family

There is More

Since I have been lucky enough to continue going into the office for work, I am among the (far fewer) commuters in the morning and afternoon. And lately on my way home, I have been taking the freeway a few exits past my own, and then driving up and down the side streets around my neighborhood, just listening to music and decompressing. I like looking at the different houses—especially the front doors, I love a pop of color on a front door—and seeing which roads wind into each other, which ones dead end, and which go up into the hills.

I also like driving around and finding the little spots that hold memories for me, some good, some bad, some from over a decade ago, and some from only a few months before everything shut down.

I can drive down the street where the food trucks park on Friday nights, where my cousin once jogged down the very windy, cold street to get a churro for us to split before the cart closed.

I can drive past the pancake restaurant my friends and I use to eat at once a week in high school, before we spent the night driving around blasting music—sometimes with added choreography.

I can drive past the front lawn where I saw the boy I liked take prom pictures with another girl.

I can drive past the park where I ate cake with my best friend the week before she moved away.

I can drive past the house with the orange tree out front, where my grandparents use to live and my papa used to let me sit on his lap while he pulled into the driveway.

On some streets I can hear myself laughing so hard with my friends that I can’t breathe; on other streets I can feel the heaviness of a hard day and hear the sad songs carrying me home; and on some streets I think of a specific person, specific food, specific weather pattern or specific song for reasons I can’t remember anymore.

More than anything, the driving around reminds me that the world is still out there. It reminds me that I’m alive—that I’ve lived a life. And it gives me hope that I still have lots of life left to live.

There are more memories to make out there, more spots to claim pieces of my mind and my memory. There is more than what I see from inside my house, more than what I feel inside my own head, and more than what we hear on the news or social media. There is more out there and we will find it.

Strange Things I’ve Heard My Sister Say While She was Playing Animal Crossing

My sister works hard. She has a tough job that keeps her mind (and schedule) constantly busy and so when her workday comes to an end, it’s no surprise that she looks for ways to decompress. Sometimes this comes in the form of an early bedtime, sometimes it’s exercise, sometimes it’s dinner with friends, and sometimes it’s Animal Crossing.

Having played the game when it first came out on the Nintendo Game Cube in 2001, she was excited when the new version for the Nintendo Switch came out earlier this year, and bought it on a whim while we were out on one of our very first quarantine shopping trips.

Personally, I don’t play the game and so my understanding is based solely on what she tells me. Thus, in the time I’ve spent sitting in the living room watching TV while she plays Animal Crossing in the chair next to me, I have heard plenty of out of context comments that, while I have no doubt make sense to her and other players of the game, tend to sound a little strange to those of us who remain uneducated in the *island* life.

Here are some of my favorite things I’ve heard her say:

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How much is this antique chest? Ugh, it’s 20,000? I only have 80,000 left because I spent all my money on turnips.

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I feel like there’s a trick to catching sharks that I don’t know.

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Damnit! I got stung by bees again.

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I dug up all my money trees today.

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*talking to our friend Kristine on the phone who was also playing Animal Crossing*

Kristine: Would you like a piano, a guitar, or a keyboard?

Natalee: I’ll take any of those instruments because I’m trying to create an instrument land.

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Should I give my sea things to back to the beaver or sell them to Tom Nook?

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I’m just shooting down balloons with presents.

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I love that you can change clothes in the refrigerator.

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I need another retro chair to complete my kitchen.

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*gasps* I’VE FALLEN IN A HOLE!

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Me (while Natalee showed me the house she’s built in the game): What are those things hanging on the walls?

Natalee: All of my awards.

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How do I make my mailbox cuter?

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This green goat really isn’t that nice. I tried to make him leave by giving him a trash wall that I built, but all he said was, “not sure what I’ll do with this.” I hate him.

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I made a new summer wreath for my door.

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Somebody gave me a karate outfit today. It wasn’t very flattering.

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Has anyone seen where I put my scuba mask?

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Hold on a second, I have to take my fossils to the museum.

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How to Make 2020 Memorable (In A Good Way)

This past weekend I was sitting on the beach with some family, listening to music and watching the sunset, when my cousin Amanda posed a question.

I know that 2020 hasn’t been great, but I think we should each try and think of something that we’d like to do by the end of the year to make our year positive and memorable.

We each took the question in, and then went back to the music. We hummed and danced and occasionally used anything close by as a microphone, all while letting that question twist and turn in our minds.

I had a particularly hard time coming up with an answer, which surprised me, especially because I am such a goal oriented person. But even when ideas and answers were brought up—like seeing a drive in movie or going to the Grand Canyon—my mind still drew a blank.

At one point, I lay my head back on my towel and looked up at the sky.

“Look!” I said, pointing up at the now dark, starry sky, “I think that’s the big dipper!”

