Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Rantelope

“I hate the way that people always talk so loud.
I also hate to be alone, or being in a crowd.
I hate it how bananas have those yellow peels.
I hate it when I get a cut, and I hate it when it heals.”

The Rantelope, you see, will hate on anything.
When it comes to ranting, he’s the undisputed king.
There is nothing in his life that satisfies at all.
He even hates the way he looks and thinks that he’s too tall.

If you should chance to meet him, run the other way,
Cuz if you don’t, then he will pounce, and you’ll be there all day.
He’ll love to yell and rant at you until his face is blue,
He’ll love to rave and diatribe (But he’ll prob’ly hate it too).   

Monday, December 5, 2016

Unsung Heroes

Have you ever done something awesome that benefits a ton of people, but nobody really notices or gives you credit? I hope not, because it's a pretty crummy feeling. But if you, like me, have felt that feeling, then I hereby dedicate this post to you.

Unsung Heroes:

1. Guy in Facebook Comments Section Who Summarizes an Article so You Don't Have to Read It.

One of the worst things about social media is that it's become more and more about number of page views. If a certain article generates a certain number of views, they get paid more in advertising dollars, which makes sense, I guess. But what I hate about it is the stupid 'clickbait' article titles you see everywhere. You know what I'm talking about: "You won't believe what Lebron James said about former teammate Chris Bosh!" Then you click on the article, hoping to hear some really juicy gossip that'll put a dent in Bosh's sterling reputation, but you find out that the only thing Lebron actually said was, "He's a great teammate." Now you've wasted thirty precious seconds of your life.

That's why Guy in Facebook Comments Section Who Summarizes an Article so You Don't Have to Read It has become one of my favorite people in the world. I can just click on the comments and find out that the article sucks and isn't worth my time, and I don't give the original poster the satisfaction of more pageviews!

One of my favorite memes.

So if you, dear reader, are one of these people, I thank you. You deserve more credit.

2. The Inventor of Barbecue Sauce.

Apparently, the history of barbecue sauce is very long and much-disputed (some even credit the Chinese for this obviously-American delicacy!), but the earliest written recipe I could find through my extensive research was the recipe of Mrs. Edith Lockwood Danielson Howard in 1913. She lived in Providence, Rhode Island. By all accounts, the name Edith Lockwood Danielson Howard should be a household name, considering her extensive contributions to American society, but somehow it is not a household name!

If you can read this, and you'd like a taste of history, then here you go!

3. Kid in My Chemistry Class Who Consistently Gets Less than 7% on Exams and Brings the Average Down for the Rest of Us.

I'm convinced that there are some robots in my chemistry class. One girl (or robot?) who sits behind me got 103% on the first two tests, and was upset with herself for only getting 100% on the third one. Anyways, people like that are definitely NOT unsung heroes. In fact, they make the rest of us feel dumb! The real unsung hero in my class is the kid who got 5% on the first exam, 6% on the second and third exams, and 5% on the fourth exam. He brings the averages way down so that people like me (with a ~75% average on exams) can feel like we are actually doing okay. Bless his soul.

4. Plunger.

Yes, I am referring to the object that unplugs clogged toilets. Yes, I agree that it is filthy and disgusting and I want to throw it away after using it only once. But honestly, Plunger is such a trooper. Time after time, he's there for us, literally wading through crap to lend a helping hand. Thank you Plunger, for being so much more than we deserve.

5. The first person who thought of this:

Yes, that is bacon and eggs and a burger between two donuts.

(This post was brought to you by Austin)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Things That (Should) Make Everyone Angry

1. Mushrooms on Pizza.

Who was the first person to decide that fungus was an acceptable thing to put in our mouths? Like seriously, listen to the definition of fungus: "Spore-producing organism that feeds on organic matter...something that has appeared or grown rapidly and is considered unpleasant or unattractive." I mean, Athlete's Foot is a fungus...would you put that in your mouth? No! And you shouldn't put any other fungus in there either! Why would anyone ever put a spore-producing, organic-matter-consuming, unpleasant, unattractive abomination on something so pleasant and attractive as a pizza? It doesn't make any sense, and it enrages me.

Athlete's Foot
Athlete's Foot on Pizza
2. Kale.

The Kale Advertising Guy must be the smartest guy in the entire world. I imagine that about 10 years ago the board of directors at Kale, Inc. was getting pretty worried because their product was tanking. It looked unappealing, it was another leaf product in a market that was already super saturated with leaves (Romaine, Iceberg, Spinach, etc.), and, worst of all, it just plain tasted gross. Then the Kale Advertising Guy stood up and was like, "I've got it! We just tell everybody that if you massage it, then it will taste better and be healthier!" Everyone was like, "That's dumb, why would we massage a leaf?" And he thought about it and was like, "You're right, that is dumb. But let's try it anyway." And somehow it worked! Now Kale is super popular! And it makes me angry.

