2014 in Review (Just a little late)

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Wow, what a prolific 2014 I had!

Contrary to the lack of posts, I actually had a pretty busy 2014. Actually, maybe it makes sense that there weren’t many posts. 2014 was a pretty social year for me. It’s always been pretty normal for weekends to book up with fun things to do. Last year, week nights started booking up a little too. And I worked a lot, so I just didn’t make my way over to the blog very often. Usually I would start a post but never end up finishing it, whether it was due to lack of time or lack of motivation.

I don’t have a lot of pictures to show for the beginning of the year. My hard drive on the old Macbook Pro went out while we were in Dallas in March, so I lost some pictures. Fortunately, my pictures through the end of 2013 were backed up, so I only lost a few months’ worth, and between sites like Instagram and Facebook, I still had something to show for those three months.

So, let’s look at 2014.

The new year started at Juan and Ashly’s place. At midnight, we toasted with champagne, and I threw out the quote, “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends,” which was appreciated by nobody except Eddie, because nobody else watched Happy Endings, and that is why it’s no longer on TV. My most vivid memory of the party was hanging out in the basement with Eddie, Jordan and Adkin, listening to old songs from the late ’90s and early 2000s. I do not have pictures to embellish this beautiful story, so my apologies.

I had a five-day weekend to start the year, and I was actually pretty productive. I started exercising. That didn’t last long. 2014 was also a pretty fat year.

For Eddie’s birthday, I ordered him a jacket from Zappos. Specifically, this jacket:

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Not Eddie.

That’s when I learned what phenomenal customer service Zappos provides, so I’m totally going to plug them here. I ordered the size he normally wears, but it came in just a little too big. That night around 6:00 pm, I submitted my request to exchange it, printed the return label, and dropped it off at our local UPS Store. He had a new jacket THE NEXT DAY. They didn’t wait to receive it and take a few days to process it. I emailed the great people at Zappos to thank them for being rock stars and received an immediate response from a human thanking me in return. Lessons learned in 2014: give Zappos lots of business.

The Chiefs made the playoffs after a spectacular turnaround from the prior season. They blew a huge lead and lost in the first round, as we do. I polluted my friends’ Facebook feeds with inebriated statuses in which I am pretty sure I exhibited all the seven signs of grief. That’s about all that needs to be said about that.

In February, Eddie and I booked a Caribbean cruise with five friends for January 2015. I have since been on said cruise! More on that in a later post, assuming I remember to come back to this rolling tumbleweed of a blog. I spent the entire year anticipating this cruise. It gave me lots of time to be excited and then to think about everything that could possibly go wrong, including Eddie falling off the ship and having an appendectomy in Jamaica. Spoiler alert: neither of these things happened.

Because we are boring, we did the usual for Valentine’s Day, which I look forward to every year. We cooked steaks at home. We were a little too lazy to make the dessert portion, though, so we made a trip downtown and came back with macaroons and cupcakes. That trip led to me eating a lot of macaroons and cupcakes in 2014.

Aimee got a new latte maker, and we talked about it one February day at lunch, which led to talk of how we should do brunch sometime, which led to a facebook message with several friends about brunch, which led to us planning a short-notice ladies’ brunch date – Galentine’s Day. We feasted on bacon, frittatas, curry, mimosas, fruit, cinnamon rolls, and other yummy sweet and savory brunch foods – it’s good to have friends who can cook and bake. I also debuted a navy cat shirt I was pretty pumped about that I found at Goodwill. (Also shopped at Goodwill a lot in 2014.)

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Some of the brunch gals!

In March, we went to the Sporting KC home opener with George, Jordan and Jimmy. I think that was the only game we made it to this year, unfortunately. I think will make it to more this year!

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Sorry, all I have is this Snapchat photo.

I took Eddie’s spring break off work, and we decided we would go to Dallas for a few days. We’d talked about going several times before, for maybe a silly reason – it’s the closes place to us with an In-N-Out Burger. Right before we left, the selections were announced for the NCAA tournament, and we found out KU was playing on St. Louis. So we bought tickets to that and cut the Dallas trip short. Actually, we bought tickets to the wrong session in St. Louis, then bought tickets to the correct session, so we had tickets to watch all the games in St. Louis. It all worked out.

