Monday, January 4, 2016

written word

I've had several friends ask what the best book I read this year was, so I thought I'd just publish the list.  :)  Here's what I read in 2015 (that I remembered to put in my spreadsheet) and what I thought of it!  If you're looking for a good read for 2016, it's a good list.  Keep in mind that I mostly read Juvenile Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, so most of these are pretty light, easy reads.

True (...sort of)Katherine Hannigan368January 2015yes. good for younger readers, too
My Body Fell Off!B.J. Rowley208January 2015yes; Mormon-y
Silver Hawk's RevengeB.J. Rowley256January 2015"
Missing ChildrenB.J. Rowley256January 2015"
Which Witch?Eva Ibbotson231February 2015sure, but make sure they know it's kind of weird :) and for younger readers
Ida B. ...and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the WorldKatherine Hannigan246February 2015yes. sadder than expected
SavvyIngrid Law342February 2015I think I want to buy it.
Say Uncle... and AuntSuzy Pizzuti320March 2015sure. silly romance :)
CinderMarissa Meyer387February 2015yes
ScarletMarissa Meyer454February 2015yes
CressMarissa Meyer550February 2015yes
The Wednesday WarsGary D. Schmidt264May 2015really liked it
The Baseball Box ProphecyBruce Newbold550May 2015yes! especially to people who know baseball
CloakedAlex Flinn341June 2015yes! really liked it. Weird but fun premise.
Who Could That Be at This Hour?Lemony Snicket258June 2015a little hard to get caught up in, as are a lot of his books for me, but better than expected
New KidTim Green320June 2015really liked it; definitely a baseball book; a little disappointed in the ending
The Girl Who Could FlyVictoria Forester328June 2015really liked it
My Fair GodmotherJanette Rallison310July 22, 2015yes. want to read others in series
Throne of GlassSarah J. Maas404
Jul-Aug 2015
maybe. It's about an assassin, so definitely for a more mature audience.
Crown of MidnightSarah J. Maas418
Heir of FireSarah J. Maas562
Queen of ShadowsSarah J. Maas648September 2015
WovenMichael Jensen352October 2015yes; wished it were longer
Made You UpFrancesca Zappia428October 2015It was really fascinating. had swearing and mature content I had to skip
WinterMarissa Meyer824December 2015yes! whole series
The Gratitude DiariesJanice Kaplan320December 2015very eye-opening; I think I'll buy it
Tell MeJoan Bauer272December 2015yes


It wasn't the circumstances that mattered but how I responded to them.  I could passively wait for the wonderful to occur - and still find something wrong.  Or I could accept whatever events did come my way and try to appreciate them a little more.
Janice Kaplan, The Gratitude Diaries

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

resolution ideas

1. make it to level 3 in my exercise chart
2. read my scriptures daily
3. write in my journal # times per week
4. write in a gratitude journal # items per day, # times per week
5. only eat dessert every other day
6. get Instagram or Twitter?
7. make #happyconfession a thing
8. become a Youtube sensation
9. earn a million dollars
10. paint our bedroom
11. finish reading and return the library books that are currently $9.50 overdue

...The longer I think about it, the wilder they get...

cue Batman narrator voice:


(or, y'know, whenever I pick one. It might not be tomorrow.)


Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

Friday, November 13, 2015

a spoonful of sugar

These are my favorites of what I'm listening to this week.  Put them on while you're cleaning or driving around this weekend!  They're so good.

"Somebody Loves You" - Betty Who

"Sort Of" - Ingrid Michaelson

"When We Were Young" - Lucy Schwartz

"Little Dancer" - Leroy Sanchez


Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.  Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


No, she's not a child.

She is, in fact, a bed.

So, Joel and I have been wanting a new mattress for a long time.  Ours had a HUGE dip in the middle, and we've both been waking up sore for at least a year.  We went mattress shopping a few times, but it's so hard!  They all were good, better than what we had, but not "perfect enough."  We weren't willing to commit to any of them.  I don't remember why, but one day, I started looking online and discovered that buying mattresses online is a thing.  What?!  I read about it for hours - how to buy a bed without trying it first, return policies, reviews of certain mattresses... and what started as, "Haha, wouldn't that be hilarious and weird if we bought a bed online?" became, "Alright, shall we do it?"

Here's what we learned:
Buying a mattress online can be less expensive because there's no middle man.
Most online mattress companies have 1-3 firmness levels, making it easier because you don't have to test a million beds, but a little scarier, too, if you like to try out the mattress first.
All online mattress companies I read about produce a pretty firm mattress - what's "average,"  or about 6-7 on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the cushiest.
Every company I researched had a 90-101 night return policy - if you don't like it, you can return it for a full refund.  They all have a free pick-up policy.  One company's policy was to pick it up and then donate it to a shelter.  (No restocking fee because they never restock a mattress.)

Ours is pretty foamy, as opposed to having coils.  It came in this box: 

It weighed 96 pounds.  Never have I been so excited to see a package on our front porch!  And never have I been so disappointed to hear the "you have a package" knock on the door that came two days earlier...

The mattress was vacuum-sealed in the box, so the instructions were that we position the box where we wanted the bed to end up, open it on its side, pull out the mattress, and cut the plastic enveloping it.  Then we just watched!  Five minutes later, we had this: 

a beautiful, super soft (to the touch), firm mattress...