Here's a picture of someone wasting time and effort

3. Poetry that doesn't rhyme.

I feel blasphemous even using those words in that order. Poetry that doesn't rhyme isn't really poetry! Poetry that doesn't rhyme is like a painting without paint. It's a contradiction in terms. An oxymoron.

Poetry that doesn't rhyme is written by people who feel like they want to be writers but don't want to put the time in to actually write a novel or even a short story. So then they tell themselves that they'll write poetry, and they discover that it's really hard to rhyme and keep rhythm while still getting a message across, so they write something super lame that doesn't rhyme and they call it 'free verse'. LOL. Free verse blows.

uhhh....did anyone get anything out of this?

4. The cost of a salad at a restaurant.

One of the worst things about life is when you're trying to lose weight and you go to a restaurant and want to get a salad so you don't ruin your diet but then you look at the menu and salad costs as much as a burger! At that point you just end up getting a burger because you feel like you're at least getting your money's worth from the burger and fries. Ugh. At least you're secretly satisfied that you didn't end up eating salad after all.

5. Justin Bieber.

(This post was written by Austin, btw)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Piano Guys

When I first met the Poulsens, I was soon introduced to "The Piano Guys," a cello/piano duo that covered popular songs and classical music in fun youtube videos. I thought they were all right but I wasn't like obsessed.

Now I'm obsessed. We went to their concert last month and I was blown away. I've seen many of their videos but not even close to all of them, and it was so fun to hear it all live with a clever combo of video/special effects. Turns out, Steven Sharp Nelson, the cellist, is my mom's cousin, like actual real-life not second-or-third-or removed COUSIN, grew up together, his uncle is my grandpa, the whole nine yards. Where have I been all these years?! Cousin Steven hooked my mom up with tickets since he couldn't come to dinner when they were in town, and so to the concert we went. I HIGHLY recommend going, if they ever come to your town. It was uplifting, silly, funny, and spiritual. I loved it!


One of my favorite parts was what they had to say about learning music today. They thanked teachers and parents for sticking with it and giving their children the gift of music lessons, and emphasized the importance and impact of classical music and how relevant it is today. Steven said, "It is easy to feel dark and scared when we look around the world today. But when I see a musical instrument in the hands of a child, I know it's going to be okay." Maybe you had to be there, but I thought the whole thing was very powerful, especially having had so much to do with music in my life (17 years of piano lessons and a college degree!).

Another special part was in describing their experience in Brazil when they traveled to the giant Christ statue as part of their goal to play at the 7 world wonders. Steven said, "We expected it to be this amazing, incredible, pinnacle-of-spirituality type experience and we wondered how we could top it. It was indeed incredible, but then we traveled inland to a stunning expanse of waterfalls in the rainforest and we played with nature all around us, and we couldn't help but notice that we felt a spiritual presence intensely more profound than at the statue. We puzzled and pondered over it for a while, and came to the only conclusion that we could find: the statue of Christ shows man's love for God, but this waterfall and the beautiful nature surrounding it show God's love for us." I thought that was very poignant.

our friend Michelle got to come too! (my brother's potential mother-in-law....!)

don't worry, i have since replaced these
AWFUL glasses
I know my description isn't doing it justice, but I was so impressed by their talent, personality, genuine love for all kinds of music and adventure, and overall presentation that I've been semi-obsessively listening to all their stuff over the past few weeks. My absolute favorite, hands-down, is this video. I think I may have listened to it 140 times, no joke. It makes me SO happy! The kids love it too - Stockton calls it "dance dance" because every time I turn it on (multiple times a day - no shame) we dance like fools all over the house with abandon and it is so fun and silly. I just can't get enough! One of my favorite songs mixed with Bach, one of my favorite composers, and harpsichord to boot? The best! I made Austin listen to it for the twentieth time and was explaining that there are snippets of different Bach pieces, and he goes, "Oh I know. I went through a brief phase at the office where I googled harpsichord music and only listened to that for like three weeks, so I recognize those tunes." I LOVE THIS MAN. Earlier this week he actually looked up how much it would cost to buy a harpsichord, and I think he was only 48% kidding.

Such a fun group! We had VIP access passes to meet the four piano guys after the concert. It was really fun having Makall and Suzy with us too! We're doing a peace sign because two of the piano guys went on Korean missions, and Michelle's daughter (Sam's intended) is in Korea on her mission right now, and almost every picture they take includes a peace sign. 