The group looked and excitedly agreed and then eventually fell back into swing with the music, this time with the intent to “get our cardio in,” which mostly meant jumping up and down in time with the music, running around our spot on the beach—which was by that time was completely dark and empty except for us and our little electric lantern—spinning with our arms out and our heads tilted up towards the sky, anything that made us feel good, got our hearts racing a little faster, and gave us an excuse to eat an ice cream cone later.

On the drive home (which did include an ice cream cone) I still thought about the question. I was the only one to not give an answer. But when I got home and I relived the afternoon and evening in my head, and I looked at the pictures we’d taken of the sunset and the videos of us singing and dancing around our speaker, I realized why I had struggled so much.

This year has been tough for all of us—in ways we all understand and in ways only you and me can understand. I have had obstacles and hardships you haven’t and vice versa. This year will forever be memorable, but it is not over yet, and sometimes I feel like I’m in survival mode, hiding and waiting until it is.

But just as I wrote in this blog post a little while back, and just as Amanda brought up on the beach, there are still ways we can make this year good. There are still things we can gain from 2020 that we might not have had the time, energy, or inspiration to in any other year.

So I encourage you (and me, because I still haven’t thought of an answer) to think about a way you’d like to make 2020 memorable. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant or expensive, it just has to be something that gives you that good feeling—like sitting on the beach with people you love and singing Celine Dion into a shoe microphone.

The goodness of 2020 is still up for grabs, and I think it’s about time we went out and found it.

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If you have any ideas for how you want to make your 2020 memorable, please leave them in the comments! We could all use some inspiration. white-smiling-face_263a

Learning Internet Slang (Part 5)

It’s that time again, my friends.

Time to search the corners of the internet for the strangest slang terms in circulation and then see if my friends and family have any idea what they mean. As always (in my opinion) the guesses were better than the actual answers, and we even decided to completely redefine one of the terms—at least in the confines of our family.

Here were the results:

1) Speaking cursive

Urban Dictionary Definition: speaking so abstractly it sounds like gibberish; usually performed when intoxicated.

Dad’s Guess: Being very elegant and precise when you talk. Because cursive is impossible for me.

Natalee: You have the most “print” style writing ever.

Mom’s Guess: Quoting someone else.

Natalee’s Guess: Talking fancy? Like, “Now you’re speaking cursive.”

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2) Simp

Urban Dictionary Definition: someone who does something nice for the person they have feelings for in the hopes that it will make that person want to date them.

Natalee’s Guess: I put “so important.” As in the “s” from so and the “imp” from important, and you would say, “that’s a simp thing to remember.”

Mom’s Guess: Simple. “That’s so simp, I could do that in a minute.”

Natalee: That’s where my head went first too, but then I thought, “That’s too simple.”

Mom: Too simp?

Natalee: Exactly! That’s so simp!

Dad’s Guess: I did the same as mom. I said easy, as in, “I could do that for you, it would be totally simp.”

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3) Big yikes

Urban Dictionary Definition: a situation that has evolved from a “yikes” to a more severe type cringy, uncomfortable, embarrassing or otherwise unfortunate moment.

Mom’s Guess: Holy moly! Big yikes! Something bad.

Natalee’s Guess: Oh no. Wowza. That’s a bummer. Big yikes.

Dad’s Guess: Super scary but in a stupid sense. Like if my parents almost caught me with alcohol when I was younger, big yikes.

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4) Wheeling

Urban Dictionary Definition: used to describe the phase before two people start dating

Dad’s Guess: When you decide you’re down with being a third wheel on a date, you’re just wheeling.

Natalee: Hey guys, I’m wheeling tonight.

Everyone: OOHH I like that!

Natalee’s Guess: Following someone or going after them in a pining or obsessive way. Like, “I’m wheeling for you.”

Mom’s Guess: “I’m taking off, I’m wheeling to the beach.”

Me: *gives real definition*

Natalee: I like dad’s way best.

Me: I agree, do all parties agree that this is our new definition?

Natalee: Motion carries.

Me: *bangs imaginary gavel*

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5) Periodt

Urban Dictionary Definition: when you finish a sentence and you know you were damn right, another way of saying, “and that’s final.”

Natalee’s Guess: End of story.

Mom’s Guess: Over it. Periodt. Done.

Dad’s Guess: Mine’s horrible. I thought it was something a guy would say to his friend about how he was on his own tonight because his gal is on her cycle. Like “period time.”

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6) Curve

Urban Dictionary Definition: to ignore, avoid or sidestep someone’s obvious expression of interest through flirting or any means of advance.

Natalee’s Guess: An unexpected turn. That took a curve.

Dad’s Guess: When someone’s telling you to change the subject fast. Like if I was talking to Troy (my brother) and he saw mom coming and thought I should change the topic he would say, “curve.”

Mom’s Guess: Twisted. She cray cray. She is curved.

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7) I’m dead

Urban Dictionary Definition: you died of laughter; something was so funny that you laughed so hard you died.

