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#smileaday Lots of sunshine.

I got two walks in the sunlit woods today, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, one with my husband and one with one of my daughters (both with the dog). The water sparkled in the light and I felt lit from within. Some time in the outdoors is so important to my peace of mind.

Good light, good company, good places.

my daughter and dog by the river

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game box pandemic the cure#gameaweek Pandemic: The Cure.

We're starting to catch up on our game-a-week now that all the Bryants are healthy again (knock wood). Last night's pick was Pandemic: The Cure, which is a dice based version of the popular co-op board game. Our gaming party was two parents over forty, a college freshmen, and a tween.

All of us were already familiar with the premise and structure of the game from playing the board game. In both the board game and this dice-based version, a player takes on a role such as medic, dispatcher, scientist, or generalist (among others), which comes with certain special abilities regarding freedom of movement or ease of performing different steps. We work together as a team to try to contain and cure four diseases within the time constraints.

This game was tense and exciting, like the original. The dice element made the gameplay faster, eliminating some analysis paralysis since you are limited to using the options you roll. That was good and bad.

The round track you use to track things on was physically awkward, but made good logical sense and was easy enough to read once I understood it.

We won in the eleventh hour, winning the final cure just in time, which is my favorite way for the game to go. So, I don't like it as much as the boardgame overall, but did appreciate the faster gameplay.
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#smileaday Gaming with my family.

Tonight, we had all four Bryants at home, all alert and healthy and doing well, so we jumped on the chance and played a board game together! Tonight was Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the popular board game. We've all played the regular board game, and my husband and I have played through *some* of the Legacy game. We thought it was thematic, given that our family lost February to various illnesses. :-)

I love co-op games with my family. It's a great chance to work together on something that won't really have consequences if we fail. This time, though, we saved humanity! And at the last minute, too. It was a close one.
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meant to be meme#smileaday Signs we're meant to be.

It's Friday night and the Retro series we love is playing Alfred Hitchcock films. Normally, that'd be a no-brainer and we'd be there. But we've had a bunch of sick in our house. We're barely recovered. I found myself thinking of the outing with dread instead of joy, but I didn't want to take the fun away from Sweetman, so I hadn't said anything.

Then we went for a walk, and in talking, it became clear that Sweetman felt exactly the same way.

So, not only are we so well matched that we wanted to see the same movie, we're so in sync that we both unusually didn't want to go tonight. Looking forward to going to bed early and getting some energy back for future fun!
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#smileaday Cooking something new.

I do most of the cooking in our family. Because I teach in the same town we live in, I generally get home 1-2 hours earlier than my husband, so we eat sooner if I cook. Luckily, I like cooking. So, this works out.

However, I get seriously bored if I cook the same things too often. I'm not one of those people who can rotate a small repertoire of dishes. I need novelty to stay interested in cooking.

So, tonight's experiment was orange chicken, a dish I've often ordered at Chinese restaurants, but never made myself. (here's the recipe, for anyone insterested: ) It was delish. All Bryants were pleased.
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balanced rocks#smileaday Finding my equanimity.

It was especially stressful at school today. Hormones have hit sixth grade girls rather hard, and there's a lot of drama and meanness. My mood was tanked after teaching one particular class today and I had a hard time getting back to an even keel.

What usually works is walking, so I took my dog out for Riverwalk. That helped, but I still had a grumpy edge. Dinner helped. Burgers, tater tots, and broccoli tonight.Three favorites. During dinner, we watched an episode of The Dragon Prince. That helped, too. After dinner, we went out for custard at a place that opened a few months ago and we hadn't gotten around to trying yet. Now, I'm alone in my writing room with a cup of Tension Tamer tea, and I'm *almost* not grumpy.

Whew. That one was hard to shake.
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me with Captain Marvel poster#smileaday A good girl-power movie with my girls. Went to see #captainmarvel today with my daughters. A very solid and satisfying superhero flick. Much better than the trailer led me to believe. Brie Larson overcame my doubts quickly.

It didn't quite get the leap-out-my-seat clapping feeling that Wonder Woman gave me, but I still pumped my fist in the air more than once. Favorite moments: the "getting back up" montage of Carol Danvers at different ages and the line "I've got nothing to prove to you."

Jude Law was a great antagonist, and Annette Bening was clearly having a blast in both her roles. Lashana Lynch and Akira Akbar brought such warmth and love to their roles, really selling the found-family dynamic with Carol. I'm looking forward to seeing this character come back in Endgame.
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art supplies#smileaday Scrap Exchange.

If you've never been to Scrap Exchange, it can be hard to understand what it is. Part recycling center, part thrift store, part artist's refuge, it's a store in Durham, North Carolina, USA. It's both chaotic and well organized. You never know what you're going to find there. Disparate objects are in bins and barrels and you sort through to find what you want to buy.

I was there with my daughters today, which is a triple delight: awesome store + two awesome daughters. The eldest needed some supplies for a project for her Interior Design class, things like fabric swatches, buttons, paint samples, etc. The youngest just loves to be there. A fourth bonus is that *both* my daughters love this place. It can be really hard to find one thing to do that genuinely pleases both an 11 year old and a 19 year old. But we could all wander the aisles digging through fascinating objects and letting our imaginations run wild for days.
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#smileaday Happy children.

My poor daughter has had a lonely month. No playmates due to sickness. Her own, then mine. But tonight, she has a sleepover guest and the giggles coming from our living room right now could make the Grinch's heart triple in size.

grinch heart growing gif

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My plan to play a new game every week in 2019 fell apart in February. We were the plague house instead, which is not a game I'd care to play again.

