Sunday, January 11, 2015

Midwest Winter

Things are quiet around here. Real quiet. Our street appears to be deserted, save for the occasional glimpse of life: our neighbor pulling out of the garage every day at 6:45am... garbage cans appearing at the end of people's driveways on Tuesday evenings... tire tracks in the snow...

But other than that, everyone is hunkering down against the bitter cold. Staying inside. Drawing the blinds. This past week temps have been hovering between 0 and 15 degrees, with wind chills down to 20- and 40- below zero. Even just walking from the car into the grocery store makes your face sting and your nose run.

the midwest winter perma-cloud

We've had a couple days of bright winter sunshine this week, but for the most part the above photo pretty accurately depicts winter in southwest Ohio.

Luckily there has been plenty of football on TV to keep us entertained while it's too cold to be outside. Milo has really been enjoying all the couch time with Ted:

Work has picked up with the start of the new year. My program is expecting about 30 new students to arrive at the end of this week, with international student orientation running next week. Orientation is always a whirlwind of placement testing, health checks, information sessions, and course registration.   

Ted has started preparing for his job interview, which will happen mid-February. We are feeling optimistic, and we know you'll all keep your fingers crossed. He'll start teaching classes when the spring semester starts up in a couple weeks, but for now he's relishing all the time he has for reading and writing.

I wish I had more to say, but that's pretty much it around here. Thanks again to all of our friends and family that sent us Christmas cards this past month. It helps us feel connected and loved while we're so far away, and it's really livened up our kitchen photo exhibit.

(a few are on the fridge as well, so don't fret if you don't see yours!)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

Let's be honest, at this point the 2014 Christmas card is not going to happen. Even the procrastinated Christmas card, aka the "New Year's" card, is not going to happen this year...

Instead, I will reflect via blog post on the notable moments of 2014. I mean, this is the year 2015 after all. Let's get with the times.


The year started not with a bang but with Ted and I most likely sleeping through New Year's Eve.

As far as my New Year's Resolutions go, some were met, some things were maintained. None of them were a complete failure. It all balanced out in the end.

My only goal for 2015 is to find joy. Life ain't perfect, but I will make a conscious effort to seek out joy where I am, rather than waiting for life to begin with the attainment of some larger goal such as the perfect job or having a clean house.

The original point of this blog had to do with this very goal, but in the day-to-day doldrums of the past six months I admit that I have lost sight of it. Perhaps the blog will undergo a makeover to reflect a fresh start, a renewal of my blogging vows so to speak.

Anyway, back to 2014.

There were some wonderful moments spent traveling with friends and connecting with family. We took not one, but TWO trips with our Colorado crew - to Belize in March and to Puerto Rico in November. (If you missed them the first time around, be sure to read all four blog posts on Belize: I, II, III, IV)


Puerto Rico

In June Ted and I (along with the cats) drove across the country to Oregon, visiting family and friends along the way.

I'm grateful that we got to spend time with my grandparents twice this year - in the summer and at Christmas time.

Grandma at "almost 90"

Grandpa being put to work in the yard

Other trips were noted in this blog post and this blog post. Thank you, friends and family, for being the highlights of our year and for giving us something to look forward to.

December visit with Ted's family - notably larger than mine...
Photo courtesy of C. Holland

Vacations aside, we did actually work in 2014. In July I branched out on a new career path, taking an administrative role in an intensive English program at Miami University's regional campus. Instead of teaching, I have been hiring faculty, managing students and staff, creating the schedule of courses, and running meetings. It's been quite a change - one I'm still not quite used to.

my first office

Ted finished the first year of his post-doc at Miami U and is halfway through his second. He received excellent evaluations from his students, as always. This coming semester he will be co-teaching with one of his colleagues a class on Eurasian Geopolitics as well as a class on modern conflicts in Russia. In very exciting news, he has an interview for a tenure-track job in Albany, NY coming up in February; we'll keep you all apprised, of course. 
*No picture of Ted's office is available, as Ted still does not own a smart phone and probably wouldn't take trivial pictures of things like his office anyway.

The cats are both happy and healthy (Milo might be a little too healthy these days, if you catch my drift).

He now has to be fed from an "Activity Center" called the Katzenspiel. It slows him down by forcing him to work for his kibble, fishing it out with his paw one morsel at a time: 

Minnie is peeved that she is forced to do the same, even though she can control her eating.

Other than that, 2014 consisted of the usual day-to-day stuff. At least we have friends both near and far, loving families, good health, a comfortable home, and beautiful surroundings (I can say that now that the winter perma-cloud has momentarily lifted, allowing the sun a fleeting chance to shine). 

As 2015 begins, I look forward to increasing amounts of daylight, snorkeling with whale sharks, completing my first year as an administrator, getting my Ohio teaching license (just in time to move to New York??), and joy. Lots of joy.

Happy New Year!
Photo courtesy of J. Forsythe

P.S. Thank you and props to all our friends and family who sent us a 2014 Christmas card. We appreciate receiving them, even if we didn't get our own in the mail this year. Maybe I'll add that to my goals for 2015.