While it’s a bit exhausting to go back and review every post from the past year, and I’m always missing something monumental and unforgettable, this is still my favorite thing to do. I find it fascinating to look back at what we did (or did not) accomplish, and what we expected to do in the coming year.
Life, Love, and Family Update
Let’s talk about me:
- I’m 42, and I think I’m veering dangerously into making “Dad jokes” on a regular basis. This is disconcerting. I have to up my game.
- Work was very busy for me this year. More so, as I led my first audit here at my current employer. It was an interesting but rewarding experience. Stressful towards the end, but we got her done. I didn’t travel very much for work — virtually a one day trip to Boston that was over in a blink.
- I’m still losing my hair, which is a little sad. Recently, I started having the hair stylist (Styling is a bit of a stretch for me) cut my hair with those buzzers at a 0.5 which is very short, but seems to keep my haircut tight. I think it makes my scalp and hairline blend together, and shampooing my hair is now every economical..
- I was chubby again at the start of the year, so I went on a bit of a regimen on counting calories, running more at the gym, and biking more often with a group of guys in town. I dropped a good 10+ lbs since Jan. Dieting and portion control was important. I’ve also been enjoying the group bike rides. The pace is slower than I prefer, but the camaraderie is nice.
- I’ve also surprisingly been doing a lot more running this year. I’m not a naturally fast sprinter, but like the dwarves of Middle Earth, I’m dangerous over long distances. I’m currently averaging 3-4 miles per workout, but recently have been able to run 5-6 miles now at a time. That’s pretty good for a guy like me who doesn’t particularly like running.
- My wife is still vivacious, exiting, and gorgeous.
- Nums started in a new role this year at a new place in NJ. It’s a big challenge to start a new gig after so many years at one employer, but she’s pretty amazing, and always impresses me. Mazel tov!
- Josh is still Josh. Smart kid, and his wit is getting better.
- He turned 13 this year so he’s officially a teenager. He’s in his last year in middle school, and will be in high school in 2019. He sleeps a lot more now, and has a tendency to eat a lot more now too. And, ssssh, he’s also a bit more moody these days. Definitely a teenager.
- I may have mentioned that the transition from elementary to middle school was a little rough for him — faster pace, higher expectations, etc, but he’s been catching on and working improving his skills this year. He still doesn’t have his phone or Nintendo 3DS back yet, but his grades are almost at Asian-Parent-Approved levels.
- Josh is still heavily invested in karate. He received his black belt in Tae Kenpo in June. Big day for him after all those months of practice. He’s still on the CMB Karate Demo Team, and the kids performed this year at Wells Fargo Center, Arm & Hammer Park, and at Rutgers.
- Speaking of Arm & Hammer Park, Josh and his middle school 7th & 8th grade bands performed there in April, which I think is cool.
- Joshua went on his first mission trip with our church. A few kids from our loosely-organized youth group spent a week in Harrisburg PA doing community work. I think he had a good time overall.
- Josh is moving on up in Boy Scouts. He went away for a week at Camp Kiowa this summer. He’s earned a mess of new badges, and reached his Eagle requirement for 20 camping nights. He was the troop bugler for a few months, but is now a patrol leader in his Troop. He’s currently at Star class.
- For this school year, the school district made drastic changes to accommodate all of the students. They moved all kids in 1-3 to certain schools, and grades 4-5 to two other schools. In the transition, most of her friends ended up in the other classroom, so she’s been doing her best to make new friends. It’s not been easy but I’m glad she’s doing what she can.
- Lily earned her black belt in Tae Kenpo karate in October. She wanted to test for it back in June, but she wasn’t ready. It took a few more months, and then a very intense two week period before the test. She did it, and we’re certainly proud of her.
- First time ever – Lily went camping for a whole week. Sort of camping. She had been asking to stay at Crossroads Bible Camp for a long while. And she finally got to do it.
- Lily is still really into Girl Scouts. She completed her 3rd year and is now a Junior.
- Lily moved on up to a more serious 20″ bicycle with handbrakes and gears this year. A big step up.
- Lily is still an acolyte at church and she seems to like the responsibility.
- The cats are fine. We only had a few successful escape attempts this year, but we caught them quickly after.
- Scamper is still fat and fluffy. Toasty is still grumpy and disappears for hours at a time. We’re not sure where he goes.
The Ipes are all about trips and vacations and going places. We didn’t disappoint this year either!
