Monday, January 02, 2017

2016: year of Wikipedia and Esperanto

My last post was my retrospective on 2015. My part-time job as coordinator of Wikipedia initiatives fulfills my pressing need to write things, so I hardly blogged at all.

Working part-time has helped me have a life outside being a mom/housewife. I joke that my job is like taking a break from being a mom, and it really feels that way most of the time. Finding childcare for Piper was one of the biggest challenges with my job, and I'm so grateful for my friends/neighbors/relatives who helped watch her. I think 2.5 might be easier than 1.5, because Piper can actually tell me what she wants know instead of having a crying fit when I can't figure it out.

In the spring I started bicycling to work as well, and I felt very emotionally and physically healthy--I think my health has been fairly good in 2016. I also generally enjoy my work, which consists of creating and editing pages related to the special collections in the Harold B. Lee library, as well as finding out what articles curators and librarians think I and my two student workers should improve. I've also been doing some promotion of Wikipedia editing within BYU. In October we held a Mormon Foremothers edit-a-thon. We also nominated lots of pages for the Did You Know feature to help new pages get more visibility.

Working with Wikipedia, I've gained a lot of respect for the volunteers who work to maintain Wikipedia. I also have a healthy dose of skepticism for things I read there! I hope that Wikipedia can attract enough to editors to sustain itself.

Favorite videogames this year: Stardew Valley, Life is Strange, Rocksmith 2014, Rhythm Heaven Megamix, Zero Time Dilemma, ABZU, and Pokemon Moon. Oh, and Final Fantasy XV.

other things I remember happening in 2016:
-visited San Diego with my parents and siblings and Piper's cousins. We visited the San Diego zoo and Adam got something called "hell's itch" from a medium sunburn. I wish I had spent more time on the beach!
-visited my parents in California. It's interesting to see different sides of my parents when they interact with Piper.
-vacationed with Adam's family in a cabin by Cottonwood Canyon
-My older brother got married. Exciting!
-I learned Esperanto well enough to read a novella-length book for beginners. It was really motivating, considering that I only studied for a little bit each day in my spare time. I did finish the Duolingo course, which was pretty good.
-I helped plan the yearly stake Relief Society retreat, and even though I didn't do very much, it was still kind of stressful?
-Piper tried to climb out of her high chair and had to get stitches. That was a long night in the ER.
-kept up monthly movie nights thanks to my friends
-Midnight Blues, a mobile RPG project I was working on with my husband and some of his siblings and friends, went on hiatus. I think our group of people working on it was too big, or it was difficult to figure out what needed to be worked on next.
-I bought a guitar and learned chords with Rocksmith 2014 for a few months. Rocksmith 2014 is like the videogame Guitar Hero except you use a real guitar instead of a pretend controller. It was really fun, but I don't think I have time for it now. I have a lot more respect for rock musicians now.
-my parents visited us for Christmas, which was fun.
-Adam felt sick a lot.

Goals for 2016:
Family work:
-keep up with meal plans. It makes me less stressed out about what to make for dinner, even if it does mean sitting down and planning for an half an hour to an hour each week.
-continue to encourage Piper to eat something other than Macaroni and Cheese. Limit "screen time"??

-about four months ago I bought a lifetime subscription to WaniKani, a kanji flashcard system. I studied kanji with it pretty regularly for about two years, but stopped when I got pregnant with Piper. Now that I've been using my mobile phone more, I find it very easy to do 10-20 reviews several times a day when I have a spare minute. I've been learning 10 new kanji/vocab words every day through it. I'm hoping to keep that up!

-Adam bought me some Japanese Skype tutoring for Christmas. We'll see how this goes (i.e., part of me is like "this is scary also what will Piper do"), but I'm hopeful that I can start practicing more spoken Japanese.

-Esperanto is probably going on the back-burner for a while. But I like it.

Creative endevours:
-work has started on Our Personal Space 2 (working title)! It's going to be a stat-raising game where you raise your children on a colony on a foreign planet. My sister is directing the project and I hope that I can write lots of things for it!

