A slice of today


A list of things to remember about this day/time:

  • When dropping the kids off at school, Gabriela ran off without her mask on so I called her to stop. I hopped out of the car to hand it to her. It had a flower print.
  • I sipped on Starbucks hot cocoa mix made with oat milk for my breakfast.
  • Gabbi and I lunched today (she had a Kindergarten-carpool ride home) on peanut butter sandwiches with strawberry-rhubarb jam.
  • I listened to part of a webinar about IoT security. The presenter was dull and spent much of his time selling his consulting business. I closed my laptop on him.
  • We have Young Women’s tonight, but the Governor recently switched things over to a new high/moderate/low transmission level guidance. So we’re meeting over Zoom.
  • I setup a trial Salesforce account than defined an allowable IP range for logging in, which was the IP address from my AWS VPN server. It worked. I documented it and passed it on to Johan in the Netherlands for a tech review.
  • I sipped on Dr. Pepper with some vanilla syrup and coconut creamer. On ice.
  • Pogi sneezed on my feet.
  • Our HelloFresh box arrived. It’s not better food than we make. It’s easier.
  • We have a small hole in our roof from the windstorm a while back. I didn’t think the hole went all the way through. I was wrong. The insurance estimator guy took a pic of it. We made a claim. Moises will come this week to plan the fix. He did our roof this summer.
  • Dominic did successfully put in his 15 minutes of piano practicing this morning without fighting me. He’s learning a simplified piano solo arrangement of The Water is Wide. It’s pretty. Eli is his teacher (15-year old neighbor boy).
  • I voted yesterday by dropping my mail-in ballot in the drop box in front of the library.
  • We hit up Yellowstone and Island Park last week. I still scroll through the pictures of all the beauty.

Leaning on my tribe


I could not raise my kids alone. Neither could Nathan and I do it on our own. We lean on our tribe. We have our family, and our neighbors, our church, and our school, and we have their friends from these places plus soccer, dance, and gymnastics. We need people. The isolation and lockdown measures from the coronavirus stressed this need. Then the windstorm, when we huddle insice, waiting for it to be safe to venture out again, stressed this more.

The windstorm hit us last week, waking me early on Tuesday morning when a large branch thudded onto the back deck. It was 5:00 a.m. I knew the storm was coming. We prepared the night before by putting furniture, bikes, and toys inside of the patio and taking in plants from the porches. But then I wondered if I should have brought the deck chairs on the front porch in. All I had done was flip the footstools over and set them on top of the chairs, then push them against the house. So I decided to grab my robe and walk upstairs. The back porch motion light was on and I saw the mass of branches and leaves just outside the door, knowing that was likely what shook and thundered the house a bit when it crashed down. I went to the living room and sat on the couch, watching in awe and terror as the wind dangerously swayed the giant conifers across the street. The patio chairs, right in front of me on the other side of the window, didn’t move. They were fine. I went back to bed.

Two more loud thuds shook the house again and I grabbed the monitor to check on the kids. Gabbi was still asleep. Dom was sitting up in bed. I went in to talk to him.

“Was that an earthquake?” he asked. It was a valid question this year. Just the wind. At this point, I had woken up Nathan to investigate the source of the thud while I went to talk with Dom. He found outside that one massive branch had landed on the roof than blown over to drop down, partially on his car. The other massive branch was still sitting on the roof, directly over Gabbi’s bedroom. She continued sleeping.

“You can go sit in my bed,” I told Dom. He wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep now.

After the windstorm, neighbors checked on us and we on them. Some lost power down the street. At first, we were fine and I continued working through the day. That evening, our Xfinity service quit. It would be out for the next two days. We never lost power, but I had to scramble to find a way to connect and work without, what is now a necessity, internet. No neighbors had any serious damage done, which was no small miracle in itself. The closest was Trish’s home, up on the circle, where massive conifers landed across her front yard, landed right outside her front door. Her neighbor, Mike Sorenson, said the crash was incredibly loud when they fell and he looked over immediately after to see smoky dust rising up through and around the tree.