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Everything is Texas-shaped in Texas.

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The reason for the trip

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Checking out the city from above.

We did a little shopping at the outlets near Dallas and a little sight-seeing, then drove back home for one night, and headed to St. Louis for the tourney. We were running late and stopped by my grandma’s house to print off our tickets. Just a quick pit stop in and out.

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Two Kansas fans on the wrong side of the border.

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KU has won 100% of their tournament games when we were there.

On the drive back home, I received a phone call from my sister. She was standing outside of my grandma and uncle’s house, and it was on fire. My grandma was there at the time and was outside with her, but the pets were still inside. I didn’t really know the extent of the fire yet. They found out all the animals had died except one while I was on the phone. It was such a surreal moment. I had just been there one day earlier, in the very room where the fire started, in and out, to print our tickets.

I felt awful for my grandma and uncle for losing most of their pets. They had five cats total before the fire, all of them rescues. They’d say they didn’t need anymore, but they couldn’t turn down a stray in need. Surely none of them would have lived as long as they did had it not been for my grandma and uncle taking them in.

Their fire reminded me not to take anything for granted – what is here today can easily be gone tomorrow. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. I’m so thankful my grandma got out when she did. The battery for the fire alarm had just gone out not too long ago and was sitting on the table as a reminder to buy a new battery. She and I had just talked about this on the phone within the week – I had done the same with our battery that had also just gone out. I replaced it as soon as we got home and hugged Jack and Heidi.

Apparently the fire started because of faulty wiring. The house didn’t completely burn, but the smoke damage was enough to make it a total loss. My grandma and uncle spent most of the rest of the year in an apartment while it was rebuilt. They are in their new/old home again with the surviving cat and his new playmate. Walking in there is weird. It’s like a parallel universe or a dream, where everything feels the same, but things are just a little off. The burgundy carpet has been replaced with hardwood floors and a neutral carpet. The kitchen now has one entrance instead of two. It’s little things like that.

In lighter news, Jordan and I dressed up as princesses and went to Disney on Ice when it came to town. Little girls asked to take pictures with us. We didn’t expect that, but we probably should have.

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We got some looks.

I worked on my birthday. Most people at work tend to take it off, because, well, we can. I actually had the Monday and Tuesday following my birthday off and decided to leave it as such. Coming in on my birthday reminded of what thoughtful people I work with, and also of the fact that I might talk about eating cupcakes too much.

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They know what I like.

After work, I met Sara at Houlihan’s for birthday dinner. We sat around catching up and drinking wine until suddenly it was after 10:00 pm and we both still had to work the next day. She bought me Hello Kitty themed gifts, and I kindly decorated my coworkers spaces with Hello Kitty stickers when I got back to the office.

I also had the opportunity to do my first Habitat for Humanity build since high school. And I was actually a little less useless than I was in high school. I climbed ladders and learned how to use a nail gun. It’s nice to work for a company that encourages us to leave work to do things like this.

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See how good that looks? Yeah, I didn’t do that part.

Some coworkers and I had a bit to drink at a department happy hour one day and decided we should start a wine club. Then we actually did it. Our first meeting was in April, and we have met every month since. It’s usually on a Thursday night, and we sit around the table drinking wine, talking about whatever comes up – wine, work, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, geese mating noises…

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At any given wine club night, there are only four to six of us – and usually double that much wine

In May, I went to Grand Rapids, Michigan for work to do some additional training. I went with three other coworkers from my department, and we were in a class with four other employees who work in different locations across the country. It was a grand ol’ time. We learned a lot, of course, but we also bonded pretty well. We all had dinner together just about every night. We studied together, went to breweries and the beach together, bowled together, and made drinking games out of yelling Omaha every time these teenage girls in the pool took a selfie.

