Thursday, January 23, 2020

Rats and Boars and So Much More

My last post was written from the church gym while protecting my laptop from flying basketballs and tucking my feet way under my chair so my girls wouldn't run my toes over with their scooters.

Motion blur is a way of life

There was no school that day, and I needed to A) do some work in the primary room and B) get my kids out of the house to a place where they could burn off some energy.

None of this has any significance other than to say, wow! Time flies! That was two weeks ago!

Here we are at the end of January already!

I've lost my New Year's momentum, as is expected by January 23rd. The good thing is, I didn't set any goals for this year, so losing my momentum isn't going to amount to any degree of failure. What I've really lost in the past few weeks is the air of excitement that I feel when the year changes, and it's okay for that to go away, but I do miss the burst of energy that accompanies it. 

I toyed around with the idea of making some resolutions for Chinese New Year instead of New Year this year (how many times can I say 'year' in one sentence?) It's a good idea, really, since New Year's Day is my birthday. I shouldn't have to make big life changes on my birthday. Especially changes that have anything to do with health. What am I supposed to do? Forgo all my free birthday meals? I don't think so! But Chinese New Year gives me a little bit of time to party hard for my birthday (i.e. eat all my free food) and still make resolutions. 

My decision: I have none. I'm just as likely to give up on my resolutions for Chinese New Year. But I like setting goals. I have two days to decide. 

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Side note: This is the year of the rat in the Chinese zodiac, which reminds me of one of the complications of being a New Year's baby. 


I was born in 1984, and a lot of my friends and classmates were born in 1983. It shouldn't matter, but as a child, this caused some division. For example, at church, we were put in classes by the year we were born, which meant some of my friends were in a different class than I was. It also affected when we could take driver's ed in school. 

Likewise, whenever we did Chinese New Year activities at school (which, I swear, was a regular thing), I was isolated as a rat while my friends were boars (I had friends born in 1984, so I don't know why it was such a big deal, but all I saw was separation from the boars. They might as well have worn matching t-shirts and hollered a special boar chant while I cowered in my sad, little rat corner! Oh, to be a a boar!)

Well, little did I know... all the Chinese zodiac placemats had led me astray. I found out in my twenties that, because I was born before Chinese New Year in 1984, I actually was a boar. 

I spent the first two decades of my life believing I was a rat. 

Maybe I'll go to therapy someday to address this. Hopefully it will be an exciting, new opportunity for my therapist, since it's probably not very common for someone to come in to work out their issues with being assigned to the wrong Chinese zodiac sign for over twenty years. 

-----

Anyway, the past two weeks have been busy. Mostly with good things. I've taken on some new volunteer tasks at my kids' school. We've had some family events, like my sister-in-law's birthday party for which I was asked to bring a veggie creation. I made a "keto-friendly birthday cake:"

My SIL loves the beach - hence the palm trees

We've spent a lot of time at the temple. I went 2.5 times last week - twice for endowment sessions and .5 times driving from temple to temple trying to find somewhere to get Nicky in for baptisms in under three hours. The shortest wait was at Oquirrh Mountain which was 90 minutes, but the temple is so small that there was nowhere to wait other than standing against the wall by the recommend desk. Bountiful, Draper, and Jordan River all had up to three hour wait times. It's a good problem to have - too many people doing temple work! But we ended up going home because it was late at night.

In addition to that, I joined a book club and went to our first meeting (other than my book exchange that I've done for the past twelve years, I've never done a book club, so this is new for me). And, for the first time in almost two years, I went and spoke at a Relief Society event. The last time I spoke was in April of 2018, and while I was preparing for that event, I felt a prompting from the Spirit that told me I needed to take a break for a while. I felt really good about it, too. I love speaking. Really. But I knew I needed to set it aside for some time. So this week, I spoke for the first time since then. They asked me to come to their ward and speak on the Book of Mormon and the Come Follow Me curriculum. It went well, especially considering how out of practice I am. I planned this presentation with a lot of discussion (to align with the goals of Come Follow Me), and the women were so great to respond. 