Another birthday, check!

birthday twins

And what a fun birthday it was. I have always loved birthdays. I think it is so fun to celebrate YOU, whether it's your birthday or someone else's. A whole day to make someone feel special and important. I don't know if it makes me self-centered to love my own birthday but I can't deny it so there it is : )

One of my favorite things about birthdays is that they often start early and end late - for instance, we opened presents a week ago (a Jessie/Austin trait is that we have zero patience for surprises from each other...as soon as we have a gift we simply have to share!) and then you keep getting mail/comments for days after your birthday, extending it even more. I love it. Ananda called me this morning and we were laughing about how one time I was planning my birthday festivities before she had even celebrated her birthday (in July, ha).

I did the paper route this morning, which sounds kind of backwards since it's generally not a celebratory or enjoyable task and it was my birthday, after all, but Austin did it yesterday and is doing it tomorrow so I figured it was the least I could do. Plus he promised me a Birthday Nap, so I was all in. (The BN has been postponed til tomorrow, in case you were wondering.)  Doing something for someone else was the perfect way to start a day that is all about me - I was grounded in gratitude and service instead of self-congratulations (yay, self, you were born!!) and attention. I said a little prayer when I was about halfway through the route and asked that I could focus on being grateful and happy, and just then I noticed that the sky was clear and the stars were bright, and I stopped in the middle of the yard I had been traipsing through, turned my headlamp off, and stared straight up with my head thrown all the way back. It was glorious! The vastness of the dark sky, the wonder of something that is soooo far away still being so bright and twinkly, the mysteries of the constellations and the whole grandeur of the universe took my breath away and made me almost tearful at how wonderful our beautiful world is and how thankful I am that we get to appreciate it.

I came home and made our favorite pancakes and buttermilk syrup (SERIOUSLY LIFE-CHANGING: if you have never experienced the wonder that is buttermilk syrup, please waste no time in educating your taste buds) and then we were off to deliver the neighborhood newsletter, the "Witherbee Buzz." How cute is that?! This is the second time we've done this as volunteers, and it feels good to be an active part of our community and specific neighborhood. Natalie got really into it and probably went up to more doors than I did! It was a beautiful morning and we enjoyed being outside together.

We came home and officially got ready for our day, and I went shopping while Austin watched a movie with the kids. I got a new shirt that I really like and it was fun to wear it all day for our festivities. We went to the Birdsall's next for our planned birthday lunch date. Renetta was nice enough to organize babysitting for all our kids at her house so we didn't even have to find a babysitter, and then she and Dan even paid for our lunch! We stuffed ourselves at HuHot and enjoyed each other's company.

We went back to their house to check in with the kids and play some Kubb, but when we walked in the Bishop's 7-year-old daughter, Bekah, was upstairs peeking around the corner. It was kind of confusing because we didn't know why she was there - she lives down the street but we hadn't seen their car and didn't think she'd just come over randomly without her parents. She also was looking randomly mischievous and not saying anything, just smiling cryptically, and then I called for Natalie as I walked up the stairs and she said, "Mom, I'm hiding under here!" and then I saw Audrey and Kodi, which made no sense since they had no reason to be there, and then everyone said "SURPRISE!!!" and popped out of their hiding places!

YOU GUYS, they threw a surprise birthday party for me!!! I was SHOCKED! I turned bright red and couldn't believe it! Alissa was behind the couch, Annie and Rory were next to the piano, and then I turned the corner and the side room was PACKED with all our friends from the ward. It was so overwhelming and happy! There were at least 20 adults and as many kids and they were all there for me and I couldn't believe it. I felt so loved and special. Renetta brought out a cake (she hid it well earlier!) and they all sang happy birthday and we ate and laughed and played outside and enjoyed being together. I'm still so surprised! Renetta had set out notecards to write nice things to me and had everyone park at the church behind their house so there weren't any cars. So sneaky!

Advice: find cool people like the Birdsalls right when you move somewhere, decide to be their friends, and never look back. THANK YOU, Dan and Renetta! You really are the best. (And for the record, Renetta made TWO cakes. One of them was a chocolate oreo cake that she knows I love, and the other one was a poppyseed cake which she made just because she remembered me saying that I love the poppyseed cake we make around Christmas. SO thoughtful and wonderful.)

After hanging out for a while, everyone left except us and we played Kubb in the backyard, still enjoying the beautiful weather, and then we finally went home so the kids could have some quiet time before our next festivities.

After said quiet time we headed out for said festivities, dropping the kids off at the Smarts so we could meet my family for dinner. We went to Vincenzo's, a fancy Italian restaurant downtown that we went to for our birthday two years ago, and it was delicious, although I was still really full from HuHot haha. It was fun catching up with my family, and especially seeing Jack since it is his birthday too, after all. I've always loved sharing a birthday as a twin. It is special to have a celebration that is shared between both of you, and it's great to be able to sing the happy birthday song too instead of just smiling while you are sung to. We opened presents, had good food, and then the boys talked politics on one side of the table while the girls talked politics on the other side of the table. It felt good to use our brains to debate and reason, and it was especially encouraging that even though we may disagree we still can have a tempered conversation about it and respect each other.

