19 December 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Hello Family and Friends,

Has it already been another year?  We are not really sure where 2019 went, but it’s almost gone, and here we are.

Alex and Jenny celebrated 15 years of marriage early by going on a cruise to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel in May.  They ate chocolate molten lava cake every night, tried motorized bicycles, ate more until they were almost sick, and generally felt glad that they have made it this far. Alex is the chair of his department this year, and Jenny has gone back to school. She also started a new blog which is a bit less personal, and has been working on her sewing website if you want to read about that stuff.

Grace tried out for the tech crew of the school Christmas play, A Christmas Carol: A Rock Opera. We missed her terribly for the whole time because she was home from school very late.  In the end, the set looked great, the costumes were lovely, and Jacob Marley’s make up, which she did, was truly awe inspiring. She has made a lot of her own clothes, including an elaborate Halloween costume this year.

Henry has fallen in love. Her name is Lizzy, and they are living together in his room. She is an iguana, and in fact we believe she may at some point prove to be a he, but we will cross that vine when we come to it. He wishes for an iguana bath robe and green blanket for Christmas. His parents are hopeful that he will remain human, as they like having human children, but only time will tell. Henry is loving The Hunger Games and the Heroes of Olympus books, and will soon enough be a twelve year old. 

Scott enjoys scouting with his mom, who has been his leader this year.  They hiked skull rock recently, and were only slightly rained upon. He has been learning the piano, and will have performed two Christmas songs at his first recital by the time of publication of this letter.  He is a tolerable Pokemon hustler, and a great older brother to Kaleb, who must ride the bus to school every morning.

Speaking of our favorite five year old, Kaleb began Kindergarten this year.  His mother cried when he got on the bus for the first time. He enjoys Mrs. Brunstad’s well organized and musical classroom. He comes home singing, “You can spell my if you try, M-Y. M-Y. You can spell my if you try, Oh my my my,” to the tune of Camptown Races. It is pretty much the cutest thing ever. 

We hope you and yours are having a joyous season.

22 December 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas Friends and Family,

Another year has come and gone for the Chamberlains, and we are here to share our report. We went to Disneyland for the first time as a complete family, and we stopped at Huntington beach afterward. We bonded in the car together in LA traffic for many hours.

Jenny passed the real estate sales agent exam and become licensed this year. She has had some health ups and downs, but is still mostly functional. She looks forward to experiencing the real and raw emotion of having a teenage daughter in the spring.

Alex still loves teaching, and has started offering an animation emphasis at DSU. He’s been creating dinosaurs and having them fight on the computer in his office. In other words, he has reached Nerdvana.

Grace is in her last year before being the first teenager of the house. How she got here, her parents don’t know. She is rocking pre-adolescence with many small balls she makes out of yarn, a new bedroom, and a shorter haircut which she gave herself on the first day of school. She made some of her friends and loved ones toothpick dolls of themselves this year, and they were well-loved.

Henry currently enjoys reading the Diaries of a Wimpy Kid, telling and appreciating body humor jokes, and drawing superheroes with a lot of weapons and armor (all meticulously labeled). He is very much a ten year old boy, and soon he will go to eleven.

 Scott has had a good year so far at school, where he shines academically, and looks amazing in his Llama Christmas sweater. None of the ladies can resist him. And by “the ladies,” we especially mean his mother. He is a great cuddler. If he had to choose between a Llama sweater and pajamas for daily wear, he might pick the pajamas.

Kaleb started preschool with the online Upstart program, as well as Miss. Liz Takau’s Happy Days preschool (These days are ours). He loves both, and decided when they reached the letter Z that he didn’t have to go anymore since he learned all of his letters. His mother disagrees and cruelly keeps sending him. He is currently ending the year with a bang, having contracted a scorching case of scarlet fever. Go big or go home, we always say!

