Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

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You are not going to believe this, but I actually went a week and a half without taking a nap. Me! A week! And a Half! Without a nap! This is unprecedented. Never in my life have I gone so long without a nap. Ever. And it all began when I decided, after months of suspecting I should get back to exercising and stop rage-eating, I stepped on the scale. Talk about unprecedented – I gasped out loud when I saw a number I have never seen and never thought I would see (aside from pregnancy).

I know it shouldn’t matter, that I’m more than just numbers on the scale, but it did matter to me. It was unacceptable. Something had to be done immediately. Extreme measures had to be taken. None of my half-hearted attempts to bribe or trick myself into getting back into shape had worked, so I had to pull out the big guns: No naps until I lost five pounds (the first five of many).

Apparently I value naps over all other rewards or punishments, because I immediately got serious about shedding my election weight (and my two-years-leading-up-to-the-election weight, while I was at it.) I tracked my calories and worked out as if my nap depended on it, and I was able to lose those five pounds twice as fast as I ever have before. I got to take a lovely nap yesterday, and have gone right back to focusing on taking the next five pounds off so I can have another nap soon.

One thing I learned by not napping is that I had to change some of my patterns. I could no longer read anything in my bed or I’d start to feel droopy, so I had to sit upright at the kitchen table. It felt kind of cold and distant, but it worked. I didn’t fall asleep.

I also noticed how many leftover projects I can get done when I need something to distract me from my sleepiness. One afternoon, I spent a few hours working on a project for my piano studio that I’d been meaning to get around to for a while. I was so pleased that I finally got around to it, I said to one of my students, “Remember how I was going to type up that guide sheet for last year’s Scale Olympics?” And he said dryly, “Actually, you’ve said that for the last four years.” Sassy answer, but it just goes to show how much I can get done if I force myself to stay awake.

The problem with not taking naps is that I could not make myself stay up later than 9:30 each night. My husband’s a night owl, so usually 10 p.m. until midnight is the best time to hang out with him. I feel like I never see him anymore now that I pass out before my kids do.

I’d like to say that my time without naps convinced me to give them up for good in the future. Luckily for my weight loss goals, I still very much need them and will do whatever it takes to get my next one. After all, that’s what I do. It’s what I live for.

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It

My husband teaches at a University that has no Spring Break. Can you believe that? Every year, the kids and I find something to do (usually around town or visiting grandparents) without him, which is sad because he’s the fun one. We all know he’s the fun one. 

This year, by some miracle, he had an actual Spring Break – ONE WHOLE DAY OFF – which coincided with a day off of school for our kids. Since this was such a rare opportunity, we decided to make the most of it. We had some things preventing us from going on an actual vacation so I planned a family fake-cation instead.

I don’t usually exert myself to make something cutesy and centered around a theme, but we wanted to make this short break memorable. You may wonder how a fake-cation is different from the already existing “staycation”. Maybe it isn’t.

We’ve done a really great staycation in the past, using the cool Salt Lake Connect Pass. We stayed at home but visited lots of great tourist spots within an hour of our home. It turned out to be one of our favorite vacations.

For our fake-cation (or “fakay”, as Fritz started calling it), we still stayed at home and visited attractions near our home, but we pretended we were on an actual vacation. Our house became an Airbnb, our van became a shuttle, and the rec center pool we visit all the time became a hotel pool (which we all know is so much more fun than other pools). When we visited a town right next to ours, our kids pretended to have trouble getting the pronunciation just right:“Santaquin? Santaquin?”

When the boys got home from school on Thursday, I handed them each an itinerary. Fritz thought it was so cool he asked if he could take it to school on Monday to show his class. Any time we discussed straying from the itinerary in any way, he stubbornly insisted that we follow the plan. It was a change from our usual way of doing things to stick to a schedule, but we found we were pretty good at it. Here’s the itinerary:

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And here we are enacting the itinerary, first by making Fruit Sushi in our cooking class (very sweet but quite tasty):

Playing games,

Inhaling Waffle Luv for breakfast,

Hiking Rock Canyon,

Swimming (my husband and I even swam laps, if you can believe it),

Enjoying J Dawgs for lunch,

Making our own soap at The Soap Factory (a first for us – lots of fun!)

Going to the movies together-ish. They saw Lego Batman while I watched Beauty and the Beast all by myself. We were all satisfied with our decisions. Plus, I saw Belle in real life!

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Dining at Galilee Grill (our new favorite, thanks to our neighbors for introducing us),

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And getting our Broadway on with Frank Wildhorn and Friends.