I never would've thought I'd enjoy a firm mattress, but man.  It's so nice.  We love it.  We budgeted for the possibility of buying a $100 mattress topper if we hated the firmness, but we didn't have to.  This particular mattress has a thin layer of soft foam on top of firm foam, so it feels cushy but firm... if that makes any sense.  We're still far away from our 100th night, but I can't imagine our opinion changing.  Would we buy a mattress online again?  Definitely.  Would we buy a Leesa again?  Also yes.  If you need a new mattress and want to lay on ours to see what Internet beds are like (and if I'm friends with you in real life...), let me know!  


In life, the hardest decisions often have to be made more than once.  But each time, it gets easier.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Airheads FHE

I'm a member of a website called Smiley360 that gives free samples in return for reviews.  This last week, I got a box of Airheads and was asked to make something out of them and then show off what I made, so... 


I made a tribute to Harry Potter.

I'll be honest, I'm not the world's biggest fan of the taste + texture of Airheads.  (Except their new rainbow strips, Airheads Extremes.  They're really good.)  I do like, though, that they're pretty allergy-free.  (They don't have gluten or peanuts.)  We don't have a lot of allergies in our family, but I appreciate companies that make foods that are more universally accessible.  As a teacher, it was hard sometimes to find treats that all of my 600 students could eat.  

This was, by the way, a really fun Family Home Evening activity / treat!  All of us had a blast.  The Airheads were pretty easy to mold with, and they come in really fun colors.  Kind of like sculpting with edible, stiffish clay.  The kids didn't compare their creations to ours, either (which they do with stuff like carving pumpkins), because if they were disappointed with how something was turning out, they'd fix it, change it into something else, or eat ate it.  

Also, because I'm supposed to include step-by-step instructions on how to make what I made, imagine these instructions set to the "tune" of a BopIt game:
1. Roll it!
2. Slice it!
3. Cut it with a roller!
4. Mold it!
(musical interlude)

If you're interested in checking out Smiley360, click here!

1 - Little Boy's polar bear face
2 - Little Boy's dumbbells
3 - Little Boy's letter A with buttons
4 - Little Girl's train / ice cream cones / lollipops/ ...
5 - Joel's scenic hill


Let no one ever say that a poor tailor cannot do great things and win high honors; all that is needed is that he should go to the right smithy, and what is of most consequence, that he should have good luck.
"The Glass Coffin"
Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales

Friday, October 30, 2015

music mania!

I saw a comic once illustrating the idea that there's so much music you'll never hear that you would've loved.  I looked everywhere and tried to remember where I saw it, but was unsuccessful.  It looked something like this:  

I'd never thought about that before!  That idea has been stuck in my head lately so I've been on the lookout for new music instead of just depending on the radio or Pandora.  And guess what!  Some of it is really good.  So if you, like me, are interested in hearing new stuff, you should check these out!   Put them on while you're cleaning the bathroom or driving home from work!  They're my favorites this week.  

"Waiting Outside the Lines" - Greyson Chance

"Oh, Darling" - Plug In Stereo

"Brave" - Moriah Peters

"No Matter Where You Are" - Us The Duo


At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march.  Dumbledore conducted their last few lines with his wand, and when they had finished, he was one of those who clapped loudest.  
"Ah, music," he said, wiping his eyes.  "A magic beyond all we do here!"
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

evolving faith: one year

*Note: This is written about all our foster kids - past, present, and future.  It's not referencing any particular event or case, but is rather a culmination of thoughts I've had during the last year.  

When I encouraged you to ask your questions about foster care a couple months ago, one of you asked what we've learned and what has surprised us since we started.  I answered all the questions then, but these two stayed in my mind because I knew I hadn't learned all I would.  One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is how my faith has evolved.

We've been licensed for about a year.  In that time, we've had four children.  For the first... nine months or so, I had faith in the legal system.  I prayed that the best thing for our kids would be done, and then I had faith that the attorneys, judge, etc., would be inspired.  Sometimes mistakes happen, but I really trusted the professionals working on our cases and had faith in them.  When I told a friend once that I believed the best thing would happen, she said, "You must have a lot more faith in the legal system than I do."  As I thought about her comment, I passionately agreed.  Of course I do!  I have to.  Because if I don't, all I will feel about the future is fear.  Having faith in those involved was the only choice I could see.

During the tenth month, my faith changed.  In fact, I was talking to Joel about it one night and said, "I still have faith that Heavenly Father can prompt people to do the right thing, but I don't necessarily believe they'll listen."  I went to bed that night and prayed that, as I read my scriptures, Heavenly Father would lead me to a verse that would restore my hope.

And then I read 1 Nephi 9:6 - "The Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fullfilling of all his words.  And thus it is.  Amen."  

Heavenly Father knows the past, present, and future.  He's not surprised by anything.  He is all-powerful and knows how to make sure the best things happen.  People's choices don't trip him up - He already knows.  He has a plan.  That's just how it is.

That being said,

Sometimes the best things don't happen while we're on earth.  He knows that, too.  And therein lies the evolution of my faith.  I still believe the parents and professionals involved in our cases are good people.  I still believe they want what's best for the kids.  But I no longer rest my hope and faith on them.  I feel peace, knowing that the best thing will happen to my kids.  In this life?  Maybe.  But as part of the bigger picture, definitely.  The Atonement makes everything right.


Certainly people who were only born yesterday know very little.
"The Snow Man"
Hans Christian Andersen