-My scripture study was in a stupor. I realized that for so long I have just been reading scriptures because they were "good" for me without reflecting on or really understanding much of what I was reading, with the exception of a few moments of inspiration here and there. So yeah, I took a break from reading scriptures every day, because I had gotten into a bad habit with it. I still read scriptures, but in other contexts that are more meaningful to me. When I prepared my Book of Mormon lessons for Primary, I tried to actually understand what was going on, which was genuinely difficult for me in some parts. One week I read the book of Esther from an NIV study Bible with commentary, and I appreciated the story more than I ever had before.

I know that as Mormons, we want to make the scriptures accessible to anyone, so we don't have any official commentaries on the scriptures (like a study Book of Mormon or something). But I personally find it a lot more meaningful to know the historical and cultural contexts for scriptures. I like reading commentary from scholars, and it helps me appreciate the scriptures more. So my goal is to keep finding religious works that inspire me and help me further understand the scriptures in Mormon canon.

-I feel like I've been keeping up fairly well with getting to know the people in my ward, now that we've lived here a year and a half. If I suddenly got sick and had to stay in the hospital for a week, I'm confident that a few people could help take care of me and my family.

I wish you all a happy new year and I hope that if you make goals that you can find effective ways to incrementally get closer to them.

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015: Moving to Provo and learning to cope with toddler life

January - Lots of house planning meetings. I made a delicious Bolognase sauce. I played DDR pretty regularly to stave off cabin fever. Piper rolled down the stairs but Adam caught her!

February - We practiced using our pizza steel. I went on a hike with Joshua, and Koko got bitten by another dog on the way back. More house building stuff. I hurt my ulnar nerve doing some improper weight lifting. My sister released Our Personal Space and I helped with the publicity for it. For Valentine's Day Adam and I stayed at a room in the Hines mansion, but we brought Piper along so it wasn't especially relaxing, but it was exciting. We started watching the Great British Bake-Off.

March - Piper got lots of teeth and learned to crawl.. I was tired a lot. We started a videogame project with some family/friends that we're calling Midnight Blues. We moved from Spanish Fork to Provo: "There was SO MUCH STUFF hiding in the cupboards. I knew it was all there but I didn't think it would take so long to pack!"We had so much help from friends, family, and neighbors. It felt like a miracle that everything got moved, especially since we had to go back for another load (how do people know how big of a truck they'll need?). Lots of unpacking and getting to know our new neighbors and ward.

April - My parents visited for Easter. "I can't say I enjoyed conference much this year because it seems I was taking care of Piper for most of it. Then I had trouble concentrating because I was so tired." I felt stressed out about things I couldn't control. We were still getting settled into our new house (we bought a new media cabinet with doors and food for the pantry, things like that).

May - Adam made me breakfast and lunch for Mother's day, and he cleaned up afterwards. I was a snob about church stuff but I tried not to be a jerk about it. I went for walks with people in the ward. I wrote a bunch of background lore for Midnight Blues. Oh, and we got blinds on all our windows and sold our Spanish Fork home.

June - "I thought brains were important but for the task of mothering it's more important to have dogged persistence and optimism." We ate beef bulgogi, which is delicious. I started going for bike rides with Piper. We had an open house party to motivate us to get the house together, and also to show it off. We went to my cousin's wedding, Joshua moved in for a week and we got to meet his girlfriend. Adam and I went to La Caille for our anniversary, which was really fun (if a little cheesy in a fancy way).

July - We had a family reunion with my dad's family here in Provo. We missed most of the stuff in the mornings, but we got to visit in the afternoons and evenings. I didn't play as many games as I would have liked but I did get to visit with family (in our book discussion group Grandma said: "If it's a clean romance what's the point?"). We got Google fiber and had a LAN party to celebrate. I tuned our piano, sort of. We engaged in mortal combat with weeds. We did an escape room and I walked the temple to temple 5k with Piper.

August - Went on lots of walks and bike rides with Piper. I went on a stake RS retreat and it was nice to be able to hike around, go boating on the lake, and get to know the other ladies in my ward a little better. We helped Joshua

September - More walks, and I managed to bike to Bridal Veil Falls with Piper. I made a fancy layer cake for the first time for a party we had. I made an animal crossing tumblr for my animal crossing designs and interior decorating. "I meal-planned and grocery-shopped like a boss. A housewife boss."