That Wednesday, the youth canceled their planned activity to play Fugitive, and met at Trish’s house at 3:00 p.m. Neighbors with chainsaws, pickups and trailers met up with them. They cleared the trees from her yard, then moved on, working through the neighborhood, clearing out the fallen trees, loading them onto the pickups and trailers, and dumping them in the church parking lot, which Bountiful designated as a spot for green waste. Dominic and I helped out for a time while Gabbi was at her dance class.

Those large branches that fell from our tree? Neighbors wielding chainsaws helped cut them up and drag them out to the curb where another neighbor took them down to the dump.

Today:

  • Maeli and Sadie came over to help Dom and Gabbi with their online school assignments. When they finished, they played outside and cooked some sugar cookies with pumpkin shapes inside. Yesterday, they did an art project together: water colors on canvas with glow-in-the-dark glue details added.
  • I flipped through some old pictures while I listened to the billing meeting for work (OpenVPN). The discussion was mostly between Yurii (Ukraine), Johan (Netherlands), Elfedy (Northern Cali), and Nineveh (Arizona).
  • I finished reviewing comments from Johan about documentation on how to migrate OpenVPN Access Server on an AWS tiered image over to a BYOL image and use the new subscriptions. I had a number of corrections about clarifying which database architect mattered for updating and the difference between tiered pricing and fixed licenses. That all made total sense, right?
  • I sent some emails to an editor with Flagstaff Publishing for an article for an upcoming issue of Utah Life Magazine. The article is on The Charleston Draper, which is a restaurant run out of the farm home that Grandma DeeDee lived in as a young woman. The timing of the article is comforting. Also, I learned that the Pioneer who built it, Joshua Terry, had two wives, the first a Shoshone Native American who disappeared on him with their two kids when he went on a hunting trip. After two years, he stopped waiting for her to come back and married a widow, Mary. They then moved to Draper and built them home. That’s when first wife found out and went to find him. She tried to get Mary killed by sending some men to do the job, one with a butcher knife, and a couple others to burn down the home. Mary fought off her knife attacker with boiling water and a poker. Joshua chased the arsonists away with his gun. He kept his first wife living in a nearby cabin because he wanted to have their children, George and Jane, around. He bought them Western clothes, but his first wife refused those and dressed them in Native American attire and added war paint. According to the stories…

And now, I am overdue to feed my children lunch! Enjoy this pic of friends in my tribe: me, Jamie, Beth, Anna.

An online tribute to Grandma


Edith Reed works in her pristine yard and garden at her home in Salt Lake City, May 29, 2018. At 100 years young, Edith continues to exercise daily, tend to her large yard and garden and teach piano lessons.

The caption on the picture above was written by the photographer. He visited Grandma in 2018 to take pictures for Utah Life Magazine. I wrote the story and it was one of the best writing assignments I’ve ever been paid for.

I wrote Grandma’s obituary this week. It was a costly writing assignment for the family. Obituaries are expensive. And family said I could make it long. With COVID-19 restrictions, we will only have a graveside service. So that was a little like the funeral replacement.

That, and publishing a website.

Mick will be streaming Grandma’s funeral. We posted information about it in her obituary, but I wanted a place to share the recorded stream as well. I was sitting out in the patio last week. I had my phone in my hand, texting family about obituary things, sitting on the blue couch that was once Natalie’s, and I thought… “I wonder if edith.com is available.” It wasn’t. Nobody’s doing anything with the site. Just some dumb domain flipper bought it, is sitting on it, and hoping somebody really wants it and will pay some absurd price to buy it from them.

Anyway, I checked edithreed next and there it was, unclaimed. I claimed it. I texted my mom. What about a website, I asked her?

We now have a website and I’m pretty happy about it. It’s not perfect, but it’s filled with pictures and memories and information about Grandma for family and friends.