Hope your 2019 is magical and free of infectious disease,

Jenny, Alex, Grace, Henry, Scott, and Kaleb

Photos in no particular order:

Christmas Kid Pic
Wheeler Peak, September
Huntington Beach, June
 Little Finland, February

 Canyon overlook

 Grandma Grace, me, and my Grace at my cousin Sam's Wedding

Kolob Terrace, January

15 November 2018

Rowena Reviews: Citrus Pear

Tonight I tried Citrus Pear with a friend, and I enjoyed  it so much that I thought I had better review it.

Citrus Pear is basically a gathering of people who put together a bunch of freezer meals all at once. The one I attended was all ladies, but I see no reason why men would not likewise enjoy the experience.

I paid around $189 to get 10 meals, which feed 6 to 8 adults each. They also have an option for 20 meals that feed a smaller group than that.

Tonight's class was a "public class" which means anyone who wants to can sign up, and the class is held in the food court of a local grocery store.  The class seated 14 people, and we all stood at tables in a semi-circle. Each work station had some tools we would need for the class.

The meat was all prepared and in the bags we would use for the meals, which meant that I made a total of ten dinners without having to touch any raw meat. (Bonus)

They tell you to bring a rolling cooler, and extra gallon zip loc bags if you want to double bag any of the larger meals. I don't have a cooler with wheels, so I just brought a zip up cooler, and lifted it into a cart to get it to the car. It was so heavy I would not have wanted to carry it by any means.

The menus were things like parmesan chicken, beef stroganoff, orange ginger pork loin, pork carnitas, and many more that I am really excited to try.

I always have to analyze the cost of things, so here is how I have broken it down for my hyper-analytical mind:

The bagged dinner is about $18.90 for each dinner, coming in at around $3.15 per serving if my family of six people eats the whole meal. Based on what I saw, some of the meals will leave leftovers, others may not. A lot of the preps also include things added later, which will raise the serving price a little.

So, was it worth it? I would say definitely for the following reasons:

1. It was also a girls night out because I went with a favorite friend, and felt like I made new acquaintance-friends. If I budgeted $20 for a movie (more if it were a manicure or dinner, too) that could be deducted from the price as an opportunity gain.

2. Even at $3.50 a serving, that is competing with happy meals for the kids, and saving money for the adults if we were to eat out (convenience meal for convenience meal comparison) There are many more vegetables and vastly less deep frying than eating out by far.

3.  I did not have to clean up all of the prep stuff. It was wonderful, and all of the trash was taken out as we worked. There is major psychological value when you are a primary trash taker outer at home in having some nice person come take the trash out for you before you have even had to mash it down several times.

4. I did it in November, and with the holiday season coming up it is such a relief to know that I have a great variety of meals ready to take my pick on busy days.

5. I just liked it. They change the meal plans every month, and I guess if you host a private party you can choose the meals you want. I might be able to cook meals for my family for a little less than that, but it was fun to get out of the rut that is so easy to fall into when you cook every night.

I will definitely do that again. Look at this cooler full of nutritious deliciousness!

I will add that I am not being paid or rewarded in any way to review . I just enjoyed it that much. A friend tried it and liked it, and I have wanted to try it for awhile.

11 July 2018

Ant Man and the Wasp

I just wanted to make a little list of reasons I approve of the Ant Man and the Wasp movie. I'm turning the text below white so as not to spoil things, so highlight it with your mouse to read.

Before the list, I will say that I watch a lot of superhero movies because I am married to Alex, not because I love to watch people fight in spandex for hours at a time. I don't watch them because I think it is awesome to act like death doesn't matter and people are disposable. My reactions to these movies are mixed, and often include pain, disapproval and frustration because I don't like the gender culture and the violence culture our blockbusters can perpetuate. That said, I really enjoyed the Ant Man and the Wasp for these reasons:

1. Paul Rudd and his great relationships with the following people:

a. his ex and her partner - the group hugs were awesome. I understand that not all broken families can attain that high standard of patience for one another when things didn't work out. But it was fun to see one that was making it work now, even though the first relationship didn't.