October - Hiked Timp with Joshua and Katrina! It was so beautiful, and also cloudy, and for the last few hours, rainy. Definitely a memorable, if tiring, experience. We met my sister in LA and went to Indiecade. We also met some of my friends from college while we were there. We had a day for the beach that was really fun too. The only bad part was Piper waking up every day at 5am XD. My parents visited us for Halloween. and stayed a few days afterwards--we walked on the river trail and bought cute clothes for Piper at Target.

November - We had a British Bake-Off party that was pretty fun. Adam went on a work trip and I survived with lots of TV and some friend interaction. We visited my sister's family in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving--everyone was there except for Joshua. Some of us did an escape room while we were there, which was fun, and we played lots of games like Apples to Apples. Descent 2, and 7 Wonders. I felt happy that Piper got to know her cousins a little better.

December - I applied for an accepted a position at the BYU library that I start soon. We went to Esperanto club and tried to play the LoTR card game in Esperanto with Cav and Roz. I made an epic modular Poinsette for my friend's ornament exchange and reread some Harry Potter books to help get me excited for a Yule ball party we went to with friends in our ward. We did a big Christmas puzzle that had so many santas in it we thought some of them had to be aliens (no, it doesn't make sense). We got a giant Christmas tree and I baked tons of cookies. We had Christmas with Adam's family and we got to go sledding and eat delicious food together.

The whole year I kept up a monthly movie afternoon with some of my friends that I really enjoyed and I hope I will continue. I also hosted a few game nights with neighborhood friends and I want to either keep those up or start a floating lady pub in our neighborhood.

Looking back on last year, I think I did alright on my goals. We moved without any lasting trauma and I kept up the Monday-morning-breakfast tradition, although our Monday-night-game-night tradition could use some revitalizing. I did work on more pixel art, although it was mostly within my Animal Crossing games. I never got around to making a terrarium... but I do have a houseplant that is still alive. I didn't write down any spiritual goals, but I learned to appreciate that not every spiritual experience has to have a scripture or churchy thing attached to it.

This year, I want to help Adam and his family/friends get Midnight Blues into a playable state (almost there!), and maybe even a beautiful state. I want to good a good job in my new job and I hope that having some time away from Piper will help me enjoy her more (some studies show that working moms play with their children more). I hope I can keep making meal plans, and if I have to hire someone to clean my bathrooms once a month I am okay with that. I want to stay positive about cold weather (it's getting harder) and also try to be more positive about parenting, because I complained about it a lot in my journal.

Games I played (I only beat 6 of them): Atelier Escha & Logy, TheatRhythm Curtain Call, Gyakuten Kanji 2, Gravity Ghost, Heroine's Quest, Ibb and Obb, Pokemon Trozei, Pokemon X, Dungeons of Dredmore, Cave Cave Deus Videt, Child of Light, Danganronpa 2, Dragon Age 2, Riviera, Middens, The Novelist, Secret Files: Tunguska, Antichamber, The Last Window, The Dreaming (Ren'Py game), Choice of Robots, Fantasy Life, The Talos Principle, Don't Starve Together, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Final Fantasy 9, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, Attack the Light, Amnesia: Memories, Undertale, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, Steins; Gate, Aglimpse, Neko Atsume,

Monday, December 07, 2015

Things we were thankful for this November

Here's what I was thankful for this year:

snow boots
good music
infant tylenol (Piper and I both got colds at the same time)
a landscaped yard
a warm house
comfy bed
river trail
eBooks and library eBooks
hot chocolate
skype (Adam went on a work trip and we skyped every night)
handy neighbors (we didn't realize that we had to turn the water off for our sprinklers and our neighbor helped us)
frozen meals


working from home
this blanket (the jeans quilt I and his mom made for him)
you making dinner
in-home humidifier

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Clouds and food

Family photos over on the family photo blog! Here are some non-baby pictures for you too:

some kind of caterpillar we found on the river trail
mushroom tree
bridal veil falls

I like the texture of this brick
Happy Halloween
Hiking Timp

yeah, it rained
In the fall you can go wading in leaves

cap cloud on Timp
cute little panni clouds

I had a party for the British Bake-off finale! I made this Pan L'Accienne. Koko ate one of my loaves >_<
Adam and I made minestrone
Our cousin brought macarons and this photo doesn't do it justice. Grapefruit ganache!
My neighbor brought eclairs and they were delicious. Then I got too busy hosting and didn't take any more photos.
One night in November we had the most awesome sunset.