Anyway, it was a lovely dinner gathering and I'm grateful we got to meet together. We fetched the kids (thank you, Smarts!) and hurried home to get them ready for bed so Austin could go watch the Cubs game with Kodi and Dan. Now the house is quiet and calm, and I read my scriptures (I'm currently studying Preach My Gospel in an effort to be more missionary-minded) and then decided to blog about my happy day. I'm putting off all sorts of other things in doing so but I wanted to remember how special and loved I felt. 26 is going to be a good year!

(OH! And this is the 400th post on this blog! Cool!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Conspiracy Theories (Realities)

(by Austin, if you couldn't tell)...

Things I’m sure are conspiracies:

1. Lotion. Lotion isn’t inherently evil, but people who use lotion everyday become dependent on it, just as a morphine addict becomes dependent on morphine. If they go a day without lotion, their skin becomes so dry and cracked that an elephant would get jealous. Here’s proof:

This woman used lotion everyday for a year straight, and then this happened after two days without lotion.
People who go without lotion are 100% happier, according to a recent survey.
2. Chapstick. Unlike lotion, Chapstick IS inherently evil. Chapstick saw what Lotion was doing to vulnerable Americans and took advantage of the same demographic. Chapstick knew that if it could convince people that Chapstick was necessary for supple lips, then it could take control of a significant portion of the world. And it has. Here is a photo of someone who has never used chapstick: 

Here is a photo of someone who uses chapstick everyday:

See the difference? You’re right. There’s no difference. But if you took the chapstick away from the second person, her lips would become this:

3. Vanilla extract. Vanilla talks a big game, mostly because it smells super delicious. But then on a recipe it’s like, “But only use a quarter teaspoon of me cuz I’m so strong.” And then you accidentally pour half the bottle of vanilla in your cookies and it turns out that you actually can’t taste vanilla at all. 

Just look into its menacingly deceitful face.

 4. Hillary Clinton. I’m convinced that this ‘woman’ is actually an android. I mean look at this: 

A fly landed on her face and sat there for like 20 minutes. When a fly lands on my face, I reach up real quick and brush it away. That means I'm a human. Androids, on the other hand, don’t have feeling in their faces, so they don’t care if a fly lands on them. 

Also, have you ever heard her ‘laugh?’ It’s totally a robotic approximation of a human laugh.

5. Honey Bunches of Oats. Now, I’m not saying that Honey Bunches of Oats in and of themselves are a conspiracy. I, personally, could eat Honey Bunches of Oats twice a day for the rest of my life and die happy. It’s the BUNCHES part that I take issue with. The last time I had a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, I literally only found one oat. Seriously, shouldn’t someone sue them for false advertising? There are definitely not BUNCHES of oats in Honey Bunches of Oats. 

 6. People who say they like onions. I won’t go into any detail on this one. Everyone knows onions are disgusting. 

Anyways, conspiracies are everywhere, so be careful what you believe!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pictures that remind me that...

One of the things I hate about getting behind in anything, but particularly blogging, is that when I do get around to catching up it never feels as authentic. I feel like an impostor in my own life, trying to reclaim memories and moments that weeks or months ago were so clear and obvious but now have lost that glimmer of reality and truth of commentary. I hope to stay more on top of it so I can add more authenticity and actual thoughts instead of just summarily captioning pictures and travel-logging events. 

Here's an assorted gathering of "leftover" pictures that I want to remember in one way or another. 

These pictures remind me that...

being outside is always the right choice

I'm not alone at church

being downtown is invigorating
Each of these pictures tells a little story:

Austin decided we should sing a primary song before bed each night // Natalie scratched her cornea! // Jack loves destroying blinds

Natalie periodically comes over just to "check in" and give me a hug and a kiss // Stockton periodically comes over to sit on Austin's lap and be cozy // Natalie's self-portrait

These pictures reiterate the importance of:

splurging on dates once in a while // sharing good food with good people // keeping treats safe and hidden

letting the kids have the camera // proper skincare // actually trying those recipes that you always see on facebook once in a while

These pictures bring me joy in various ways:

a PopPop with his grandbabies // (k this picture isn't joyful haha but it is good to be needed?) // LOUD MUSIC WHEN THE KIDS AREN'T IN THE CAR IS MY JAMMMMM

Jack was properly upset at his mistake // a fun project // reorganizing Stockton's room

a happy, full, busy living room 

And these pictures remind me to take it slow: 

Letting Jack sleep on me instead of putting him down // watching The Holiday while uploading pictures // noticing unusual items at the grocery store (aren't those brussels sprouts stalks like green jingle bells?!)

the giant giant giant flag above the gas station on our way out of town
makes an excellent marker each time we pass 
Life is FAST and HAPPY. Goodnight.