the last six months than the whole rest of my life to date


Spontaneous Persian food
Pie for days
Pasta with fennel, kale, and lemon
All the pears and apples

A second cup of coffee, as the toddler was up before 6 for a second day in a row

139 miles to go to hit 1,500 on the bike for the year
Not enough running, but with good reason
Catching up on all the postcards I didn’t send during this year’s 31 Postcards
Babyproofing all the things

A Thanksgiving menu (hint: it contains pie and a Vegducken)
An intranet communication plan
New hats for everyone
Eliminating my debt

Living History: The John Feathers Map Collection

I almost never click through to watch videos on YouTube*, and I almost never share things about libraries (despite having worked in them for the last 7+ years) but this CityLab article about a treasure trove of hoarded maps led me to start watching the associated short film. Take a few minutes out of your morning to enjoy one man’s obsession and the goosebump moments it’s provided for others.

*Unless I’m having a bad day, and then I search for “mama cat carrying kitten”