Posted by: Hannah | 01/02/2014

my year in review, 2013

I have done this same list on the New Year every year I’ve had this blog (fourth time, now!) plus I used to do it on my old blog, too. As a list it’s aimed at someone younger than me, and so some of the questions are just funny… but I like things to be ordered and besides, it’s tradition.

So – my year in review!

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? I touched an elephant at the Bowmanville Zoo. It was one of the most profoundly moving experiences of my life; I couldn’t stop crying. I went to Blissdom Canada and became one of those mommy-bloggers who goes to a blogging conference and comes back with a suitcase full of swag and a head full of ideas. I picked up a little extra cash proofreading doctoral research papers. I took three children to Canada’s Wonderland and lived to tell the tale. I coached Little League baseball for a whole summer. I watched and listened as several people close to me went through terrible personal struggles and managed to not offer advice until it was asked for (that was a hard one for me – I’m a fixer).

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I had resolved to take more time for me. That didn’t happen except in fits and starts. I haven’t made any ‘resolutions’ exactly, but there are some things I want to try and accomplish this year – and I need to not use I’m so tired or I’m so busy as a convenient cover for the truth, which is that I’m so afraid to fail.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My sister-in-law had her second daughter in May. I may not have any daughters but I sure do have plenty of nieces. My newest niece is a smiley little thing who genuinely seems to like me – babies often don’t! – and I’ve seen a lot of her as her mom brings her around for visits fairly regularly. This means I’ve also gotten closer with my sister-in-law, too.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, not this year.

5. What countries did you visit? Didn’t leave the country although we did drive to Toronto and back with all three kids this summer. A very dear friend was able to come stay with us for a few days on his way to Boston from Maastricht for a conference this spring; he was here for my birthday, and it was wonderful to see him. He even spent some time in the dayhome, brave soul.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? More local friends. I have wonderful friends, but they all live too far away to visit. I’d like to be free from physical pain (more on that later). I would like harmony in my extended family. There was a lot of conflict this year, and I kept finding myself in the middle. It caused an enormous amount of stress for me, and while things have settled down a little bit I’m really hoping for continued improvement.

7. What date(s) from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The day that my sister told me she and her partner of six years were splitting up. That was a hard day. The day my mom and I finally talked about the problems we’d been having in our relationship and agreed to try and repair the damage (it’s going well, I’m happy to say).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Saving up more than enough money to not only pay my tax bill, but to make a major contribution to paying off the balance owing on our crappy little car (which has since repaid my diligence by breaking a lot, natch). This was part of the bigger financial picture, which was rosier for us this year than at any point in our joint lives. Income was steadier – I had a full roster of clients for the entire year, for the first time since starting the dayhome three years ago – and we were more careful managers of our resources, too. Oh, and I finally succeeded in potty-training Louis, a feat long thought impossible.

9. What was your biggest failure? Also Louis-related. Too many times this year I let his mood affect my own, to my detriment as a caregiver and a parent. I’m really focusing on stopping that behaviour this year – in myself. I can’t control how he wants to react to everything, but I can control how I respond to him.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Ooh boy, did I ever. In April I read one too many posts from a friend of mine about how sitting too much – especially at a computer – is bad for body mechanics. So I started consciously standing up. All day long. And I ended up giving myself a raging case of plantar faciitis in both feet. My right foot is finally just about healed, but my left foot is still very painful, and I’ve lost all the ground I gained fitness-wise in 2011 after George was born. I finally have a prescription for orthotics and an appointment with a pedorthist in three weeks; I’m hoping that this will make the difference, and then I can get back to enjoying movement instead of wincing (or outright lurching) with every step.