Edith Carlquist Reed | 1917-2020

A few comments on the process, for my own record:

  • Tried searching through Digital Ocean first to host a webpage
  • Didn’t feel like using WordPress that I use for two other sites
  • Asked web guy/friend/coworker Matt if he had a suggestion
  • He tossed out several ideas then said, “wait I know, try webflow”
  • Signed up for free account and started working with webflow designer
  • Works so well and creates really good layout / design using containers and elements inside containers, etc
  • Started designing and needed lots of pictures, too, so scraped through my Google photos and a few other spots
  • Pulled out her old Christmas cards to include some thoughts
  • Had problems setting up a comment page so had to drop that (maybe could add later, but requires a Zapier integration which might also require $$)
  • Grabbed a signature from one of her Christmas cards, pulled it out in Photoshop, then sent to Matt who cleaned it up in Illustrator and sent me an svg file
  • Matt also made my little icons for grit, gratitude, and grin
  • Shared with people on Facebook so I hope it gets out to family and friends so they can read about her!

Blessed like Edith


I wrote her obituary today. I had help. I had her help first. I listened to her talk to me, through recordings on my phone, sharing her story of the memories and details she wanted to include. Then, I had a coworker (a writer, and a friend) Lydia help polish it. I then sent it along for reviewing and editing by Aunt Annabel and both of my parents. It’s almost ready. It needs the last bit of COVID-specific detail: how to watch the livestream of the memorial service.

This evening, I started trying to put together a webpage for what will be edithreed.com. My eyes are stinging. Thus, I’m stopping in a moment to go to bed (it’s 11:08 PM).

As I was searching through my filing cabinet, I pulled out past Christmas letters from Grandma. I wanted to take her signature and make it into an image file for the website. It’s rough (below), but it’s a start. At the back of the folder was a yellowed paper with the words of my baby blessing. I pulled it out. My father gave it to me on December 8th, 1980. I wasn’t quite two months old yet. Here is part of a paragraph that talks specifically about Grandma DeeDee:

We bless her that she might observe and take note from her grandmother, Edith Reed, the ability to be an unremitting perfectionist, the capability to develop the taste for fine and beautiful things; the capability and the talent to become educated. We bless her to recall that becoming well trained and educated is something for which Thou art pleased and something which we would encourage. Bless her that she might observe the way that Grandmother Reed has continued to raise her family and that she might so set examples in her life.

Hybrid school year, here we go


A post about today. And Thursday. And a little bit of Friday.

From Monday, Gabbi’s first day of Kindergarten

Today is Tuesday. That means it’s online school day. We don’t have online assignments yet. Teachers sent home some papers. Dom and Gabbi did them with Maeli and Sadie. They’re the neighbor girls I hired as tutors. It was quiet for a bit. Now they’re running around, yelling, playing, and bouncing off the walls. I suppose they finished their work.

I told Dom he should start piano at 11:15. He said he would check the microwave clock to know when to start. It’s 11:29.

I’m in a meeting with Lydia (in Virginia), Dasha (in South Jordan), Julie (in Texas), Matt (in California), and Doug (in Washington). So I ignore the noise and don’t worry about the piano practicing.

Grandma DeeDee died last Friday. So piano practicing feels a bit different, obviously.

She called last Monday. She told me it hurt to talk and breathing was difficult so she would no longer teach piano. She told me to keep having Dom practice Anitra’s Dance with me. She told me to have Gabbi “spell” words with the keys on the piano: CAB, GAB, DAD, BEG, etc.

Mom sent a text on Thursday: “Come visit Granma DD today if you can”.

I was out on the patio at the time. Dom and Gabbi were inside watching GoNoodle. I was kicking and punching the air with my iPad playing a Les Mills Body Combat workout. I was 30 minutes in so I stopped it.

“I’m going to shower,” I told my kids. “Go do piano, k?”

I cut up a peach from my neighbor, Stacey’s tree, peeled it, put it into a cleaned out sour cream container and called for Dom and Gabbi to come with me.

