A Look at 2013

Well it’s the end of 2013 and many people, including myself, tend to use the end of a year to reflect on what has transpired over the past year. What major life events have happened? Did I accomplish the goals I set out for myself at the beginning of the year? Was it a good year? Was it a bad year? Was it a bit of a jumbled mess?

So I want to spend some time looking over 2013. To see the major changes that happened over the year, see how I did with the goals I set last year, and present the most popular posts I had this past year.

Major Events of 2013

It many ways it seems that 2013 was a mixed bag. Every major positive thing came with some unexpected consequences or took a bit of work getting to the good stuff. It was just a mixed year, which I suppose most years are, but this one seemed pretty mixed in the bigger events not just the every day stuff.

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We started off the year with one of those big events, the birth of our daughter Anastasia. It is hard to believe looking and interacting with her now that she was born this year, but that’s the way these things work I guess. No doubt this was one of the good events of the year. Sure it’s been a bit stressful getting used to dealing with two kids this past year, but it’s also been very enjoyable getting to know our little girl and see her grow and interact with her brother.

However, this major event had some negative events that followed. Kristen had some issues about two weeks after Anastasia was born and had to have an emergency procedure done. Thankfully it was all able to be finished in one day and everything went well, but it wasn’t the best experience in the world and I wasn’t even the one directly going through it. We also had some issues with Kristen’s job temporarily firing her after taking off more time after birth than was allowed for employees who had only worked with the company under a certain amount of time. However, everything worked out in the end.

As far as I can remember the rest of the events of the first half of the year were mainly just getting used to having two kids. Going to grandparent’s houses and having them visit us occasionally. Just settling into some sort of routine. Really the next major event of the year was my grandmother’s stroke in September.

This one really just set a bit of a somber tone for the rest of the year. She was in the hospital/rehab for awhile and we were trying to go see her once a week. She came back home shortly after Thanksgiving, but she still has a ways to go for recovery. It’s just taken a lot of getting used to. Hopefully, she’ll continue to recover over the next year and things will get closer to normal after awhile.

New House

Finally at the end of the year we bought our first house. We’re hoping it will be our only house, at least for quite some time, but at this time we know for certain it is our first. However, this positive was a lot of hard work. It felt like quite the roller coaster ride going through the experience. We thought we had the house, then something would come up and we weren’t sure, that would get taken care of then something else would happen. However, eventually we bought our house and moved into it a week and half before Christmas. This made December even busier than normal, but we’re happy to be moved in rather than having a house and not really being able to settle in yet.

So those are the major events of 2013. Of course they weren’t the only events, but they’re the ones that impacted us the most.

Goals

At the end of last year I set some goals that I hoped to achieve by the end of this year. They were five fairly simple goals. So now that we’re at the end of the year how did we do? Well let me run through them.

My first goal was getting used to staying home with two kids. This has gone rather well. Sure it can be challenging and we get into our ruts and battle of the wills and everything. Is it weird to say that in some ways it was easier than I expected and in others more difficult than I expected at the same time? That’s really how it feels.

The second goal was to blog more regularly. I’d say that I’ve done better this year than I have previous years, but I could be better. I felt like I did okay most of the year, but then took a hit in the last few months. Overall, I’m pretty happy with being more consistent, but I still want to improve.

Thirdly, was the goal of getting rid of the loan on our second car and to pay off one of our smaller student loans. We achieved this, but didn’t really gain any ground on getting out of debt due to the achievement of buying a house that wasn’t a major planned goal from last year. However, that’s hopefully the only extra debt will be taking on anytime soon.

After that, the fourth goal was to be active in ministry. Sadly, this one never really materialized. My wife and I did help with VBS at our church and I did some scripture readings throughout the year, but I don’t really consider this goal much of a success. The combination of getting established in a new church, having two kids while trying to do that, and trying to visit my grandmother after her stroke I think caused this one to fall by the wayside.

Lastly, our fifth goal was to make some friends locally. That never really happened either. We didn’t really connect with any of our neighbors at our apartment. Even at church I can’t really say that we’ve made too many meaningful connections or friendships. Of course moving again at the end of the year also screws up consistency and everything too. Maybe we’ll get friends we can do stuff with again sometime.

So overall I’d rate myself as achieving 3/5 of the goals for last year. I’ll take it. Could have done better, but certainly could have done worse as well.

Top Posts

This last section is just going to go over some of my top posts for the past year. I’ll be completely honest, it’s not like I get that many visits here, but I’m happy for what I do get. I mean my top post (that wasn’t my home page or my about page) only had 29 views, so as I said we’re not talking massive popularity here, but it’s always interesting to find out what others looked at most in the past year. I’m not going to be including my “Wanderings of the Week” in this list. They were fairly popular posts and made up five of my ten most viewed posts. So with those caveats in mind, here are my most popular posts from 2013.