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The next day, we stayed closer to home. We had breakfast at Santaquin’s haunted Family Tree Diner (as seen on TV), home of French bread loaf-sized scones,

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We went to the temple with Grub,

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And we ended the party at The Best Taco Truck In Town (they really are the best, as advertised). Thanks to the same neighbors for recommending this place as well!

It may look like we spent a lot of our fake-cation eating out, but isn’t that what you do when you’re on a real vacation? And with what we saved by staying at our own personal Airbnb, it only seemed right.

I originally thought the boys would roll their eyes at the weekend’s plan so I was surprised every time I heard them say, “Ok, what’s next? Where’s the itinerary?” I guess a few minutes of planning doesn’t hurt. And I’m pretty sure this fake-cation was a success, for real.

What a Wonderful World

It’s March, the month of a million concerts. It’s the month when I don’t have time to do laundry but I have to do laundry because if I don’t do laundry, we’ll run out of black clothes. It’s the month when other kids’ parents bring flowers or take them out for ice cream after a performance but when our kids ask for a reward, we just laugh and tell them to hurry and take off their pants so we can wash them for the next performance. So no, I didn’t have time to try something from my list of things I hate this week.

I’ve written before about how much I love BYU’s Off the Map Festival, so if you didn’t listen to me the first four or five times I urged you to check it out, you really only have yourself to blame for missing the play Every Brilliant Thing. Although it deals with the serious subjects of depression and suicide, the play is warm and light-hearted. It’s the story of a boy who responds to his mother’s suicide attempt by compiling for her a list of “Brilliant Things”. Although he’s not sure it makes any difference to his mother, the list of everyday pleasures becomes something he returns to throughout his life, adding to it until it reaches thousands, and then a million items.

It was a lovely play, and I left the theater wanting to make my own list of Brilliant Things some day. Since I’ve been complaining about a lot of things lately, and because I’m in the middle of March Music Madness, now seems like an awfully good time to get to it. You might notice that I mention food a lot, but I promise I was actually showing great restraint in that department.

 

BRILLIANT THINGS

Pink Lady apples

Fleece sheets

Songs in a quick ¾

Grey Sweaters

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Wearing earrings and remembering where I was when I bought them

The tactile pleasure of feeling the curving indent at the end of my turn signal lever every time I turn

Beating my best time on Sudoku

Modern medicine

Health insurance

Popping my son’s toes

Popping my back

Finding and eradicating the source of a mysterious odor in the house

Kids in hammocks

New Yorker cartoons

Watching toddlers concentrate as they try to balance puppets on their heads

Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas albums

Our local Taco Truck

Metronome charts

Post-it note graph paper for metronome charts

Lemon bars

Silicone grabbers for pulling quilting needles out

Naps

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

Mint chocolate chip ice cream where the chips are really just flakes of chocolate that melt on your tongue

The memory of my fit grandpa holding on to a tree and pulling himself up to a perpendicular position while in his 70s

The memory of my grandma making me a strawberry milkshake for dinner

White mountains framed by a bright blue sky

Vegetable Samosas

Fake mustaches

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Elephant and Piggie books

The smell of sunscreen

The sound of Fritz’s giggle as he wears headphones and watches The Muppet Show on road trips

The way the dimples on my knees look like faces and I can make them “talk”

Mercy Watson books

My Hello Kitty Snuggie

Getting too competitive during a card game

The feeling of fresh-from-the-dentist-clean teeth

Red pepper jelly

Jon Klassen books

Chicken kebab pita from Aladdin’s on the Erie Canal

Head massager (for the first thirteen seconds)

My mom’s flower pots

My dad’s seer sucker suit

The way a baby arches his back when he stretches

Tetris and Tetris dreams

The kind of quiet that only happens after it snows

Stickers

Listening to my husband “ungrouch” our kids

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A precisely loaded dishwasher

Squeeze’s “Tempted”

Perfecting my Utah accent

Sticky rice with mangoes

The smell of tomato plants

Remembering the way my boys used to dance to the Newsies soundtrack

No-bake cookies the second day

Never losing the ability to French braid my own hair

Never losing my muscle memory to succeed at Super Mario Bros.

