14 From ‘14

Merry Christmas to you! And a happy New Year too!

As we wrap up 2014, I thought I’d do a little recap o’ the blog to highlight some of my favorite posts from the year. (I’ll admit – it was pretty fun to scroll through them all.) And since I want to do you the favor of making it obvious as to why I chose these particular posts, I thought I’d include each in its own category. So… without further ado (since there’s plenty of it below)… here are 14 From ’14:

1. The most viewed post (and the closest to “viral” that I’ve ever gotten):

When Breast Isn’t Best

Wow. I knew this post in opposition (so to say) to Breastfeeding Awareness Week might attract a bit more attention than usual, but it went and blew “a bit more” out of the water. In the post’s first day, I received nearly ten times as many views as I usually do on post-publishing days and I more than doubled my best day ever. All told, the post has gotten more than a dozen times the views of my average post.

So let’s see… what element of the mommy wars should I tackle next?

(No, no – I’m kidding. Stoking fires just for the fun of it isn’t my thing – there are plenty of others you can go to for that.)

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

Doubly selfish: using formula and counting on the four-year-old to feed it to his brother.

2. The post that was hardest to write:

It Is The Same Evil

This thing was a bear to get through. (ISIS? Evil? Hmm… I wonder why?) I worked on it for weeks – weeks in which I felt like I was trudging through mud every time I sat down at the computer. It definitely felt like there was some Resistance at play. When I finished writing the post, I could barely look at the thing, I was so unhappy with it. But with a little more distance, I’ve come to think I did a decent job of it.

3. The post with the best discussion in the combox:

Yes, I Worry About Religious Freedom

This post makes me so happy. Not because I think the piece itself was any work of art, but because it generated such a great discussion in the comments section. This (despite all my mommy ramblings about exhaustion and vomit) is why I started the blog – to encourage discourse on touchy, divisive, important matters of politics and society. Polite discourse, open-minded discourse, respectful discourse. I know this one little post was just the tiniest of drops in the bucket, but it’s my drop and I’m glad to have let it fall.

4. The post with the strangest subject matter:

The Best Possible Mugging

I had a mugging story. I had to tell it!

Yet another incongruous photo. It's not even Washington, it's Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

Yet another incongruous photo. It’s not even Washington, it’s Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

5. The post that would make the best sitcom episode:

Epilogue (Please) To The Day Of The Snake And The Water

Snake slithering out of a basket of my sons’ toys? Jumping toilets? Brown water shooting out of a toilet’s tank and at my face? It’s my own brand of slapstick!

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6. The post that most pulls on my heartstrings:

Single Lady Gets A Family

During my single twenties, I began to think I might never have a family of my own. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that I was wrong.

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7. The funniest (in a desperate sort of way) post:

Think Of Your Closets

“If I had to choose one piece of advice to offer young people at this very moment, it would be: Don’t be a pack-rat. And if you absolutely can’t resist the urge to be a pack-rat, make sure to be an organized one.”

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8. The bossiest post:

Why You Should Vote – Even When It Feels Like It Doesn’t Make A Difference

In which I use guilt and just a little bit of elections expertise to strong-arm you into becoming a regular voter.

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9. The post with the most (and maybe the best?) pictures:

Taking A Weekend For Us

Brennan and I went away for a weekend before the baby was born – without our boys. It was heavenly. I took lots of pictures.

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10. The post that best showcases my boys’ narcoleptic tendencies:

Greetings From The Land Of Nod… Nod… Nodding Off

New here? My boys fall asleep all. the. time. At the table, in the car, on the sofa, in the highchair, on the floor, in the shopping cart… And when I’m pregnant, I’m almost as bad as they are.

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11. The post that seems most pertinent to the events of this week:

Courtney’s Love

Courtney Lenaburg, the beloved daughter of Mary from Passionate Perseverance, passed away this past Saturday morning. Courtney’s wake will be held tonight and her funeral tomorrow. Please keep the entire Lenaburg family in prayer during this very difficult time.

12: The post written with most love for my oldest:

What Matters To Him

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13: The post written with most love for my middle:

This Child

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14: The most consequential post:

Announcing…

I had a baby this year! Few things are of greater consequence than that!

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I’m linking this up with Dwija’s 12 Photos in 2012 link-up at House Unseen, Life Unscripted. (12? 14? Photos? Posts? Close enough, right?) Be sure to stop there for more 2014 recaps — and much more beautifully-shot photos than my own.

I hope 2014 was kind to you. The year brought me some great challenges, but even greater blessings. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

The Best Possible Mugging

After my post yesterday on Crime and Punishment and Moving On, I thought the time was right to share with you one of my most (bizarrely) favorite party stories: The Best Possible Mugging. It’s my own tale of being a crime victim. And I have to preface it by saying that yes, I realize how fortunate I am that my only real experience of crime is as the victim of The Best Possible Mugging. I can’t presume to know how a victim of a more serious crime would feel. I can only relate my own experience and the impact it has had on my life.

So.

Around ten years ago when I was living in Washington, DC (or rather, right at its border: I could see DC from my apartment complex), I lived a ten-minute walk from the nearest Metro station. My route to and from the station every day was a straight-shot, mostly along one very busy road with well-traveled sidewalks. I made that walk countless times. And there was precisely one time in my three years of living there when I was entirely alone. That evening, as I walked home from the metro after a church choir practice (oh, the irony), I saw no cars along the road and no pedestrians along the sidewalk.

