Things I’ve Love Recently

Moonlight – I took myself to see this movie when E took the kids shopping before Christmas. I was prepared for it to be a heart-breaker…and it definitely made me cry…but it still had a haunting yet hopeful feeling to it. The filming was interesting as there were a lot of scenes where you followed the main character walking somewhere, and there were a LOT of close-up face shots which meant all three actors (the movie follows the main character at three different stages in his life) had to be on point with their expressions. I found it almost unsettling in it’s intimacy at times. It definitely deserves the accolades it is getting.

The OA – This is a new Netflix series that – for the record – would also be on my “Things I’ve Hate Recently”. It’s such a conflicting show because there are parts I simply ADORED and can’t stop thinking about, and then the other time I thought I was going to fall out of my chair I was rolling my eyes so hard. The relationships – the friendships between the group The OA is telling her story too and their outside lives? That was amazing. There were several small moments between all of them (I won’t spoil it) that had nothing to do with kidnapping or spirituality or anything…and those moments and stories I just loved. I loved that the sought out a trans male asian boy when that is EXACTLY what the script called for – instead of white-washing, or gender normalizing the casting which is always the “easy” move. But OH MY GOD – so many plot holes and unanswered questions and eye-rolling moments – SO MANY. The suspension of disbelief it required was almost too much at times. And I wanted more non-Prairie moments. I loved it and hated it at the same time.

Moana – I suspect I don’t have to link to that one as you all have certainly heard of it. It was lovely. It was a princess story without a love interest which I adored. It was about being strong and having Faith and it was about taking chances and it was just fantastic. Lin-Manuel Miranda did the music (who I love, of course) and I just adored it. I can’t wait to see it again.

Cards Against Humanity – Donnie, E and I played it last night after scoring it from a family Dirty Santa gathering and it was TERRIBLE and HILARIOUS all at the same time. I had to say things out loud I never EVER want to say again and had to do it in front of my KID. But we were all cracking up, it was great. I highly recommend it if you don’t mind having to say terrible things out loud.


I remember going to Arizona for my brother’s wedding many moons ago, and during the trip we all went walking at this park; my family (all 5 of us), my brother and his wife, and my Mom. We decided to try to take some pictures and my new sister just walked up to a stranger and asked them to take our WHOLE family’s picture. I remember watching IN AWE, like…Woah. How did she bring herself to do that? I am SO awkward around people, especially strangers, I could NEVER bring myself to approach someone like that. Which is too bad because OF COURSE the person obliged and we ended up with a very treasured photo of our WHOLE group from that day.

My sister-in-law is magical like that.

She emits this energy when you’re around her, and you are just immediately comfortable in her presence. Even before I got to know her, I felt like we were already sisters, just because her heart is so open and full of love and you can’t help but reciprocate that.

But the photo thing…it really is a manifestation of the beauty of her magic. Since that day at the park, I’ve been on several trips with her where she’s done the same thing. She refuses to let a photo-op go by without asking some stranger to capture our group and they always do it with the biggest smile on their face because that’s the effect she has on people. And the photos are always the ones I treasure the most because we’re ALL in them.

I love keeping up with her and my nephews on social media because she’s in SO MANY of the photos. She is the one documenting their lives, but she refuses to not be a part of the chronicle. She either does the Selfie thing (my token move) or she gets a stranger to document it for her. Her vacation photos have pictures of EVERYONE, not just my brother and the boys, which is what my photos often depict because I’m too chicken to talk to strangers.

But MAN, I wish I wasn’t. I just look at the effect she has on people and I am just in awe. She just glows love at every turn and she is one of those people in my life who make me better in every way. We live 1,300 miles apart, yet I feel her influence in my life like she’s right next door. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her as a wife or as a Mom, as a youth leader at her church or a friend to her Mom group. I want to be filled with the love and compassion and kindness that she’s filled with, whether with my kids, my husband, or in my community. She is the perfect model of someone who Spreads Joy and I’m blessed to have been caught in the ripples of her beautiful life.

Happy Birthday, Sister. Thank you for making me want to be better in every way.

