You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman


My brother got an iPod in 2002 and came over to show it to me.  It was blue and boxy and I had never seen anything like it. He was super excited about it and he said it could hold thousands of songs. I was skeptical.

To demonstrate, we went out to his Audi in the driveway, hooked it up with the speakers, and turned on Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman.  It was my first time hearing the song and my brother sort of ruined it when he sang along. But It was one of those surreal moments when I was holding this weird tech gizmo from the future and  listening to this new, old song from decades ago and it gave me a rush I won’t forget.

What a legend. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. We’ll miss you Aretha.





My cousins are moving


My hilarious and talented cousins who I grew up with are moving. We have always been a close knit family and we had some really fun times together through the years.  I’m going to miss them!  Here are a few pictures and stories.



This is my grandparents’ basement, where we played air hockey and pool. This is where my cousin Stephen and I both dove for base at the same time playing hide and go seek base tag the day after Christmas (and my forehead sliced open and then my uncle gave me stitches).   This is where we passed around funny cards, cool tech gizmos, and pretty clothes that we got as gifts.  Upstairs, we ate holiday dinners and then the men did the dishes afterwards.



This is from the time when Kara and I went snowboarding together (I think 2002). Please note the big red van we are in, a kitschy striped Ford van from the 80’s, and an important member of our family.


Select Shannon and Kara stories:

-When we were little, probably six or seven, Kara and I had a cousins sleepover at my grandparents house and I had this idea that we would wake up early to make Grandma and Grandpa breakfast the next morning.  I was so excited and I knew it was going to be something super special.  I was so excited I couldn’t sleep.  I spent the entire night thinking about my genius plan.

After watching the clock all night, I finally woke Kara up around 3 or 4 in the morning, so that we could go make breakfast. I dragged her downstairs and we brainstormed some good ideas. We decided to microwave bagels, put peanut butter on them, and wash grapes.

I could NOT WAIT to see the look of approval and appreciation on my grandparents faces when they saw that we had already made them breakfast.  They came downstairs around 5:30 am. concerned about the noise.

I was elated to surprise them with our breakfast. My grandma pretended to be thrilled and impressed with our bagels and grapes. She said it was delicious. Then she helped us to go back to bed.



-When we were little, Kara and I used to dress up and come to the front door of my house to try to sell my mom random things that we found around the house, like bottles of soda.  To disguise herself, Kara put shinguards on her arms and my brownie troop vest on her legs as pants, along with ten other layers of clothing, hats and goggles. She is so hilarious and weird.

-We also took random ingredients (ketchup, graham crackers, lemonade) in the house and put them in the blender to try (unsuccessfully) to convince my brothers to drink some.


-One time a few years later, when we were eating lunch at field hockey camp Kara smushed a potato chip, put it on my shoulder, and announced to our table that I had very bad dandruff. Hahaha.


-Kara and I had a thing for this song, and one time when we were around middle school age and all the cousins were together, we went outside and started screaming the song really loudly together, rolling down the hill and laughing hysterically.  I don’t know how or why we got started doing this, but we were loud enough that our other cousins came out to see where all the screaming and noise was coming from.  They stared at us like we had three heads while we rolled down the hill giggling and yelling a catchy 90’s EFY song about our moral convictions.


-One time when we were visiting our siblings at BYU, Kara pretended to play guitar and sing an acrostic poem song about me.  I don’t think she finished it, because 3 n’s is kind of tough, and Kara had a short attention span growing up. The song was really bad but funny.


I was a bridesmaid for Kara and I’ve been told that I talk about her too much.  But she’s really funny.





This is from field hockey in 2003. I’m number 17 on the left and Kara is 11 with the white bow. I went to high school with my cousins Matt  and Kara. They were on the morning announcements every day, making hilarious skits.  Kara and I played field hockey together and the three of us lifeguarded together at Vienna Woods. I think it was their idea to get walkie talkies in the stands for ‘safety reasons’ but we mostly used them for talking about amusing pool patrons. I remember Kara was always dancing in the stands when we had a DJ and making me laugh constantly. Kevin fighting “Stormatron” with his super soaker, the guard (slam) book, Ryan’s golf cart, the crab feast, the ‘office’, Family day raft races, belly flop contests, and desperate attempts to create thunder noises with a large sheet of metal in order to close the pool.  Lifeguarding at Vienna Woods was always fun and never boring.

