Monthly Archives: December 2013

In review: 2013

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” – C. S. Lewis

As it is the time for such a thing, I continue my annual year in review. Although I am not yet content enough to declare victory, I am satisfied enough to lay claim to progress.

And so, I ask myself the all important question: “How did I do?”

Accomplishments

  • Coding with Coda – A book about one of my favorite text editors was released in January. In retrospect, there are a few things I wish I would have done different. Perhaps I’ll get the opportunity to rectify that in a second edition sometime in the future.
  • DrupalCon Portland – My first work trip with my new co-workers was a fantastic success. I learned a ton about the software that is my bread and butter, and got to learn a lot about the wonderful community that makes up Drupal.
  • Getting healthier – In March I started on a wellness journey at nearly 250 lbs., and had some excellent progress this year. For years I was unable to get below 240 lbs. By June, I was at 229 lbs., and have kept the weight off. I still lift weights regularly and have learned to control the relationship I have with food.
  • Ten years – In July my wife, Amy, and I celebrated 10 years of marriage with an oddly bizarre but fun trip running around in Arkansas. Although I was sure we’d have nothing to talk about after a few days, it ended up being an excellent trip and a chance to get be reintroduced to the woman I live with.
  • Paid off credit cards – Although we used to be much better with finances and had zero credit cards, we fell back into the trap over the last few years. After our vacation, Amy and I decided to get back to our better ways and started paying off credit cards. I sold my motorcycle to kickstart the process and took on an extra web development job for some added cash. In early December, we killed off the largest credit card we had, paying off around $6,000 in four months. I sacrificed a lot of sleep and some workouts, but it was worth it.

Goals

If 2013 was defined by progress, then 2014 will be a continuation toward bigger goals. So where am I going?

  • The Whole30 – One of my most successful months was fueled by the Whole30 diet, which I will start on Jan. 1. It’s very strict, and very limited to non-inflammatory whole foods, and I just feel like doing it again (especially after the sugar-filled final days of December).
  • The Final Debt – The last debt (aside from our home) we have is our student loan debt, and it’s kind of a monster. Since we’re following the Dave Rasmey Debt Snowball plan, this is next/last on the list. Thanks to the work we did this year, we will be paying extra on our student loans for the first time since we got married. It’s going to be a long haul, but at least we’re finally making progress.
  • Obstacle Race – For some reason I want to do either a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder race. I can’t explain it; I just want to do it. My training will begin Jan. 1 and I’ll evaluate in a couple of months if I’m ready to race in the spring. If not, then I’ll shoot for a fall event.
  • Build Something – I have a desire to build something for my girls: definitely a bookshelf, quite possibly a bunk bed, maybe both. I hate cheap crap that is often found in the stores, and for the cost of the good stuff I could make it cheaper. Mainly, I just want to make something for them, by me. They give me so much, I want to give them this in return.
  • House projects – A holdover from 2013: Painting, fixing and other little touches have been swept under the rug for awhile. I really need to rectify this in 2014. Really!
  • New projects – Technically a holdover last year, but only because I essentially shut down many areas of my life to focus on wellness. So again, I’ll say this: I have some ideas but I’ll keep those quiet for now.
  • Pursue minimalism – I’ve toyed around with paring things down. I have success here and there, but nothing I’m quite happy with. Hopefully I can make 2014 much more with much less.

Loss

  • Miscarriage – We got pregnant, then lost it early in the year. Not really much else I want to say about that.

Your turn. What goals do you have for next year?

Why I told my kids that Santa isn’t real

Last night, my wife and I told our children that Santa Claus isn’t real.

It might be difficult to under the duality of this: it was a difficult choice to make, and it was also imperative that we do so. Allow me to explain.

Long before I had children I had it in my head I was going to be upfront with my kids about Santa. I’m not quite sure how it happened (perhaps the blame can come from being a tired, shirt-stained-with-baby-puke new dad), but it got away from me. Before long, I was on a sleigh ride out of my control.

Last week, Ember got some mail that had in it a map of the world. She loves it. We taped it to the wall and she started investigating her new treasure. “Have you ever been there? Mommy’s been there! Oh, look, there’s Portland (where I attended DrupalCon this year)!” And then she saw Antarctica.

“Is that where Santa lives,” she asked?

“No. He lives at the North Pole,” I said.

You big *&^%&# liar. So much for the truth, eh?

Strike one, as they say.

Fast forward to Sunday. I stumbled across the knowledge that Ember thought we lied to her earlier this year about Amy’s pregnancy. I was devastated. She didn’t understand that we had lost the pregnancy, and since the baby didn’t show up, we must have lied to her.

Strike two.

My league only allows for two strikes, especially after Sunday’s doozy. After thinking about it for most of the day yesterday, I knew what had to be done. Amy and I discussed it, and proceeded with the truth.

Remi didn’t seem to care (or maybe she doesn’t quite understand), but Ember was a big bag of tears. We talked through it and got to the core the issue: She was really hoping for a certain gift (having been through months of “No you can’t get that, Christmas is coming”) and thought Santa was the only way that could happen.

We assured her: there will be gifts. There will be gifts because we love them and want to give them some presents. We told her the cruel, hard truth: mommy and daddy work hard to provide for our family. We told them both that we will give them presents not because of some list that tracks rights and wrongs, but simply because we love them very, very much.

The tears went away. The smile reappeared. And a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I actually felt lighter.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering: we’ve warned them that not every parent decides to tell their kids this news, so she should keep quiet for now.)

And so, I tucked my sweet little girls into their beds, gave kisses and hugs and said good night. The last thing Ember said assured me I had made the right decision.

“Maybe you can dress up as Santa Claus,” she said with a smile.

I think that’s an excellent idea.