Pokémon And The Need For Unadulterated Joy

PREFACE: I actually started writing this on Saturday and kinda forgot about it. It was going to mainly be instructional/How To for the non-gaming crowd. But with all of the RNC talk this week Pokémon has been my happy place. Me and the kids LOVE it. So does Donnie. We curled up in bed the other night showing off our new captures for the day. I have several friends who love it and we bond over the silliness of it and it’s keeping me sane so I wanted to revisit the entry and publish it today so all of you all can find a little escape in your world. Beware of a little of repeating of items from the stuff I wrote Saturday to the stuff I wrote this morning. I didn’t have time to really edit for duplicate info!

IMG_6308Y’all. I really dislike games. You name a game trend and I’ll tell you how/why I never got into it. My Mom worked for a guy who owned an arcade growing up and I could only get minorly excited about it because I just never got into the arcade games. I had a few I liked well enough, just to keep me busy, but it was never something I got excited about. I haven’t jumped on any phone game trend I didn’t play console games and the only tabletop game I ever really got into was Yahtzee with my roommates back in the late 90s.

But I’m totally dorking out over Pokémon Go. AS IS MY ENTIRE FAMILY.

I had a request from my friend to maybe try to explain it a bit so here it is. I’m not a gamer though, nor am I a writer about gaming, so this is basically one non-gaming Mom sharing the links/articles she used to help her make sense of it.

It’s not entirely intuitive, even to gamers or people who have played other versions of Pokémon games. I thought at first that my cluelessness was simply inexperience, but it seems a lot of people who grew up with all of the various Pokémon games still were/are a bit clueless. So, the links have become necessary. I have Googled TONS about Pokémon in the last week.

First? You should catch Pikachu as your first Pokémon. I did not know you could even do that (the down side of starting playing before the first week is over is you miss out sometimes on tips/tricks people discover that first week) but everyone else who did has done it. Here’s your link about that.

Catching Pikachu first.

Now, the basic idea is you catch Pokémon. And really? That’s basically all I’ve done. I went to a gym to battle once to just see what it meant (more on that in a minute), I battled in a gym once that was “occupied” by someone I knew I could beat (I guarded that gym for a glorious 2 hours), and I practiced in a “friendly” gym once. BUT THAT IS IT. Three battles. So don’t worry about battles yet if you don’t want.

So…you catch Pokémon. There’s still some debate about how much “skill” is involved. Once you get past a certain level, they will start escaping. But the basic idea is to try to throw the ball in the middle of the shrinking circle. It seems that the green circles are “easy” and the yellow are “medium” and red are “hard” but really it seems to be more random than that to me. There’s one guy who is a green but I have a terrible time catching (ZUBAT) and there are others that are easy to catch but NEVER seem to want to stay in the ball and keep escaping (VENONAT) so I’m not sure there’s a perfect system to explain the difficulty.

Catch all the Pokémon you can at first. You need practice and you need to level up to start opening up more options. If you run out of balls? Find your Poké Stops. Their marked by the simple blue tower in your map. I’ve found a few on my main drag away from my house so sometimes I’ll just detour when I’m going places. There’s a church with one so I’ll just pull in, spin my Pokéstop, and pull out. But we also have walks we go on to the local ballfield where there’s 3 nearby and we can walk around to all 3 and then circle back and the 5 minutes will have expired so we can spin again! When they’re purple you have to wait (I think about 5 minutes). Every time you spin them you get SOMETHING as long as you’re close enough. The further in the game you get, the more non-Pokéball items you get.

List of items you can start getting at various levels.

Every time you “level up” the game gifts you a bunch of cool stuff too. SO! Just focus on catching Pokémon and spinning Poké Stops until you get at least past level 5. That’s when you pick a “team” and you can finally battle. I’m Team Mystic. There’s only 3 teams and if you WANT to battle then I would drive the parts of town you live/work in and find out who occupies the most gyms and choose a DIFFERENT team. If you just want to be able to “practice” and not have to battle, you’ll want to choose the team with the most gyms. I’m blue (there’s blue/red/yellow) and there’s not a lot of blue gyms on my end of town. The gyms that are your color are the ones you can “train” in. The others you have to actually “battle”.

But – like I said – I’m on level 14 (UPDATE: I’m on 17 now…still not battling.) and have not any of that necessary to enjoy the game!