My cousin Matt and sister Christine were really good swimmers growing up, and so my grandparents and aunt and uncle were always at the A meets on Saturday mornings with their scorecards and I loved seeing them.


/// March birthdays at the Stringhams house. This is where we celebrated birthdays, did some Nativity action Christmas Eve, where everyone called dibs on the high numbers in the 12 days of Christmas, where Grandpa sang “3 Spanish cockroaches” or some variant every round, and where we were forced to listen to him perform a Silent Night solo in “German” (definitely not German) every year.

We spent lots of Fourth of July barbecues here and then piled in and drove over to the fireworks at Caffi fields.  I remember spirited discussion about “Asparapee” (the way your pee smells when you eat asparagus) here, unending Friends references, and spending holiday dinners at the kids table watching alka seltzer and coke explosions on youtube.

Memory lane is the best spot. I love my family!

We love you and your hilarity, Stringhams!  We are going to miss you! Feel free to move back if you change your mind. 🙂

Thanks for reading. Hope you’re lovin on your family and having a great week.











Whittle School



This is a video about Whittle School, which is a new school model with campuses all over the world. They are starting with Washington D.C. and Shengzen, but plans are in the works for campuses in major cities on six continents.  Students will have the chance to study in more than one location over the course of their studies.


Not sure if every school needs to be quite this fancy, but I appreciate the ideas they’re trying and their global approach. I’m curious about what their technology curriculum looks like.


What do you think about it? Would you want your kids at the Whittle School? And do you love this video as much as I do?!


More importantly, TGIF! What are you up to this weekend?  I’m working on a couple of projects and heading to see Ocean’s 8 with my cousins.  Wishing you a good one. 🙂







On Self Compassion

Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

Like a lot of people, I had a hard time reading the news about Kate Spade this past week. Her handbags are, in my opinion, the classiest and most dazzling.  A quick trip to her website can brighten my whole day.

My heart really hurt reading about her passing. I feel like the world is constantly sending messages of negativity and hate, telling people to reject themselves, that they aren’t enough.

Deep, abiding self-love is, in my opinion, the only way through life. In a world that can be so cruel, how do you love yourself more? In times of failure, how do you create a healthy, loving relationship with yourself?

And how do you help other people, especially young people, to love themselves unconditionally?

I don’t know the answers, but I think they are important questions.

Sending out a lot of love and good energy. Hope you are having a great start to your week.

Happy Birthday to My Little Sister

There are a lot of people who I love, but there is one person who I love just slightly more than everyone else, and that is my little sister.  Today is her birthday so I thought I would share a few stories about her.


-When she was little, like a lot of kids with Downs, she was very, very affectionate.  She had a penchant for men, especially black men and she would often wiggle her cute little uninvited bum into their laps and snuggle.  I remember one time she did this at Sports Authority, to the man trying to help her try on shoes. He laughed a lot, and was very sweet. If it was ok to hug everyone she ever came across without their permission, she would do it.  

-When she was little, she was a complete bookworm.  She had a massive stack of children’s books that she carried with her everywhere – to the bathroom, to the floor, to the table, to the couch.  She would read by herself for hours.


-She has a few favorites in our family, but she especially loves our Uncle Bill. When she was little and learning the names of different parts of her body, she named her ankle, “Ankle Bill” through lots of giggles. Growing up, we got together with our relatives every month or so to celebrate birthdays.  We’d all sit in a circle and watch the birthday havers open presents before cake and ice cream. While everyone was sitting talking, my sister would look around for her favorite uncle and then slowly walk backwards towards him until she scooted her little bum onto his lap to snuggle, prompting my hilarious cousins to rap the edited version chorus of Back that Thang up by Juvenile . Hahaha. 