I've had sick kids off and on. Last week Eva had a fever with no other symptoms. She slept for an entire day! Dare I say it? It was wonderful! Then Zoe got a barking cough. It really only lasted a day and a half so it wasn't too bad, but I did keep her home from school - bringing her to a total of 17 absences this school year! Oi! (she missed three weeks for her tonsils and subsequent hemorrhaging, and then we went to Disneyland. I've never racked up absences like this, and of course it's my kid that's the most behind academically). 

In October, my in-laws took us to Hale Theatre see the Addam's Family, and we had to be evacuated 15 minutes into the show because a cast member in the other play (Phantom - which is different than Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Just throwing that out there because I only learned recently that there is a different Phantom musical that was written at the same time) bumped the sprinkler head with a piece of the set and set off the alarms and flooded the basement of the theater. Hale Theatre gave us all ticket vouchers and concessions coupons to come back and see another show. Last week we went to see Seussical. It was such a fun show, but it also stressed me out because there were aerialists in the play, and I spent the whole time envisioning myself as an aerialist, which repeatedly ended in me plummeting to my imaginary death. 

Aerialists, you have my respect.

Now off I go to do the next right thing** (which is pretending to eat the Play-Doh meal Eva has been lovingly preparing for me for the past half hour). 

*Except for in sacrament meeting, but I've never been assigned a topic I love. 
**The Frozen II soundtrack has slowly wormed its way into my life. Darn you, catchy Disney tunes! You did it again!

Friday, January 10, 2020

All Louie, All the Time

When I was growing up, my dad lived in an area where we didn't get a lot of radio stations clearly, so whenever we found a working radio station, we got really excited! I had a pretty groovy pink double cassette player as a kid. My step-sister, Anna, and I liked to stick it in the heater vent in our room in hopes that we could produce radio music for our entire household (in hindsight, I can see a lot of evidence that we were very annoying children - don't worry, I'm receiving plenty of revenge at the hands of my own posterity).

One day we were scanning AM radio and we came across the song "Louie, Louie" coming through with amazing clarity. We were totally digging it. We danced. We sang. We turned it up and stuck the radio in the heater vent. Then immediately after the song ended, it started over again! And then again!

We thought it was hilarious! Some AM radio station DJ must have gone to the bathroom and left "Louie, Louie" on repeat, much to our excitement!

But then it came on again. And we thought, "This is getting a little weird."

And then came the station promo, which announced, "You are listening to the Louie Station! All Louie, all the time!"

All Louie! All the time!

You guys, I can't make this stuff up. Sometime in the 90's, there was an AM radio station that came in clearly on the border of Magna, Utah that only played "Louie, Louie."

The next day, Anna and I turned the radio on, and there was no Louie. It was gone! We tried several times over the following weeks to find the Louie Station, but it was never to be heard again.

For most of my life, I've wondered about the Louie Station. The only thing I've ever been able to find that may possibly explain it is this article from the Chicago Tribune wherein a radio station in Peoria, Illinois played "Louie, Louie" for six days straight. However, that article says they rotated between 25 versions of the song. Anna and I only heard one version - the original by the Kingsmen.

Is it plausible that we somehow got a station from Illinois on our AM radio? Perhaps by day 6, they gave up on playing a variety of "Louie, Louies" and just stuck with the original. I don't think we'll ever know.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Writing Through the Snowstorm

It's currently snowing.


I just want to curl up on my couch with a big blanket and read or watch a show or take a nap... or blog. So here I am, in the best spot on my living room sofa (minus the blanket - can someone get that for me, please?). Eva is watching Bambi, and I'm going to do a writing prompt.

-----------------------------------

1. List ten things that make you really happy
  1. Reading a book that I can't stop thinking/talking about
  2. Seeing my kids be good people
  3. When other people like the food I make
  4. When singing time goes really well in primary
  5. A clean house
  6. A clean van
  7. Big cups of ice water from Maverick
  8. When I successfully use my talents
  9. Dogs with their heads hanging out of car windows
  10. Having energy
2. What is something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot?

After speaking at a Relief Society event, someone told me I made them all feel like they were my friends. That was a very nice compliment, and not something I had ever thought about before.

3. What are your top three pet peeves?

I don't know what my "top three" pet peeves are, but here are three things that really bother me:
  1. People who do not observe proper line etiquette
  2. Repetitive tapping sounds
  3. Produce that goes bad the day after I buy it
4. Who inspires you?

