snowzilla, part II

We finally ventured out on Sunday afternoon after more than forty-eight hours inside.

I was kind of astonished by the vast amount of snow. I mean, I know thirty inches is a lot, but actually seeing it on our street (below) was crazy.  
Our road had been plowed to about one and a half lanes, but we could see down the side streets where nary a plow had been yet.

Keep in mind, Jason’s feet are nowhere near ground. Oh, and I am pretty sure we are technically walking in the street.

 We walked to the Smarts’ to borrow a shovel and Jason got to work digging out our car. It is under there somewhere!   
Since we only had one shovel and also baby Frosty, I just kept him company. It kind of made me feel like a drag on the marriage ticket, but I am glad to have a husband who takes my prenatal wellness seriously (without complaining).

So much shoveling. Fortunately the weather stayed nice.

Getting there!

I walked around the complex and ran into the Spanish-speaking sister missionaries, who were out unburying other people’s cars. They were cheery and friendly and offered to come do our car for us (I assured them Jason could handle it, but they were welcome to come by after they finished). I was really impressed. I was also glad to hear today that Adam and his companion spent the day helping people out. 

Jason finished in just under three hours. If complicated math were a thing I did recreationally I would be interested to calculate the tonnage of snow he moved. He returned the shovel and helped unburying another car before coming for dinner after dark. He is a good man.

We also got a pretty great sunset to finish off the evening.  

We did not have work Monday, so we slept in a bit and made pumpkin pancakes from a mix Jason’s mom got us for Christmas. 

Our friend needed a ride to Best Buy, so Jason braved the elements to take him. We were really anxious about losing the parking spot we had so lovingly cleared the day before (#apartmentproblems). Our solution was for me to stand in the parking space and pretend to shovel snow until they returned. I did (though I also called my mom to make it interesting). No one stole the spot and Jason arrived home in peace and safety after less than 45 minutes. I felt kind of ridculous, but was glad our scheme worked! 

I worked out a bit while watching Downton Abbey and Jason read with his wife-cancelling headphones on. We had chicken nuggets for lunch, then whiled away the afternoon with reading and sleeping. We watched the X-Files reboot and made a big pot of spaghetti. Now we are anxiously awaiting the weather call from OPM. I am hoping for a cancellation, but think it will probably just be a delay. Either way, it has been a great snowy weekend!

snowzilla, part I

DC-ers spent this week obsessed with news of an oncoming storm, one Capital Weather Gang reported could be record-breaking. I reread my blog posts from our intern days about Snowmageddon to celebrate.

Papa John’s was the only restaurant open, so when we tired of our rations Jason braved the cold for breadsticks and a pizza.   
 Back to 2016: we were all so consumed with Friday’s storm that we missed the rush hour snow on Wednesday night. In true DC fashion it ended up really wrecking the commute home for a lot of people. I thankfully got home just as it started snowing, and Jason made his four-mile drive in 45 minutes.

Note that this screenshot is from 9:40 pm. Many people were on the road until after midnight.

We girded our loins for Friday by shopping early in the week. We also had Dave, who was supposed to come to dinner on Sunday, come over for Cava on Thursday instead. The storm’s ETA was pushed back from Friday morning to Friday afternoon, so we each had a half day. Jason went to the office and I got in a quick three-mile run, then worked from home. Jason got home around 12:30 pm, just as the flakes started to fall.

  We stayed up very late watching snow and tennis.

Saturday the storm got far worse, and by the end of the day we had some 27″ (maybe more. I think this warrants a Sunday walk inspection). We spent the day eating (pizza, macaroni and cheese, and all the Laffy Taffy), exercising a bit, watching the basketball and tennis, and reading. Oh, and Jason spent nearly two hours on hold with United trying to change his flight (which he changed from Sunday to Monday on Friday, and from Monday to Tuesday today). That hold music was brutal. We don’t have church tomorrow, and whether we work on Monday remains to be seen. Fingers crossed!

snowmageddon 2?

Getting back into the swing of things post-Christmas has been tough. Jason’s been swamped and I’m just tired. We’re a mess. We couldn’t even stay awake for the not-so-late Gonzaga game the other night.

We did make some pretty fantastic bibimbap bowls for dinner last week, so there’s that.
The balmy winter temperatures we had enjoyed through December have dropped, and we are looking at our first real snow storm of the season on Friday. (It snowed a bit during church on Sunday, which made all the kids excited and crazy, but none of the flakes really stuck). Fingers crossed!