Mom’s Guess: That’s when I’m in trouble with my mom. Big trouble.

Natalee’s Guess: When you are so over or cringed out by a conversation that you are dead.

Dad’s Guess: Anytime that something affects you so much that you can’t take it anymore.

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8) JOMO

Urban Dictionary Definition: Joy of Missing Out; when you cherish moments of aloneness.

Natalee’s Guess: It’s the opposite of mojo. When you’ve lost your mojo, that’s when you’re jomo. “I feel really jomo right now I need my mojo.”

Mom’s Guess: I don’t know, something with motion? Like, join the motion.

Dad’s Guess: Well that’s funny, because mine was join the movement.

Mom: Come on, jomo with me!

Dad: We’re going to the park today, come on jomo!

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9) A Karen

Urban Dictionary Definition: the kind of person who is unhappy when little things don’t go their way; the “can I speak to your manager?” kind of gal.

Mom’s Guess: Is it the opposite of bye Felicia? Instead of I’m over you, bye Felicia, it’s *smirk* hellooo Karen.

Natalee’s Guess: She’s like that voice command in your car that always goes, “please fasten your seatbelt.” She’s such a Karen. Like, she’s such a bitch.

Dad’s Guess: It’s the boomer version of a female. When a younger person feels that they are out of touch with reality or too set in their ways. “Don’t be such a Karen.”

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10) Clout

Urban Dictionary Definition: being famous and having influence.

Mom’s Guess: If you have clout you are respected.

Natalee’s Guess: Yeah, you carry weight around here. You’re important.

Dad’s Guess: Reputation that elevates your status.


 

You can find the previous version of this post here.

An Ode to Tuna Noodles

Dear Tuna Noodles,

Thank you, for being you. Thank you for your egg noodles. Thank you for your tuna. Thank you for your cream of mushroom soup. But most of all, thank you for your 100% not organic or diet friendly or doctor recommended Velveeta cheese.

Thank you for all of the evenings that you cooked in the oven at my grandparents’ house, in my childhood homes, and in friends’ kitchens. Thank you for your heaping portions on the plastic plates that my cousins and I decorated and my grandparents kept on a shelf just for us; and for those on the spring pallet glass plates that my parents still have in their cupboard to this day; and even for those in deep set bowls that somehow still managed to encourage a second and third helping.

Thank you for being easy to make, for giving me something I could cook with my grandma and my mom, and by myself when I studied abroad and wanted a taste of home. Thank you for the memories you unlock with every bite—be it a weeknight conversation at my grandparent’s long, padded dinner table, a lazy Friday night sat on my parents’ kitchen stool with the broken leg, or a living room crowded with family, pets, and TV trays set up in front of a Dodger game.

Thank you for teaching me what comfort food is, and for giving me a recipe to share at every bridal shower I will ever attend. Thank you for giving me something to fall back on and to build up from. I’ve come a long way in my cooking, and I can only hope I have a long way to go, but you will always be my first love. So thank you for all the love. And again, for the Velveeta.

Meet Jimmy June, My Tin Can Robot

When I was 10 years old, my family and I drove to Arkansas to visit my great aunt. About ten years later, my mom, sister and I flew out to visit again, and then when my cousin and her husband moved out there, we tried to make our visits more regular.

Four or five years ago, my great aunt was moved into an assisted living facility where she would live for the remainder of her life, and so when we went to visit, we could no longer stay at her house. As a result, we often stayed with Jim and June, close friends of both my great aunt and my late grandparents—who we called Grammie and Papa.

When my great aunt got sick and eventually reached a point where she didn’t recognize us, and would often sleep through most of our visits, Jim and June (and my cousins! 😊) were the reason that our trips were still full of light and laughter. They are the reason why, when people ask about my favorite places in the world, I immediately think of their living room, curled up in one of their chairs, watching the sun set off the front porch. I think of simple drives to the store, or sitting down at one of their favorite restaurants, always giggling and talking and feeling happy and relaxed for what always seemed like the first time in a long time.

On one trip, while walking into a restaurant just before the sun started to set, I saw this tin can robot hanging on a hook and I immediately fell in love with it.

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“Do you think I could make this?” I asked my sister as I snapped a picture of it.

She and my mom agreed that I could try, and we decided to start saving cans as soon as we got home.

In the first or second week of this quarantine, I found that stack of cans, patiently waiting to be upcycled.  It was almost 11:00 p.m. but I couldn’t help it, I sat down, spread them out, and got to work. While the state of the world would prevent us from traveling anywhere anyway, we had recently found out that Jim and June moved to Texas to be closer to their family. It was the right move, a move that we supported and encouraged in our last few visits, but it made me sad to think that I would no longer find myself in that Arkansas house, walking around their property on a humid summer afternoon to go see the neighbor’s horses, or continually trying to photograph the house in a way that would show people the way it made me feel. And so, I decided it was about time I made my robot—to re-find that feeling.