That is a really good question, and I don't have a specific person to mention, but I am inspired by women who make others feel good about themselves. Women who are genuinely happy for other's successes in life and who build others up. I am also inspired by women who don't speak negatively about their bodies or food. I've tried to adopt this practice.

5. List five places you want to visit
  1. Mount Rushmore
  2. Washington DC
  3. Nauvoo
  4. The Redwoods
  5. Disneyworld
There are a lot of places on this earth I would love to see, but I'm not super interested in international travel. 

6. What are five ways to win your heart?

I'm looking at this from a "friendship" perspective.
  1. Laugh at my jokes (genuinely, of course)
  2. Remember details about me
  3. Truly listen to me
  4. Take me up on my recommendations for books, movies, purchases, etc
  5. Be your true self when you're around me 
7. Share something you struggle with

I don't know how to be close to people. Anyone I am close to, it's because they made it happen. Not me.  

8. Post some words of wisdom that speak to you

"People are hard to hate close up. Move in. "

-Brene Brown

(One of my current struggles is not being able to see past all the ugly in the world).

9. Think of any word. Search it in Google images and post the 11th photo.


I went with the word "temperance" (the virtue of moderation rather than abstinence from alcohol). A while ago, I wrote the word temperance on a list of things I feel I should study in more depth. That's what made me think of it. 

10. What are five great blessings in your life?
  1. Being able to stay home with my kids
  2. My home
  3. A healthy mind 
  4. Good friends
  5. An amazing husband










Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Our Top Ten Board Games of 2019

For the past 12 years, we've had regular game nights with our friends, Chad and Carlie. We started this tradition when our first children (born 8 days apart) were babies. Now we each have four children - same ages, opposite genders - and we are still going strong. 

We try to have Game Night at least once a month, but we are always open for more (and devastated when we have to miss a month). We begin at 4:00 on Saturdays. We alternate between houses, and we always have dinner! 

Two years ago we started keeping a Game Night Ledger because disputes arose over how frequently Scotty wins (45% of the time). 

The other night, Scotty and I referred to the Ledger to see what our top ten board games were in 2019, based on number of times played. There were a lot of ties, but here are the games we played the most in 2019:

#10: Qwirkle, Hacienda, Agricola, Risk, & Princes of Florence

(See what I mean by 'a lot of ties?')


Qwirkle is a pretty simple tile-building game (a little like dominoes with a twist of Uno in that you can either match the color or the shape). This is a game we reserve for the end of the night when we still feel like playing, but our brains are fried and we don't know how long our children will last. 


In Hacienda you use your resources to acquire land and animals. As you control more space on the board, and take your animals to market, you accumulate more money or points. 

(And if you're wondering, yes! There are pigs, so you can take your little piggies to market!)



Risk is an old classic, and we love it, but there are a lot of holes in the rules that we end up researching on forums. Scotty and Chad have different versions of Risk, so it varies depending on whose house we are playing at. We have done world domination, but we usually opt for mission Risk so we can get more games in. Scotty's version is single-mission, while in Chad's version, we have four missions. It's the four-mission version that raises the most questions.


Agricola is a fun and stressful tableau-building game where you are a farmer, and you have all sorts of things to accomplish - plant your crops, raise your animals, build your house, and heck! On top of all that, you have to feed your family. I'm stressed just thinking about it! And yet, I love this game so much!

We have played with the Farmers of the Moor expansion, but we prefer the original game.  In the expansion, you have to have fuel to heat your home, and we can barely feed our families, let alone keep them warm and cozy!


Princes of Florence is another tableau-building game (that's a game where each player has components that they build their board with in front of them, and what you have in front of you usually manipulates the game by controlling what actions you can take or how many points you acquire - does your brain hurt right now? Yeah, so does mine). In this game, you are artists trying to complete your work to get points. 


#9: Karma


Karma is a card game wherein there is a single loser declared. According to the Ledger, I am that loser more often than not. So I vote that we never play Karma again!