I blogged less in the fall, mostly because whenever I thought about what we’d been up to, all I could think about was this impending baby. I’m almost fifteen weeks now and feeling loads better than I did in November and December. The days are long, but the weeks are flying by. No belly photos here, not least because I’m not showing yet, though sometimes I think I have a tiny bump after eating a big meal. I am sure it is just bloating. I’m feeling surprisingly zen about things. I mean, there is still plenty of time to get worked up about parenthood, and of course I worry about Junior’s health and safety and growth, but I feel really calm, and that has been a blessing.

We went grocery shopping last night for snow day sustenance. Glad we didn’t leave it until tonight because it is snowing now and if Facebook is to be believed, the lines at the stores are unreal. (Plus there is no bread or milk. Why those are such popular emergency foods is a mystery to me. We stocked up on chips and salsa, macaroni and cheese, pizza toppings, and cottage cheese. The cottage cheese is a phase I’m going through right now.) 


We decided to visit the Renwick Gallery on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (which, for the first two years we lived here I embarrassingly referred to as “Human Rights Day.” Thanks Utah). We bundled up, but I think we might have reconsidered our voyage at all had we known how cold it was going to be.

The Renwick is across the street from the OEOB and is apparently the first expressly-art museum built in the United States. It has been closed for the last two years for renovation. Apparently it is popular these days, because the line stretched around the corner. It moved quickly, though, and soon we were inside.

The current exhibit is nine installations by nine different artists all espousing the theme “Wonder.” This one was made of string.

This blurry one was made of thousands and thousands (millions?) of tiny pieces of paper.

The line wound around upstairs, past this very cool chandelier thing.

I didn’t get any good pictures of the big room, but it was cool. I’ll have to steal one from Jason.

This giant tree thing was neat. Apparently the artist made a cast of the tree, then reconstructed the tree out of tiny pieces of wood. When the exhibition is over, this version of the tree will be returned to the forest to decompose.

Here’s Maya Lin’s Chesapeake Bay in marbles. Very cool. Did not photograph well.

This last room was probably my favorite. So many bugs.

Frigid selfie!

Jason cut his hair very short a couple of weeks ago and I like it a lot. Unfortunately, it also meant his scalp froze while we tried to find somewhere to eat. Sorry buddy! We finally ducked into a Forever 21 to regroup and decided on Haad Thai by Metro Center. It was pretty good. Then we metroed back home, via Dave’s stop at the Barlow Center. So glad he’s having a good time in DC!

bookish 2015 + an exciting thing

2015 goal: 150 books.

2016 goal: 75 books in the first half of the year, and then one book per month after we welcome a baby in mid-July! We are so excited. More on that to come!

Now, on to the book post! I didn’t set a book goal last January, thinking instead I’d focus on reading classics and writing my own stuff. Turns out I’ve skipped some classics for a reason, and I still haven’t gotten into a good writing habit (aside from this blog and I’m not sure that counts).

My commute didn’t get any shorter, though, so I still spent 45 minutes each morning and afternoon reading, which I realized around May would translate to 150 books again this year, so I went ahead and made that my goal.

More than once for a host of reasons (not least of which being nearly constant nausea in November and December, making reading on the metro almost impossible. See the aforementioned little Frost) I thought I wouldn’t hit my goal. I found some good, short reads for the last few weeks of 2015, though, and eked out 150 books for the year after all. This was good enough for second-highest gross number of books read in a year since 2010 (which actually means since at least 2006 and probably before that, since my college years were notoriously light on non-required reading).

Here’s the year at a glance. Each box = one book. The year begins in the top left corner and continues L-R.

year at a glance2.JPG

For the first time, I read fewer fiction (49.3%) than nonfiction (51.7%) books. Granted, the margin was small (a difference of just two books), but I was surprised. # booksFun fact: 75% of the nonfiction books I read this year have a colon in the title. I think the best worst subtitle of this year was the one from Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder (which only scored a generous two-star rating).

I also, on average, ranked nonfiction books more than a half-star higher than fiction (3.96 vs. 3.39 stars).


Zero nonfiction books were assigned a one-star rating. This may be because I’m not willing to invest time in a bad nonfiction book, while I sometimes harbor a vain hope that a novel will redeem itself. I also think my nonfiction ratings may be slightly inflated because I’m impressed at the research that goes into writing them.

I’ve never been a consistent rater of my books on Goodreads, but this year I provided a star rating for every single book. (I can’t say I’ve reviewed every book, though. Usually a book gets a review only if I really loved or really hated it.)

