2016 has admittedly been a turbulent year throughout the world.
If you've spent much time on social media lately you've no doubt seen the pleas from many to just move 2016 on out the door, that it's done enough, taken too much, left its fingerprints on history in far too tragic a manner.
Typically at this point in the year all of us DIY bloggers like to gleefully reflect on the past year and all that was accomplished. But it would seem a bit too saccharine if we were to focus only on all of the successes. So instead, this year we're going to take a quick look at all of this year for us, and reflect on the Good, Bad, and the Ugly of 2016.
Our year started out with a planned but difficult "Bad." I kicked off 2016 with absolutely no kicking at all following my second major hip surgery in as many years. Last year was the year of my right hip, and therefore 2016 became the year of my left hip.
This is the result of a hereditary and/or congenital condition called femoroacetabular impingement (FAI or even femoral acetabular impingement), where the head of my femur doesn't fit correctly in my hip socket. In order to correct it, my femur had to be dislocated, the top of the bone and my hip socket sculpted, and then put back in place. Let me tell you, it was not a fun thing to look forward to, or live through. In short the procedure corrected some significant pain and discomfort, but required four weeks of very little mobility, time on crutches, and months of physical therapy and strength training recovery.
However, through a whole lot of hard work, and with a lot of encouragement and help from Alex, family, friends, my four-legged sidekicks, and the physical therapists and doctors that helped me through the healing process, I spent the year literally getting back on my feet, resulting in being able to run in a five mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving day. This was an unthinkable goal for me just a year earlier, so it certainly feels good to have come so far.
As much as Wendy's surgery was a "Bad" in 2016, I really see it as a "Good" as well. I knew Wendy was on the way to having her long standing pain largely resolved, and we also got to spend quite a bit of time together laying around and watching television as Wendy recovered. During that time we did a lot of binge watching of shows and I was introduced to what may be "The Worst" of 2016...seven seasons of 23 episodes a piece of Gilmore Girls. From start to finish in January, non stop. Now I can tell you all you need to know about Luke, Rory, Lane, and the whole gang, as much as it pains me to have this ability.
Truth be told, the time since Wendy's hip surgery in January has been a real blur. As we're writing this and reflecting on the year I'm looking back with the general thought of "Oh man, look at all of this stuff we did, it all went so fast!"
As far as home projects one of our "Goods" certainly started our as an "Ugly." The downstairs bathroom at the water house. Wendy made the ill advised move of starting to tear up the floor just before her surgery. Keep in mind, this was supposed to be the first floor bathroom she could have used while recovering. But once the floor was torn up, it also became the project I worked on while Wendy recovered from surgery and slowly crutched up and down the stairs to use the upstairs bathrooms.
It stretched on for a little while longer than we hoped, and required that we find a source for heart pine flooring to patch up the damaged sections, but when it was all said and done, boy does it look great!
From the new floor to the patched in walls, moulding, paint, and new vanity, the whole project was inexpensive, relatively fast, and gave us a glimpse of what we'll be able to do in the rest of the house.
Yes, that bathroom went from bad to worse before it got better, but the end result has really energized me when it comes to the work we're planning at the "new" house. I felt like we've been stuck in neutral on projects there for so long that I really needed a nice little completed project to feel like we were finally making progress.
Speaking of my surgery and general feeling of health, that is one of my biggest "Goods" for 2016. At the beginning of this year I knew I was heading into my looming surgery, but I committed to using my recovery as an opportunity to address my health overall. I wanted to get into great shape, eat healthier, lose some weight, and really try to put time and effort into how I felt. This also meant I had to shift priorities in life making my health and recovery priority number one.
Looking back on this year I can say that I was successful in achieving this goal, which was very important to me. I joined Weight Watchers in February and have been steadily losing weight and getting into better shape through diet and exercise ever since. This is not the first time Alex and I have done Weight Watchers together, but this is the first time since they introduced the smart points system. I have to say, I really enjoy the changes they made and feel like the new approach puts a lot more emphasis on eating well than simply eating less.
