This is part of a series of sporadic blog posts about items I have in my keepsake box. If you think I’m not sentimental, this should prove otherwise.

Jarom and I met in 9th grade and had been friends since 10th grade, but it was only in our senior year that any real romance started. (On my part, at least.) We were both doing Academic Decathlon and had almost identical class schedules, so we spent a LOT of time together. It was a busy year, filled with [mostly] good memories. I came across my planner from 12th grade and thought you might like seeing a few pages.


It looks like we had Academic Decathlon meetings every Wednesday and Thursday; my church youth group met every Tuesday; and I was very good at scheduling every assignment and keeping deadlines in mind. The “Y Weekend” was pretty cool – I got invited to visit BYU and see how great the campus was. I think my parents paid for airfare and the rest of the trip was covered by BYU. Part of the weekend was going to a football game against the Air Force Academy. It was so different from a high school football game!

Instead of doing AP English, I and a few other LDS kids (including Jarom) opted for a creative writing class. The AP English teacher seemed a bit too focused on the sexual innuendo in the summer reading, and we were already insanely busy, so the one-semester “college prep” class was a nice alternative. It turned out to be the easiest, most joke-of-a-class I took in all of high school. We watched a lot of movies and if I remember correctly, we even did some art projects. And there was a group skit we had to do, with a shy girl who had a very obvious crush on one of the other group members. I bring up the creative writing class because one of our assignments was to write and illustrate a children’s book. Mine was called Annushka and the Eggplant, and I still have it. The kids read it sometimes. The story doesn’t make a ton of sense; I really liked the color and shape of eggplants, so I wanted to work that in somehow. A little girl named Annushka wakes up in the middle of the forest instead of in her bed. She asks a fox for help, but he agrees only after she gives him her bracelet. The fox won’t take her across the river, so she’s aided by a bear, who asks nothing in return. Soon she’s getting close to her home village – and suddenly an angry mountain goat jumps out and bars her way! She weepingly says she has nothing left to give except a piece of bread and an eggplant in her little bag. The goat, it turns out, loooooooves eggplant, so he happily helps her find the village in exchange for the eggplant.


By March, I had dated someone else, had a huge dramatic episode and crisis with Jarom, and realized that I liked him. (Very condensed.) We never made our relationship “official” by actually saying we were boyfriend and girlfriend, though that teenage logic now seems pretty weak. Also, apologies to all the people we hung out with and were an awkward couple around . . . teenagers are the worst. At any rate, one of our first “this isn’t a date”s was that first weekend in March. (When Jarom came back from Korea, we went on an official first date, without the teenage-ness and with several more years of maturity.)

The Academic Decathlon state competition was that month, and it was amazing. I loved it. We had a decent chance of placing first in our division and going on to the national competition – but I’m glad we came in second! It was nice to have a break after that, and relax before the end of the school year. The worst thing about the competition was that we found out afterwards (having won many awards) that the normal scholarships weren’t being given for medalists. I was heartbroken; I thought there was no way I could go to college without that scholarship. (I’d already been admitted to BYU.) I had somehow gotten the numbers confused in my head and thought tuition at BYU was $15,000 a year, not $1,500 a semester. Haha. (Don’t worry, tuition has risen steadily over the last decade. It isn’t quite that cheap anymore – but still very inexpensive.)

For the second semester of the year, after the creative writing class ended, we had a Shakespeare class. It was much more intellectual than the creative writing class, but it was definitely not a honors class. It did mean a return to Mrs. Mugg’s classroom, where we started out in freshman English. I’ll forever remember her asking students not to use “the S-U phrase” (“shut up”).

What was your favorite year of high school? Did you have a teenage romance?


Root Beer

I like root beer, or as Evan calls it, root beard.  I think part of why I enjoy it is that I feel root beer is a soda that has not lost its heritage.  I have always found the history of soda to be interesting, particularly that sodas began as medicine, and that the first soda fountains were in pharmacies. Root beer heralds from a time before sodas were fruit-flavored sugar delivery systems.