According to Goodreads, the book I read that was most popular among Goodread-ers this year was 1984 (read by 2.3 million users). The least popular book was Six Thinking Hats, which allegedly only eight other Goodreads members read.

I read a much smaller proportion of women authors this year than last (51.3% in 2014 vs. 37.3% in 2015). To be fair, this wasn’t a metric I was watching closely this year, as I did in 2014.# by gender

In 2014 I posted a graph showing the number of books read by decade published. The chart below shows the difference in number of books per decade comparing 2015 and 2014. I read three more pre-1900 books, which I attribute to Shakespeare.

I also had a little bump in books read from the 1960s (thank you, Wallace Stegner) and a huge drop-off in titles from the 1990s and 2000s. I made up for it with more books from the current decade, most of which were 9as expected) nonfiction. decade comparison

Average year of publication aligns closely with 2014, in which the average publication year for fiction was 1987 and nonfiction was 2004, for an overall average of 1995. This year’s nonfiction number is actually brought down a little bit by The Lectures on Faith and Stegner’s book about the Mormon trail.

year table

17 (11.3%) of the books this year were re-reads, including Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy, which I read twice in 2015.

This year I read more than 44,000 pages. If we assume a ream of  typing paper is 2″ thick, that’s 176 inches, or 14.6 feet of pages. I spent an average of 2.43 days on each book. The shortest book I read was 48 pages and the longest was 848 pages. Jason and I read 12 of the same books this year, which may be a new record. I read 102 authors for the first time.

The most common reading material–based on rating, author gender and genre–was a five-star non-fiction written by a man, of which I read 20 books, or 13.3% of the 2015 total.

I read two books each by 10 authors: Margaret Atwood, Albert Camus, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Anne Lamott, Colum McCann, Nathaniel Philbrick, Helen Rappaport, William Shakespeare, and Wallace Stegner. I read three books each from three authors: James Dashner, Withold Rybczynski, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Best fiction book: The Luminaries (Catton). Totally worth the 848 pages. I finally had to buy it because I kept getting it from the library at times when I couldn’t finish it in the allotted three weeks. Runners up: 1984 (Orwell) How had I not read this before this year??; Nora Webster (Toibin); All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr).

Best non-fiction book that wasn’t about North Korea (three-way tie): In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Philbrick). I loved this book, and so did my Moby Dick fan father. I haven’t decided yet if I can see the movie. The Boys in the Boat (Brown); The Art of Robert Frost (Kendall).

Best non-fiction book that was about North Korea (three-way tie between 3 out of the 4 non-fiction books I read about North Korea): Without You There Is No Us (Kim); A Kim Jong-il Production (Fischer); The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia (Lankov).

Book that changed my life whether I wanted it to or not: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Kondo). The fall may have gotten away from me, but my shirt drawer is still really organized. Highly recommend. Runner up: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Tufte). I want a poster of the Napoleon graph for my office wall.

Best book for a plane ride: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Carmon and Knizhnik). It is also a great book for life in general, but it will always remind me of our trip out to Sacramento. Plus, people on the plane will think you are both informed and hilarious. Runner up: anything by Mindy Kaling, and How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit (Rybcyzniski).

Best reread: The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster). I thought this was clever when I was young, and I think it is even cleverer now. Runner up (though perhaps this should be a tie): Sherlock Holmes novels!

Best book of poetry: This Brood of Orange Leaves (Pullan). Okay, to be fair this was also the only book of poetry I read, but I really liked it.

Best non-canon church/religious book: The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (Stegner). In the first pages of this book, Stegner captures exactly what the 1840s migration means to modern-day Mormons. I am irritated that his contribution to the otherwise excellent Daughters in my Kingdom is unattributed. That’s a discussion for another time.

Series I read because I had to know how it ended even if it was unsatisfying: The Maze Runner trilogy.

Other must-read non-fiction books: The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (Rappaport). Could not put this down. The Forever War (Filkins). Another great recommendation from Jason. So glad I married a reader. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Larson).

Books that made me cry: All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr), The Boys in the Boat (Brown), and (surprise surprise) Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy (Pincott).

