Last night I was in a pretty terrible mood. I hate to vague post, but it's a boring story and I don't want to waste your precious blog reading time. All that matters is that I was sad and grouchy, and Stephen know there is only one sure-fire way to lift my spirits. Turn on Mean Girls. So he did. I instantly felt better.
Mean Girls is streaming on Netflix. Go watch it 200 times. Or just watch this clip 1,000 times. It's the greatest two minutes in cinematic history.
Happy Friday, friends. May Tina Fey be your spirit animal like she is mine.
Four years ago, my sister Hannah gave me and Stephen Monopoly for a wedding gift. Not just standard Monopoly. Monopoly *Championship Edition* which probably cost $10.00 more because it includes a plastic trophy with a slot for the current household champion's name to be displayed somewhere prominently in the home.
For the first month or two of marriage, we played often. Among some of the other surprises one learns about one's spouse in that first year, Stephen learned that I'm kind of extremely board-game-mean. I'm not competitive about many things because I'm not really great at much. With no athletic prowess and minimal musical ability, I always hated track meets and violin competitions and only ever participated for the sake of college applications. But pull out a board game and I become a cut-throat maniac intent on destroying my opponents because I FREAKING CAN. I'm especially terrible when playing Monopoly. My family quit playing with me long ago, and after getting tired of repeatedly losing to his maniacal wife, Stephen decided it was better for our marriage if we put the board, and the trophy, away for a while.
So our Championship Edition Monopoly sat on a shelf for nearly half a decade, unplayed and neglected. Every now and then, I'd casually mention how fun it would to maybe play Monopoly for just a few hours and Stephen, panic-stricken, would lock the closet.
But then last week something came over my husband, and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he asked, "Want to play Monopoly?". Before he had a chance to give it a second thought, I had the board out, the money counted and the properties organized. I won. Cause I'm amazing. But I did notice Stephen had improved a great deal. Perhaps three years of law school taught him shrewdness. Perhaps it was easier to detect my vulnerabilities after so many years of living together. Perhaps he was just lucky. We played again the next night. And the next night. Each game more intense than the last. Both of us becoming meaner and crazier. Like Jumanji on Redbull. Stephen won once, then I won four times in a row, just to show him his single victory was a fluke. I placed the Champion trophy atop our mantle with my name scrawled across the bottom. I was unstoppable. And then we played last night. Stephen won. Another fluke, I thought. So I asked to play again. Early in the game I acquire Boardwalk and Park Place. He was toast. But then he put hotels on all the yellows and all the magentas and soon I was paying $1,500 every time around the board, and soon I was broke. I was beat. I was forced to watch Stephen write his name on the trophy. I pouted. He put away the board, smiling, a pep in his step, I once had in mine.
Stephen may have won two battles, but I am winning the war. When will it end? When victory is sure. Will there be blood shed? Maybe. Will it be worth it? Yes.
I hadn't been to Target since Friday and I was starting to get the shakes, so I made my way to the ol' bullseye this afternoon. I only picked up seven additional items beyond my list, did a lap to make sure there wasn't any new must-have inventory, then headed to the check-out line. I couldn't believe my fortune when I spotted my favorite Target cashier, with nary a line to her register. To the customer placing her bags in a cart she said, "I used to sew. But then I started working." I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure this statement was in no way relevant to their prior conversation. As she began scanning my items she said, "I like to buy my husband candy bars. After work I just like to unwind, eat some candy bars, and watch TV. Dancing with the Stars or something like that." Then she spotted my two boxes of strawberries and said, "These are only $1.50!"
The actual strawberries I purchased and totally not an image I stole from Google.
She leaned toward me, lowered her voice and said, "You need some cake and whipped cream to go with these," as though she were sharing the very secret of life and swearing me to shortcake secrecy. "I used to make sponge cake," she continued, "It took like twelve eggs. But you know, I was at home, and I had the time, but then I started working and now I just buy cake." Maybe it was a warning. Sure I might have time now to whip up a sponge cake, but who knows what lies ahead in my future? Perhaps I'll only have the time and the means for smaller luxuries such as candy bars and Dancing with the Stars. It was while I chewed on this existential conundrum that I noticed "Dolores"' rather loose bagging technique. Granted, we can't all be a Harmons Paper Bagging Champion such as myself, but even beginners know not to place produce and shower gel in the same sack, right? I'm beginning to suspect that Dolores is coasting on her charms and tales of care-free-er days, you know, before she had to work. Or maybe she's just having an off day.
Sometimes I'm a good parent. Sometimes I'm a bad parent. Most the time I land somewhere in the middle at "okay parent."
Like yesterday. I thought, "Ivy needs to learn colors." The good mom in me decided," I'll make laminated flash cards with drawings of familiar objects in corresponding colors." The bad mom in me said, "Ha. You fool. That's never going to happen." So the okay mom in me purchased a color-learning ninety-nine cent app on the iPad. Could I do better? Yes. Could I do worse? Yes.