One of my major "Goods" of the year is a somewhat recent change. After more than a dozen years working on home automation in our house, I can finally say that it's more or less all come together. Everything is finally working the way I've wanted it to work for years, and with the latest addition of Amazon Echos, I finally get to feel like I'm living in a Jetson's or Back to the Future II style future. I'm planning on a good number of "Home Automation for Beginners" blog posts in 2017 and hope our experience might help some more people get into some of the fun I've been having with home automation.
But my absolute favorite "Good" happened in late summer when a recent trip to Lulu's oncologist ended not only in a clean bill of health and great checkup, but the proclamation from her oncologist that "It looks like we can say you've beat cancer, Lulu!"
This happens to be in the few moments following the good news
Lulu has had two bouts with mast cell tumors in her life, which resulted in surgery twice and radiation for the second one. The last tumor was three years ago and she's not had a recurrence since. As neurotic pet parents who are paranoid every time we find a little lump or bump on our sweet little Ori-Pei, I can't even describe how hearing those words from her doctor made us feel.
It's also not just Lulu that's healthy. Mel turned 16 this year, and though he's lost a little weight and has gained a few nappy bits of fur, he is very happy in his old age and spends his days tormenting Lulu and being a very lovable little man (in a cranky cat kind of way). We're going to be spending 2017 working on putting some weight on him now that we've found some new food he seems to love.
I'd also like to pass along the news to anyone thinking about getting a heated cat bed for their geriatric cat. It's a real hit and we can pretty much always know where to find Mel.
I do have a bit of a "Bad" that makes me very very sad. What I thought was going to be a true "Good" of 2016 started out when I had the good fortune of meeting our friendly neighborhood pig named "Cino."
Unfortunately, this beautiful little boy (who I thought was a girl) got turned around during a snow storm earlier this year and wandered far away from home. In the process he wandered onto someone's property about two miles away and was attacked by their dog. We know about this because the person that found him asked around the neighborhood and some of our neighbors apparently thought he lived in our house, so they dropped a note at our door. I guess he spent a lot of time in our yard when we were not home. Since we knew where he lived we immediately went to his house to figure out if his family knew where he was. What we found broke my heart. After he didn't return home his family set out to find him. It had been a few days since the note was dropped at our house and Cino was not doing well, so animal control picked him up and took him to the vet. His family ended up finding him at animal control a short time later and took him home after treatment.
When I saw him Cino had his tail bitten off by one of the dogs, his leg was badly hurt, and he had a large gash on his stomach. He was just laying on the floor of his home and I sat down to pet him, but when I touched him he was burning up. He sniffed my hand and let out the cutest little oink. When I left I was worried I'd never see him again. In my worst case scenario mind, he had a terrible infection and wouldn't make it through the night. Weeks went by and I continued to think the worst case had happened, and I was beyond sad. That is until one day when I saw the most wonderful little spec in the neighbor's yard.
Do you see him out there rooting around in the grass? Yep, that's Cino, he was alive!
His face was full of mud and he was doing what he loved doing, only now without more than a stump of a tail. That was actually the last time I saw Cino. He walked over, recognized me, snorted a little, and let me pet him and feed him a baby carrot. Since that day in April, we think Cino's parents either moved away or they moved him away to a place where he won't so easily wander away and put himself in danger. No matter what it is, I can't tell you how happy I am that I got to see him one last time to see that he was alive. But at the same time, I can't tell you how sad I am that I won't get to see him rooting around in our yard any longer. So I guess this is both a "Good" and "Bad" for this year.
And sticking with the animal life theme, my single biggest "Ugly" of the year came courtesy of an unwanted house guest. Back in May my parents made a trip out to see us and help us with some spring landscaping. No, my parents weren't the unwanted guests. But when they arrived they were greeted by the new welcoming committee.
Now I know, snakes are good for our environment, keep mice away, this one isn't gong to eat me whole, yada yada yada, so I've begrudgingly listed this little fellow as an "Ugly" rather than a "Bad." But rest assured, he's certainly not moving to my "Good" list anytime soon, no matter how much Alex might like him and you all tell me just how wonderful snakes may be.
Shifting gears (please, I can't even stand thinking about snakes), I want to talk about one of my personal "Goods" for the year. Back in February, while still recovering from my surgery, I had the unique and wonderful opportunity to work with HGTV Magazine and plan a room makeover for one of their sweepstakes winners.