While the original is screwed together with nuts and bolts, I worked with what I had (and avoided any trips to the hospital due to possible clumsiness with the drill) and I hot-glued him together. I also found some washers I could use for eyes, and an extra allen wrench to give him a smile.

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Call me crazy, but I have now fallen in love with two tin can robots in my life.

One is probably still hanging outside that restaurant we visited on almost every trip, where the five of us always ordered the same thing and talked about what we were going to have for dessert before we even finished our meal. And one is now sitting, smiling, in my house, reminding me about every time we pulled into that driveway, primed to hear stories about the neighborhood cats, and every time we pulled out of that driveway, praying there would be a next time.

I still hope there will be. Maybe this time in Texas.

Until then, I have this robot, who I named “Jimmy June” to remind me of who I consider to be my third set of grandparents, and of all the times we spent sitting on the couch, watching the sky go purple in a thunderstorm, and drinking margaritas until all hours of the night, giggling and plotting what mischief we could get into the next day.

For Laycee

This past weekend my family lost our dog, Laycee, who was a vibrant, beautiful member of our family for nine years. It was a hard day, one that we’d dreaded, but ultimately knew had to come, and we are happy to know that she lived a good life, full of love, both given and received.

When thinking about how I could honor Laycee, and the love that we all receive from pets that come into our lives at just the right time, I knew I had to turn to my sister Natalee. She had such a special relationship with Laycee, that my mom often interchanged their names in conversation. They were destined for each other, and just as any love story changes the world, so too did theirs. And so, as a final goodbye to our pretty girl, I wanted Natalee to tell their story.

This is what she wrote:

 

To My Perfect Angel,

It was a chilly day in early December of 2010. My whole family piled in to the car and set out on what ended up being a long, confusing drive. I don’t even remember the story my parents told us about where we were going, but I do remember feeling slightly concerned that the deserted, off the beaten path location we eventually found ourselves in might be the place of the Koehn family’s demise. I later found out Kim and our brother Troy were feeling the same way. Much to our delight, however, we soon learned that our parents had pulled a fast one on us! We hadn’t driven out there to meet our doom, we had driven out there to get our first family dog!

Soon we were flooded with the exciting and overwhelming scene of dogs barking, tails wagging and eyes begging to be chosen. I remember being in total disbelief. I had wanted and asked for a dog for SO long. I couldn’t believe we were actually getting one! We immediately dispersed and started looking for the one we would take home with us. Troy liked a black lab with giant paws and an even bigger personality. Kim loved all of them. I had no idea how I would ever walk out of there with just one.

 Until you walked over to me.

 With your head slumped down and your whole body shaking, you walked up to me, you let me pet you, and you stole my heart. My whole family saw the instant connection, and not 10 minutes later we were walking back to the car with you in my arms.

I know it sounds cliché, but that day changed my life. It was the beginning of winter break in my senior year of high school, and those days were truly some of my worst. I was in a dark place, and the punches were only just starting to be thrown my way. But you made all the difference. No matter what happened during the day, I had a loyal, loving, anxious little angel waiting for me at home, never questioning my character or making me feel like I wasn’t worth anything. I had a companion. Trust wasn’t an easy thing for either of us, but I had yours, and you had mine.

As it turns out, my parents knew what they were doing all those years they said no to letting me have a dog. They knew the right time, and the right pup, would come along. And for me, that was and will always be you. See you soon my precious angel. I’ll love you forever.

Learning Internet Slang (Part 4)

There are few things I enjoy more than tracking down new slang words and phrases to quiz my friends and family with. Not only do I love seeing the reaction of my poor, unsuspecting victims contestants, but I love hearing the creative responses they give as they try to figure out what on earth these words and phrases could mean.

For this installment of Learning Internet Slang, I enlisted the help of my sister, and our cousins, Spenser and Ashlynn, who we recently went to visit in North Carolina.

Here were the results:

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1) Boomer

Urban Dictionary Definition: A person from the baby boomer generation, or really anyone who is older than the person using the word; usually used if said person is being annoying or talking shit about a younger generation.

Spenser’s Guess: Baby boomers?

Natalee’s Guess: I first thought of baby boomers, but then I thought maybe it was the new “banger.”

Ashlynn’s Guess: Old people.

Me: So you use it when someone older is complaining about something the younger generation does, and the person from the younger generation would say—

Ashlynn: —okay, boomer.

Me: Exactly.

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2) NSFW

Urban Dictionary Definition: Not Suitable/Safe For Work.

Spenser’s Guess: I don’t know what this one is.

Natalee’s Guess: Not safe for work!

Ashlynn’s Guess: Do not open this email at work because it is probably dirty.

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3) Don’t @ me

Urban Dictionary Definition: A phrase used on Twitter when you say something and you don’t want people to respond directly to you because you don’t care what people have to say about your opinion.

