As I look back at this year and compare to where I was last year, it is refreshing to realize that I am doing better this year. It was a good year. It had its ups and downs, but I feel like the future is brighter.
A couple of reasons for that. First, my health is better. Leila made me take a sleep study. I told the doctor how tired I was, but that I didn't have sleep apnea. I was wrong. I totally had sleep apnea - probably for years and years. During the sleep study, I stopped breathing on average 40 times per hour. Getting a CPAP was like one more step into middle age, but it is nice feeling awake and with more energy. Even from the first night I could feel the difference. I also kept swimming and running this year. Although I haven't lost any weight, I was in shape enough at the end of the summer to swim 2.5 miles in an open-water swim event here in St. Louis, do a small triathalon, and long runs during all my travels. Leila also kept me supplied with business and self-help books and I really enjoyed the Happiness course from Yale I took on Coursera.
Most of this year and the end of last year, we were on again and off again about moving to Scotland. In the end it did not work out for this year, and it was frustrating to be on the verge of making that big change, and then not doing it. However, it looks like we may be on track to really move next summer. Hopefully Scotland doesn't leave the UK and Brexit doesn't throw a wrench in the whole deal. Cross your fingers. I will be working still with Bayer, but at the University of Edinburgh - you can take a short course with the new institute members (including me) in April!
At work, I need to do a better job at juggling my many responsibilities and calendar that overflows with meetings, but I like the new members of the team and although I traveled quite a bit felt like it was manageable.
I still worry about too many things like climate change with effects on continued habitat loss, extinction of so many species, ocean temperatures, coral bleaching, etc. I worry about immigrants and refugees. I worry about the oak trees in our neighborhood. I worry about my job and whether I am doing the right things. I worry about my kids and about Leila. Our politics are still a mess. I hope we aren't looking at 4 more years of Trump, but am resigned to it if it happens. But, I look at people and the world around me and I see things that make give me hope. We found four turtles in our yard this year. There are American Chestnut trees now resistant to disease. More farms are growing cover crops. The economy is pretty good. Electric cars are more common. Oysters are making a comeback with help around New York. The Chesapeake bay is getting cleaner. If we can keep wild places - nature will find a way. Look at all of the wildlife in the demilitarized zone in Korea or around Chernobyl.
A lot going on with the rest of the family. For a snapshot:
- Emily - now a sophomore at Truman state and well on her way to full grownup-hood living off campus in a house with four friends, her cat (Baby), and girlfriend (Celia - who totally won over the sisters by teaching them to play Magic the Gathering), This year she loved making a 30 inch coiled pot in Ceramics, her photolithograph her watercolor still life of ingredients to her favorite breakfast (grits, spinach and eggs) in Printmaking. She worked at BP gas station and TacoBell this year. Book recommendations: "Neither wolf nor Dog". Media recommendations: Narcos, The Expanse (with her dad - because he is so cool), and My Hero Academia.
- Aleah - is in 9th grade at Central High and also growing up too fast. She will always remember her first debate and has enjoyed the climbing team. Her favorite thing this summer was walking with Grandma Brenda and her cousin Eliana's play. She has been interested in house plants. Her strawberry plants keep dying, but has a prolific ivy, two spider plants, an avocado tree that made it almost all year, and cactus. She looks forward to getting her driver's license next year and is glad finals are over. She also has mastered making pancakes, hot chocolate with Pero, chocolate cookies and snickerdoodles
- Colleen - Sixth grade at Central Middle School where she has been busy in student council, makeup crew for the plays, started playing the french horn in the band, and is proud that she can do her own fancy braids. On swim team this summer she got faster in the older age categories with tough competition and really excelled at all her events. Her only regret is that one front flip off the diving board that went wrong and ended with a back flop. She also started taking tumbling and rock climbing - lots of cart wheels and hand stands. She is almost done with Personal Progress. She is looking forward to all the fun summer things - girls camp and swimming. Book recommendations: Dragon Slippers - sooo good. Media: Dr Who, Monk, Studio C - but they haven't been posting much she says, and Dragon Prince.
- Kate - Fifth grade at Riverbend this year. Her Granddad gave her a chess set when we went to visit this summer and she has enjoyed beating us all and joined chess club at school. Emily was her last victim today and lost twice in a row. She did great in swim team this year learning butterfly and racing multiple events. She loved visiting grandparents this summer. Scotland was not her favorite because it was was too noisy and made it hard for her to sleep. Book recommendations - Harry Potter, Wings of Fire, Percy Jackson, Magnus Chase. Media: Doctor Who, Dragon Prince.
- Becca - First grade at Riverbend and has loved making new friends in Kindergarten and again in first grade - especially Cindy, Navea, Mika, Natalie, Lydia, and Bruce the dog. Becca's favorite things about school are meeting Natalie and learning to read. She lost her front teeth and is a little bit toothless right now. She was in heaven when we visited the wolf sanctuary to see real wolves. She wants a pet dog or wolf soooo bad. She also started gymnastics, climbing and progressed a ton on the swim team this summer learning freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, and and butterfly. Recommended books: Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling's books are magic - it has been so fun to read them with fresh eyes with her and see Becca fall totally under their spell.) and Red - the True Story of Little Red Riding Hood. Media: Dragon Prince, Wild Kratts - to whom she wrote a letter and got a signed postcard and picture in return.
- Leila - Leila launched her new website: Leilagardunia.com, started selling patterns, and a popular newsletter. She also went to quilt market, took courses on making web pages, InDesign, and quilt conferences. She loved visiting Scotland over spring break with the kids and I. This summer she returned from Girls camp energized, learned to play the ukulele, started exercising and ran a mile for the first time since 9th grade, and is training for a Tough Mudder race next summer. She is looking forward to moving to Scotland and doubling the size of her business, designing the 2021 block of the month for Michael Miller Fabrics, and the Tough Mudder race. Book recommendations: so many audiobooks. Media: The Good Place.
- Brian - I already wrote a lot about me but if you have made it this far, I put on some miles this year travelling: Scotland (2x), Nigeria, San Diego, France, London, Georgia, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho, and Washington. My first patent on Haploid chipping published. I kept swimming at the YMCA, did two open water swims - 1.25 miles and 2.5 miles in Simpson Lake, and took 2nd place in our neighborhood mini-triathlon, even with accidentally, maybe, probably, possibly running an extra lap. I was in a car accident this summer - totalled my Nissan Leaf, and decided to not replace my car and to instead bike to work or take the bus on days when it is icy and slick. Book recommendations: Murderbot - by Martha Wells. I reread the novellas all over again this year. Ancillary Justice. The huge biography of Stalin I read for my book club with Greg. The Chosen again. The Binti novels. The Adventure of Hermana Plunge - A mission memoir. I also read Dune and four Harry Potter books in Spanish. I read Rough Stone Rolling about Joseph Smith - but mostly came away upset at the complicated mess that polygamy made of the early years of the church. Media: Yesterday, Knives Out, The Expanse - Season 4 is awesome. The VlogBrothers and all things Nerdfighteria including CrashCourse, Into the Microverse, Poetry reading, the Anthropocene, and SciShow. The Radio Ambulate podcast, Reply All podcast, Levar Burton Reads podcast, Bon Appetit Youtube videos, and am back reading more blogs on an RSS reader to cut back on other social media and internet time wasting.