A couple years back, I began a quest to find an absolutely fantastic root beer   It would need to have the right combination of flavors and fizz to make it.  Starting a while back, I began to keep notes on the different root beers I tried.  Here are some of my findings so far.

Cool Mountain Root Beer

This soda had a strong, fruity flavor, reminiscent of the national brand Barq’s.  The fizz was very strong, to the point that it began to have a numbing effect and was hard to drink.  Overall, not a very memorable soda. 2/5

Dr. Brown’s Root Beer

This soda had the quintessential “root beer” taste, but was very strong.  The primary notes were anise and wintergreen, and it had a definite caramel aftertaste.  This soda was very fizzy, and between the wintergreen and strong fizz, I only got through half of the bottle before the tip of my tongue started to feel numb. 3.5/5

Frostie Vanilla Root Beer

This soda was an enjoyable blend of flavors!  It tasted like a root beer float, more than a straightforward root beer, so if you don’t like root beer floats, this is one to avoid.  This soda went easy on the carbonation  and so had a smooth finish.  Overall, an enjoyable experience.  4/5

I’ll keep you posted as I go through more!


I’ve been feeling conflicted lately, because this is MY blog and I should get to write about whatever I want to . . . but I like having readers, so I’d rather not drive you all away by writing too much or too little about any subject. (“What if I talk about Darfur too much? What if I don’t talk about Darfur enough?” –Leslie Knope)

Then again, I want to be able to share the things I’m working on – whether that’s teaching Evan to read (slowly . . . very slowly, he has minimal interest and I’d rather not push him too hard or he’ll rebel in a big way), potty-training June (amazing! She’s phenomenal!), what I’ve been reading (nothing much lately, but I just started The Andromeda Strain), or my latest creative project (there are many). You probably guessed that I want to talk more about creative stuff right now. If you aren’t interested, leave now! It’s okay! Just come back later, please?

So I made these Valentine’s Day cards (shamelessly linked) based on a quote from Evan. I more or less edited the quote a tiny bit; it’s more an amalgam of various things he’s said recently. I went through a few variations and asked for opinions, then chose the most popular/my favorite (which thankfully were the same) to print and sell. Jarom mentioned the first time I sketched the quote out that he preferred it without the attribution. I disagreed, and spent the money on printing 20 cards. I picked them up today and – GASP! Jarom was right! No one will want to buy these because it says it’s from a 4-year-old! What if it would have been better to leave the attribution off? What if I had sold a million (or just 20) without the “Evan, age 4” at the bottom?

Despite my pointless worries – I can’t afford to print new cards at this point – I’ve learned a few things from the experience. First, practice makes perfect. Or at least it improves things. Since doing our graduation announcements, I’ve gotten used to doing multiple drafts of everything (except blog posts). And it leads to a better final product. Second, my scanner sucks. It was generously given to me, and free is good, but the colors end up completely off (lovely purple watercolors ended up as plain ol’ blue, with almost none of the watercolor effect in the original), and it adds in a lot of noise to the image. A new scanner is high on my list of things to save up for  – quickly. Third, when measuring to cut cards down to size, always start on the side that has the least wiggle room. I had to scrap the first card I cut because it printed slightly off center, and I shaved off the bottom of the logo. Fourth, what I love more than doing watercolor is hand-lettering and layout. I did these birth announcements for Evan the other night, and even though there’s a lot to fix, I had fun. Lots of fun. I definitely want to do more of these!

To do: (1) make "Evan" less wibbly-wobbly. (2) increase thickness of outlines. (3) find better bullet point, ditch the star. (4) change the writing in the box to something more awesome. (5) add a border to the whole thing?

To do: (1) make “Evan” less wibbly-wobbly. (2) increase thickness of outlines. (3) find better bullet point, ditch the star. (4) change the writing in the box to something more awesome. (5) add a border to the whole thing?