When we arrived at Grandma’s, she was sitting in the chair in her piano room. Laura, Annabel, and Phil were there, along with Candace, someone who I think they hired to help clean and garden. My mom showed up not long after.

I sat next to Laura who sat next to Grandma and we watched her go through a pile of clothes. We took turns graciously taking them from her as she donated things. Mom brought in her wedding dress from the upstairs closet. Candace helped Laura find her bag with her temple clothes in the front closet. Mom also pulled out a bag of plastic masks that Grandma liked to wear to her Halloween ward parties. I took a video of Mom holding them up to her face. Grandma put the hat on and laughed. I took some pictures. I had no idea that would be my last picture of Grandma, wearing her sister’s hat, laughing, with her oxygen tubes in her nose and wearing her Columbia sweatshirt.

When I left, I grabbed Grandma’s hand. Thane had arrived and was now sitting next to her. I leaned down and told her I loved her. I figured I would be back again. I wanted to bring the music for Anitra’s Dance so Dom and I could play together for her. I had forgotten to bring it with us like I wanted.

We passed Laina and her kids as they pulled up to the house.

We went to Ikea. Wearing our masks, we stood in line outside, standing under a giant tent set up with a winding line and social distancing markers on the ground.

Eventually, we got in and walked around, looking at furniture, hunting for desk chair pads (which I never found), and getting items to finish organizing Dom’s desk. I wanted a standing laptop desk for my office. It was sold out. I wanted a patio storage unit. It was sold out. We found the things for Dom’s desk and got in line. The line went all the way back through the self-pickup area, then split into two and wound through piles of items for sale. I picked up a duvet cover. We shuffled forward, keeping socially distanced from those in front and behind us. Eventually, we made it through the checkout, loaded up our car, and drove off to home. It didn’t look like I would get much work done before Dom’s soccer practice.

Our day changed in an instance when Mom sent her text. I was glad for it. And glad for a job that gave me that flexibility.

Friday afternoon, Gideon (15-year old neighbor) babysat Dom and Gabbi. I drove up to Layton to pick up Karen with some river tubes and life jackets. We met Sabrina up along the Weber River to put our tubes in the water in Henefer.

Grandma taught piano students in Henefer, Coalville, and Hoytsville for years.

When she first married, she and Grandaddy lived in Hoytsville. He had a job as a seminary teacher. She taught lessons.

I was floating the river from Henefer to Taggart when Grandma DeeDee, resting in her bed, passed away. She had done her NYTimes crossword the night before. She got up and dressed that morning to meet the hospice chaplain. Around lunch, she went back to bed to rest. One last time.

Lost Sense of Time


Today is Tuesday. It’s hard to keep track. I confuse which days we need to do which Zoom meetings. Last week, we missed a morning gymnastics Zoom. Today, we missed Dom’s class Zoom. This is one of my biggest struggles recently: tracking my kids’ online appointments. It’s an odd problem to have. I keep track of my own Zooms okay: with college buddies, writers’ group (above), virtual game nights, and family.

Since my last post, we experienced another big aftershock. It happened the next morning, around 7:40, as I was slowly waking up. Dom was in the family room playing Minecraft on the family computer. Gabbi was still in bed. When it hit, it rumbled for six seconds, shaking the bed, creaking the wood in the structure of the house. I checked the camera, expecting Gabbi to be crying. She simply put the pillow over her head, then after the shaking stop, curled back up with her stuffies.

Dom came in. “Mom what was that?” he asked.

“Another aftershock,” I said, forcing my tone to be upbeat. “A big one, huh? Pretty good.” I offered him an impressive smile.

“Yeah,” he said. “Shook my chair.”

I waited for him to sound scared. He shrugged his shoulders and went back to his Minecraft.

I was definitely awake for the day now, my heart rate elevated. I took some deep breaths. They didn’t seem to help. I got up and got moving. After getting breakfast for the kids, I put on some workout clothes and spent an hour lifting weights and breaking a sweat. That calmed my anxiety and I could focus on the day ahead: Dom’s schooling, Gabbi’s preschooling, my working, Nathan’s working; a house full of a family on their screens.

