Category Archives: Misc

Good intentions

For the past couple nights, I tried to bring a little extra functionality to this site by replacing and tweaking the WordPress theme, but I ended up breaking the site completely. Whoops! Even with Matt’s help, it still took hours to bring everything back and make it run again. Sorry, hon!

In December, I attempted to put together my 2014 retrospective (4 times! I tried to write the darn thing 4 times!), but I lost a good friend to cancer last spring, plus I have not been too healthy this year, so remembering all of that only made me melancholy. Let’s just say that last year was sh*tty and I hope that this new year will be awesome. I’m prioritizing getting more sleep and making more happy in 2015.

With the recent Ten on Tuesday about books, I enjoyed seeing others’ book lists and realized that when I visit someone’s house, I’m nosy as hell about what they’re reading. For parity, I’ll jump in and show what I’ve read since I started keeping track in 2013. Links are in the sidebar (scroll down to “Reading List”). Word of warning – I read almost no fiction.

My laptop got a spendy makeover last week (new logic board, twice the RAM, new solid-state hard drive, fresh install of the OS), so my intolerably sluggish beast has been transformed into a sleek, rocket-powered machine. Altogether, this site is finally easier to update, and I’m excited about sharing more with you. Also, I am frequently posting on Instagram (@twosheep) and invite you to join me there; the “Glimpses” box in the sidebar show the most recent ones, if you’re not on Instagram.

As always, I thank you for reading, reaching out to me, and sharing a bit of yourself. Wishing you the best in 2015 – let’s make this a terrific year!

Instagram

In the past month, I’ve had a few instances in which I wanted to share something simple, quick, without requiring a full-fledged blog post. I decided to join Instagram… because people need to know more about my life? Whatever. Ego aside, I’ve added a little sidebar widget; I’m still tinkering and configuring that because I’m not crazy about the carousel setting. But if you’d like to glimpse the “smaller” goings-on, there it is.

A Kickstarter campaign that I can support

…because it will support me right back.

I heard about this yesterday (NAYY) and thought it was so cool. Check it out – a strapless bra that uses high-tech gecko-foot fabric to stay up!


Image from the Kickstarter campaign

I love this for so many reasons – a mechanical engineering PhD dreams up a way to help his wife grappling with a (universal!) slipping strapless bra problem, the totally awesome nature of the bio-inspired textile, the cost (really, not much more than I pay for bras at Nordstrom), designed and manufactured in the US… And hello, if it really stays up and supports? Total grand slam!

So even though I have absolutely NO NEED for a strapless bra, the gecko-geek-cool factor was too much for me to pass up. I started telling Matt last night about how I’d ordered a bra online, I explained the slippage and support issues of the typical strapless bra, and when I said, “Guess what the coolest thing about this project is…” he replied, “Gecko fabric?” (Cue jaw drop.) “How did you know?!? Did you hear about this before?” “No, but I know YOU.”

The Kickstarter campaign is already fully funded (again, NAYY), but there’s still another week to it, if you too are overwhelmed by its awesomeness. For technophiles, read more about the textile development here.

The house closing that almost wasn’t

I got a funny call from Matt 1 day before we were scheduled to make settlement on the house. The title company had notified him that the closing was cancelled – apparently, the seller’s signed and notarized papers were lost in transit from Canada and had been missing for ~4 days. The seller’s secretary, who had prepared the mailing, accidentally wrote “Rochester, NY” on the packing label, and the courier ignored the correctly indicated zip code and sent the package to no particular place on the East Coast.

But all’s well that ends well, our realtor managed to identify someone at the shipping company who located the package on the last possible day and sent it back to MN. The papers arrived at the title office ~3 hours before we came to sign everything. Hooray for happy endings!

For the past month-plus, we’ve been unpacking… and unpacking… and unpacking. We have a lot of… stuff, that’s for sure. I feel like I’m totally over stashing, or at least buying without a definitive plan.


Girls making “snow angels” on packing paper

We’ve been meeting neighbors. Seeing what perennials are popping up (rhubarb!). We’ve also had deer and wild turkeys amble across the backyard. It’s idyllic, in many senses. (Other than, y’know, that aspect of my life in which I am driven totally insane by 3 young children…)


Riding impromptu witch broomsticks or hobby horses

We are so glad that our 2.5-year house hunt is over. With the huge weight lifted off my shoulders, I’m ready to claim that brainspace back for more creative endeavors.