Now…to level up you increase your XP which are the points you accumulate as you go about the game. Here’s a good list of points unrelated to battling:

Catching a Pokemon with a Curveball————-10
Catching a Pokemon with a Nice Throw————10
Catching a Pokemon with a Great Throw———–50
Spinning a PokeStop—————————–50
Catching a Pokemon with an Excellent Throw——100
Catching Any Pokemon—————————-100
Hatching a New Pokemon————————–500
Evolving a Pokemon——————————500
Catching a New Pokemon————————–600
Evolving a New Pokemon————————–1000

Now…once you accumulate a bunch of Pokémon you’ll see you have enough candy to evolve the guy. BUT! There are all sorts of opinions about when/how you should evolve them. And some of them are conflicting. The one thing I’ll say is DO NOT just evolve them because you can. At least READ some stuff about it. This is a good article about a few things related to evolving.

10 Thing I Wish I Knew When I started Pokémon.

Now, one effective thing I did was I waited until I got to level 10 (there was some point explanations for that) and then I used some things I had accumulated in leveling up and followed this guide here and used my lunch break to go from level 10 to level 12 in 30 minutes. Also fun evolving trick I missed: Rename Eevee before evolving it to force the game to evolve it into the one you want.

If you want to know what all you have you click your Pokéball and click “items” and it shows you what’s in your bad. Most of it you’ll recognize from Poké stops but I didn’t know I also accumulated stuff when I leveled up. I have found Poké stops to be at: Parks, Post Offices, Churches, Statues/Art at Local Restaurants, and beautification awards.

One of the things you’ll start getting at Poké Stops are eggs and those you have to incubate by walking. You can’t really trick the system any other way b/c it recognizes speed and works with a GPS. I’ve been disappointed by the eggs, truthfully. I keep getting 2K eggs (takes walking a 2K to incubate) and they only launch common Pokémons and even my 5K eggs are only hit/miss. I only have one incubator left (the infinity one you can keep using) and 9 2K eggs waiting to incubate and it just irritates me because I want my steps to go to GOOD eggs. Not stupid 2K ones! Oh well. You did get 500 points for hatching so I try to remember that. (Update: I did finally start getting 10K eggs and the first one I hatched was a DAMN EEVEE. I have so many of those guys I now have ALL THREE evolutions. Luckily they can be pretty powerful so I tried not to be too mad.)

The best part about the game is finding out the places in your town where the most activity is. Our downtown park is HOPPING. People put lures in at Poké Stops (You get lures, leveling up to 9 I think) and it attracts Pokémon to that stop for EVERYONE to try to catch. You can see them on the map because pink petals will be flowing out of them. We went downtown on my birthday and there were people EVERYWHERE. It was super fun. I’m also convinced the rare Pokémon only show up at places with lots of activity b/c the local reports show them at all of the hot spots. Donnie gets WAY more rare Pokémon around his office downtown than I do ANYWHERE.

UPDATE: Like I said…I started this entry this weekend and never finished it and after the big speech at the RNC last night I need Pokémon to distract me so I’m going to just add in a few things I’ve learned the last few days.

  • Save your evolutions to when you’re using a Lucky Egg if you can because you get DOUBLE the points.
  • Choose the “XL” size of the Pokémon to evolve when you go to evolve.
  • If you don’t have enough candy to evolve yet, transfer in some non-XL versions (or lower CP) for more candy.
  • If you hope to be good at battling/occupying gyms, pay attention to the Pokémon guarding the gyms you see – those are typically the ones you want to focus on powering up because they’ll have the highest capacity.
  • The arch above the Pokémon’s head tells where his CP value falls on his available range. THAT RANGE INCREASES WHEN YOU LEVEL UP. I did not find that out until yesterday. Stardust increases your CP.
  • But it’s okay to not to want to fight. I just want to collect all of the Pokémon. That’s my goal. I’m playing around on friendly gyms or if I see one manned by someone much weaker than me, but mainly it’s about collecting for me!
  • There are lots of cool things waiting for you at higher levels. Here is a good list.

Okay – that should work. Ask any questions in the comments!