Cashews

The smell of rosemary

A root beer freeze

BBC Dramas

Korean Dramas

The pair of matching freckles on my husband’s lower eyelids

The feeling of completing a workout you totally didn’t want to start

The smell of bread baking

The happy buzz in my brain after eating Indian food

Quoting Strictly Ballroom and A Room With a View in their entirety with friends

The way making raspberry trifle makes anything feel like a special occasion

The dress I bought in Mexico and wore constantly in college and still can’t bring myself to throw out, even if it was obviously made for someone shorter and wider

Homemade breadsticks

Dancing like Ed Grimley

Cinnamon toast

Having a pile of “to-read” books waiting for me

Real butter

The first bite of a stick of gum

Introducing a new group of toddlers to the “Sticky Bubblegum” song

Our “Compliments” session at the beginning of Family Night each Monday night

Impromptu dance scenes in otherwise non-dancing movies

Face swaps

face swaps

Oh’s Cereal

Finding a friend who’s just the right balance of weird and nice

My kids finding a friend who’s just the right balance of weird and nice

Fresh squeezed orange or apple juice

Playing and singing old Gershwin and Cole Porter songs by myself 

Coupons

Pulling a weed out without breaking off any of the roots

Peaches and cream

The rare moment when I get the choreography right in Zumba class

A well-crafted candy gram message

The extremely warm temperature in rest homes

Sons who cook for me

My family’s Christmas Eve “Sleigh Ride” performance

The moment when my family finds out the pancakes I made are not just regular pancakes but actually my much-loved lemon sour cream pancakes

Advil

Walking into the bedroom each morning to see the bed freshly made by my husband

Checking off all the boxes on my to-do list

Ignoring all the boxes on my to-do list

Cadbury mini eggs

Buying ugly prescription glasses just for fun because they’re only $8

Nailing a performance

Messing up in a performance without anyone noticing

Waffle Luv waffles

Clearance racks

Watching my kids play drums

Karaoke singing with family

Going to Relief Society and feeling connected to women 20 years younger and 20 years older than I am

When a song comes on and everyone in the car knows all the words and sings loudly with all the same inflections

A warm, sunny day melting all the snow from the storm three days earlier

Cool High Fives

 

You can see how this list could become a lifelong project. Since I started thinking about all the brilliant things there are in the world, I found myself adding to the list in my head everywhere I went this week. I realize it’s pretty much the opposite of my blog List, and maybe that’s why it’s such a refreshing change of pace. I’m getting so tired of being told the world is a scary place. I enjoyed being able to step back and remind myself that the world is as lovely as I decide to believe it is. Feel free to add to my list or to start your own.  

Hostess With the Mostest

My mom throws good parties but I did not inherit her same skill or enthusiasm. I like the cooking and eating part of special occasions, but I see no point in decorating or even working too hard to make sure the silverware matches. I only really make an effort for the Big Three Holidays: Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. My mom, on the other hand, has decorations and traditions for every holiday. When I was a kid, she made special pancakes almost every month: heart-shaped in February, green in March, and for April Fool’s Day, she made some with paper towels hidden inside. And don’t get me started on her Halloween bashes!

My mom even threw a MASH farewell party for the final episode of our family’s favorite TV show.

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I’m not as motivated or energetic as she is, and I often just don’t see the point. But then I got to thinking that maybe I was missing out on something meaningful. Probably not, but maybe! So I decided to throw a party for something I usually don’t care about at all – The Academy Awards.

Did it matter that I can’t remember the last time I watched the Oscars? Or that we don’t even have television service to watch them? No! Was I going to let the fact that I had only seen one of the nominated films stop me from watching strangers (the actors in those films) give speeches? No! Do I care about designer dresses or celebrity couples? Not a bit! So obviously, throwing an Oscars party was a logical first step for me.

I decided to approach the awards ceremony the same way I do most book clubs. I rarely read the book ahead of time. Instead, I listen to the discussion and decide from the other readers whether it’s really worth it. Then I wait a few years to read it until I’ve forgotten all the spoilers. It’s worked well with books, so I decided to try it with these new movies.

I went all out ($15) with the decorations.

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We dressed in our fanciest duds.

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He learned how to tie a real bow tie for the occasion.

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Okay, we didn’t all get fancy.

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Inspired by Twenty One Pilots. I’m so sorry you had to see this.

And I became uncharacteristically punny with the food.

It was an amazing party, if I do say so myself. And what, you may wonder, were my thoughts on the Oscars? The dresses? The big surprise ending? Well, it turns out that when I saw we could stream it live on the website or with the app, I didn’t read the fine print, which basically said that no, we couldn’t actually stream it on either. (Ha! That was a good practical joke, abc! You got me!)

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The finest crystal, courtesy of Dollar Tree

But did we let that ruin our fun? Not in the least. We decided instead to cuddle up and watch one of the films nominated for Best Animated Picture, (Kubo and the Two Strings) and we all agreed it was much more fun than if I had actually been successful at the whole purpose of the party.

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Of course, we didn’t let our failure to watch stop us from accepting the award for Best Oscars Party Ever. In fact, it was such a good party, I don’t think it’s even worth trying to top it. I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead. After all, the first rule of show business is to leave them wanting more, right?