2020

25 April 2020

Wowsers. How quickly life can be turned upside down. As everyone knows, the spread of COVID-19 has impacted daily life.

  • Schools have been closed since March 16th and will not be reopening this school year. They started doing some 'distance learning' a week ago which I have mixed feelings about.
  • At work, we were getting messages indicating that if our jobs were the kind that could be done from home and we wanted to use that flexibility, we were welcome to do so. That changed on March 13th when it basically became "if you can work from home, you must so that only essential people are on site." Thus I've been working from the condo for the last 5 weeks.
  • All Church activities have been cancelled since about March 10th. We are spending our Sundays at home rather than at Church (or on the road) which is kind of nice, though I do miss the socialization that happens at Church.
My brother works as a janitor so he's considered an "essential worker". As such, I get up each workday morning and drive to the condo so I can provide Jake's supervision. It has the unexpected benefit of allowing me to have some separation betweek "work" and "home". I do my work stuff at the condo and then I can completely disconnect from work when I get home. I know many folks who are working from home are finding it hard to disconnect but I have that sort of built in.

Jake has an art class this year that he's absolutely determined to detest. While I don't have an artistic bone in my body, I really liked something that the teacher at the beginning of the year said during Back To School night. She said that art is just normal information presented in an unusual way. Shortly after, she took a job at a high school and Jake got a new art teacher that I only met at the recent Parent-Teacher Conferences. The assignment he gave the students this last week was to create a piece in the type of the NW Coast Native Art Form. I watched the sample video with Jake and liked it. As Jake kept putting off getting a start on it, I kept thinking I might like to give it a try myself. So, while everyone slept this morning, I did this. According to the teacher, the next step is painting it but I kind of like how it is now so I'm not sure if I'll do that or not.

Bear in NW art form

I chose the bear because I like bears. I included suns because it's a source of light and life and I love to be out in the sun as long as it isn't too hot. The mountains represent the majestic ones that I grew up with in Alaska. The salmon kind of added itself because of the bear's shape -- and it's funny because bears love to eat salmon. The tree is a nod to the Pacific NW where I now live. The sun bouncing on the horizon is a representation of the "Land of the Midnight Sun" where I grew up... from a postcard I've kept since my freshman year in college.

Just for fun, here's a picture I got of Cody the other day -- sleeping on the dog's bed on a table...

Cody sleeping on dog bed

25 February 2020

Variety. Diversity. I got to thinking about that a little bit after a conversation with Jake this morning. He loves Teslas. I love Toyota trucks. Neither of us is right or wrong in this case. We just like different things.

But it reminded me that it's important to have variety. Deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, glaciers, plateaus, and oceans cover the Earth's surface. There are something like 10,000 bird species and 33,000 species of fish. Wikipedia estimates there are 5.5 million species of insects. Of course there are even more when you consider all the land animals. Nature is full of diversity.

How boring it would be if there were only one kind of bird, even if it happened to be a very beautiful type in and of itself. Or one kind of fish. Or one type of dog. Or only one climate. Instead, we have a variety -- and with that variety I think comes the ability to actually appreciate differences. If everything was exactly the same, we wouldn't know any differently.

My team at work is a great group of people. Of the 9 or so of us, we hail from the USA, China, Croatia, India, and Pakistan (I think... could be wrong). How cool is that? We have unique perspectives not only because we are different people but also because we were raised in completely different areas of the world in different situations. Yet we work together to achieve our goals, using our different perspectives to examine problems from multiple angles. I just think it's cool.

22 January 2020

I love Rubix cubes. While I will certainly never break any resords while solving them and need to look up the algorithms to solve them in the first place, I love them. Something about the twisting and turning, organization of the different colors or shapes, perhaps the puzzle part of it all speaks to me. I've mentioned this before when I got a number of new cubes as birthday presents a few years ago. I got some new ones for Christmas that I should also show off.

Solved YJ 3x3 cube Messed up YJ 3x3 cube

YJ 3x3 cube. Not sure if it has other names but I just love how the differently shaped pieces can make almost sculpture-like designs when messed up.

1x3x3 rubix cube

So this basically looks like normal rubix cube squashed down to a single layer. Once you know the algorithm, it's trival to solve but I love it anyway.

Ivy cube

The curved edges are just... coooooool.

Rubix orbit

This is a fun twist on the 2x2x2

Rubix Twist

I think this is my favorite. It's solved the same as a standard 3x3x3 though an extra step to rotate the center faces may be needed at the end.

4 January 2020

Un-be-lievable! I have absolutely no idea how 4 months have passed since my last update, especially considering some of the events of that time. Let's see about rectifying this situation.

The kids all started school. Jake is in 8th grade where he enjoys choir and (usually) math. Marisol moved into middle school, where she excels in all things social and greatly enjoys learning about Egyptian mythology. Cody is in 2nd grade, where he loves reading, math, and PE. The older kids have both perfected the "I'm too cool to smile" face.