11. What was the best thing you bought? New sneakers. They didn’t cure my foot problems but they certainly helped, and kept the damage from getting worse. Also found two practically-new Radian carseats on Kijiji for half-nothing, and thus starting in September I was able to load up my four littles and get out of the house. Made a huge difference to everyone’s state of mind – and made it possible to transport Pixie and Louis back and forth to preschool twice a week, which was an excellent development for everyone involved.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? My kids demonstrated over and over again that they are generally pretty fantastic small humans. Pixie improved by leaps and bounds and continues to get better every day. My brother built an addition on his house while holding down a full-time job and living with a newborn baby and a rambunctious 3.5 year old. Louis’ parents took my concerns to heart and have been really putting the work in to keep things as consistent as possible for him at home.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? Last year? Harry’s second-grade teacher. She ignored my concerns about his lack of engagement, filled their heads with christianity, was disorganized to the point of idiocy, left a lot of projects until the last month of school, and would never answer emails, return phone calls, or even write anything useful on the kids’ report cards. And yet any time I saw her she would go on and on about how much she loved teaching! (No wonder, since she did precious little of the hard parts.) 

14. Where did most of your money go? Food and home & car repair. Both vehicles needed brake jobs this year. I took the minivan in for an oil change and tune-up before vacation and it needed $1200 worth of work. Then the car went in to get the winter tires on and ended up needing $500 worth of work. Oh, and we had problems with the foot valve in our well, too, which meant we spent one rainy weekend with no running water.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Meeting Allison and Nicole, and finding out that they are even more delightful in person, if such a thing is even possible.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2013? Inner Ninja, by Classified featuring David Myles. Stompa by Serena Ryder (hereinafter known as “The Stompy Song”, as per George). I listened to both songs approximately one million times this year, thanks to constant requests from all the small people in my life.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are… More out of shape. Better organized. More content. Better rested. Busier.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Reading. I’m so out of the loop, reading-wise, that whenever I go to the library I get totally overwhelmed by all the choices and end up either taking a book I’ve already read… or checking out all the books by one author… or checking out nothing at all.  

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying about Louis and how to deal with him. There really was no respite all year, except for a two-week period in November. January to March was potty-training, April to June was tattling, July to September was screaming tantrums, September to December was whining, hitting, and more screaming tantrums. I really, really hope that my renewed commitment to emotional detachment when responding to his many issues sticks, and works, in 2014. 

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Spent it at home, in my pajamas, mostly. We went to one house party where my kids were the only ones in attendance and they behaved beautifully, which was really nice. We took the kids to see Frozen and highly recommend it. Michael and I ended up watching a very strange Australian art film called Sleeping Beauty on New Year’s Eve… it was available OnDemand and we got sucked in because it promised sexytimez. Instead we got a horribly depressing and bizarre little film that we couldn’t look away from – like a trainwreck – but which caused us both to say what the fuck did I just see?? when it was over. Other than that, we watched a lot of comic book and action movies, ate way too much food, played with Lego, and just relaxed in hibernation mode for a blissful nine days.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013? Already in love and no plans to change. 

22. How many one-night stands? Not a one. See above.

23. What was your favorite TV program? Oh, Game of Thrones, definitely. I still watch True Blood  faithfully even though it’s gotten incredibly silly. The Walking Dead is another one I can’t miss and I thought this last season was almost uniformly excellent. Chopped Iron Chef America on the Food Network and Don’t Drive Here on Discovery Channel are all good, family-friendly fun. And Sister Wives is my preferred hate-watch. Don’t you judge. 

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I don’t hate anyone, really, although there is one mom at the preschool this year that just absolutely and fully sets my teeth on edge. She’s bossy, judgmental, a braggart, and talks too much. She’s an expert on EVERYTHING, and will happily tell you so.