Natalee’s Guess: Don’t come for me, don’t judge or attack me for this, I’m posting it and owning it.

Spenser’s Guess: Don’t come at me with your second tier shit, my shit is right.

Ashlynn’s Guess: Don’t blame me or involve me, don’t call me out.

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4) Finsta

Urban Dictionary Definition: A combination of the words “fake” and “Instagram.” When people have a “finsta” they post pictures they only want their closest friends to see.

Spenser’s Guess: A fine gangsta, like a good looking gangster.

Ashlynn’s Guess: When you want to say Facebook and Instagram but heaven forbid don’t want to use two separate words.

Natalee’s Guess: A fake instagram account, or secondary account.

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5) Weird flex but okay

Urban Dictionary Definition: When someone proudly boasts or brags about something that most people would find either awkward, irrelevant or just plain weird.

Natalee’s Guess: I feel like this is a strange thing to be showing off, but go for it, I guess.

Spenser’s Guess: You are strange, but I don’t want to get into it.

Ashlynn’s Guess: When someone is into something that you’re not into, and it’s a little out there but you’re supportive because you’re like, “Hey, I like you. You don’t suck.”

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6) Humble brag

Urban Dictionary Definition: A form of self-promotion where the promoter thinks they are, almost subliminally, bragging about himself in the context of a humble statement or complaint.

Spenser: I’ve never heard of this in my life. I mean, those words are two completely different things.

Natalee’s Guess: Is it like, I’m trying so hard to make this as simple as possible for you but I have so much going on?

Spenser’s Guess: Maybe it’s, I thought I was the best but it turns out I’m just really good. For example: I’m the best at rock paper scissors, I’ve literally never lost, but you beat me, so good job.

Ashlynn’s Guess: When you casually brag about something and you try to seem like it’s not a big deal but you know that it’s awesome.

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7) VSCO girl

Urban Dictionary Definition: a term used to describe a girl with a specific look; she wears oversized t-shirts or sweatshirts with Nike shorts; has Vans, Crocs, Birkenstocks, and wears a shell necklace; she always has a Hydroflask; she can’t leave home without a scrunchie and her favorite car is a Jeep.

Natalee: Did this start on TikTok?

Me: No.

Natalee’s Guess: Oh, well then this might be wrong but: a girl on Tik Tok who wears giants sweatshirts and sunglasses and is an influencer; someone who is considered cool but honestly looks kind of slouchy; they’re not trying hard, but somehow they look perfect and have 8 million followers.

Spenser: V-S? C-O? What in the hell is that? Look, I just tried to type it in my phone to write down my guess and it autocorrected to bacon.

Ashlynn’s Guess: She loves a good scrunchie. She dug the 90’s and loves big bold colors and fun outfits.

Spenser’s Guess: Okay I have two guesses. 1) a very successful colorado girl. 2) a 2020 version of a disco girl.

Ashlynn: Like the millennial version of disco person?

Spenser: Exactly.

Me: *gives the definition*

Spenser: Wait, what does VSCO stand for? I’m looking it up. Visual Supply Co? Oh, guys, it’s a photo editing app.

All of us: OOHHHHHH.

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8) No cap

Urban Dictionary Definition: no lie; to tell the truth.

Natalee’s Guess: No capitalization. Everything I’m saying is very unexaggerated and deadpan.

Spenser’s Guess: Oh, I got it. No guns allowed (as in no busting a cap) this is a street fight. As Ron Burgundy might say, the only other rules are there is no touching of the hair or face.

Ashlynn’s Guess: It’s a command. As in, stop yelling, you’re using capitalization to express a lot of angry feelings and I want you to stop. No cap. No need to yell. I’m right here and can hear you fine.

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9) Bet

Urban Dictionary Definition: same as “for sure” or “okay.”

Natalee’s Guess: This is a shout out to Troy Bolton, aka Zac Efron, I’d bet on you forever.

Ashlynn: I’m sorry, what? So you’re saying this is a direct reference?

Natalee: Yes, it’s the song he sings in the second High School Musical film. It’s iconic.

Spenser’s Guess: I took it the exact opposite. As in, “bet”, it’s a 50/50 chance, you could be right or you could be wrong.

Ashlynn’s Guess: It’s when someone is saying, “This is the truth that I’m telling you. You can bet on it.”

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10) Slaps

Urban Dictionary Definition: to describe something that is incredibly good, usually music.

Natalee’s Guess: Someone did a good job or said something that everyone likes so they say, “Slaps my man, good job.”

Spenser’s Guess: It’s a new high school dice game. It’s a combo of craps & jacks. Maybe they say, “I’m gonna be beat you at slaps, and buy some VCSO scrunchies with the winnings.”

Ashlynn’s Guess: “Yeah, great job, man.” It’s like a high five but without putting your hand in danger [of germs].

Spenser: Like a verbal high five?