Jake Marisol Cody

October brought Cody's baptism! He'd been nervous for a while about going completely under the water but had decided to address that fear by dunking his head every so often in the swimming pool during the summer. I was quite proud of him for figuring out on his own how to conquer his fear and following through with it. As it happens, a little more than a week before his baptism, the Church announced a policy change which allowed any baptized member of the Church to serve as a witness for a live baptism, rather than only priesthood holders. So, my mother-in-law and I were able to be the official witnesses which was very cool. Cody invited the whole family to participate with his sister giving a talk, his brother giving a prayer and his father performing the baptismal ordinance.

Cody on his baptism day Family at Cody's baptism

The Cougars had a pretty good year, going 7-6. That may not seem overly impressive but given the injuries they had, at one point going to the third-string quarterback who led the team to a victory over #15 Boise State, it seems a pretty good year to me.

Cody has turned into quite the football fan. He has a knack for remembering certain games and has learned the mascots and colors of a number of teams that he's either watched or seen on commercials. His favorite team is still BYU but he's also decided to be an Oregon Ducks fan. He's also been quite insistent on watching Monday Night Football, especially when the Seattle Seahawks were playing.

The weekend before Christmas, I went to do the normal grocery shopping along with some Christmas shopping. As I drove home, I was anticipating a relaxing evening with my family. Unfortunately, a drunk driver decided to try to cross the road and pulled out right in front of me. I slammed on the brakes but a collision was inevitable. The force of the impact turned both cars 180 degrees and deployed the air bags in my van. Fortunately, neither of us was seriously injured though we were both very shaken up. Good Samaritans stopped fairly soon and then the local firefighters arrived. As they checked us out, just the two drivers since neither of us had anyone else in the vehicles at the time, several police units arrived -- and so did my husband. He helped interpret so I could answer questions posed to me and let me sit in his car to calm down. The policeman who excused us from the scene said that the other driver would get at least a citation but was most likely going to jail for DUI. Since the firefighters had kindly moved the groceries and shopping from the van for us (except the one gallon of milk which had exploded), we headed home to see the kids and take in the shopping. After eating, my husband took me to the ER to get checked out since the firefighters, and later my mother, were strongly advising it given the speed of the impact. The next day, I wasn't nearly as sore as I'd feared I would be, dealing with just one sore spot on my back. All in all, I consider myself extremely blessed. I believe there were guardian angels with me that night. Exactly why my life was spared (and even spared from serious injury), I have no idea. Guess I better live well and try to fulfill whatever purpose that is.
Van with the front crushed in

A few days later, we went to the tow yard to gather any personal items from the van, including my keys which had been left in the ignition. In daylight, the damage looked more impressive, at least to me, and I felt complete gratitude to both the guardian angel that must have been there as well as to those who made such a good van. The front is completely crumpled but the doors and main frame are all still fine. The thing didn't just crunch up like an accordian. Pretty good job by the folks at Toyota in my opinion.

With the van totaled, we knew we'd need to get a new car. We took advantage of visiting grandparents to do some babysitting while we went and looked at cars on New Year's Eve. We were pretty sure we were going to get a RAV4, and had picked out three to look at. We test drove the first one, and it was nice. Then we went to the second dealership which happened to have two RAV4s. I was leaning towards one of them. Before driving it, though, we went over to look at a fire-engine red truck on lifts mostly out of curiosity. The floor was about mid-chest level and I wondered how in the world anyone would ever get into it. Then, I saw it. Between the tall truck and the wall, was a beautiful Toyota Tacoma. To make a long story short, we realized the decision really came down to "cheaper car with more miles on it that we'd have to replace sooner" or "dream truck with seriously low mileage that we can drive forever but costs more now"? We opted for the truck. So, 25 years after I first remember falling in love with Toyota trucks and deciding I would own one someday, the dream came true.
Dream truck

My husband got a head start driving home because we thought it would be awesome to see the kids' reactions. When he got there, he drummed up that we'd gotten a car but it was "rather boxy". The kids know I'm not a huge fan of the shape of his Honda Element so he was using that to keep their expectations down. When they saw that it wasn't a "box" at all but was, instead, a gorgeous truck, they were stunned. All three of them climbed in and decided that we absolutely needed to go for a drive to the local supermarket, immediately! When we got back, Jake even got the clippers out and whacked some blackberry branches that were leaning into the driveway so they wouldn't scratch the truck.
Me with my truck

The following morning, New Year's Day, I saw a double rainbow as I walked the dog. I had to get this picture, as some kind of a good omen -- the 'truck at the end of the rainbow.'
Truck with double rainbow in background

So, 2019 was an interesting year. It makes me wonder what 2020 will hold. Hopefully more regular updates on this website!!

Read the 2019 entries