Earlier this week temperatures rose above 60 degrees and the entire town acted like they'd never seen the sun. So many, too many, white legs in shorts. I too came down with Spring Fever and thought, "I should take my dear, sweet child outside to ride her tricycle." But then the bad mom in me was like, "Ugh. I'd have to carry the trike down one flight of stairs." The okay mom in me waited for Stephen to return home from school, handed him the miniature bike and said, "We're going for a ride." We've been married for a while now, so Stephen knew my statement actually meant, "You'll be doing the actual parenting while I fill up an entire memory card and any remaining phone storage with photos." Maybe it was still a bad mom move, but these lines are not finite, and sometimes success just means falling above Call Social Services on the spectrum. Besides, who else was going to take seven thousand photos?
Luckily, Stephen is a good dad, always.
This last photo is inexplicably sepia-toned. I'm registered for a photoshop class in June. Once I become a PS Wizard, the internet will no longer have to endure my hack-editing jobs.
While the first part of the Namibia adventure was heavy on research and roughing it, the second half was essentially a three week vacation. Two vans packed full of college kids roamed Southwest Africa, stopping at major cities and resorts. Because I waited eight years to write any of this down, I don't remember location names. But my geriatric brain can recall most of what we did. The list includes:
Visiting wildlife parks, driving alongside zebras, elephants and lions.
Watching sunsets on the beach.
Listening to the same CD with the same eight songs, over and over and over and over again in the van. One of those songs was Eminem's "Lose Yourself," and I have most of it memorized to this day.
Trying to replace a flat tire while a group of men rode by in a donkey cart. They laughed at our misfortune.
Cleaning up after baboons broke into our hotel rooms and stole our bananas. SERIOUSLY.
Eating entire jars of Nutella and at least one magnum ice cream bar a day. I gained a significant amount of weight.
I can't believe I'm including this photo. I can't believe no one told me I had such an alarming eye makeup situation.
Getting braided hair extensions. Always an excellent idea for white girls.
I assume this is some sort of traditional costume. Or our host family was punking us.
Joining me in the above two photos is Katie, the very girl who said to me on our first encounter, "I'm not sure why I'm here." Katie and I were roommates the next school year, served missions at the same time, went to each other's weddings, had husbands who worked together, and I just met her brand new baby, Hanna.
I mean...melt much?
I'm so grateful that both Katie and I, on a whim, decided to travel to the other side of the world with a group of complete strangers, and now we have a friendship spanning nearly a decade.
While Katie is the one I keep in closest contact with, I have fond/hilarious memories of everyone else from that summer. We spent so much freaking time together, that by the end of our six weeks we were beyond family. We got annoyed with each other, learned way too many intimate details about each other, and developed inside jokes that probably weren't funny at all.
When it came time to fly home, I had a slightly offensive hairstyle, fifteen extra pounds, and a broken heart. I sat in JFK airport crying, because it was over. No more baboon break-ins. No more tight van quarters. No more buying Coke Lite at every corner store. I even looked back nostalgically on whacking scorpions beneath our tent at night.
It was the best craziest decision I ever made that afternoon in the basement of the BYU Humanities building.
In case you don't follow my Facebook account, Instagram feed, Twitter updates, or the smoke signals I send out my bedroom window at night, we have an announcement. No, it's not pregnancy. I feel like the only announcement people expect from married folk ages 20 to 40 is pregnancy, and everything else is just a disappointment. So you'll have to get over it I guess because the announcement is that we're moving back to the mother land (Utah). Actually the announcement is a two-parter. Stephen secured a job at a law firm, THEREFORE, we are moving to Utah. It's a massive relief. Not that I ever had any doubt in Stephen's ability to find employment, but for the last three years when we've told acquaintances that Stephen is in law school, they've responded as though we told them Stephen was enrolled in a miming academy. It's not a great market for lawyers right now, a wide-known fact, so we've braced ourselves for what might happen after graduation. We're lucky to now know.
So. Utah. When we left Utah three years ago, it was in a very "Smell you later!" kind of way. We thought we had outgrown the place, and maybe we had, but it took moving to Colorado for me to realize how much I like the state to the west. Maybe it's because our families are there. Maybe it's because the companies I work for are based there and it's nice to go into an actual office. Maybe it's because the mountains smack you right across the eyeballs with their beauty.
Maybe it's simply because it feels like home.
But we will miss Colorado. It's been three very eventful years, and I think I'll always look back on our small little life here with fondness. I'm glad Ivy can say she was born in Longmont. I'm glad we've met friends who I hope we'll have for life. I'm glad that we've learned how to be a family away from family.
But I'm also glad that Edith won't be our neighbor anymore. Smell you later, Edith.