Are you a young person?

If I call you, a customer service representative, and ask for information, do you make everything sound like question? Even statements of fact?

“Our mortgage officer isn’t here right now?”
“His name is Darrin?”

Are you aware of your absurd voice inflection? Do you realize it makes you sound unprofessional at best (and clueless at worst)?

Sheesh.

(PS. I’m also equally irritated by e-mail salutations of “Hey,” from people I barely know.)

2012 Retrospective

Hey, it’s navel-gazing time again!

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

I sold a house!

That was hard. Tears were shed, people.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I had no resolutions to keep or fail, but about a month or so ago, I started making a daily “date” with myself. From 9-10 PM, my time is mine to spend as I please. Kids are in bed by then (albeit often awake and protesting [yelling]) and there will always be more housework whether I spend that hour cleaning or not, so for 60 minutes, I pursue my own pleasure. I’d like to continue this into the next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yes, my SIL had a beautiful baby girl, Ivy, in October.

We hope to meet her next summer.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Sadly, yes. This spring, we lost Kiff, Matt’s closest friend of several decades. He was our best man when Matt and I married in 2004.

In the late summer, my Uncle Larry died. Just before Thanksgiving, my BIL’s mother passed away.

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed in the good old US of A.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Last year, I said, “I would like to buy a house in Rochester.” Funny, that is STILL my goal. We are in a rental townhome that I loathe. (Drafty! Dysfunctional stove! Rodents! But a great location. Ah well.)

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 15. House closing date. I was so glad and yet so sad to sell that house.

August 25. We had a family medical emergency that ended up with 2 daughters in the ER (and 1 later transferred to the ICU). Horrible, horrible weekend. We had to make drastic changes in our lifestyle afterward. The girls are OK now.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Uhm… I made a million meals, washed 10 tons of laundry, tied a thousand ponytails, and read the same 92 children’s books until my eyes bled. I have no single trailblazing achievement of awesomeness but tried do my best at home and at work every day.

9. What was your biggest failure?

God help me, when my girls say crap like “I don’t LIKE YOU” and “I’m MAD at MOMMY, go AWAY” (shove, shove) I still find it so hard not to take it personally. I know I shouldn’t. I know their moods change at the drop of a hat (“Mommy, I not mad anymore. I a happy girl!”). But when all 3 of them can’t stand me, even momentarily, because I want to put socks on their feet or because I give them dreadful spaghetti dinner, I just get tears in my eyes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nah. Everything wrong with my body can be directly traced back to 1) chronic sleep deprivation or 2) daycare germs. Handwashing, shmandwashing.

11. Where did most of your money go?

1) Daycare. 2) Housing (mortgage, moving expenses, rent). 3) Taxes. 4) Biggest single expense of the year – a new laptop after my old one bricked suddenly.

12. What was the best thing you bought?

With our housing hullabaloo and the unexpected family medical concerns/expenses, it’s been hard to get excited about “stuff” this year. However, after resisting the New York Times paywall for >1 yr, I finally succumbed to the siren call and bought myself a subscription (with an education discount, yes!). NPR no longer dictates what I learn about current events. (Too much political coverage, sheesh!)

13. What did you get really excited about?

I was glad that we finally moved to Rochester. Two years had passed since we decided to leave Northfield, it was a long time to hold my breath (so to speak). I guess it is more relief than excitement.

14. Compared with this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Hm, sadder, I think. This year was very stressful. In addition to family stuff, we had a very tough year at work, too (double the workload due to changes in intradepartmental billing policy but no allowances to increase staff).
– thinner or fatter? Fatter! :( I’ve had an unusual weight gain this year, 10 lbs in ~6 mo. It is a little annoying/puzzling. Not carrying the children around as much anymore? Stress eating?
– richer or poorer? Poooooorer. We sold our house at a sizable loss. We weren’t underwater with our mortgage, but having purchased the house in 2005, we were pretty much guaranteed to lose a chunk of change when it finally sold.

15. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Sleeping.

16. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Commuting. (Ha – check that off my list!)