  1. Final Thoughts on The End of Our Exploring
  2. What You Wish You Never Had to See
  3. Education vs. Indoctrination
  4. Reflections on Church Membership
  5. Brand Wars
  6. When “What Ifs” Backfire
  7. The Enemy Within – Good, Evil, and the Human Condition
  8. The Great Fish Conspiracy
  9. Assassin’s Creed II, Religion, Power, and Control
  10. Some Food Photography

I’m not sure if I really see much of a pattern. Regardless those are the most popular of my 2013 posts. Maybe some of you can find patterns here, but I’m not sure I can. Not that it’s a bad thing there isn’t a pattern.

So that’s pretty much an overview of my 2013. How did your 2013 go? Did you have any major life events? Did you reach the goals you set for yourself?

A New Year

A new year is coming upon us. As a good number of people do this time of year it allows for reflection and also for a looking forward to the new year. Some people do resolutions, but they don’t seem to pan out, so I figured I wanted to put it more as goals or things that we’re already on the road to happening Some of these may not happen, but a good number will. They are:

1. Get used to staying at home with 2 kiddos. This one will happen no matter what, I just hope that it will go smoothly.

2. Update my blog a little more. This may be challenging considering number 1, but we’ll see. It isn’t often for lack of ideas, it is more lack of taking the time or disliking what I write because it gets too long, I’m too chicken to put it out there, or simply seems to condescending or not in the attitude I want it to be.

3. Pay off our 2nd car and one of our smaller school loans. This has been getting chipped away on for while. Hopefully we’ll be able to put these two away (one of these will be done regardless, but hopefully sooner than later in the year) and make a dent in our other school loans, sadly the bigger ones.

4. Get active in ministry, be it through the church we’re going to, the community, something.

5. Make some local friends. This will probably happen, be it through our church or through connecting back with old friends. Still definitely a goal for the year.

I’m know there are others that I could add here; to read more, or to trust God more, but these are ones that are more or less specific to this year. Do you have any particular goals for the year to come, big or small?

Another Year in the Rearview Mirror

This could be an overused image this time of year, but since we spent the first day of 2012 driving from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts it seems like a fitting title to look back to 2011 and forward to 2012. Trying to reflect on the past year is sometimes difficult. Things blur and mesh with previous years to such a point that it is sometimes hard to remember what happened this year and what did not.

Overall it was a year that has been marked with frustration. Maybe not overwhelming frustration, but a nagging frustration. The type where you think it is gone but it continues to reappear. Maybe it is a certain question you are asked, or something you think of and then that frustration rears its ugly head. The source of this frustration is mostly just not knowing what we’re supposed to do. Not knowing what God wants us to do or where he wants us to be. It’s a frustration that comes from being in a holding pattern, but not really wanting to be in one. Mostly because you aren’t sure what you’re supposed to do and therefore wind up wasting a lot of energy worrying and not enough on actually living where you are.

Despite the feeling of the year being frustration, it really hasn’t been a bad year event wise. My wife Kristen and I moved closer to the church we’ve attended since we’ve been in Massachusetts, which has been really nice. Kristen also started a new job, which was nice, even though that hasn’t been an entirely positive thing, it is better than the job she left. I’ve been getting to stay at home with our son Ryan, which has been a lot of fun. Admittedly staying home with him is also part of the frustration, since that wasn’t really the way we were planning things.

Perhaps the worst thing is that as I look back in the rearview mirror to 2011 it seems that a lot of it is really coming with us into 2012. We’re still not entirely sure what we’re supposed to be doing. Is there a job out there for me? Am I supposed to be staying home with Ryan? Are we supposed to be staying in Massachusetts? Should we move closer to family? Is there some other unknown thing we’re supposed to be doing? How will we know that? How do we invest and live life where we are without all these questions interfering? These issues are still there. The nagging frustrations of 2011 are poised to become the nagging frustrations of 2012.

At the end of it though I do feel thankful. While there is a frustration that pops up every so often. We are not struggling the way that many do. We’re able to live comfortably with only one of us working, we have a warm place to sleep at night, we’re part of a community that that we enjoy being a part of, and we’re both able to have a big part in our sons life. While it may be easy to dwell on the uncertainties and frustrations what we have to be thankful for outweighs the frustrations. That doesn’t always make it easy, but it does help gain some perspective and that is useful to have regardless of whether it is the beginning of a new year or the middle of a year.

So here’s hoping that your 2012 may be better than your 2011.That you will grow and learn more in the new year and also that the world doesn’t end next December. Because let’s face it that might make for a pretty bad 2012 for a lot of people.