We would take a break, mid-day, to leave the house and drive to Muir Elementary School. We picked up our two free school lunches there. The lunch ladies wore masks. One of them clearly crocheted her own. It was pink.

Today, we are in the “orange” phase. Utah has their plan fairly well outlined. We moved out of the red phase at the end of April. In April, you couldn’t go inside Swig. I haven’t been yet this month, but perhaps the lobby is now open…?

They now allow businesses to open up as long as they can do so with social distancing, strict cleaning, and strongly-encouraged masks. I went to the store last Saturday for groceries and less people wore masks. They care less now in Davis County. Maybe Salt Lake is better. I wore my mask. The Smith’s felt crowded. It may have been my own bias, but it seemed the maskless people were cavalier with social distancing as well. I tried to keep my space. I also tried to smile at people with my eyes. There’s a distinct divide felt out in public, but also a feeling of missed connections.

I’ve found a lot of reward in my job lately. It feels good to be both challenged and competent. I finished documenting how to integrate our business product, OpenVPN Access Server, with Google’s GSuite Enterprise using Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). I know, it’s all this techie stuff, which is why I felt both challenged and competent. Documenting the steps meant doing them myself and included setting up an LDAP client in Google, download a certificate and key, uploading those to my Linux server in AWS, and configuring the rest of the connection. Once I had it all done, I could test by logging in to my VPN with a user that had credentials set up from the GSuite account. Success. I then passed of my documentation to one of our tech gurus, who happens to be in the Netherlands, and he sent it back with a few small typos and notes. I basically got it right. I know how to do my job. I felt validated.

And then I tried to parent my kids. They ignored me. They fought. They acted like kids. And I felt not-so validated. Ah, how humbling parenting can be.

This morning, Gabbi said, “I don’t want to make any bad choices because I love Jesus.”

With all of this home schooling and upside-down living during this pandemic, I hope my kids learn one thing: kindness.

Earthquakes and pandemics and bears, oh my


There’s so much time for thinking these days.

Too much.

It can spiral. In the wrong way.

I haven’t had problems with that for a long time, though. I was mentally strong. But the world today is upside down. So I’m going to keep track of it. I haven’t used this blog for a long time. I’m dusting it off for it to be my journal for the next while. Feel free to read along. Or not. I’m doing this for mental health.

First, some notes on what’s happened:

  • We shut down the schools in Utah in March. The governor ordered a “soft closure” where they’re now learning online.
  • We picked up an iPad for Dom (1st grade) and packets of lessons for Gabbi (preschool).
  • Nathan works almost entirely for home. Every now and then he goes to the building (North Star Elementary) to let in a teacher.
  • He records stories on video to post on the school’s Facebook page.
  • He records videos for his teachers to do a type of mental health challenge each week.
  • I work from home most afternoons writing technical content for OpenVPN. I appreciate the connection with my coworkers.
  • Dom and Gabbi watch a lot of screens. It’s okay.
  • They have Zoom gymnastics and dance.
  • Dom practices his piano most days and likes to play Scarborough Fair with me.

And there was an earthquake. March 18th, I was shaken awake. I instantly knew it was an earthquake. I looked around for a second to try to find my robe to put on, but then ran upstairs to my kids’ bedrooms. I could hear Gabbi crying. I ran into her room first and the shaking had stopped.

“It’s okay, Gabbi. It was an earthquake. It’s okay.” She laid down.

I opened Dom’s door.

“Mom what was that?” he asked. I heard the fear in his voice.

“An earthquake,” I said.

“You mean I lived through an earthquake?” he asked. He sounded incredulous.

“Yes,” I said and went back into Gabbi’s room.

She was curled under her covers.

“You can go back to sleep if you want,” I said. “Or you can come downstairs.”