17. How did you spend Christmas?

At home with Matt and the girls. Santa actually came on Sunday instead of Tuesday, to take advantage of our 4-day weekend. No sense having all those toys under wraps for 3 home days. Actually, Santa would have come on Saturday, if only I’d wrapped the mail-ordered presents ahead of time…

18. What were your favorite books of the year?

I surprised myself by really digging Cutting for Stone. If you like medical drama (written by a physician, this has heavy emphasis on the medical aspects), this book is for you!

19. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I don’t remember what I did on my birthday! Ha. I am 38. And senile, apparently.

20. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I wish the girls didn’t fight so much. Being 2, 2, and 4 years old, they’re not great at sharing yet (although they do have their moments of incredible sisterly kindness). We hear a lot of “That’s MINE!” and “No, it’s NOT!” (back-and-forth yelling), and there’s a fair bit of jealousy that flares up over the dumbest stuff (eg, Mom gave Sister a candy, she must love her more than she loves me, I will therefore wail and freak out). But 30 seconds later, they can be sharing and hugging and laughing like crazy, even as tears are still wet on their cheeks. I wish I could stay a little less involved emotionally when they catfight, it kills me to hear them go at each other.

21. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

This year, I’m really favoring knit dresses, maxi skirts, jersey blouses. I am all about dressing up for work in clothes as comfy as pajamas, except for the mandatory pantyhose.

22. What kept you sane?

Remembering happier times. Thinking about a better future. Despite all the virtues of mindfulness, being in the present often made me feel sad and stressed out this year.

23. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.


If you’re alive tomorrow, you get another chance.

Thanks for coming by this year! I wish you the best in 2013.

Random things people always say to me

In the past 20 years or so, I’ve noticed that total strangers will make the same observations about me. It happens so consistently, and the comments are worded nearly identically every time I hear them, I’ve come to the conclusion that these attributes must be true:

1) Doctors: You have very large tonsils.

2) Hairstylists: Your hair grows really fast!

3) Various tech support people (wrt cars, computers, appliances, anything): I’ve never seen this happen before.*

4) And most recently, everyone after hearing about my children: You must have your hands full!

Over to you – what comments have you consistently received from strangers over the years?


* ETA: The attribute is that I am incredibly good at breaking things.

Stretching

As I get older, I think it could be easy for me to fall into the pattern of doing only the things I know I am good at. Took me years to get to this stage, but now I am (she says modestly) a good knitter. A technically competent handspinner. Decent in the kitchen. Have mad housecleaning skillz. Pretty good at editing. I think I could get used to things being easy. And then I might start to dislike doing things that are hard because hey, I’m already good at a lot of things.

But I can’t let myself go on just doing the easy stuff. Isn’t that when the brain starts to go south?

Problem is, I like a challenge but hate to fail. And when I’m feeling petty and small, I find myself avoiding the activities for which I am uncertain of the outcome. I’ve owned an antique circular sock machine for nearly a decade (socks made during that time, 0). I have tried and failed for 7 years to find an organic way to tame the yard (I start strong every spring and give up by July, weeds crowing in victory). I’m still trying to learn to sew (arrgh, working on this one right now). And I take refuge in stockinette knitting. Damn, I am good at that. :b

I’m feeling a little disgusted with myself for regularly, periodically wimping out. How do you stay motivated to do the hard stuff?

Copycat

I’m lifting the survey from Linda.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

Shepherded the family through “3 under 3” while working >1.0 FTE for a quarter of the year and having our house on the market and show-ready. I thought I’d die of busy, but I made it through.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I’m not for new year’s resolutions, I set goals all the time! Probably the biggest goal semi-achieved was my quest to reclaim an adult life. We invited people over for dinner (first time in 2 yr), I got a high-maintenance hair cut (first time in 2 yr), I shed the baby weight (never even tried after Meredith was born), and I resumed abandoned hobbies (including the blog!).

Next year, I’d really like to be a more patient person. I also want to feel more comfortable in my parenting decisions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yes, my cousin and his wife had identical twin sons.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Sadly, yes. This has been an awful year for our families, our worst since Matt and I have been together. We lost Matt’s grandmother in March, my uncle in August, Matt’s aunt in November, and a long-time Oshiro family friend in December. Our 13-yr-old cat James also died very suddenly in July.