b. his sweet, sweet daughter. Interrupting an important conversation to take a call from your child matters. Talking to children about big issues matters. I loved that multiple conversations happened with his daughter in the movie about big and small things.

c. his co-worker. I love that when they give him truth serum and ask where the ant man is, the co-worker goes on and on about where he is at emotionally. I ate that up.

d. his girlfriend/ potential partner. I enjoyed seeing a male lead perceive where he went wrong in the relationship before, and try to remedy the situation. I think awesome real guys do this all the time, but it is rare to see that story told in mainstream popular culture film. Thank you, people!

2. Michelle Pfeiffer (who can spell her name, really? Good for her being famous with a last name like that). I love that not only is she a successful lady scientist, but that when she comes back, she is out to heal! It is so rare to find a great strong female role model in movies. The scientists are often men. That certainly has reflected reality for a long time, but we won't get more and more female scientists until the few are held up as examples.

3. This is also a Michelle Pfeiffer one. Her hair is gray when she comes back. It looks perfectly styled, yes, but for a woman to be the same age as her husband in a movie is just refreshing.

4. A conflicted female villain. Often females are angels or demons in movies. Ghost was certainly frightening, but I loved that the movie recognized that her bad qualities came from pain. I loved how at the end she seemed conflicted about the bad things she had done, once her pain was not so terrible. I love any conflicted villain, it's just rare to see a female with qualities on both the good and evil side, so I liked that.

If I watched it again, I might be able to come up with more, but for now that is all.

17 June 2018

Lift Your Lamp!

Here is a letter I am sending through a friend to Washington DC regarding the family separations going on at the border right now. If you are upset about this issue, send a letter to your representative, too.

June 17, 2018

Dear Representantive,

I write this letter to express my concern over the recent family separations at the border. While I understand the need for security in our borders because of terrorism, I believe the pendulum has swung much too far toward security and away from liberty since September 11, 2001. I support DACA, and I am dismayed to hear of the harsh anti-immigrant measures taken by the current administration in this and other immigration matters.

I have taught boys in a residential treatment center. I can unequivocally say that breaking families apart who want to stay together is bad policy. I cannot tell you how many times I heard the boys at the youth home tell their story. It went like this: “My parents got divorced. I began my negative behaviors.”

My parents also divorced when I was nine. I was fortunate to have an excellent stepmom who influenced me greatly and picked up a lot of broken pieces when my family fell apart. However, the separation of my family has had the most profound negative influence of any single event in my life.

Families are the foundation of communities and society. People are formed by the families they grow up in, and it is my strong belief that it behooves the government to support families in any way. Preventative policy saves money down the road by preventing crime and the need for prisons / residential treatment.

I am from Utah, and I love the Utah Compact. I feel like the compact is smart policy--not only for families but for business and the economy. I would love to see that theory and practice echoed in federal policy and enforcement.

For the record, I disagree with a zero tolerance policy. Zero tolerance has no eyes. It has no heart. It has no place in the country where we say:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Thank you, and I hope your voice will be that of sense and compassion. Lift your lamp!

20 January 2018

Questions My Sons Asked our Google Home Mini Today

H: Hey Google, How many pounds of dynamite explode every day?
GHM: I'm sorry. I can't help you with that.

H: Hey Google, One in how many people survive an atom bomb explosion?
GHM: I'm sorry. I don't understand, but I'm learning all the time.

H: Hey Google, Set a timer for two thousand years.
GHM: Okay. Two thousand years and counting. 

H: Hey Google, how much time remaining? 

GHM: 104,285 weeks 4 days, 23 hours, 58 minutes and 38 seconds remaining.  

S: Hey Google, Fa la la.
GHM: Sorry, I looked for La La Land, but it isn't available.

08 January 2018

Christmas Letter, 2017

Next year I will have to let Alex have his way more, so you can all enjoy the quirk. Haha.