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Bowling night

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What I do at study sessions

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At Michigan lake with Melissa

It’s hard not to gush about my coworkers, so I’m not even going to try to stop myself. I have the best coworkers in the world. They are the kind of people who make you laugh when you feel like your world is going to shit and who lift you up and are genuinely happy for you when good things happen to you. Not all of them technically fit into the term “coworkers” anymore, as many of them have moved on to do other things, but they are still some of the people I feel most connected to. They are my friends.

My baby sister graduated from high school in May. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is one of those people I would want to hate if she weren’t my sister, because she has every good quality you could ever want in yourself, and she is gorgeous on top of it, but you can’t hate her because she’s such a sweetheart.

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Class of 2014

My cousin (well, first cousin once removed, but who wants to say all that?) Cambria celebrated her first birthday. I think this picture sums it up:

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Somebody tell me why we don’t celebrate our birthdays this way as adults.

Sara and Collins kindly came over and helped me start a garden, which I took lots of pictures of and then became disgruntled with after the squirrels ate the fruits of my moderate efforts.

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Cucumber fetus before its untimely death

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When squirrels weren’t eating my garden, Heidi was putting her butt on it.

All in all, I probably yielded a dozen or so peppers that I was able to eat. Part of this was my fault. I kind of stopped remembering to water everything. Next year I am probably just going to do peppers, which the squirrels weren’t very fond of.

In June, my sister, cousin Amber and sister-in-law Maria relived our childhoods by going to see the Backstreet Boys in concert. Okay, I was totally team NSYNC, but I did secretly like the Backstreet Boys, even though I couldn’t admit it. You had to choose one in middle school, okay? And I made my decisions. Now that I am a grown up, I can admit this.

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Am I everything you need you better rock your body now

My department went to a Royals game over the summer which led to what I like to refer to as the chest bump gone awry, which led to what was probably my first concussion, but I didn’t go to the doctor to confirm this. I just stayed awake as long as I could, then slept on Aimee’s floor and hoped for the best. My coworkers rewarded me with a Diet Pepsi, which sits on my desk as a trophy or reminder of that day. After my head ricocheted off the concrete, I held a cold Diet Pepsi up to the goose egg protruding from my head.

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Pre-concussion – getting photobombed by some lady

We spent quite a few days at George and Jordan’s pool over the summer, including the 4th of July. Later that night, we went to Corporate Woods for their firework show.

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4th of July lounging

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Waiting for the fireworks to start

We had a murder mystery night at George and Jordan’s with Will and Adkin and Jimmy and Jen. The setting was a speakeasy in Chicago in the 1920s. Because Jordan is a far better hostess than I am, she went all out and decorated their apartment and created menus to go with the dinner we made. We dressed up according to our characters’ descriptions.

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There was one thing that wasn’t on the menu: MURDER

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Eddie was not a very good detective. In this picture he is unknowingly hanging out with the murderer.

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We went all out.

For our anniversary, Eddie and I stayed at Southmoreland, a bed and breakfast at the plaza in Kansas City. It was our first time staying at a bed and breakfast, and we weren’t sure what to expect. We were shocked when we walked into a room with no TV, because well, we watch a lot of TV. It was actually a wonderful stay, though. We had sushi for dinner, and that breakfast in the morning…amazing. It was a beautiful morning, so we ate outside, and the owners grilled pork chops and made French toast and filled us up with so many drinks – water, coffee, OJ and a smoothie. And the owners were so warm and welcoming. We plan on going back at some point this year and staying in the carriage house.

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Anniversary selfie in our room at the B&B

The next day, we got pedicures together – Eddie’s first time. And we stopped by the Boulevard Brewery. It was too late to get a tour, but we spent a little time in the tasting room.

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He’s ready to go

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If you haven’t gathered between this photo and the In-N-Out photo, Eddie is a fan of double fisting.

We also caught the last night of the Summer Concert Series this August in downtown in Lawrence. We hung out on a blanket listening to music and caught the fireworks show after.

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Pigs on a blanket

For our September wine club, rather than going to somebody’s house, we went to the Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery in Paola. It was yet another beautiful day, and we sat outside and listened to a live band while tasting different wines and then eating pizza and walking around the vineyards. It was a perfect setting. We followed that up with a trip to Louisburg Cider for donuts and ended the day playing Cards Against Humanity at Melissa’s.