I went downstairs and into my bathroom to use the toilet. Nathan was in the shower. I figured he’d comment when he heard me in the bathroom near him. When he didn’t, I said something.

“Did you feel that?” I asked.

“What?”

“The earthquake.”

“There was an earthquake? I thought I just lost my balance in the shower.”

I went into my bedroom. Dom and Gabbi were on the bed. We turned on the news and watched. The first big aftershock shook us all on the bed. Nathan got dressed for work. They were handing out laptops to students at his school that day, the first official week of online school about to start. We were supposed to pick up Dom’s iPad that day as well. My heart raced a little with the second aftershock. My phone buzzed with notifications. I talked with my Dad on the phone. All well with them. The GroupMe messages went off one after another. I checked Twitter. I checked Facebook. Then I read a random woman’s post on Facebook. “This could actually be a foreshock for a bigger earthquake within the day. There’s a chance of a 7.0. If you live in an un-reinforced masonry home, you should get out to be safe.” I felt more aftershocks. Nathan had left. I don’t remember what Dom and Gabbi did that morning. My heart started racing. In the afternoon, we had a big aftershock. Nathan had finally come home because they closed down the schools and postponed handing out devices. We all sat together in Gabbi’s room. I was terrified. Dom, too.

That night, Dom slept on the couch in our bedroom. Gabbi was unphased and slept in her room. I tossed and turned the entire night. For five nights, I tried to sleep, but never got more than an hour at a time. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t slow my heart rate down. I hardly focused for work. I managed to host our team’s first retrospective meeting. It went well. We were all connected from home. It was a good distraction. For a while. I kept reading about earthquakes and aftershocks and scaring myself. It was all the wrapped up feelings of anxiety I dealt with through high school and college. But I was an adult now. I knew how to take care of myself. I needed to snap out of it. And I couldn’t. All my usual outlets were taken away with the gyms closed, church shut down, soccer season postponed, restaurants switched to take out. I tried to focus on deep breathing. My heart stayed in my throat. Pounding and pounding. Was that another earthquake? Or is it my heart shaking the bed?

The earthquake was a 5.7 magnitude with the epicenter in Magna. Since then, we’ve had over 1,200 aftershocks, five of them a magnitude 4+. Today, I am doing well, but that week after the earthquake, I lost ten pounds from not being able to eat. The Monday after the quake, I called my midwife and left a message. They said they’d try to contact her. She wasn’t in the office until Tuesday. By the afternoon, I tried another way to get help. I got on Intermountain Connect’s app. I “waited” for the doc for over four hours. When I finally connected, it was a familiar face on the phone screen, Robin. Robin and I had known each other for about 15 years. She was a PA at the employee health clinic at ARUP. We had been there together for a decade. She was both my doctor there for visits, and my friend. We shared the same birthday, though years apart. We had stayed connected over social media, but hadn’t seen each other in about 5 years. She spent nearly an hour talking with me for the appointment. It wasn’t a quick fix. It didn’t lower my heart rate. It didn’t bring back my appetite. But it was a start. I picked up a prescription she sent in to help me sleep.

The next day, while out on a social distancing walk with my friend, Beth, my midwife called. We talked and discussed starting an SSRI. I hadn’t been on one since college (unless you count taking something briefly for post-partum after Dom’s birth, but I can’t remember what I had then). I picked up the prescription that day.

And then I blacked out the next day. In the morning, Nathan was making breakfast. The kids sat at the table and he set a plate down for me. I was sitting in the living room. I stood up to walk over to the table, but started seeing black squares. I grabbed for the piano to hold on and let the light headedness pass. Instead, I woke up on the floor, only remembering the sound of my head cracking on the ground. Dom was crying right above me. Nathan knelt over me, holding my hand. I had a goose egg on the back of my head. “I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” I kept saying. I slowly got up and explained that I was okay and only blacked out. It was fine. I got up too fast. I was fine. Dom, it’s okay. Yes, I’m fine.