Until a young man in a big, baggy, hooded sweatshirt walked towards me.

I saw him coming, but I’d been chatting on my cell phone with a friend, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the guy until he was right in front of me. “Give me your purse,” he said, showing me something tucked into his waistband, which he clearly intended for me to believe was a gun. (I have no idea whether it really was; I only saw part of it.)

My first two, nearly simultaneous, reactions were: (1) Annoyance. I thought to myself – in a very whiny, exasperated voice – “Oh, man, I don’t want to deal with this!” (Yes, even my interior dialogue is clean.) And (2) Sadness for the man who was robbing me. “You’re so young! Don’t do this to yourself!” I thought. “Don’t mess up your life like this!”

Then my practical, confident, stubborn side (maybe it’s called “adrenaline”?) kicked in. I tend to be very good in emergency situations.

Here’s how my thought process went:

First, “He didn’t ask for my phone, so I’m not going to give it to him.” I placed the phone in my pocket, leaving it on so my friend could hear what was going on.

Second, “He didn’t ask for my backpack, so I’m not giving it to him either.” Instead I told the guy, “My purse is in my backpack; I’ll get it out for you.” I took it off, set it on the ground, and knelt down to retrieve my purse.

Third, “I don’t want to give him my purse! My glasses and make-up are in there! He doesn’t want all that stuff anyway – he’d just ditch it. I’ll see if he’ll just take my wallet.” I reached into my backpack, into the purse, for my wallet.

Fourth, “I don’t want to give him my wallet! My drivers’ license and credit cards are in there! He probably doesn’t want them anyway. I’ll see if he’ll just take my cash.” So I reached into my wallet, grabbed the cash (fortunately, about fifty bucks), took it out, and handed it to him.

“This is all the money I have; you can have all my money,” I told him. He took it and walked away.

He just walked away.

That’s why I’ve always called it “The Best Possible Mugging.” It was an armed robbery and the only thing I lost was 50 bucks in cash. (Ever since, I always carry at least $20. I know some folks don’t like to carry cash in case they’re mugged, but that’s exactly why I want to do so. I’d much rather somebody get a little money from me than my credit or bank card – or worse, not believing me and getting mad.)

Like I said, all I lost was a little money (and some peace of mind). I didn’t have to replace any items or official documents or credit cards, and the guy was none the wiser as to my name or address. More importantly, I wasn’t hurt. I doubt it gets much better than that.

(By the way, I later heard from friends that the friend-with-whom-I’d-been-on-the phone during the mugging reported to everybody that, “This guy walks up to Julie with a gun, demands her purse, and she negotiates with him!” He said that I told the robber “I won’t give you my purse, but I’ll give you my money.” I’m dubious. I stand by my interior-monologue version of the story.)

I’d been strangely calm through the whole mugging, but once the guy walked away, I started to panic a little. I wondered whether he’d come back. I worried that he’d see where I was heading and know where I lived.

“Julie! Julie!” my friend was screaming on the phone. I pulled it out of my pocket and rushed toward the gate of my apartment complex. “Get inside!” he was telling me.

As I walked through the gate, I spotted a bunch of soldiers milling around outside a bus. (This is Washington, remember. You find a military presence in lots of unexpected places. These guys were housed in my complex and were gathering by their bus to report to work at some military installation around town.) As my friend shouted, “Get inside!” over and over, I thought, “Hmm… men with big guns. I think I’ll go stand with them.”

“I was just robbed,” I told them. “Like, just now – he went that way.” The kind souls called 911 and waited with me until the police arrived.

Once the police got there, I answered questions. I watched as they brought out dogs to track the man’s scent. I went with an officer to identify someone they’d caught (not the right guy). Later I met with a police sketch artist. It was all very interesting. And surreal.

And yes, it shook me up.

I took a friend’s advice to stay home from work the next day and eat ice cream. I kept the blinds closed. I looked over my shoulder a lot. Outside, I walked quickly. I walked with others whenever I could. I was careful to be home before it got too late. And I never again traveled that metro route without wondering if I’d be mugged.

Over time, though I remained cautious in that city and my next, I began to feel safe again. Or as safe as one can feel who’s had such an experience. I’ve had others, too, that stuck with me in that awful, haunting, PTSD-esque way: September 11, the Washington sniper attacks, a hit-and-run car accident (hmm… I guess that one makes me a crime victim two times over). All of them, incidentally, occurred while I lived in the Washington area. Blasted place.

I’m still very (overly?) careful while out-and-about in public places, but fortunately I don’t carry with me any more bothersome relic of my mugging. Even more fortunately, I still find humor in the fact that I was able to dig within my matryoshka doll of a bag/purse/wallet situation to grab a wad of cash. That humor has gone a long way in getting me through what, at its heart, was a scary and unsettling event. Thank you, humor! And of course, thank you, Lord, for getting me safely through the experience. I remain so. grateful.

Yet another incongruous photo. It's not even Washington, it's Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the events in this post.

Yet another incongruous photo. It’s not even Washington, it’s Germany. But it was taken around the same time as the infamous mugging.

This is post three of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge at Conversion Diary. Stop there to check out the hundreds of other bloggers who are also participating.