25. What was the best book you read? I thought Stephen King’s Under the Dome was a really good old-school horror novel (terrible ending and then dreadful TV show based on it notwithstanding). Abigail Barnette’s The Boss and The Girlfriend were the best erotica I’ve read, ever, and a palate-cleansing antidote to the wretched crimes against literature & humanity that E.L. James perpetrated. I finally read Coraline by Neil Gaiman and it scared the ever-loving crap out of me, even though it’s allegedly a YA novella. World War Z by Max Brooks was terrific – scary, yes, but also almost unbearably sad. Just a well-written story. And I’m just now deciding that I really must set up an account on GoodReads, because I can’t remember any other books I enjoyed this year even though I know there were some.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? I didn’t discover it, but several radio stations in Halifax changed formats and when the dust settled, there were two – TWO! – commercial stations that play music I really like. I listen to them most of the day and so I’m more aware of newer music this year than I’ve been since I was in high school. Personal favourites currently are Imagine Dragons, American Authors, The Lumineers, and Frank Turner. 

27. What did you want and get? A roster of clients for an entire calendar year.  

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Probably Frozen, actually. It was just about perfect in every way. For sheer insane stupidity, live-tweeting Sharknado was a high point.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?  I turned 35 and spent it at home with my family. Michael and the boys took me shopping for clothes & I let them pick out some things for me. It was interesting to see how differently they approach dressing me. I dress to hide. They didn’t let me.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If George would finally and forever make peace with the idea that we don’t have a herd that needs milking or a back forty that needs plowing. If he ‘sleeps in’ until 5:30AM, it’s a good day. *yawn* 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? This year I did try to stop dressing like a schlub when I’m not at work. So I got some nice shoes, a few business-casual outfits, a fitted wool coat for winter… around the house I’m still oversized t-shirt / jeans / sneakers / hoodie, but when I go out anywhere, even the grocery store, I try to dress up a bit. At Blissdom I had my makeup done, and while I loved the way it looked it didn’t feel like me at all, so I haven’t kept it up. I’ve also been growing my hair out – I miss being able to put it up when I’m working – and I’ve been keeping my grey hair coloured because I just got very tired of people looking surprised to hear I’m only in my mid-30s.

32. What kept you sane? My friends, online and off. Tea & cookies during naptime. Being able to take the dayhome kids to the playground or the beach.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? A word here, about Chris Hemsworth. (He was my answer for last year’s list, too. I am faithful.) He is not actually my type. He’s huge, and blond, and all muscley and stuff. On the face of it, he’s really not my cuppa. AND YET. Every time I see him on screen, I come over giggly like a teenage girl. Just the thought of him puts a smile on my face. I will watch any movie – ANY MOVIE – with him in it, no matter how bad it is. It’s so bad that mid-December I did a Google search for “Christmas colouring pages” and only got as far as “chr-” before Google helpfully filled in “is Hemsworth”.

Seriously, just look at this:

Oh good heavens. Seriously.

Fortunately I am married to a delightful man who understands my lust, has given me a hall pass, and shooed me gently out the door one night to go see Thor 2: The Dark World because he knew I needed a little time with my boyfriend.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Um, all of them? I think the federal government muzzling scientists upset me more than anything else. Heart-breaking.

35. Who did you miss? There is a person in my life who has been lying by omission, and it has rocked my trust. I thought we were very close but this year has made me question that.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Allison and Nicole! Oh my goodness, we met in real life and it was instant connection – just bang! and we were staying up too late & doing yoga in hotel room hallways & gossiping in the hot tub. It is totally unfair and stupid that we live in three different time zones. And online I met wonderful Liv, who has become one of my most trusted friends. I love you guys!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013: That bravery is being so terrified you are on the brink of a full-on panic attack, and then going ahead anyway. I always gave that lip-service but never really believed it until this year.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:  If you should fall to pieces / You know I’ll pick them up / Your love is like an ocean / that always takes me home / Whispering wind is blowing / telling me I’m not alone / Your love is like a river / that I am floating down / I’ve never been a swimmer / but I know that I’ll never drown





  1. Meeting you and Allison was one of the biggest highlights of the year! It was so much fun and I couldn’t believe that you two were more awesome in person. IT MAKES ME SAD. Stop being so awesome so I can stop missing you, okay?

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