If you thought the U.S. Presidential election made 2016 exhausting, 2017 was like a dumpster fire politically. Ah well. There is so much that I want to comment on, especially the level of vitriol, repressed racist beliefs, etc bubbling under the surface in this country. You open the door by reading the ‘Comments’ section on a Fox News article, and you are at risk to fall into a dark and evil hole. That’s life around here. Let’s get on with the long-awaited recap!
I’m not sure how to summarize the year for us, but I would say we spent a lot of the year improving ourselves in some way or another. Whether it was helping the kids be better students, improving on the house, or spending time with one another, it was a year of building.
Life, Love, and Family
- I’m 41. I want to outlive my paternal grandfather, and he lived until 101. I hope that means I’m more than a third of the way there. I’m a little more self-conscious that I am the middle-aged stereotype of “The Dad” now, and I often mentally compare myself to what my own father may have felt like and experienced at this age. What was he thinking of my sister and I back in the late 80s? I could ask him, but he probably wouldn’t remember. It would probably be a weird conversation so let’s drop it.
- Work was very busy for me this year, but good overall. I had four business trips that took me to such exotic locations as Ohio, Missouri, and Texas (twice!) I’m going strong at the bank, so it’s nice to have some stability.
- Although I’m sadly losing my hair, I’m trying to better myself physically in other ways. I biked 450 miles this year (solo and group rides), and have been working out much more frequently. I am all finally fixing my teeth through Invisalign braces. It took me 20 years to to finally get my braces. I’m more than halfway through, with 20 weeks to go.
- Joshua entered 7th grade this year, and we’ve been helping him to get better organized at school and stay on top of assignments. He is definitely missing fewer assignments compared to 6th grade. I think he was a bit overwhelmed by the rigors of middle school. He is still using an external math tutor but it’s been overall good for him.
- Joshua moved up from senior purple to brown belt this year. It’ll take approximately 15 months to make black belt, if he practices.
- He’s also working harder at Boy Scouts this year. He made 2nd Class, and has been recently racking up the merit badges. I credit Namita for finding merit badge fairs in other counties for him, which has helped a lot. He’s hoping to make 1st class this year.
- Josh was also been away more often this year through Boy Scouts. He went camping again at Forestburgh for a week this summer, a weekend away down the Shore camping along the beach, and another weekend camping trip in Manalapan. He also went on a hike at the Delaware Water Gap.
- Lily entered 4th grade this year. She seems to have a nice teacher and is doing better overall.
- Lily moved up from senior purple to brown belt this year. It’ll take approximately 15 months to make black belt, if she practices. Unfortunately she doesn’t like to practice very much. She briefly quit karate last month, but she seems to be back into it. At least for now.
Lily got a dramatic haircut this year. Looks great and much more manageable for her. I’m glad she didn’t ask for a buzz cut.
- She also got her ears pierced!
- Psych! She doesn’t like me to write about her. I will say she’s doing great. She turned 40 year this year, and we celebrated it in Mexico.
I don’t think we got around as much as we could have this year. I mean it’s fine, but I would not have minded a few more trips. Trips can be fun!
- I mentioned I went on four business trips this year – Columbus, Kansas City, Dallas, and Houston. All were fine, but Houston was a short 24 hours only. I liked our family trips much better.
- In January, we flew to Michigan to attend Sean and Rechana’s wedding.
- I mentioned Nums and I went to Playa Del Carmen for a few days away and stayed at a resort in late Feb. We also had another couple come with us, so that was a lot of fun.
- In April, we drove down to Baltimore and stayed a few days with my sister-in-law. While I had to work two days, I got to enjoy some time off. We also lugged our 3 bicycles with us, and the Lightning Wheels Bicycle Club (plus one) explored Baltimore.
- In May, I took a super secret flight to Michigan to celebrate my friend Sean’s 40th birthday.
- The Ipes spent a week in the Outer Banks in August. We rented a house with five other families.
- A weekend trip to Virginia in October for a friend’s birthday.
Possibly in lieu of trips, and keeping the theme of improving ourselves, the Ipes made a few improvements within the house in 2017.
- We committed to dramatically revamping the living room. The main project took a few weeks to be sure, between designing it, ordering new flooring, and getting the various pieces together. I mean, we started sometime in March/April, and more or less called it complete in July. Sure, we still don’t have window treatments yet, but it’s useable and good.
- After one of our condensers failed, we looked at all the options, worked the numbers, performed some voodoo, and committed to entirely replacing both of our HVAC systems (main floor and upstairs) in July. Big project to be sure, but we thought it made sense when our installers offered a significant cost-savings if we replaced both.
- In July, I hired a local electrician to help me to wire three rooms with Gigabit Ethernet. It’s been a few months, and I have to redo the family room wiring, because I believe cute little country mice chewed on the in-wall cabling. Although I opted to save money and wiring the basement, I unfortunately never got around to it. I will have to replace the family room wiring, and run the basement wiring, in early 2018.
- Added more music to the house with a pair of Sonos Play:1 speakers and a Sonos Play:5.
- The dining room was a bit of an outdated eyesore, so we opted to renovate in November in record time. Took about two weeks overall. Still need to get some pictures on the wall, and some sort of server on the side to store our china.
- Our microwave was cracked, so we bought a new one. It works!
- Bought a new Sony A/V receiver, massive family room speakers, including a subwoofer.
After nine years, we traded in the old 2008 Toyota Highlander for a brand new 2017 Nissan Armada.
I saw 27 movies this year. Not bad!
Best films I watched:
- Arrival – smart film and I liked Amy Adams as the protagonist.
- Wonder Woman – really good film and I liked Gal Gadot as Diana – she mad the character interesting.
- The Godfather – classic film that’s well done.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming – fun film.
- It – I don’t like horror films but this was well done.
- Thor: Ragnorak
- Coco – heartfelt film
- The Last Jedi – very different than I expected, but I applaud the courage to break from the expected.
- Logan – enjoyable.
Worst films I watched:
- John Wick: Chapter 2 — Felt so empty and meaningless after such a great first film
- Bad Moms – just dumb
- Elysium – kind of a mess.
- X-Men: Apocalypse – underwhelming
- The kids are getting older and taller.
- I liked all the home renovation work we accomplished this year. Serious progress!
- Loved that I was able to spend more time with the family this year, a definite improvement over prior years.
- I’m glad I’m getting faster and stronger. I’ve been pushing myself on the treadmill and easily hit 5K in 32 minutes, and running a faster pace for longer distances.
- I’m also happy that I’m getting my teeth fixed after waiting two decades.
- I enjoyed all the biking I did this year.
- My job is stable!
- I’m still fatter than I want to be.
- I’m really losing my hair.
- Someone dinged my car in the station parking lot — not big enough to prioritize fixing now, but ugh, hurtful enough to make me sad every time I see it.
Looking Ahead to 2018
I hope the job situation stays stable. I like stability.
I’ve booked my 2018 vacation time in the system at work, so now we just need to figure out where we are going, and how to pay for it!
I hope the family stay happy and healthy.
I hope we can get the next big home renovation project done this year — painting the interior of the house, and maybe even flooring. It’s a big job, so fingers crossed.
I hope only good surprises next year.