5. What countries did you visit?

We stayed in the good old US of A.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

I would like to buy a house in Rochester. Sometimes, I feel like we have put starting a new life on hold. But I’m working harder to embrace each day, wherever I am.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Sad: Matt’s grandmother’s funeral – so much love and sadness over her passing.

Sad: James Cat’s death – he was fine one day, was breathing hard the next day, and was buried by that night.

Awesome: my family reunion in August – it was the first time I’d seen my California relatives in 5 years. Five babies had been born in 2010-2011, and we lined them all up on a sofa and took pictures.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

See item #1.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Parenting continues to serve up scarily new challenges. I struggle with losing my temper, and my biggest failure was actually fairly recently, when I sat in the car after a Christmas party and screamed at my 3-year-old for being irrational.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a handful of colds throughout the year, which I attribute to stress and living with 3 girls who go to daycare. I had a creepy week of conjunctivitis last month, it entailed waking up every morning with bloodshot eyes crusted shut.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A Fitbit. And the corollary, a standing desk from Ikea, a used True 500 treadmill (love you, Craigslist), and a free-swinging monitor arm to set up a walking workstation at home.

12. Where did most of your money go?

1) Mortgage. 2) Daycare. 3) Cocaine. Ha, just kidding.

13. What did you get really excited about?

The children. I swear I can see neurons connecting in their brains. I loved watching Jordan and Casey learn to walk, hearing them utter their first words, seeing them run up to me for hugs and kisses. Meredith is able to comprehend abstract ideas (things that happened before she was born or will happen in the future, hypothetical scenarios), and we are seeing real signs of empathy. Watching these changes in my children is like watching a flower blossom.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Uhm… I guess I don’t really listen to music anymore.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier? But I’m not sure, I’m just so tired all the time.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner, hooray! (Fitbit ALL THE WAY)
– richer or poorer? About the same (except for my 403[b], which apparently yielded 4.6% of negative growth this year)

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


More hobbies, more blogging, more cooking.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Less cleaning (and less whining about cleaning), less being frustrated about parenting issues, less freaking out about completely meaningless events (eg, getting lost, talking to strangers).

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At home with Matt and the girls.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

I haven’t watched TV since Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Hmm… Perhaps You are Here and Intuitive Eating.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


See #14.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I haven’t watched a movie in the theater in >2 years. I feel like I have enough going on in my life that I don’t need to shoulder a fictional person’s drama on top of it. Also, if I had 2-3 hours to spare, I’d probably spend most of it cleaning the house. And whining about it.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I think I just went to work. I turned 37 this year. I’m now old enough that I have to mentally do the math to figure out my age. I like to tell people I’m almost 40.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I wish I could relax a little more. I tend to overload my To-Do list, and I always want to have those items taken care of before I do anything fun, but because of the overloaded list, the fun gets constantly pushed down the priority chain. I end up throwing a pity-party every quarter or so, when I get completely overwhelmed. Even though I always resolve to change things up, I inevitably creep back to the same scenario.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I hate shopping for clothes, so I started using the personal shopper service at Nordstroms. Nordstroms isn’t cheap by any measure, but the service has saved me a buttload of time and frustration, which is worth a lot. I tell my stylist in e-mail what I want (eg, dress pants for work), and when I show up, she has 6 or more items waiting for me to try on, as well as a dozen other complementary pieces (eg, blouses and blazers to go with the dress pants – not necessarily to purchase, but to see how it will look as an ensemble). She runs through the floors to get different colors, styles, and sizes, as I try clothes on and dissect what is right or wrong.

I respect the lady I work with, she has definitely helped me find stylish clothing to fit my postpartum body. Now that we’ve worked together a few times, she knows brand X has too much ease in the hips for me, brand Y is too expensive for my budget, etc. We don’t have any amazing girlfriend relationship or anything like that, but I trust her and have been satisfied with my experience and purchases.

Wow, that just turned into a review, didn’t it?

26. What kept you sane?

Talking over my major decisions (mostly regarding work and parenting) with Matt. I have times where I could throttle him, but more often (much more often!), I’m so grateful to have him around.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.


Forgive. It’s just money. Try again. Check your CO monitors; install them if you don’t have any.

Best wishes to all of you in 2012. Thank you for coming to read my blog and to share your thoughts. You are appreciated!