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I just want to eat this again.

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Melissa and her husband James

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The vineyards

In October, the Emilys and I went to Brew at the Zoo at the Kansas City Zoo. It was just about everything I love – drinking wine and hanging out with animals. So I’ll probably be back.

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Yo mama is a llama

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Don’t worry, guys. It’s not a real bear.

Later that month, we carved pumpkins at Aimee and Mike’s house with Melissa and James.

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Mine is the cat, of course.

And I spent Abby’s birthday with her and Brendan. We went to Beer Kitchen, and then Abby and I chatted at her new house into the wee hours of the morning. I don’t have pictures to commemorate this, but it was a good night. I hope it was for her too.

The girls and I did not make it to Hermann this year, but we did still go to our annual Chiefs game, where we were spoiled with another win. We weren’t used to those for a long time.

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See, the hot cheetos are red, which is one of the Chiefs’ colors…

We spent the holidays with family as always. My cousin gave birth to a baby boy, her second child, on Christmas Eve. Normally I do my end of the year post around Christmas, but we were especially busy this year, because we were also preparing for the cruise, which was at the very beginning of the year. We also had a New Year’s party at our house, complete with a party light and karaoke.

I’ll just end this post with a few other tidbits from the year per usual.

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Not even sure where we are here. Trivia maybe?

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Eddie snapped pictures of Jack and me cuddled up

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I am not sure where this alligator’s carcass is.

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I got a new bike! We spent the end of summer and early fall biking downtown for breakfast.

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Jack’s customer service isn’t exactly stellar. But he did help me whenever I worked from home.

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Sara and I set up a recurring dinner date, in which I go to her house and she feeds me. It works well. This is her cat Flynn checking out the wine.

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We got a new public library and a skating rink to go with it!

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Cairo Santos became the Chiefs’ new kicker, so Maria got us jerseys with the family name.

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At some point it became tradition for Aimee and I to get coffee together every morning at work. We are now codependent and get really sad when one of us works from home or has the day off and we have to get coffee alone.

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Jordan and I got some dancing in at Tony’s sister’s quince.

It is now 2015. The first month is almost over. Right now, I feel like I am in a very good place, mentally and emotionally. I’m quite happy, which is not how I usually feel in the dead of winter. But almost two weeks off work, a week in the Caribbean, coming back to great coworkers and a special project to work on, and finding out you had an awesome overall ranking for the year before will do that for you.

Physically, I could be in better shape. I came back a larger Amanda than normal. I don’t think most people notice, but I do.

I made a list of goals for 2015. I guess you could call them resolutions. I always give myself really vague resolutions, like, “Be a better version of myself,” and then at the end of the year there’s no way to really quantify it. This year, the goals are in writing and quantifiable, for the most part.

  • Write one page per week
  • Exercise 3 times per week, at least 30 minutes
  • Go out to eat less – maximum of 2 times per week
  • Lose 14 pounds from returning cruise weight by the end of Eddie’s semester
  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Use emergency fund for emergencies only
  • Read 12 books

I can already tell you that I have failed at some of these goals. We ate at three different places yesterday. Some of these goals are basic things normal humans do without thinking about them, but I don’t, and they need to be done. Some of these goals are things I actually enjoy and like to do, like reading and writing, but I just don’t. And I should. So there it is. I won’t be successful every week or every month, but I hope at the end of the year I can look back and say I actually made some changes.

I don’t know how often I will be on the blog. It’s just a little piece of my life floating out in the space that is the internet, and it’s weird to think about who might come across it someday. I’m planning to just start a Word doc and write for myself, but I think I will be back more than once at least, which would be more than I visited last year.

A lot of really bad things have happened in the world lately, and forever, and that gets to me sometimes, and I don’t really know what to do with the feeling. But when I zoom in, my life is everything that I could want it to be at the moment, and I know there is a lot more to come. So I’m finding happiness in all that I have and holding the many people in my life as evidence that the world is not always a horrible place and that most people are good.

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