Previous book posts: 20142013 | 2012

Full list, in reverse chronological order. *denotes a Best Read of 2015

The Heart Goes Last (Atwood)
The Light We Share (Uchtdorf)
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Adams)
Heartburn (Ephron)
*Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society (Various)
A Short Stay in Hell (Peck)
The Crying of Lot 49 (Pynchon)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Konigsburg)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Capote)
Mother Night (Vonnegut)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Hamid)
*The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong (Orr)
Hannah Coulter (Berry)
A Christmas Carol (Dickens)
*Lectures on Faith (Smith and Rigdon)
*Siddhartha (Hesse)
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person (Rhimes)
Let The Great World Spin (McCann)
In the Unlikely Event (Blume)
The Life We Bury (Esken)
*Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (Krakauer)
Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival (Bahari)
*Our Town (Wilder)
*Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy (Pincott)
Orphan Train (Kline)
Modern Romance (Ansari)
*The Book of Mormon
*Notorious RBG (Carmon)
Why Not Me? (Kaling)
Thirteen Ways of Looking (MCCann)
The Death Cure (Dashner)
The Tsar of Love and Techno (Marra)
Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You (Gosling)
*Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism (Grandin)
Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House (Lewis)
A Man Without a Country (Vonnegut)
The Last American Man (Gilbert)
I Am Pilgrim (Hayes)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)
The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House (Brower)
*A Spool of Blue Thread (Tyler)
*Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (Larson)
The Light Between Oceans (Stedman)
The Road to Character (Brooks)
After the Quake (Murakami)
The History of Love (Krauss)
*The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up (Kondo)
Very Good Lives (Rowling)
The Namesake (Lahiri)
The Scorch Trials (Dashner)
*The Luminaries (Catton)
A Happy Death (Camus)
*The Children’s Crusade (Packer)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (Cain)
Cinderella Ate My Daughter (Orenstein)
Your Voice in My Head (Forrest)
*Coriolanus (Shakespeare)
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (Vonnegut)
*True Grit (Portis)
The Exile and the Kingdom (Camus)
The Maze Runner (Dasher)
Visiting Hours (Butcher)
Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives (Rubin)
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (Greenblatt)
They Came Like Swallows (Maxwell)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Saenz)
Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis (Putnam)
The Hours (Cunningham)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Garcia Marquez)
Recapitulation (Stegner)
*Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Calahan)
1984 (Orwell)
Six Thinking Hats (de Bono)
The Girl on the Train (Hawkins)
17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-up in History (Morton)
Under the Wide and Starry Sky (Horan)
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (LaMott)
The Power of Everyday Missionaries (Christensen)
*The Phantom Tollbooth (Juster)
Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (Norris)
The Burgess Boys (Strout)
Conning Harvard (Zauzmer)
Wave (Deraniyagala)
Little Bee (Cleave)
The Psychopath Test (Ronson)
Between Shades of Gray (Sepetys)
Makeshift Metropolis (Rybcyzniski)
Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy (Pincott)
*The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Tufte)
*The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail (Stegner)
All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West (Gessner)
*A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power (Fischer)
The Book of Unknown Americans (Henriquez)
*Give and Take (Grant)
Desert Solitaire (Abbey)
On the Ridge Between Life and Death (Roberts)
The Orphan Master’s Son (Johnson)
The Look of Architecture (Rybcyzniski)
One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (Novak)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque)
*This Brood of Orange Leaves (Pullan)
The Book of Strange New Things (Faber)
*How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit (Rybcyznski)
Silent Witnesses (McCrery)
*Hamlet (Shakespeare)
*The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia (Lankov)
*The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Brown)
*The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Doyle)
We Are Not Ourselves (Thomas)
Winter in Madrid (Sansom)
The Sign of Four (Doyle)
Liar Temptress Solider Spy (Abbott)
A Prisoner of Birth (Archer)
The Paying Guests (Waters)
*Nora Webster (Toibin)
The Tiger’s Wife (Obrecht)
*The Art of Robert Frost (Kendall)
Darkness at Noon (Koestler)
Thirteen Days in September (Wright)
*All the Light We Cannot See (Doerr)
*The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace (Hobbs)
Girls in White Dresses (Close)
The Sense of Style (Pinker)
*America Between the Wars: The Misunderstood Years Between the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Start of the War on Terror (Chollet and Goldgeier)
Molokai (Brennert)
This I Believe (NPR)
*The Creative Habit (Tharp)
The Aquariums of Pyongyang (Chol-Hwan)
Euphoria (King)
Bird By Bird (Lamott)
*Mayflower (Philbrick)
Things Fall Apart (Achebe)
The Last Days of the Romanovs (Rappaport)
Bumpology (Geddes)
Flash Boys (Lewis)
*The Forever War (Filkins)
*On Immunity (Biss)
*Without You There Is No Us (Kim)
A Broom of One’s Own (Peacock)
Yes Please (Poehler)
Dept. of Speculation (Offill)
*In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Philbrick)
*Family Life (Sharma)
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (Rappaport)
*Stories of Survival from Everest and K2 (Willis)
Little Princes (Grennan)
Judgement Ridge (Zuckoff)

Total: 150!

in which dave spends some quality time at our place 

We brought Dave back with us from Connecticut, since he’ll be doing an internship in DC this semester. 