Today, I am fine. And yet, last night, we had that big aftershock. They measured it a 4.17. It’s been weeks since the earthquake and almost that long since we had aftershocks big enough to feel them. It surprised and scared a lot of people, including my kids. I was out on a social distancing walk with my friend, Lynley. Nathan texted me.

“You doing okay?”

“Yep. Long walk.”

I figured he was just checking in because we’d been walking for almost two hours and it was just after 9:00 p.m. now.

“Did you feel the earthquake?”

“What?”

“I guess not.”

“Is Dom okay?”

“Just a little one. It was short. It shook the house for a second. Dom and Gabbi both started crying. Gabbi is fine but Dom is of course a little freaked out.”

I jogged home to help calm Dom. It happened the same day our governor announced the soft closure of the schools would continue through the end of the school year. All the way to June. Earthquakes and pandemics and bears, oh my.

Blessed to be like three women who raised me


Today is International Women’s Day. I was searching in a box for something from high school and didn’t find it. I did, however, find a piece of paper that is nearly 40 years old. This paper is the transcript of the blessing my father gave me when I was not quite two months old. A traditional baby blessing as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is given by the father to an infant son or daughter for two reasons: to give the baby a name, and to give a blessing both spiritual and physical in nature. During the blessing he gave me, my father focused on three women from whom I could learn from their wisdom, counsel and example.

First, he talked about my maternal grandmother, Grandma DeeDee. Today, she is 101 years old, teaches my son piano lessons (plus 19 other students), and gardens when the weather agrees (which today it is snowing so it does not). Grandma was also my piano teacher for nearly 15 years. Throwing out a rough estimate, that’s over 300 hours spent together in lessons. Typically, these were early morning before school when Grandma would drive up to our house because there was no earthly way for me to drag my tired head down to her house at such an hour. So what did my dad say to his tiny baby girl about his mother-in-law during the blessing? Here are a two highlights:

  • learn from her “the ability to be an unremitting perfectionist, the capability to develop the taste for fine and beautiful things, the capability and the talent to become educated”
  • “…becoming well trained and educated is something for which [God is] pleased and something which we would encourage”

Second, he talked about my Grandma Campbell, we call her Grumma. I have many memories of time spent at her house and then condo, as she hosted so many family gatherings. We learned family history, dressed up from the costume drawer in a little bedroom, had Easter egg hunts in the backyard, swam in the pool at her condo, and gathered for Christmas lunches. From Grumma, my dad blessed me to learn how to:

  • “recognize the spiritual strength to raise a family by herself”
  • “recognize the complete and total dedication to children in setting aside all worldly things for the benefit of her family”
  • “know, somehow, spiritually, the kind of sacrifices associated with that kind of life”

Finally, he talked about my mother, who raised me and my six siblings to be hard-working, kind, and successful adults, parents, and spouses. She also did this while working and sharing her talent as a professional violinist. One of my favorite things is to sit at the piano and accompany her on the violin. From my mom, my dad blessed me, as a teeny tiny baby to:

  • “observe very carefully the intricate life of her mother for she blends together so many wonderful things”
  • “the ability to concentrate and specialize and perfect areas of her choosing”
  • “select other areas to become partly specialized, even good and well-rounded”
  • “find the ability to receive inspiration and even revelation from heaven and that her life might be so directed”

Those are some big dreams for an infant. Growing up with these three women, I was constantly around their examples of hard work, education, sacrifice, and humor. Grumma’s laugh is infectious. Grandma DeeDee is witty and wise. And Granmere (my mom) fills a room with hilarity when she has one of her giggle fits. You can still be silly even when you’re talented, professional and smart. That’s what I learned from all three. Lucky me to grow up with strong women.

#metoo, dating my hubby, and my #rootedlife


In case you forgot, this year I’m all about some Aztec philosophy. I’ve been teased by some neighbors about it. I don’t mind the teasing. Because I’m rooted, yo.