(Just kidding)

(Kind of)


#8: Bohnanza


Bohnanza is a bit of a tableau-building/card game combination. In this game, you grow fields of beans and harvest them for points. You can trade beans with other players, which begs the question - do you scratch my back, and I scratch yours? Or should we try to sabotage each other by being stingy and keeping our resources from one another?

Side note: I recently tried a round of Bohnanza with the "What Would Jesus Do" approach. I lost. 


#7, 6, 5: Dead Man's Draw, Coup, & Ticket to Ride: Europe


Dead Man's Draw is a pirate-themed card game with a bit of gambling involved. On your turn, you flip over cards. You can take risks and continue to flip cards, or you can play it safe and quit while you're ahead. Each card dictates what actions you must take next, and if you flip over doubles, you get nothing!



Coup is a role-playing card game where each player has two roles. If you catch a player lying, you knock out one of their roles. But if you think they're lying, and they're not, oops! It's your character that dies!



Ticket to Ride has been a hit for quite some time. We have played several versions of it, but Europe is our favorite. In this game, you build railroad systems to get to certain destinations. You also anger your friends by blocking their routes (not that we know from experience - ahem).


#4: Cover Your Assets



Cover Your Assets is a card game where you try to hang on to your assets before someone else steals them. This is a good one to play with kids because it's pretty easy to learn and simple enough for them to understand. 

#3, 2: Splendor & Love Letter


Splendor is an engine-building game where you acquire jewels. As your personal stash of jewels grows, the cost of buying more jewels decreases. As with many games of this variety, you have to decide between various strategies, and there is no one strategy that's guaranteed every time. You have to adapt to how the game goes. 
Love Letter is really easy to learn. It's a quick card game where you use process of elimination to try and figure out who holds the Princess card. This is another game we play at the end of game night when our brains are fried. 


#1: 7 Wonders


This has been our favorite board game for the past three years. In fact, 7 Wonders was also our most-played game of 2018! It's a tableau-building game where everyone has their own board in front of them and the board determines how the game is manipulated. This game is unique in that everyone takes their actions at once (i.e. you don't take turns). 

We have the "Leaders" expansion and the "Wonder Pack" expansion. I enjoy the Leaders, but I don't really care for the wonder boards that came in the Wonder Pack (though laughing at Manneken Pis every time it's chosen for play will never get old). 

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We've already had our first Game Night of 2020 with a second one scheduled (that's two for January! We are off to a great start!) We're hoping to try out my birthday board game:


This game has great reviews and was hard to get my hands on! The scarcity made me want it even more! And I don't even like birds!

Also, it was designed by a woman, which is pretty cool.





Monday, January 6, 2020

Welcome 2020

Well, hello to you six days into this new decade!

I didn't even think about the new year in terms of being a new decade until New Year's Eve when people started posting all sorts of decade-related things on Facebook. That made me go, "Huh. I guess it is a new decade!" Then I wondered if I had anything to say about the past decade, and it turned out, I didn't. Which is kind of sad because I would normally love doing some sort of blog post to close out a ten-year phase of my life. But it just wasn't there!

New Year is one of my favorite holidays.

I truly enjoy Christmas, and decorating for Christmas is one of my favorite things ever, but by the time Christmas rolls around, I am ready to move on and put everything away so I can ringIn the new year. This Christmas I put everything away on Christmas Day except for my tree, and the only reason I didn't get the tree put away was because I didn't want to carry it out to the shed in the dark in the snow. Instead, I batted my eyes at Scotty on the 26th and got him to do it for me. After work, of course. Because... reality.

By the way - tangent here - in 2018, I hot-glued and wired all of my tree decor to my tree so I wouldn't have to decorate it ever again. Best thing I've ever done! There was just one, little mishap with the glue:


But no big deal. Now we just carry the whole thing out to our shed and store it fully assembled. I was elated when it was time to put up my tree, and I was able to just haul it in the house and plug it in. Mind you, I had to rearrange my living room about eight different ways to make it work with the big sectional sofa we inherited over the summer.

(Scours Google photos for photo of couch)


Here's another tangent - my sister-in-law gave us the sectional, and it's actually too big for our house, so we had to leave a piece of it off. We took the extra section to Scotty's mom's house so she could have more seating in her basement. We got it stuck in her sliding glass door.