New Year’s Eve started out with a trip to the doctor, and then a very relaxing day while Jason was at work. Dave and I watched lots of football and I upcycled a shirt from Jason’s grandpa Bill into a toddler dress.


In the evening we headed to the temple in the hopes of seeing Adam there. No luck. Apparently he is not nerdy enough to be recruited to the missionary choir. We enjoyed the lights, though, and the unseasonably warm weather.  

I’m glad we made it up twice this season. Can’t beat this view!


We went home and made a bunch of frozen Trader Joe’s appetizers while watching more football. At 11 pm we turned on the BYU basketball game and I promptly fell asleep. Happy new year?

The next day I went for a first run of 2016 with Dani. Afterward the three of us went to see the new Star Wars movie, which I LOVED. I kept thinking about Adam and how he used to run around with his “lifesaver.” We also went to Cava for lunch and exchanged some Christmas clothes we bought ourselves.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon sewing. 


The top one is for Kallie and the one below is for Katelyn’s baby. I’m gradually getting better at this.

Sunday was as usual. Eleven o’clock church is okay, but I prefer nine. We had chicken with pistachio and dates for dinner. Monday Jason had to go to work. I went running and came home and went back to sleep (my favorite way to sleep in). Dave and I made authentic Thai noodles for lunch (his friend brought him a Thai equivalent of ramen from a recent trip). It was a little spicy but good. I sewed some more, and we started the highly addictive Netflix series Making a Murderer. By the time Jason came home we may have watched four episodes.

Dave ended up starting work a few days early, so we moved him into his place last night. It was fun to see the Barlow Center again after six (!!) years. They definitely replaced the carpet and the furniture, but the building smelled the same (not necessarily a bad thing). The on-site missionary couple actually know Harold and Sue Anne. Small Mormon world. 

Oh, one more thing: we had a white elephant gift exchange at work and I made a paper gift bow of which I was very proud.   
 We loved having Dave stay with us and were oddly sad when we dropped him off (considering he will be in the area for at least four months and better come see us). He was a great houseguest, as all our siblings who’ve visited have proven to be, and we are so excited for him to experience all that DC has to offer!

christmas break in ct

We spent the five days after Christmas with the Frosts, which is always fun. 

One day we went to Mystic, a pretty little town along the Mystic River and at one point a key port.    

Jason and I visited on our honeymoon, but it had definitely been long enough to justify a second trip. 

We explored the little downtown area and admired the water feature. On the way home we stopped at Friendly’s.

Another day we went to Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven.  

It was a little cold, but still pretty.

 In addition to the eponymous lighthouse there is an almost-100-year-old carousel in the park, but it was closed when we came so we stuck to the shore and the lighthouse.
 The lighthouse was only used for 73 years, and was originally made of wood.  Oh, and there was some serious wind going on.  

The park also hosts a driving tour of Christmas lights, which do not look quite as magical during the day.

We played a lot of Scrabble and cards and this fun gift giving game the Holbeins gave us. Football bowl and basketball games also occupied our time. We made one more visit to Jason’s grandparents, and got to eat at our very favorite Connecticut dining establishment: Frank Pepe’s.

Dave also went t the dentist and Jason’s mom and I went to the fabric store to pick out a cutting mat for my Christmas present. (I love it and have already put it to good use.) We also got to visit Stonewall Kitchen, a really fun store filled with cooking tools and tasty spreads, jams and sauces. (As Jason will attest, I never met a snitcho I didn’t like.)

Our last night in town Jason cooked a delicious spaghetti dinner. He’s awesome.

We drove home on Wednesday with Dave in tow. Oh, on the New Jersey Turnpike we got this almost-too-close-for-comfort view of a landing plane. 

Per usual we made great time until Maryland, so the drive back took about seven hours.

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite part of our visit! We spent almost every evening watching old videos of Jason and his brothers. They were so cute! It was also fun to see and hear Jason’s Grandma and Grandpa Frost, since I never got to meet them. 

We always have a good time in Connecticut and this trip was no exception. We’re hoping to see Jason’s fam again while Dave is here this semester!