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    Annual Review

    January 6, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    My husband has his annual review at work each December, and so I suppose it is time for mine! In his job, my husband has lists of tasks and responsibilities to carry out, plus goals for each year. I see New Year Resolutions in a similar light. Something might come up that keeps me from completing them {like the year my husband’s task of giving a semi-annual talk was destroyed by the idea of an Internet conference that could be recorded once and then given online for much less money}, but they are still a way of gauging whether I moved in the direction I intended to go.

    And if I didn’t, I get a chance to ask myself what happened.

    What can I say? I don’t mind the exercise, and perhaps that’s because I try to only make realistic resolutions. No becoming-a-different-person-by-March!

    Below, I pasted my resolutions from last year, and next to it is my analysis of what happened.

    Spiritual Formation Goals

    • Read a book of the Bible with a commentary. Done. Well, sort of. I started reading through John’s Epistles {slowly} using From Behind the Veil by Peter Leithart. Probably the best thing that has come from this thus far is that I finally understand chiasm, something I tried {and failed} to grasp when I was in seminary. The problem here is that I didn’t exactly finish. About halfway through the book, my pastor started preaching through the first five chapters of Revelation. I couldn’t resist; it was the perfect time to purchase Eugene Peterson’s Reverse Thunder. I read through the first few chapters of that in pace with the preaching, which lasted through the autumn. I’d like to finish both of these soon. Even though I didn’t exactly meet my goal, I think I met with the spirit of it, and it was a fruitful experience.
    • Journal the promises of God and the Bible’s IF/THEN statements. Not done. And I really have no excuse, other than I think that it was generally hard for me to think about commentaries and journaling at the same time. I know that sounds silly, but apparently I am only capable of adding one thing in addition to normal Bible reading.

            Self-Education Goals

            • Add literature to my self-education program. Done. I didn’t read a lot of it, but since there have been years where I read no fiction or literature of any kind {save what I read aloud to my children, of course}, I consider reading five titles a success. I’m already planning to read more in this coming year, and I hope to make it a habit.
            • Keep track of books read. Done! This was great; truly enjoyable and now I regret that I didn’t do it sooner. If you missed it, the list is here.
            • Finish summarizing Charlotte Mason’s Volume 3: School Education. Not done. Actually, I completely forgot I meant to do this. There are benefits to re-reading our resolutions, I am learning. Perhaps this year I ought to resolve to print my resolutions out and re-read them every month!

            Kitchen Goals

            • Perfect sourdough skills and finish sourdough class. Done. I can make two loaves of sourdough bread without looking at a recipe, and they taste great.
            • Learn to ferment vegetables. Not done. I tried a couple different recipes, and I failed each time. It was discouraging {to say nothing of the mocking I endured from a certain man I happen to be married to}. I’m not giving up, though!
            • Learn to make clam chowder. Done. I did this for Valentine’s Day. It was extremely expensive, but a fascinating experience to work with live clams. I’d do again if I could afford to.
            • Focus on nutrient density. Done. Sort of. I learned that my best bets on organ meats are two: liverwurst, and a type of inexpensive pastured ground beef blend I found that is 10% heart and liver.

            Health Goals

            • Get more sleep. Done. Most of the year, I did well at this, and part of that was due to my husband insisting that this was something I needed to do.
            • Build a healthy snacks rotation. Not really done. I tried and served some healthy snacks, but they never made it into an actual rotation. Old habits die hard, I guess. I am still consistently serving apples and cheese! I still plan to work on this because I think variety would be good for all of us.
            • Buy a lightbox or sunlight lamp. Not done. I decided not to do this. I have problems with my eyes, having become legally blind due to a condition called keraticonus {my eyes do not actually look like cones, as you see in some pictures} when I was a teenager. The more I read about the stress these things put upon the eyes, the more I decided they weren’t a good idea for me. Instead, I found that making a habit of daily walks {not a resolution, but something I did} gave me lots of sun exposure, and combined with my addiction to fermented cod liver oil, I’m sure I’m getting enough Vitamin D.

            Home, General Life, and Microhomestead Goals

            • Focus on the master bedroom. Not done. {I have hope for this year, though.} Si gave me a very generous budget. I started shopping around and deciding what I liked. About three weeks later, we discovered our two oldest children needed extensive orthodontic care. I gave my budget back to help cover those bills. I will say, however, that I continued to shop {and read a few decorating blogs}, and so I feel like I know what I like, which is helpful. Perhaps this year I’ll find the budget I need…or a miracle on Craig’s List!
            • Make window covering for play nook. Not done. No excuses: I procrastinated too long, and then Daughter Q. broke one of my most important tools for this task. So now I need to go buy a new tool, and it’s all my fault for waiting too long.
            • Paint with the children weekly. Sort of done. It wasn’t weekly, but it was much, much more than ever before. I still would like to make it a weekly habit, but that seems to work better during summer breaks than the rest of the year.
            • Enroll all 4 children in swimming lessons in March. Done. More important, the oldest two are done with lessons. Only the little two need them this year.
            • Organize girls’ desk/craft supplies. Done. And it looks great.
            • Research the raising of meat rabbits. Done. I researched them. And then we decided that this wasn’t something that was going to fit our lives. And so now we own two goats. Go figure.
            • Replace the two dead trees in the orchard. Done. I thought that one of the new ones died again, but this winter {of all times} it has revealed some little green leaves, so we’re just going to keep on babying it and hope for the best. This means that, as long as nothing dies on us, the orchard space is all full.

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            5 Comments

          • Reply Ellen January 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

            The laser surgery did work for him. He’s almost 20/20, and he only wears glasses when he’s reading for a long time at work.

            He was a guinea pig for his eye doctor when he had it 12 years ago. They’d never used the laser on someone with that bad of vision before, and he was walking him around the office, bragging about how it worked on a -10. =)

            You couldn’t pay me enough to play with my eyesight like that. I’m very picky about my prescription. I’ll be wearing my contacts and glasses until my dying day, thankyouverymuch. =)

          • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

            Did the laser surgery work for him? If so, what a *blessing*!

            I forgot to say that the vision is correctable with hard, gas permeable lenses, not soft. That was the big shock for me. Before I woke up one morning {when I was 16} unable to see, I had used soft lenses and contacts…but, my, are gas perms hard to accustom the eye to!

          • Reply Ellen January 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm

            Hey, my contacts are a -5.75, and my husband was a -10 before he had laser surgery. I know about a blurry world… but not as blurry as yours. I’m glad contacts work!

          • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts January 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm

            Contacts, my friend. 😉

            The condition is correctable with contacts.

            The challenge is that it is not correctable in ANY other way–so I cannot wear glasses like other folks, for instance. It isn’t as bad as it sounds, other than waking up in the morning to a world the looks like a really messy Impressionist painting.

          • Reply Ellen January 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm

            Wait a second… You’re legally blind? How do you do the extensive reading that you do? I’m very curious about your ability to do what you do with this challenge…. and I’m impressed.

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