view from our room in Albuquerque

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chobani yogurt

So, ever since high school I've been getting free stuff for helping with Buzz agent marketing campaign things. They should probably pay me money, but hey, free stuff with no legal commitment. For this campaign I got to try some Chobani yogurt from our local Smith's.
woo free yogurt
Here's my rundown of the four yogurt products:
  • Chobani flip: It looks like some kind of indulgent dessert and costs $1. Cheaper than a donut and probably healthier. It is awful. The chocolate pieces tasted kind of bitter to me, even though I double-checked that I didn't get the coffee flavor. The pretzel pieces were an interesting idea, but seemed cheap. There's no flipping involved so I'm not sure why it's called a flip. I'm not a fan of sour and chocolate. 0/5
  • Chobani kids: I thought they tasted weird, but they couldn't put any fruit clumps in them. It's a yogurt snack-thing that needs to be refrigerated, which means it has active cultures (I'm not so sure about the shelf-stable stuff). My daughter, Piper, is a big yogurt fan and liked these. I thought the Spiderman tie-in was tacky (what do spiders have to do with yogurt?). Also, my daughter could use the extra fat, what's with all the low-fat yogurt? 3/5
  • Fruit on bottom yogurt: Tastes like any kind of lowfat yogurt... full of artificial stuff to make the yogurt have a creamy mouth-feel without the fat. There's only so much you can do with lowfat yogurt... 3/5
  • 100 calorie yogurt - I'm afraid to try it. :-(
Well, we've established that I'm a complete yogurt snob. I recommend any kind of plain full-fat yogurt. If you're in Utah, Moutain High is super delicious. Best mix-ins: Lemon curd, nuts and honey, and fruit. If you're desperate jam will do in a pinch. Piper loves this yogurt mixed with any flavor of baby food.
we love this yogurt

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Walking on the Provo River Trail + cake

The past month or two I've been walking a lot on the Provo River trail with Piper. Almost every time we see something new and exciting. If you just want to see baby pictures they're on my photo blog.
some shelf fungus appeared on a tree after it rained

a dead Monarch butterfly! At least I think it's a Monarch.
I meant to identify this flower after our walk... I never did X(.
the views are amazing
morning clouds in our neighborhood 
there's a part where the river trail goes under a road that has openings of different shapes. The diamond opening was by far the favorite of spiders! You can't see it very well but there were 12+ spiders in this one opening. Test of courage!
There's a spot where 30-40 ducks regularly congregate and sleep near one of the parking lots. We call it "duck city."
Leopard slug
UFO cloud!
we get tons of these bugs around our house... are they mayflies?
There is a house along the trail with a very duck-friendly yard and regular morning feedings (usually between 8-9). This must have been before the feeding and I counted at least 60 ducks gathered here. I call it "ducktopia" because I keep wondering if they're going to harvest any of those delicious-looking ducks. 
Another yard near the trail houses two horses and a donkey. Koko and Piper were pretty interested in meeting it.
look carefully--there's a moth in this photo!
I looked up the tree that is everywhere on the river trail and it's a Fremont Cottonwood tree. Duh! I feel like I should know this stuff by now. Is there a remedial plant identification course I could take?

I started taking Piper to the library and I read a few issues of Otomen, which they have there. Here were two parts I thought were pretty funny (in the first two, the friend is thinking up an excuse to leave so his friend can have a good date or something). In the second two, the traditional swimsuit fan service is completely undermined, to humorous effect.

Okay, now for the last few photos I wanted to share:
sometimes I have really high-calorie snacks? This is goat cheese, cashews, and honey.
I made caramel for a cake I baked
This was the cake before I frosted it. It looked better after the frosting, but I forgot to take a photo.
I baked a cake! It was this salted caramel cake from the Cook's Illustrated magazine. It was actually one of my "little goals" I mentioned in the previous post. The part I messed up on the most was cutting the two layers in half and getting them to line up. Otherwise it was just a matter of following directions, although I was glad I started in the morning, because with all the cooling times of the cake, caramel, and frosting it took almost all day! I have a lot more appreciation for the work that goes into making a cake now.