I’m feeling less motivated to write my Year in Review post this time around. Maybe it’s the bouts of sleep deprivation caused by living with a frequently sick preschooler. Or maybe it’s the lack of free time and constant distraction due to an ever-curious preschooler. (Sylvie is poking my face at this very moment and asking why some people have to use wheelchairs.) In any case, I figured I should write my 2019 year in review for posterity.
Web dev stuff
Since this blog is ostensibly about web development, I’ll start there.
Plugin Notes Plus update
I released Plugin Notes Plus, a free WordPress plugin that allows site administrators to add notes about any of the plugins they have installed on their site, in February of 2018. By the end of 2019, it had reached more than 2,000 active installs.
It feels good to have created something that is useful to so many people. One of my reasons for releasing the plugin was that I wanted to give back to a community that had been so giving. At the same time, I’ve experienced the stress of offering an open source plugin. Support requests come up unexpectedly – and usually on Friday evenings.
In May, I gave a presentation at the Stanford Web Camp about keeping a website’s content fresh through automation. You can read about it in this post. I love to find ways to make workflows more efficient, and I found it useful to leverage the Trello API to automate a very customized process.
If Sylvie transformed from a baby into a person in 2018, she spent 2019 becoming her own person. Gone are the days when I can choose what she wears, as she now insists on picking her own outfits – often multiple per day. Her ensembles usually feature an excessive amount of sparkles, unicorns, and pink.
Sylvie turned 3 in March, and shortly thereafter started producing an almost constant stream of why’s. It was cute at first but quickly became tiresome. Many of her questions were related to her fears of mannequins and computer-generated voices, though some were quite amusing. For example: “Why can’t I see my farts?”
Another fun thing to witness was the development of Sylvie’s imagination. She took an intense interest in dentistry early in the year as we were preparing her for her first dentist visit. Watching videos about going to the dentist slowly transformed into imaginary play, which usually ended with me lying on the floor covered in a blanket that was supposed to be a lead apron and Sylvie poking at my teeth with chop sticks.
In September, Sylvie entered the 3’s class at PreSchool Family. This was her first time being dropped off at school, and it was a struggle for a while. Fortunately, things have gotten easier over time, and she has even said a couple of times that she likes preschool. It was heartening to see Sylvie give her teacher a hug at the end of each school day, no matter how badly it had started.
My new gray hairs and parenting
My gray hairs continue to proliferate and become more noticeable. Entertaining a preschooler for hours on end and trying to answer her endless questions – not to mention trying to make good parenting decisions – can be exhausting. Now I know who is to blame for all of my parents’ gray hairs. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
An unexpected highlight of the year for me was attending the parenting classes that go along with Sylvie’s preschool program. For some reason, I didn’t expect them to be helpful. Boy, was I wrong! Through the recommended readings and discussions we had in the class, I picked up some valuable, just-in-time tools for managing a preschooler.
There was a very funny moment in the parenting class when we were discussing conflict resolution techniques. A dad in the class turned to me and whispered, “This stuff isn’t just for preschoolers, right? It could work for other assholes as well.” Very true, Dad!
We took a trip to Yosemite in May. We weren’t sure if the trip was a good idea because Sylvie was just getting over a cold, and Bill and I had both just caught her cold. We decided to go anyway, mostly because Bill and I had fond memories of hiking in Yosemite before we had Sylvie, and we wanted to show Sylvie how fun it can be to explore nature.
Sylvie didn’t care much for the majesty of the valley, but boy did she love the hotel that we stayed at! She loved riding in the “alligator” up to our room, and she swam in the pool and played on the enormous playground. At night, there was a bonfire where we made s’mores.
It’s funny that we almost didn’t go on the trip because it was such a magical experience for Sylvie. She now believes that “Yosemite” is a term used to describe any really fun hotel. She was annoyed that we had to take time away from the hotel experience to visit the boring waterfalls.
In July, we took our annual trip to pick blueberries (and see my parents) in Oregon. Sylvie had fun riding the carousel in Albany, making bubbles, pulling carrots out of the backyard, and, of course, picking blueberries.
Shortly after our trip to Oregon, we flew to Chicago for a visit with Bill’s parents and our annual Lake Michigan vacation. Sylvie was a little timid about going in the lake, but she loved playing in the house that we rented.
In early December, Sylvie and Bill took their first “solo” trip to visit Bill’s parents in Chicago. Sylvie had such a great time that, when I asked her if she was ready to come back home and give me a big hug, she replied, “I think not.”
The best dog ever
Calico was once again voted the best dog in our household. By extrapolation, we figure that makes her the best dog ever. She still enjoys going on walks, eating her food, and playing tug with her bear toy.
We were fortunate to host Calico’s sister, Cello, a few times during the year. The sisters like to play with one another, but they prefer separate sleeping locations. Despite not winning the “best dog ever” award, Cello is a very sweet dog.
I caught the home improvement bug this year and decided to remedy some things in our house that weren’t working well for us. My first project was installing a keypad deadbolt on our front door. This would usually be a simple project, except that I discovered that our front door is warped, everything was out of alignment, and the existing deadbolt had been torqued into an odd shape that made it difficult to remove. After many Google searches and YouTube how-to videos, I was able to get the new deadbolt installed.
During our trip to Lake Michigan in August, I found a copy of Real Simple magazine in the house we were renting, and it had a feature about garage organization. Our garage was a disaster, so I took it on as my next project. Following a very methodical process of identifying the different types of things that we needed to access in the garage and with what frequency, and after some major purging of unnecessary items, I spent the next few weeks putting together a much more usable garage. Keeping the garage usable remains an uphill battle, as it seems to be viewed as the infinite space in our house where you dump things that you don’t want to look at.
Books I read
My reading list in 2019 was somewhat eclectic, including some memoirs, a couple of novels, a nonfiction work, and even a parenting book! Below are the ones that I really enjoyed and/or found helpful.
- Lab Girl
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
- Where the Crawdads Sing
- The Great Alone
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
- Becoming (Michelle Obama)
- Drop the Ball
- Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline
Toward the end of 2019, I decided to tackle another big project that had been on my to-do list for a while: yearly photo books. One of the reasons why it took me until the middle of February to post this year in review is because making photo books takes a lot of work.
I’m very glad that I made the books, though. They are fun for us and Sylvie’s grandparents to look at, and Sylvie loves having a book with her picture in it. I’m sure it will be fun for her to look at them when she gets older. And we might just happen to take them out when her prom date comes to pick her up. 😉
On to 2020
I have some idea about what’s in store for 2020 since it’s already the middle of February. I’m hoping to publish a few more blog posts than I did last year. But don’t hold your breath. 🙂