Natalee: Slaps, my man.

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Bonus) CEO

Examples of the correct usage (if you were referring to me or my blog): CEO of teaching friends and family slang. CEO of italics. CEO of writing the blog the night before posting it. 

Me: On this one I want you to guess how it’s used, because the definition (Chief Executive Officer) is the same.

Natalee’s Guess: Maybe when someone does the best video of a certain challenge on TikTok or something. They would say, “You’re the new CEO of this challenge.”

Spenser’s Guess: A title that is given to the most popular boy or girl in the school. Like, “you are the CEO of this class.”

Ashlynn’s Guess: A person who wears the pants in the relationship, “the CEO of the relationship.”

 


 

You can find the previous version of this post here.

 

My Favorite Moments of 2019 (List-cember #9)

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it approximately 600,000 times: this year was busy!

But within the confines of our crazy calendar, there were so many good moments. And I don’t just mean big, fancy moments. Some of my favorite parts of this year were the small but meaningful bursts of joy. The cozy, perfect moments that I’ll undoubtedly be thinking about when that ball drops tomorrow at midnight.

For me, these were those moments:

1) Meeting Lyra

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I have long been afraid of holding babies. They are just so fragile and so perfect and so little, and the thought of holding something so important in my hands (especially when it is not even my something) has always terrified me. But in January of this year, one of my lifelong friends had a baby, and she encouraged me to overcome that fear when met her little one for the first time in the hospital. That moment inspired me to write this blog post and I will remember it forever.

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2) A Ball at Spring Training

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My family went to Spring Training in March for the first time this year (which you can read about here.) and easily one of my favorite parts of the trip and of the year was when my friend Mel, after trying for innings on end, got a baseball from one of the players. Not only was it a joyous celebration of perseverance, but the resulting footage includes a look of fuming jealousy from her neighboring fan, which makes for an all around perfect video.

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3) Finishing the Marathon

There are many moments of the marathon that I would deem “defining,” but perhaps my favorite was crossing that finish line and seeing my 6 foot 2 brother standing among the crowd. I was so proud and relieved to be finished, and seeing a familiar face to welcome me to the otherside of that journey was truly great.

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4) Mom Scores a Goal

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Some of the best memories I have of my family are the slow, ordinary days where we are just spending time together, which is why this moment from May stands out. My mom, sister and I had gone to visit my cousin Brittney and her family in Arkansas, and we spent one afternoon sitting outside, drawing in sidewalk chalk, and playing soccer. At one point we set up a challenge between my mom and my little cousin Landon. While Landon won in the end, the crowd (of me, Natalee, Brittney, and baby Nora) went wild for this goal scored by my mom.

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5) A Circular Celebration

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In June my family got the opportunity to go to Europe, and among the many jaw dropping, awe inspiring moments of that trip, was this one. My cousin Taryn (which, if you didn’t read the blog I wrote about our trip, is the whole reason we went) finished writing a long tedious essay that would complete her study abroad program, and we did what any family would do when they’re in England and about to head to dinner but need to take a moment or two to celebrate this accomplishment: we formed a circle around her and and jumped up and down, chanting, “We are proud of you, say we are proud of you! Hey! Hey! Hey!”

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6) That Eiffel Tower Sparkle

paris

Upon arriving in Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, my most prominent and low key embarrassing thought was, “oh my gosh, the Eiffel Tower is actually real.” It’s not that I thought we’d been lied to all this time, but the realization that I was really, truly seeing it in person was so unbelievable that I was having trouble accepting it all as reality. This shock and awe only multiplied as we sat on the grass in front of the tower and watched as the sun set, the tower glowed gold, and then started to sparkle.

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7) Axe throwing in Vegas

axe throwing

For my brother’s 21st birthday, a group of us went to Vegas with a list of things we were looking to accomplish in order to properly celebrate his milestone. Among the items on that list was throwing axes. After almost an hour of learning and practicing, we decided  to document our newfound skills, and showcase our ability to hit the target. What makes this moment one of my favorites, is that the video recording is almost four minutes long, (three of which we fail miserably) but when we finally do all hit the target at once, we all threw our arms up and yelled, “first try!”

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8) You’ve Got Ice Cream

About two years ago, on a visit to Arkansas with my mom and sister, I discovered the magic of Blue Bell ice cream. Upon arriving home however, I was very disappointed to discover that it is not sold in California. But for my 29th birthday, I was floored to find a box from Blue Bell waiting for me. My parents had all of my favorite flavors (including the holy grail, Salted Caramel Cookie) shipped to me and it. was. EPIC.

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9) Pop the champagne

Last year my cousin Cory married my now cousin Amanda, and this year they were able to purchase their first house! I was so happy and honored to be there when they popped champagne in their living room, that at the time had little more than a table and some folding chairs, but is now a beautiful, cozy home.