(Scours Google photos for picture of couch stuck in door)



We ended up taking the feet off and finagling the cushion a bit and eventually got it through. It's only coming back out of that house after it meets a chainsaw.

So where was I?

Oh yes, rearranging the living room to fit the tree. Our usual corner wasn't a possibility with the "new" couch. I ended up putting it in the bay window, but the tree is 7' and the ceiling over the bay window is shorter than that, so I literally just shoved it there. The top of the tree was all smooshed, but whatever. It added character.

But let's rewind to when I brought the tree in the house. I went out to the shed and got the tree, and then when I went to carry it through the garage and into the house, the garage door had blown shut. I had to set the tree down so I could open the door. The chickens were out, and they had been pooping on the patio, so when I set the tree down, it got poop on it. I carried the tree into the house, and then I had to clean the poop off the tree stand. While I was in my kitchen, cleaning poop off my tree, it occurred to me that this is not a normal problem to have. 

So back to my initial conversation... I enjoy decorating for Christmas, but I enjoy undecorating for Christmas even more and am very antsy to get it over with. I don't like Christmas to last a minute past the 25th because I'm excited to move on. So on comes New Year, and it gives me energy! I'm always excited to close the chapter on the past year and begin again. 

It also helps that it's my birthday!

(New Year's baby in the house!)

(My apologies to my parents for not getting them a tax break in 1983).

(Missed it by mere hours).

While we're discussing my birthday, let me tell you some exciting things about the day I came to this earth.

My mom went into labor on New Year's Eve. I was born at 2:29 a.m. on New Year's Day 1984. While my mom was in the hospital, her doctor came and told her that her sister-in-law had just arrived and was in labor. So later that day, my cousin Jess was born. 

Pretty cool, right?

(He came early just to steal my thunder).

All that is to say, "Happy New Year!"

I'm going resolution-free this year, but I'm excited about having a fresh start! 





Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Things we did over Christmas break (so far...)

Saw Spies in Disguise 

Dumb movie but worth enduring to get out of the house. I spent most of the movie telling Eva to keep her feet to herself and brainstorming genius ideas about my life that will never come to fruition.



Fought crime

On Christmas Eve my mom and my brother came to my house in the middle of the night  to get my step-dad's gift out of our garage (I'm now realizing that the time stamp on our security cameras is not correct - we should probably fix that for our crime-fighting benefit). I figured it would look awfully suspicious, so I let my neighbors know not to be alarmed. It didn't help that my brother showed up in dark clothes with a hood on.

Not an actual crime. 

A few days later we fought some real crime. Scotty and my neighbor (whose name happens to be Scottie - weird, right?) went chasing a guy with a baseball bat while I went back and forth from window to window in my house watching and taking pictures - just in case.

Actual crime

It's always after the fact that Scotty realizes how dangerous and stupid it is to chase criminals. But when his adrenaline is pumping, he can't be convinced otherwise. 


Made vegetable art


I made a veggie tree for a family Christmas party. I did it because I thought it was funny and over the top, and in my own heart, I was mocking all the ridiculous, Pinterest-y things of the world. But it was actually really fun to make, and everyone loved it (especially my brother-in-law, Jared, who now believes that if all his vegetables were served in such a way, he would be a much healthier man). 

Now I might be addicted to veggie creations, and I already have an idea for next year!


Did some serious planning for 2020

I love the transition from the old year to the new year. It gives me energy I normally don't have. 

Over the past month I've done some mega planning sessions for primary singing time. I created a framework to build around for the entire year. 

I've also outlined our budget for 2020 and prepped our calendar, and I got everything ready for our family to study the Book of Mormon for Come Follow Me

(Please know that I am operating beyond my normal level of functioning - I always do this time of year. I will crash and burn shortly, don't worry!)


Rescued drones


Nicky got a drone for his birthday and got it stuck in a tree. It took three generations of Brittish men to get it down. 

Celebrated birthdays

Our family has so many December and January birthdays. Apparently we are very fertile in the spring. Nicky turned 13 on the 27th. Tomorrow, I turn 36!!! 


Learned some new games





Went to the zoo


Hogle Zoo had free admission the day after Christmas. Normally I wouldn't be caught dead there, but I braved it on the 26th because I figured if we went right when it opened, most people would still be home in bed, sleeping off Christmas. It was a good move. The crowds were very manageable.