Getting to meet the winner, plan a decor overhaul, and provide a set of mood boards was such an enjoyable experience that it's one of the true highlights of my year.
I love helping people when it comes to decor and this year I've been working with many of my real estate clients when it comes to conceptualizing, planning, and executing decor makeovers and more major renovations. This is something I'd absolutely love to spend even more time on in 2017.
Speaking of 2017, we're very excited to finish up a few projects early in the year that we started way back in 2016...2015...and even 2009, hell even 2005. As far as I'm concerned, these are all very, very, very "Goods" of 2016.
Yes, we've never been accused of being speedy when it comes to getting house projects, but the tortoise in our race has been slowly and steadily been making serious progress on projects. Besides the downstairs guest bathroom in the water house we've been working away on the living room, which includes learning how to plaster using true lime based plaster.
We've also been working on the built-in bench project to disguise the HVAC return duct work and access to the crawl space. We started this one in 2016, so it's nice to have it almost complete in the same year it began. Personally I absolutely love this project and how it has turned out, and I can't wait to finish it and the rest of the hallway in 2017.
I've finally just about completed the two tall cabinets that flank our master bathroom vanity in our row house. These are turning out exactly how I pictured them...back in 2009 when we started the master bathroom project. Wow. Slow.
Our quick fix of the office at the water house is going full steam ahead, and it's looking better than we ever expected. We can't wait to share all of the afters and the process once we get there, but we still have a good amount to tackle in there over the next few weeks.
All in all, we may not be 100 miles per hour on home projects like we were in our mid 20s, but at this point we like the balance we've found. In the free time we have we get to work on projects and enjoy doing it while also spending time with friends and family. That balance didn't exist in our early days of DIY, but it's something we're thrilled to have today.
There was one project we both started and finished in 2016 (is that a new record?) and it gave us some of our most favorite "Good" moments throughout the year. We knew we wanted to spend a lot of time with friends and family on the giant wrap around porch and we found ourselves a giant rustic dining table made from reclaimed wood.
However, that table came very badly scratched and damaged, and we knew we'd want to refinish the top and repaint the legs white. After putting a good deal of effort into sanding it down and finishing with a few coats of marine Waterlox, we had ourselves a large outdoor dining table that was perfect for picking crabs and entertaining.
What followed has been months of getting to use the outdoor space of our house just as we'd imagined when we first laid eyes on it.
Throughout the summer and into fall we were able to have friends and family out to our house and spend our time picking crabs, cooking, eating, and generally enjoying some time with so many people we just don't seem to see enough.
We had some of our most memorable days of the year just sitting on the porch or gathered around the fire pit talking about whatever happened to come up.
One of the biggest "Bad" moments we had in 2016 was the day we started installing crown moulding in the living room of our house on the water. You haven't heard anything about this yet, primarily because we're not quite done, but let's just say we had some heated disagreements during the process that may or may not have ended with a few moments where we, for the health of our marriage, probably needed to take a few minutes away from one another.
The good news, cooler heads prevailed and we were able to put our 21 plus years together ahead of the fact that we were both apparently on each others' last nerves, but it wasn't without significant effort. We can't wait to finish this project up so we can share it with you soon.
Perhaps the absolute best "Good" of the year was the dream vacation to Scotland in October. We've been talking about going to Scotland for years and this year was finally the year for our big trip.
I can tell you, without a doubt, it did not disappoint. We had an unbelievable time both in the bigger cities and hiking in the Highlands.
Now pretty much any time we're having a bad day, hard day, or just a boring day, we can always talk about how much fun we had in Scotland and it takes us right back.
We hope to do a blog post in 2017 to show you all the highlights of our trip because there were quite a few.
Alex & Wendy:
Well, that about does it for our Good, Bad, and Ugly for 2016. Looking back on our year we've had a tremendous amount of fun, trying times, and happiness. 2016, much like almost any year, had its ups and downs, its good times and bad, but no matter what, we feel like we've had a good year are looking forward to what 2017 has to offer. We hope you had a good and productive year and wish you the best in the days, weeks, and months to come. Here's to the end of 2016 and the start of 2017!