December 31, 2009

2009, Husband's Retrospective

2009 was a crazy year. Here is a timeline of assorted events that took place this year. There is a rough chronological order to this but some things are probably out of order. This is all from memory, I didn't take the time to actually check dates.
  1. I started going to the gym ~3 times per week to compensate for 8hrs at a desk every day.
  2. Coen was born on January 16th. Our second child and first son.
  3. Kathy came out and stayed with us for...a month?
  4. My employer laid off about 10% of our staff. I was fortunate to keep my job and all of my employees.
  5. I built a website for a company called It was the largest freelance undertaking I've ever done.They only used it for a few months before half of their staff turned over and they ended up rebuilding a new website for eCommerce (which hadn't been a goal of the project that I did for them). This was also an interesting project in that it was entirely remote. I never met any of the clients in real life.
  6. We had a family reunion on my dad's mom's side of the family. The first ever, I think. It was great to see old videos and pictures of my dad and other family when they were my age or younger.
  7. The economic crises of the country got me focused on eliminating some of our debt. I got an old 1994 Saab that I got for free running and sold our 2006 Xterra, saving us nearly $400 per month.
  8. My employer changed our health insurance plan, causing our health insurance to go up about $400 per month (that's what happens when you try to get ahead :P)
  9. Danny and Becky visited over Spring Break
  10. Nora learned to stand.
  11. We had an awesome 4th of July in Laramie.
  12. I built a planter in our front yard for flowers.
  13. I entered a Microsoft-sponsored competition to build a video game from the ground up. I spent several months working on my submission and learned a new programming language (C#), new object-oriented programming concepts and lots more. I didn't place in the competition (my submission was pretty mediocre, honestly) but I had a lot of fun and learned tons of valuable skills.
  14. Our family doctor gave us a referral to a Children's hospital to have Nora tested for Autism. Nora endured multiple tests. We went home.
  15. Rebuilt a fairly-major web property for my employer using what I learned from the large freelance project.
  16. We found out that Nora has Rett Syndrome. Many specialist appointments and trips to Denver would follow.
  17. Guitar-building-legend Les Paul died. I bought a Gibson Les Paul electric guitar on a trip to Denver for Nora. This was mostly coincidental with Les Paul's death as I have wanted a Les Paul guitar for some time.
  18. We bought a Canon Rebel XSI digital SLR camera and have shot tons of neat pictures that we have been too lazy to post on our blog. Sorry folks...
  19. Kristy celebrated her 28th birthday in August and I celebrated mine in September.
  20. We decided to get Nora's tonsils out due to breathing problems while she slept.
  21. Kathy came out and stayed with us for over a month, helping out as Nora recovered from her tonsilectomy.
  22. Rich and Dori came to visit
  23. Kristy and her mom went to Texas to visit family. I stayed home by myself :(
  24. We turned our basement into a play place for adults and kids and built Nora a swing for therapy and simple enjoyment.
  25. I started building a new website around a niche community, developing unique software that doesn't exist online yet (as far as I can tell).
  26. We took the kids to Harvest Farm, a fall-focused farm that had pumpkins and all sorts of stuff. They loved it.
  27. We had some Halloween fun with the Painter and family
  28. Coen got the Swine Flu (not totally confirmed). We all had colds and such. I took Coen to the emergency room with a high fever, got home at 2:30am. It seems like the whole family was sick for at least a month! We missed all but Laramie special meeting.
  29. GetOutside visited
  30. We had a small Thanksgiving at my parents house. Dad was gone bird hunting so it was just us, mom and my cousin.
  31. I wrote a fairly-major program that can take screenshots of a list of websites. This was one of the more-significant applications that I wrote this year, it was built to gain competitive intel for online retailers.
  32. I worked hard to get a major update to the website I built out-the-door by December 16th. A friend in Laramie started helping out with some programming tasks.
  33. We spent a whole weekend in Laramie with the Stidolph family. It was fun to stay somewhere else as most of my vacation had been used for doctor appointments
  34. Leaving the kids with mom and dad, we escaped to Denver for some nice alone time for our 5th anniversary. We came back for a Christmas dinner with my family.
  35. Danny and Becky came to visit for a few days.
On this last day of the year, looking back, I have to say this was one of the biggest and, at times, most stressful years of my life. We had our second kid, a lot of pretty big things happened at work and Nora was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. Here are the highlights and low points, not in any specific order...

High Points:
  • Watching my kids grow and learn new things. Being with the kids, but also:
  • Getting away from the kids occasionally...
  • Stride. If any Stride folks read this, you rock and we appreciate everything you do for Nora.
  • Spending time with my family, even though it seems like a lot of those times were at the doctor or sick
  • Facing things with my wife, understanding each other more, faults and all. (Her faults. I don't have any of course :P )
  • Having friends and family on both sides that are engaged in Nora's therapy and progress.
  • Successfully completing a competition in a programming language I barely knew when I entered it.
  • Building 3-4 websites and tons of small applications to solve various problems.
  • Working out at lunch time (stress killer)!
  • Getting a diagnosis for Nora so that we know what we are facing
  • Driving a free car that goes fast, gets ~24mpg and only costs $20 for insurance!
  • Getting out of the house to share good times with friends/family
  • Shooting pictures with our new camera, playing my new guitar!
  • Worker visits
  • Art teacher friends
  • Bert, Aaron, Candy, Geek Chad, Traveler Chad, Painter Chad, Lisa, Andy, Kate and other Friends, their kids and our families

Low Points:
  • Finding out that Nora has Rett Syndrome
  • Paying for expensive health insurance premiums and still fronting ~$8000 out-of-pocket for medical expenses.*
  • Coen getting Swine Flu (scary!)
  • Not getting to go hunting (although, I didn't make it a huge priority so it's sorta my fault)
  • Missing our annual family camping trip
  • Kids that don't want to sleep
  • Stepping on sharp kids toys with bare feet
  • Toys that make noise
  • Cats**
  • Friends that lost loved ones

Have a happy new year.

* This is mostly irritating because it's only going to get worse and instead of industry reform, the burden will simply be spread upon all tax payers.
** The fact that they exist doesn't bother me. Only that they happen to exist in my house.