Went to see the lights at Temple Square... 


...at 6:00 a.m. the day after Christmas. 

The lights are on from 6:00-7:30 a.m. so on Christmas night, I asked my kids if they wanted to get up really early the next day and go see the lights. They all said yes! So we did it, and it was wonderful! 

We were also able to see the candy windows at Macy's without fighting through a crowd of people. It was amazing. My crowd aversion is legit, ya'll. 

After we saw the lights, we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then to the zoo (this post is not happening in chronological order). 


Read Books




Just doing my motherly duty and reading aloud to my little stinkers. 

We finished The Best Christmas Pageant Ever before bed on Christmas Eve. It was a nice, indirect way to get them thinking about the nativity story. I read it to them just for fun, but it ended up being a good discussion starter. The kids in the book ask a lot of questions about Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and also about Herod and the wise men and more. It's done in a way that brings humor but also gets you thinking.

Watched several episodes of Lost


Scotty is actually the one watching Lost right now, but I piggy back an episode here and there. 

After watching Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I finished Les Miserables. Then I watched Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights - both which gave me the Romeo and Juliet effect!

(All of these were the BBC versions, and I'll just throw out some caution that all of them contain some sex and/or partial nudity)


Now here we are on New Year's Eve with two more days of Christmas break to go! I anticipate some major partying. We might even stay up until 10:00!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

It Happened in 2019

January

  • Spent New Year's as a family at Little America with a gift card Scotty won from a golf tournament
  • I turned 35 
  • Went to Disneyland
  • Nicky was able to start attending the temple

February


March
  • Scotty went to Memphis to install the temple
  • Scotty went to Disneyland with his friends
  • Daisy had four teeth pulled and got an expander in her mouth

April

  • Eva turned 4
  • I took a fall while running and scarred my left knee for life

May

  • Nicky had pneumonia
  • Celebrated our 16th Anniversary
  • Scotty went to Paraguay to work on the temple 
  • Nicky dressed like a chicken and "bocked" Baby Shark for the school talent show... twice
  • I made and sold wood crafts
  • One of our chickens died (leaving us with 4)

June

  • I organized a summer dance class and taught through August
  • Had our ward campout where Scotty's parents ended up getting recruited to serve a mission at the campground
  • Went camping at the Spruces
  • Scotty and I built a TV stand
  • Bought a truck

July

  • Camped at the in-law's campground over the 4th
  • My mom moved
  • Scotty turned 38
  • Saw Hugh Jackman in concert
  • Scotty and Nicky went to scout camp where Nicky got to do his aviation merit badge and go flying in a plane
  • Inherited a "new" couch 
  • Scotty went to Priests camp, so the kids and I made a weekend trip to Logan
  • Scotty got a motorcycle 

August

  • Housed my mom's dog for a month then he ran away two days after my mom took him to her new house. He was found 8 days later.
  • Made the switch to digital calendaring
  • Went to San Francisco to see Hamilton
  • Scotty went to Baton Rouge to install the temple
  • Scotty went to Raleigh to install the temple
  • Nicky started junior high
  • Daisy started 4th grade
  • Zoe started 1st grade
  • Eva started her second year of preschool

September

  • Camped at the in-law's campground for Labor Day
  • Scotty and Nicky fell in love with Fan X
  • Daisy turned 10
  • Nicky played in his first golf tournament
  • Got my YW Medallion (i.e. the award for completing the Personal Progress program I started in February)
  • Spent a weekend in Crystal Springs, Brigham City, and Logan - kicking off the start of our National Parks visits
  • Zoe started being reassessed to get back into speech therapy

October


November

  • Scotty was called to be the teachers' quorum adviser
  • Zoe turned 7
  • Had family pictures taken
  • Primary program 
  • Zoe had her tonsils and adenoids out
  • Zoe's tonsils hemorrhaged, and she had to have surgery again
  • Nicky reached 5’7”, making him the same height as me

December


  • Took another trip to Disneyland
  • Scotty went to Washington DC to set up some office space for the Church
  • Daisy got her expander removed
  • Nicky turned 13