As a refresher, I recently learned about this philosophy, Neltiliztli, which I’ve hashtagged as living a #rootedlife this year. I even made a nifty little infographic. You’re welcome!

I don’t necessarily get up every morning and ask myself, “Hey, Larrie. How are you going to live more Aztecy today?”

But, I’ve been able to review the things I’ve done and see how they related to it. Recently, I read some of my writing for a fundraiser for the Rape Recovery Center. The night included 9 other women writers and the theme was, #metoo. Chad organized the night, for the January event by Voices Heard. Each month, he organizes a night with a group of writers where he shares some of his stuff and the other writers take their turns. There’s always a theme and the times I’ve done it in the past have been stretching, hilarious, touching, and unique. The #metoo night rang true to these emotions. As I reflected back on it, I tied it in to my #rootedlife. That night, the piece I read was a letter to myself, addressed to 18-year old Larrie. I shared bits and pieces of my last 20 years. I talked about making mistakes. I accepted them. I talked about how that created a worthwhile life, in a round about way. I talked about courage. I talked about my actions.

I also listened a lot that night. There were funny stories, hard stories about rape, uplifting stories that came out of rape, crass stories, and some poignant poems. This was the ixtlamatiliztli part of things where I heard practical experiences from these other women. This was also the tlaticpac part of the night where this slippery earth we’re traveling along is managed better when we journey together. It was a night that reiterated to me the strength in coming together, picking each other up when we fall, sharing the hard, sharing the poignant, and sharing the laughter. And doing it with people from all different backgrounds.

Also, Nathan came with me. It was a date night for us, a unique date night. Afterward, we went to snack on sugary things at Cheesecake Factory with two pals, Lynley and Todd. Isn’t it nice when you find good couple friends?

Having a different style of date night gives your relationship a little bit of a recharge. I recently learned this so I’m going to share. It’s from The Gottman Institute and they’ve got some research that shows that engaging in novel experiences as a couple impacts the brain’s reward system. “Such novel experiences release dopamine and norepinephrine, the same chemicals which are released during early romantic courtship.” Twitterpated!

So mix things up.

Also, we helped raise money for a nonprofit that’s doing some serious good.

All in all, it was a good night of living the rooted life.

A random list of my current open Chrome tabs


I just counted. I have 29 open Chrome tabs across my two monitors. I randomly chose ten of them and this is what I do online:

  1. My Gmail, of course
  2. Slack, where I do communication type things with my hubby
  3. The Great Work Study, because I think I’m going to take the time to read this and learn how to produce work that others LOVE
  4. A replacement key for a Toyota RAV4 2006, because they’re crazy expensive from the dealership and I have to pinch mine between my fingers to turn on the car or it comes apart
  5. Several Airtable tabs, because it’s a new part of my life and I’m so happy about it
  6. ERP applications under fire, because I read riveting articles about cybersecurity and business software so I can write nifty posts about it
  7. Your 7-day meal plan for RA, which stands for rheumatoid arthritis and I can’t always remember why I pull up what I do and leave the tab open and when I look at it later, my memory is foggy
  8. Columbus Travel Vacations, because it’s January and I would so rather be sailing away on a cruise, but I’m not, so I just look at the tab and bask in the glow of the monitor
  9. Hubspot stuff, because sometimes I read their things about the things that I might use and try to apply it to things I do for other businesses with their social media things
  10. Amazon.com and specifically buying TurboTax, because it’s that time of the year to begin putting together 1099s to mail out, yay!

Also, I have really random pictures littered throughout the folders of my computer. Let me share four of them with you. You’re welcome.

That time (ages ago) my little brother tried to drive my mom’s car but everything turned out okay in the end.

The snow and a Volvo: beauty.

The snowman I made for a snowman craft contest at work. It was baked modeling clay that I painted a wee bit.

This one time I was stepped on in a soccer game back in 2007 and documented it with a cell phone pic sitting in my cubicle at work.

And now, I shall log off.

Go close some of your tabs. They use so much memory!