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10) The Dodgers Take Game 3

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For a Dodger fan, the 2019 playoffs were rough to say the least. But before we had our hearts broken, we had our hopes up, and on the night of Game 3, me, my sister, my cousin Taryn, and my best friend Allison were walking into a concert at the Honda Center as the Dodgers entered the 7th inning. As we made our way to our seats, I was streaming the game through the TBS app on my phone, which I’d downloaded while waiting in line, and we asked multiple employees if they could turn on the game, all of whom turned us down. So as we went to the 8th inning and then the 9th, the four of us stood out in the hallway, crowded around my phone to watch us close out a victory.

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11) The Frozen North Lake

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In November, my family made one of our annual trips to Bishop to squeeze in a weekend of fishing before the season closed. On the Saturday of the weekend we were there, we parked our car and hiked in to one of our favorite fishing spots, only to find the lake frozen solid. While this obviously prevented us from fishing, it did little to deter our fun. We spent a solid half hour throwing loose pieces of ice onto the lake and watching them shatter and glide across its surface.

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12) Sending “The Hulk”

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On the same trip to Bishop, my brother, who is an avid rock climber, had his sights on a boulder at Happy Boulders known as “The Hulk.” After spending a few hours attempting the climb on Friday, he was determined to return, so on Sunday afternoon, me, him and my sister headed back to Happy Boulders on our way home, where we watched him try time and time again until he finally reached the top!

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13) Eli’s Last Game

giants

To cap off the year, at the beginning of this month my family took a whirlwind trip to New York to see our favorite football team (the New York Giants) play for the very first time at their home stadium. We went the week they played the Dolphins, which wound up being one of only 4 games we won this season, and on top of that, it was our longtime quarterback, Eli Manning’s, probable last game with the team. We couldn’t have picked a better game!

Note: Please leave all Giants hate at the door, thank you.

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14) Coming June 2020

At our annual family Cookie Baking day, my cousins Spenser and Ashlynn gave my grandpa (and all of us, really) a very special gift: the news that we have a new member coming in June 2020! On Christmas Day we found out that the little one is a boy, and while we already know his name, I’ve taken to calling him Meatball for now.

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15) Meeting Luca

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Since I started this list with a baby, it seems only logical for me to end this list with a baby! And in true bookend fashion, I got to meet one of my best friends’ new baby, Luca, just this past week, and even though he is handsome and perfect and practically impossible not to want to hold, it was still a big deal for me to do so without fear. And as I looked down at him and his big curious eyes, I couldn’t help but feel every good moment of the year capsize in this one moment. It was a busy year, but it was a good one. I got to do so many great things and love and be loved on by so many great people. I’m very thankful for the life I live and I feel so honored for the opportunity to live it.

Here’s to 2020, I hope it’s full of wonderful moments, big, small and everything in between. Happy New Year!

A Christmas Quiz (List-cember #6)

We are less than a week away from Christmas, which means that most schools are closing for winter break.To celebrate that, I thought I’d take us back to school for a minute for a little Christmas quiz.

I invited/politely forced my sister and two cousins to participate in a friendly Christmas themed quiz in order to win bragging rights and familial pride. What started as a cordial match quickly became a heated quest for Christmas glory.

Here were the results:

1) What kind of Christmas does Elvis Presley sing about?

Answer: Blue

Natalee: (singing) Bluuuuuuuee…Christmas without you….

Amanda: Wait, should I give a different kind of answer? I’m going to say he’s devastated by the thought of his loved one not going to be with him on Christmas. So that’s my word. Devastated.

Cory: Maybe he just likes blue Christmas lights.

Point awarded to Natalee. 

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2) What is the name of the Grinch’s dog in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

Answer: Max

Amanda: I know! I know!! MAX!

Point awarded to Amanda.

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3) In which century was the Christmas tree first used?

Answer: 16th century

Natalee: The 1300’s! So, the 14th century.

Cory: 16th.

Amanda: I’m going to say the 18th century.

Me: It’s the 16th.

Cory: HA HA.

Amanda: Okay, now it’s on.

Point awarded to Cory.

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4) What is the name of Rudolph’s dad?

Answer: Donner

Natalee: Ugh, I know his girlfriend’s name.

Amanda: Oh my gosh. You can totally–

Natalee: –Prancer! Wait, no.

Amanda: No, they said it in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when they introduce the mom and dad.

Natalee: He’s one of the reindeer.

Cory: I feel like it’s something really bland like…Steve.

Me: Yes, Steve the reindeer.

Amanda: I’m gonna say Donner.

Natalee: Damnit, that’s right.

Cory: Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Comet? Is Comet the father?

Me: It’s Donner.

Amanda: YESSS!!!!

Natalee: I knew it right after you said it.

Point awarded to Amanda

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5) What is the best selling Christmas song ever? 

Answer: “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

Natalee: Mariah Carey, All I Want for Christmas is You.

