In keeping with tradition, it is the end of December, and time for my eighth recap of the year. Truth be told, I only started this in 2002, but for years before, I had another tradition. On the night before my birthday around midnight, I traditionally took a long walk around the neighborhood to think about my life — trying to figure out who I was, where my life was going, and where I needed to go. I think this stopped around the time I got married and Joshua was born. At that point, I was too busy to worry where I was going and what I was doing. It was more important to get some sleep and keep him (and later, Lily) out of trouble. I like the end-of-the-year recap better.

Life, Love, and Family

I would call this the year of transition. After much thinking, discussing, and soul-searching, we decided we’ve had enough kids. The two we have are good, and despite Joshua’s requests for a baby brother, we don’t feel like rolling the dice again. Personally, if you have two well-behaved smart children, one boy and one girl, that’s all you really need. We don’t need seven children to help run the farm, we’re not outnumbered, and we have room to easily accomodate two children, not a third. Once we decided that we’re done, it moved us to a new era of less stress and clutter. We could now safely donate and discard all the obsolete toys, clothes, and paraphenalia that we didn’t need to save for a possible future child. We took down the infant crib, and can make room for just what we need. We can even remove the baby-proofing around the house. We’re still in the process, but I like the decluttering process.

Speaking of the house, we also completed major redecorations. After five long years, we had the interior walls painted in March, followed by new window treatments & blinds in the living room. Once we did that, we began hanging up new artwork and photos. We also had new new gutters installed, which isn’t fun or exciting, but hey, it cost me $500, so I’ll mention it. I also replaced two light fixtures in our hallways with better, brighter ceiling lamps. Everyone loves more lighting, except vampires.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we moved to the world of high def television. After years (years!) of dreaming, salivating, and lusting for watching television and movies on the big screen, we picked up a new HDTV, new AV receiver, and a new stand to go along with our recently redecorated living room.  It’s been six months, and while Verizon FiOS doesn’t offer all the channels that I want (e.g Cartoon Network), it’s been a joy. I love watching movies on the big screen in my own living room, with a great sound system. I absolutely love it.  I would watch cooking shows in HD. Games look great, and getting the Logitech Harmony One remote has made overall navigation easier.

Joshua and Lily continued to keep us on our toes, but they were a lot of fun this year. They’ve gotten a year older and I admit that I find them interesting. Joshua is now five years old, and Lily turned two. They get along well with each other, apart from the occasional argument. Sometimes I’m torn between getting involved to resolve the argument, or letting them figure it out on their own.

Joshua’s genetics finally caught up with him, and he started wearing eyeglasses. He expressed interest in cycling, so we got him his first bicycle. He “graduated” from his daycare, and entered kindergarten in September. He also lost his first tooth, and there are more on the way out. In the first half of the year, we had enrolled him in a Saturday morning gym class. In the second half of the year, we enrolled him in a weekend township soccer league. Certainly an important year for him. We call him the Professor, because he still enjoys reading, and I laugh when wears his eyeglasses on the end of his nose and makes some astute observation about life.

Lily has been adorable, and she’s some sort of star of the daycare. She’s talking, laughing, and everyone loves her. She is definitely a drama queen, so I expect more trouble as the years go on. One night she wouldn’t sleep, so I scolded her. From the living room, I heard her run back up the stairs crying, running down upstairs hallway crying, slamming the bedroom door crying, and crying in her room. When did she become a teenager?

I’m an uncle again! My sister Julie gave birth to a happy and healthy baby girl named Abigail. I like being an uncle, and we’re trying to spoil her already. Yea, spoiled children! 😉

I am now the ripe old age of 34. I am truly 30-something now. Next year, I’m 35. In five short years, I’ll be 40. I’m a little freaked out. Am I on track to conquering the world? Who am I? Am I committed to being an internal auditor for the rest of my life? Am I doing enough to climb the ladder of success? Do I need to kick it up a thousand notches?

Trips

Compared to last year, we didn’t take many trips. There was a lot of staycations — it was simply easier and cheaper. I am proud of our big Chicago-Michigan roadtrip in July. We haven’t been to the Midwest in two years since Thanksgiving 2008, while our friends Paul & Biji have visited us numerous times. Also, I’ve wanted to experience Chicago in the worst way. The trip was a lot of fun for everyone, and Nums and I celebrated this year’s “dating anniversary” with a nice dinner and movie.

Career

I suppose the big highlight that deserves mentioning is that I celebrated five years with Citi. That’s a big accomplishment — I’ve never reached that milestone with an employer before.

This year, I didn’t have a lot of work-related travel. I travelled to Jersey City for numerous audits during the year, spent two weeks in Delaware, and travelled to Dallas for a week.

I’m still trying to figure out the whole career direction. I started a Saturday GMAT course this year, but had to drop out due to the time committments. I couldn’t find the time after getting out of work, getting the kids to bed, and trying to find time to study each week. I’m retaking the course again in January, but I have my doubts on whether I want to pursue an MBA or not. What troubles me is that I’m still uncertain if the ROI on the MBA will justify the costs. I also haven’t made any headway on getting my fabled CISSP certification, but I haven’t given up hope. There’s also this new CRISC certification from ISACA that I could get grandfathered into, which I plan to do.

Favorite Moments

  • Watching the kids grow up and be so damn cute. Yeah, I said cute. They’re funny kids.
  • Finally moving up to seeing the world in high definition. It made my year.
  • Getting back in the bike saddle after a long hiatus, and raising about $600 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. I was also proud for riding 90 miles in the same week (during a practice ride and during the charity ride itself.) I’ve never done that before in my entire life.
  • We had two big parties at our house, both after major redecorating, in March and July. It was fun to have people over, and feel good about the house looking good too.

Worst Moments

  • I tried losing the excess weight this year, but it was much harder than I thought. I ate better, I worked out more, but the initial weight loss slowed down, and eventually stopped. My weight gain over the past 5 years is depressing and frustrating to me. I have to rethink the attack plan for next year. I’m drawing a line in the fat
  • In February, after spending a nice together, and then visiting some friends in the area, we were in bad car accident that ultimately resulted in about $12,000 worth of damage to our Toyota Highlander. It took six weeks, but the car is in mostly working order.
  • We experienced an inordinate number of flat tires this year on the Toyota. Four flat tires, all on the same car. I’ve written plenty about it, but the only word I can use now to describe it is “inconceivable.”

Other Stuff

Looking Ahead to 2011

  1. I want to take the kids on more day trips. Last year, I took Josh to a number of places, but this year was a quiet one. I was busy at work, so I want to balance that out with a few trips here and there for the kids. I suppose I should start taking Lily as well, but we’ll keep them more fun-focused instead of science-focused.
  2. I’d like to visit Florida next year, or maybe Nevada. I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon before. Flights to California are not as expensive as I thought they were. I’m giving up my long-sought-after Boston train trip plans. I’d prefer some quality time at the beach.
  3. I have to lose weight. I need a better plan, because what I’m doing now is not working. I need to further curtail the caloric intake, and up the frequency of cardio activity.
  4. We’re also talking about redoing the backyard patio, which I think is a good idea. I might also want to paint the bathrooms.
  5. Attaining CISSP and CRISC certifications, and making a decision about graduate school — yea or nay.
  6. Finally, after serving us faithfully since March 2005, it’s time to get a new desktop PC. I’m pricing out quad-core or six-core HP PCs with 24″ HD LCD monitors in anticipation. I’m hoping to upgrade in March.