But now that we're nearly all better, I was happy to get back on the gaming horse with a two-player with Sweetman. Spirits of the Wild.

It's a pattern collection sort of game. You earn points by gathering stones (colorful plastic pieces that look a little too much like Skittles to be safe for small children) in different groupings: one of each color, full house, matched pairs, etc, each worth different numbers of points.

Your game options are controlled by a set of cards with prescribed actions (both players have the same cards, but you can use them in any order you want) and access to spirit animal cards that either player can use. The competition comes in using the coyote figure to help block your opponent's progress.

The game play is short, and has a quick and easy learning curve. The pieces and art are pleasing and I found it competitive enough without being cut-throat. I could play this one with my mother or other more casual gamers in my life or as a warmup for more "serious" gaming with my more hardcore crowd.
spirits of the wild boardgame box

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#smileaday Spoiling Sweetman. We celebrated my husband's birthday tonight. Just a little lowkey night: a lovely bolagnese and a Mexican chocolate cake for dessert. Another episode of The Dragon Prince (we're trying to only watch on episode at a go, to make it last). I guess this is what they call domestic bliss :-)

All work was worth it to see his shy happy smile, my favorite of all his smiles.


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cake batter in bowl#smileaday Making cake.

The youngest and I like to bake together. A lot of times, this is just box-kit cakes, but tonight's preparations are to be a birthday cake for Daddy, so it needed to be special. We made our cake from scratch this time: Mexican chocolate. It smelled so good while it was baking that I am sad we're not eating it until tomorrow.

If people who are good with plants have a green thumb, what do people who are gifted bakers have? Because the littlest Bryant has one, whatever it is. Everything she bakes is lovely.
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#smileaday Planning time with Sweetman.

I know this probably sounds dull to a lot of people, but Sweetman and I like to plan together, both short term (what's for dinner tomorrow?) and long term (where will we live in 15 years?). It's an important point of connection and a language of love for both of us.

February has been painful in that, with one Bryant or another sick nearly all month, we couldn't plan together. Either he had to make plans or I did, but we were spread too thin to plan together.

So, today we made plans. And it was glorious!


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 #smileaday Finishing something painful. In this case, the FAFSA paperwork. My college girl asked me to do it early because there's a new scholarship she wants to apply for. It's not the worst application sort of paperwork I've ever had to do, but it's up there in the top 10 with medical forms and query letters. 
But it's done now and I don't have to do it again . . . until next year. 
frodo meme
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 #smileaday Being a musical nerd with my daughter. 
I was in chorus AND band in middle and high school, so you can imagine what a musical nerd I must be. Apparently, I've passed that on to my youngest, because after homework tonight, she wanted to watch Into the Woods, which has been a favorite of mine since college and now has a pretty good movie edition (though I'm loyal to Bernadette Peters' witch and don't like Meryl Streep's as much). 
Anyway, we enjoyed sitting together tonight and re-watching this one (we've already watched it together at least a couple of times). Still so good, and even better with her. 

into the woods dvd

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 #smileaday My smile each day is often due to my husband, but it's all the more obvious when I'm sick. He's out there right now, picking up our daughter and dealing with Girl Scout stuff, which is usually my gig, because I'm spiking a low fever. He also made me noodles and was patient when I couldn't explain myself well (a common thing with me when I have a fever). I'm headed to bed soon, hoping for a better day tomorrow, where I don't need taking care of. But right now, I'm grateful to have someone who will.

take care of me
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 #smileaday Soup. 
Yep, I'm still sick. I taught with laryngitis today, which is challenging in any environment, and possibly dangerous in a middle school environment, but I used all my leave on my daughter's flu, so there's none left for me. I did take a coach's whistle so I could demand attention of the group as needed. The kids were kind and sympathetic because they can be so sweet and wonderful when they want to be. 
After work, my sister took me to Weaver Street, our local food coop where I had leek and potato soup which tasted of heaven and warmed the cockles and all the other parts of my heart. Soup is the best thing. I bought more to pack for my lunch tomorrow. 

potato leek soup
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 #smileaday Nature shows. 
I had all four Bryants at home tonight, which is a #smileaday in and of itself. As we ate our dinner (breakfast for dinner, another #smileaday), we wanted to watch some TV. It's hard to find something for all of us to watch. The kids are seven years apart in age, and very different in their interests as well. And since the eldest isn't usually with us these days (college), it didn't make sense to make her watch something we were already in the middle of. 
So we lighted on Blue Planet II, a nature program on Netflix, narrated by Richard Attenborough. Three Bryants have been watching it off and on, but the college girl had never seen it. It's a gorgeous program, with amazing photography and interesting sea creatures. Low key and pleasant. Perfect dinner programming. 

blue planet ii show image

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 #smileaday Breakfast with my girl. 
Because the youngest girl has had the flu, we cancelled the eldest girl's planned visit home. Catching the flu would not make her first year of college easier!  So, today, I met her for brunch. It's such a grown up thing, meeting your daughter for brunch. Does this mean I'm a real adult now? Or that she is?

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 #smileaday To speedy recoveries. 
I was home with the youngest Bryant today, who was freshly diagnosed with the flu. Given how bad she felt last night, I anticipated a difficult day full of intense worry, but she was actually quite a bit better today. Low energy and definitely still sick, but much lower temperature for her fever and much more alert and "like herself." Such a a relief! Here's hoping that tomorrow keeps her on the fast track to healthy. 
speedy recovery


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Samantha J Bryant

March 2019

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