Amanda: *shakes head* I’ve heard this before. I heard it on KOST 103.5. It’s not Mariah and it’s not White Christmas, but that was everyone’s guess.

Cory: (singing) Feliz Navidad.

Amanda: I’m gonna go with Jingle Bells. 

Me: It was White Christmas.

Amanda: Damnit! You know, maybe that’s why I immediately thought of White Christmas…because it was the right guess.

No point awarded. 

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6) In Home Alone, where are the McCallister’s going on vacation when they leave Kevin behind?

Answer: Paris. 

Natalee, Cory & Amanda: In which one?

Me: The first one.

Natalee: Europe! Um….we just watched this. France?

Cory: Where did they go in the first one? I know in the second one they go to Florida.

Amanda: Dangit, I was thinking Florida.

Cory: Well she takes the bus with that guy to find him and they’re in the snow…Canada?

Amanda: Niagara Falls?

Me: It was Paris.

Natalee: YES!!!

Point awarded to Natalee.

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7) What well-known Christmas carol became the first song ever broadcast from space in 1965?

Answer: Jingle Bells

Natalee: (singing) Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus right down Santa Clause Lane.

Cory: It’s Jingle Bells.

Amanda: Oh Holy Night.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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8) What Christmas beverage is also known as “milk punch”?

Answer: Eggnog.

Cory (before I even finish the question): Eggnog.

Me: That’s correct.

Natalee: Hey! Wait until the question is complete.

Cory: I’m sorry, there’s just no other Christmas beverage.

Amanda: Yeah there is. There’s cider.

Natalee: There’s peppermint shit.

Cory: It’s eggnog.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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9) In the early 1800’s, the first gingerbread houses were reportedly inspired by what famous fairy tale?

Answer: Hansel & Gretel

Natalee: Shrek! I mean, no.

Amanda: She said Shrek. She commits to Shrek!

Natalee: I was thinking of the gingerbread man!

Amanda: I’m gonna go with Hansel & Gretel.

Cory: Alice in Wonderland.

Natalee: Goldilocks & the Three Bears.

Point awarded to Amanda.

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10) Which one of Santa’s reindeer has the same name as another holiday mascot?

Answer: Cupid

Cory: Cupid.

Me: That’s correct.

Natalee: That was so fast. I was only on Vixen in the song.

Point awarded to Cory. 

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11) In the movie Elf, what was the first rule of The Code of Elves?

Answer: Treat every day like Christmas

Cory: Treat every day as Christmas.

Me: *nods*

Amanda: DAMNIT CORY.

Natalee: OH MY GOSH.

Me: Cory is coming in and slaughtering you guys.

Point awarded to Cory.

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12) How many gifts in total were given in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” song?

Answer: 364

Natalee: Ugh, this is math.

Me: NO CALCULATORS.

*Amanda, Cory & Natalee start mumbling as they do mental math*

Natalee: 76!

Cory: 78.

Amanda: I think…120?

Me: Amanda is the closest. Remember each day they get all the gifts from the previous days as well.

*a collective nod*

Me: So Amanda gets the point.

*Amanda smiles while Natalee and Cory nod a little bitterly*

Point awarded to Amanda.

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13) In the movie A Christmas Story, what was the name of the neighbors’ whose dog ate the Christmas turkey?

Answer: The Bumpuses

Natalee: Oh shit.

Amanda: I’m going to go with a classic…

Natalee: The Chungs.

Amanda: A classic…Max.

Cory: Steve.

Me: It was the Bumpuses.

Natalee: So I was the closest.

Me: Absolutely not.

No point awarded.

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14) On average, what day do most Americans put up their Christmas trees?

Answer: The weekend after Thanksgiving

Natalee: The day after Thanksgiving.

Amanda: The Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Me: You guys can both be right.

Point awarded to Amanda & Natalee.

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15) On average, what day do most Europeans put up their Christmas trees?

Answer: Christmas Eve.

Natalee: Christmas Eve.

Cory: First week of December.

Amanda: Two weeks before.

Point awarded to Natalee. 

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16) What does Clarence get for accomplishing his task in It’s a Wonderful Life?

Answer: Wings

Cory: A new show.

Natalee: His life back.

Amanda: He becomes a better person.

Me: He gets his wings, y’all. Clarence is the angel.

Amanda: And with his wings he becomes a better person.

Natalee: Well I was right about the actual man, he does get his life back.

No point awarded.

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17) Which company was the first to use Santa in an advertisement?

Answer: Coca Cola

Amanda: COCA COLA!!!

Natalee: Oh my gosh. That came out of nowhere.

Amanda: I know this, well, because I just do.

Point awarded to Amanda. 

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Final Score

Amanda: 6

Cory: 5

Natalee: 4

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Congratulations to Amanda for being crowned this year’s Christmas Quiz winner!

If you are interested in Christmas trivia, I found these questions (and more) here, here and here. 


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.