What’s Inspiring Me Lately

The internet blesses me with so much inspiration on a daily basis, and I often throw up links to such inspiration on Facebook because it takes all of 2 seconds to do that and it requires very little thought. However, it occurs to me (as my Facebook page is one of my more “private” social media accounts since it’s reserved for people I know IRL) that this means I don’t share the wealth of discoveries with you guys – and you all are probably more likely to enjoy it since we share so many of the same interests.

So…let me share with you some inspiration I’ve discovered lately. First? Jake Weidmann. Did you know there’s something called a “Master Penman” and it is basically someone who is a master of calligraphy and handwriting? HOW DID I NOT KNOW THERE WAS SUCH A THING??!! Obviously it’s not a very popular career trajectory now, but watching this guy work is like what listening to a symphony would be like for a music person. I’m just in awe by his skill and the beauty that just erupts out of his pen. It’s amazing. I’ve watched it at least 6 times since I first discovered it.

You all know how much I love photography, right? I especially love a certain aesthetic of travel photography. And holy SHIT, Cocoa from Colorful Meanderings just captures that aesthetic that I adore BEAUTIFULLY. Browse through her travel photos and just be in AWE of the way she has captured the world. I really don’t have an innate desire to travel as I get extreme travel anxiety. There’s no part of me that puts any global travel on a bucket list of any sort. THAT SAID…Cocoa’s photos might be what forces me out of my comfort zone someday.

She also writes to the blog on the website as well and her writeup about E’s school is great.

(Yes. She goes to school with E. That’s how I know her. Please don’t think about that too much because then you’ll start to hate yourself for how much she’s already accomplished at such a young age.)

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Finally – another photographer but a totally different kind that appeals to the artist AND the book lover in me. The Book Marauder is amazing and I somehow feel completely inspired artistically AND in terms of reading more every time she posts a picture. I don’t know what but I want a wall of her photos of books framed – THEY ARE THAT PRETTY. It helps she’s a HUGE YA fan (because, you know, she’s a young adult, unlike me) so most of her photos include books I’ve loved. She also seems to have a bunch of gorgeous editions of older books which I love.

I’ve been feeling really inspired by people lately. I really wish we could sell our house because I feel like I just can’t change anything in my surroundings until this albatross is gone, but when we finally move into a smaller place? I’d really like to focus on giving myself a creative workspace where I can somehow surround myself with examples of this type of beauty because these photos and these videos all just make me want to write and draw and take picture and sing and dance.

Except that I’m a terrible singer. Michelle in my class told me that in 3rd grade, shattering my view of myself as a WONDERFUL vocalist. “You know you really don’t sing well, right? And you’re really loud.” Is what she whispered to me in mass one day. Some days I hate Michelle, but most days I feel like she probably saved me from being the one everyone laughs at on those talent shows. I still sing. A lot. But at least now I’m aware I’m terrible. (And I recorded myself as soon as possible after she told me that, to check her accusation, and SHE WAS SO RIGHT. I AM TERRIBLE.)

BUT ALL OF THAT THAT IS BESIDE THE POINT. (Tangent anyone?) I have been feeling inspired and I would love to cement that inspiration around me somehow, someday.

Is there anyone inspiring you lately?

Happy Friday!

Between my friend Sarah’s request for funny images to cheer her up, and this Buzzfeed article my friend Holly shared on Facebook – I have saved more weird images to my phone this week than ever before. They make me laugh so hard and I thought: Why not share them on my blog so other people can laugh too? So! Happy Friday! (If I grabbed screen grabs from the buzzfeed article, I linked them to their original tumblr post. If I got them off FB I have no source…SORRY!)


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Now I will hear that bird singing and strutting every time I look at this photo.




This one cracked me up so hard because we used to have this HUGE bamboo roll thing in our living room with the Footprints story on it with a fancy beach photo and I grew up loving it dearly.



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Sounds completely logical to me.





Pardon Pooh’s use of the f-word, but here he uses it for the effect of perfect comedic delivery, so I condone it.


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I also condone the f-word here. Again, it’s periodic use for comedy is acceptable.





This one made me laugh SO HARD for SO LONG and I don’t even know why.



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Only 99% sure.



Hope this made you as happy as it did me!