5 October 2020

With the end of another quarter, it's time to report on my progress for my exercise goals. I lost some ground due more than a week of extremely bad air quality from a number of wildfires that were burning. I also deliberately chose to skip some running workouts in favor of doing some biking around town in an attempt to make some progress on the biking goal. Overall though, not doing too badly.

Goal #1: Run/walk 800 miles. I'm actually quite proud of being at 590 miles (plan was 600 at this point) given what I said above.

Goal #2: Bike the 456 miles that would get me to 2020 km for the year. Both Mom and the other teammate have individually completed the distance, so the pressure is on. I am behind schedule because of the lack of biking for months (67% when I should be at 75% overall).Admittedly it was always a bit of a stretch goal so I may not make it, but I'm certainly going to give it my best shot!

Screenshot of mileage tracker

Screenshot of team map

In non-running stuff, school is in session -- virtually. The kids meet with their various teachers at set times while also having self-paced learning time. Cody generally uses that time to read on his Kindle. Marisol has preferred to use that time to watch YouTube videos. Jake likes to look up random things on the internet, though he tends to do that during class. So, not only are the kids learning about math and history, but they are also being forced to learn a bit about time management and the hazards of procrastination more so than they normally would. For example, Cody would normally just do the worksheets when they are given to him in class but now he actually has to remember to do them on his own time.

With COVID-19 taking away many of the sporting events thus far, I didn't know if I should hope for BYU to play football or not. When two Conferences decided to go Conference-only, BYU's schedule was completely destoyed. However, they've managed to get some games scheduled and have, thus far, been completely dominating their opponents.

7 Septat NavyBYU 55 - Navy 3
26 SeptTroyBYU 48 - Troy 7
2 OctLA TechBYU 45 - LA Tech 14
16 Octat HoustonTBD
24 OctTexas StateTBD
31 OctWestern KentuckyTBD
7 Novat Boise StateTBD
21 NovNorth AlabamaTBD
12 DecSan Diego StateTBD

5 August 2020

This is turning into a v-e-r-y strange year. Most Oregon schools will be online-only until at least November 13th, though I think many parents are seriously questioning if the kids will go back to school in person at all this year. Thankfully, all the communication we are getting is saying that online school in the fall will be much different than it was in the spring. Given that one of my kids did nothing in half of their classes after the first week yet still got 'pass' for all subjects, knowing that they will take attendance, give actual grades, actually TEACH new concepts rather than just reviewing stuff they already learned (though some of that will surely be needed as well) is a huge relief. I think my younger two kids will be fine with online learning (or as fine as they can be) but I'll admit I'm curious how my oldest will do. He is so easily distracted when sitting in front of a screen that I suspect it'll be hard for him to stay focused on doing his assignments or listen to lectures when the lure of internet games is only a click away.

In other fun news, we've expanded our household. The neighbors have many "barn cats" who often come onto our property. We don't really mind since they keep the rodent population under control. One calico cat came by who was very skittish and extremely skinny. When we saw her, we'd put out some milk, which she'd inhale, all the while speaking softly and otherwise trying to let her know that we aren't going to hurt her. On May 23rd, my husband was doing some weeding in the strawberry patch right next to the house and discovered two baby kittens, probably only 2-3 weeks old. We were able to determine that the calico cat was the mom. The next morning, we discovered she had moved them, so she probably didn't like us knowing where the kittens were. We had a hunch where they moved to but didn't want to spook her further so we kept our distance. About two weeks later, she brought them back, as if to introduce them to us. We made a slightly protected area for them and all three stayed. About a week after that, we decided (with the neighbors' permission) to adopt all three of them since, really, they'd already adopted us. The kittens made a seamless transition. Mama cat and Cosmo weren't quite sure what to make of each other for a while, likely in large part because Mama cat felt very protective of the little ones. In spite of the rocky start, they'll now tolerate being in the same room with each other. (smile) Here are some pics.

Black and white kitten

This is Burrow, named by Cody.

Brown, black and white patterned kitten

This is Potato, named by Marisol.

Brown, black and white patterned adult cat

This is Sparks, the Mama.

All three cats on a chair

The cat family.

30 June 2020

We made it to the halfway point of the year. Given how 2020 has gone, that feels like a huge achievement! So, let's see how I'm doing on my workout goals for the year. None of this is a surprise to me since I'm almost religious about documenting my workouts and filling in the coloring trackers for the "100 mile challenges" I've done, but I'm gonna share. Yes, I am geeky enough that I keep track of this stuff in a spreadsheet. No, I'm not ashamed of it.

Goal #1: Run/walk 800 miles. For reference, my 2019 goal was 1019 km (~624 miles). I barely missed it because I was in a car accident the weekend before Christmas and didn't think it a good idea to go running. So 800 miles this year is aggresive to say the least. I'm proud to report that I'm already more than half way done with that goal, so I'm slightly ahead of schedule there. YAY!

Goal #2: Bike (or some other physical activity) the 456 miles that would get me to 2020 km for the year. Originally the goal was to have a team of three of us do 2020 km... but we blew that out of the water, achieving it sometime in March. My mom, who is on my team, completed the challenge JUST HERSELF this last month! Granted, she's biking a lot of it and it is easier/faster to bike it than run but serious kudos go to MOM! She threw down that gauntlet, so I better pick up the pace to catch up! To be fair, it'll be a tad easier to do when I have access to the stationary bike in the gym again. I was able to use that once a week or so during the first quarter of the year, but then COVID-19 restrictions kicked in and I lost access. I guess I could clean up my actual bike, toss it into the back of my amazingly wonderful truck and then ride it on local trails. So, I don't feel too badly all things considered that I'm at almost 46%. A little below where I would want to be but given everything, it's seems reasonable and something that I can overcome in the next 6 months.

And now -- the proof!

Screenshot of workout numbers summarized above

The green is goal 1, the yellow is goal 2

Screenshot of half-filled mileage tracker

Steady progress...

Screenshot of team map

The teammate at point B is my MOM. The one in the back is ME.

21 June 2020

100 days down... who knows how many to go...yes, I am geeky enough that I have a 4-line Python script to keep track of this for me...

100 days done

17 June 2020

In the almost-two months since the last entry, life has been interesting in some ways and quite monotonous in others. States have started reopening in little ways, but unfortunately the number of confirmed cases continues to spike in some places, including Oregon. We've continued our quarantine. The 100th day of quarantine happens to coincide with Father's Day this weekend, so we are having a bit of a celebration with boxes of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and probably a BBQ. Likely a few other things as well but those are the ones that I've planned for.

I did find time to add some new pictures over the last day or so. Feel free to check them out (under the Pictures tab above)!

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