- We went on a road trip to Charleston North Carolina and Orlando Florida in March/April. We drove in one day to Charleston, did a minor bit of sightseeing, celebrated Easter Sunday at a very nice Episcopal church there, and had brunch. We spent about six days at Universal Studios, the parks at Disney, and just plan old relaxing. We even met up with a few families while down there – some planned, and some not planned!
- I went on a one day trip to Boston for work, but I barely saw anything.
- The biggest news has to be our trip to London in August. This was our first family trip to Europe, and first international family trip outside of the Mexico – Caribbean area. It was an expensive trip to be sure, but it was a pretty fantastic trip. There was so much to see and do there, and we tried our best to experience it.
- Our last trip of the year was a road trip to Pittsburgh and Michigan. One, we’ve been wanting to hang out and see Pittsburgh for a few years now. Two, we haven’t visited our friends in Michigan in a long while, and we were definitely overdue. Pittsburgh was a cool city.
Oh man, we have been doing a lot of updates this year. We have more to do in 2019, but we need to stop and catch our breath for a bit. In chronological order of
- New cooktop for the kitchen
- Landscape lighting replacement (ripped out the old lights, installed working replacements / added all new lights)
- Upgraded our home broadband speeds
- Removed the legacy horseshoe pits
- Added new pantry shelves for cans and stuff
- First floor bathroom renovation
- Replaced and installed brand new garage doors, openers, and all related hardware
- Began our master bedroom renovation project
Other Stuff That Doesn’t Fit Anywhere Else
- I left my beloved OrangeTheory Fitness in January after four years of being a hardcore member. I was very happy with the workouts and the trainers, but I couldn’t make the class schedule work with my own schedule. I was only able to attend either 5 AM or 7 PM classes (both tough for me to make it to), and weekend classes (which are mornings only, and extremely crowded.) I’ve been using Jersey Strong in Robbinsville, which I consider a budget gym, but it’s large and… “good enough.” I occasionally take a class, but often I’ve only got enough time for running for 30-60 minutes.
- We completed a cool Lego project this year — Lego Voltron!
- I’ve wanted a dedicated machine for hosting my Plex media server, and with enough storage and redundancy. I purchased and installed a new Synology Network Attached Storage, and it now stores all of our photos, music, home videos, digital movies and shows. I wish the processor was faster for streaming large films, so I am on the lookout for a small but fast PC with an Intel I5 or I7 CPU to act only as the Plex media server.
- I loved getting all of these renovations done in the house, even though they cost us an arm and a leg.
- I liked that we finally got more pictures on the walls. It’s almost like we live here.
- I love that we finally made it to the UK. I’ve always wanted to make it to London, and it was worth the wait.
- Seeing the kids achieving things, like new scout ranks, new levels in karate, etc. I’m proud and happy to see them improve and get smarter every week.
- My parents and I still have a tough family dynamic. Especially my mother. It’s been tough to have this situation go on, but I’ve been realizing that my parents have limitations. No matter how much I try to reason with them, it seems beyond their capability to understand or change their ways. And they’re aging and missing out on family experiences and it all sucks. I respect my parents for what they did for us, but I’m frustrated that I can’t help them. It’s a dark cloud that hangs over me every day.
And Finally…. Looking Ahead to 2019
- Well, I’ve got a business trip to Germany potentially happening in February / March. I’ve got my fingers crossed that it happens. It’ll be tough to be away from my family, but I think it will be a good experience.
- Our family is planning to make a trip to see Dubai and India this summer. I haven’t seen my family in India since 2004, and my 2nd cousins there have grown up, graduated college, gotten married, and had kids of their own. It’s crazy. I do miss them and would like to see them again. I also think the Ipes will have a good time traveling together on such a big trip. This will be the kids’ first time to Asia.
- We plan to paint the interior of the house, and add some recessed lighting. We also want to add more landscape lighting to the front yard and side yard, and maybe string lights. Oh, and I do want to replace the backyard speakers if I can sneak it into the budget.
- I also need to test out the existing network cables in the house, and redo some of them. I paid an electrician last year to do them right, and blargh, they aren’t right.
- I want to redo the home office, and clean out the guest room, and at least one storage room.
- I’d love to get more of the basement finished.
- We’re scheduled to have the master bedroom walk-in closet painted, with new lighting, and a brand closet system installed in late February. Should be nice.