-She is clever.  When she doesn’t want to go swimming after work, she subtly suggests that she do some “treadmill time” instead.  When she knows she’s not allowed to have another cookie, she instead requests a “brown circle with black dots on it.”  When she’s not allowed to have ice cream, she insists she have “cold stuff” instead. She makes puns about food. She’s witty. When she wants me to go away, she asks me to “take my legs upstairs.”  I think she should go into politics.


-She is a hard-working, proud employee and loves to go to work.  She also struggles with a few health issues and has to stay home more than she’d like, heartbroken to be away from her job and friends.  On occasion she will try to fake healthy in order to trick our mom into letting her go to work. Watching her try to convince mom that she’s 100% healthy, while her nose is dripping and she’s sneezing and coughing is a very amusing conversation to witness.


-She loves to be evil, which is funny, because she couldn’t be evil even if she tried. She loves Mal from Descendants who is “ruthless and rotten and mean”, but she’s definitely not any of those things. She loves to terrify people.  She is entirely obsessed with everything Halloween and spends time brainstorming costumes all year. Last I heard, she is hoping to be a pirate cheerleader this coming fall. She was an evil witch in MacBeth this past year and loved to dress up, cackle, and recite her evil spells over the cauldron.

Evil and terrifying!



-She is an excellent cook, creative writer, and Harry Potter connoisseur. She knows an impressive amount of trivia, and she loves to correct me when I don’t know something Harry Potter related (frequently).


-She loves history and has an incredible memory.  She admires Martin Luther King.


Becoming an aunt

-She loves holding and snuggling babies. She is very gentle with animals.



She likes wedding season.


-She has a lot of loyal friends who she loves to have over for games.  She is a happy hostess.

-She  thinks it’s kind of funny when I’m not allowed to come to something because I don’t have Down Syndrome.  “Um unfortunately, you can’t come, because you don’t have Down Syndrome,” she tells me. 😦


-She is a great swimmer and has been to Special Olympics a few times.  She’s taken gold.


-When I don’t want to do something, she creates a cheer to encourage me. Like, “RA! RA! Rah rah rah! Gooooooooooooo Grade Papers!” hahaha.  


-She hates when I sing. Whenever I sing, she grabs either her head or her stomach and politely says something like, “Um, you’re giving me a bit of a stomach ache…Could you stop?” As soon as I stop, her sickness magically vanishes.


-I’m not sure if she will ever really understand contact sports.  The idea of someone winning and someone losing is not something that she entirely grasps, and she could not possibly care less about it.  She does, however, enjoy eating blue icies at sporting events. 


-In basketball, when someone on the opposing team takes the ball from her, she wags her finger and tells them to give it back.  


-She loves helping other people. She likes to knit hats for newborn babies and she loves helping the young women’s organization at church.  This year for Christmas she suggested we visit a home for young children with special needs who couldn’t be with their families. She did a great job reading to them and cheering them up.  


– If you’re having a bad day, she’ll do her best to cheer you up.


She is  one of my best friends and one of the best people I know. She’s also hilarious. 


Happy birthday little sister!  I’m forever proud of you and so excited for what this next year will bring.



Founding Fathers by Tad Carpenter via Dribbble


I’m reading a book about Elizabeth Schuyler and it’s got me on a Founding Fathers kick.  Unending props to Lin Manuel Miranda for sparking a patriotic awakening.


Here are some profound little gems I’ve enjoyed as of late.


Founding Fathers Quotes:

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” – George Washington

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” -Thomas Jefferson

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams

“Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.” – John Adams

“Hide not your talents.  They for use were made.  What’s a sundial in the shade?” – Ben Franklin

“Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.” – Ben Franklin


Education Quotes:

“I have no interest in competing with anyone.  I hope we all make it.” – Erica Cook

“The truth is that anything significant that happens in math, science, or engineering is the result of heightened intuition and creativity.  This is art by another name, and it’s something that tests are not very good at identifying or measuring.” -Sal Khan



A longstanding favorite of mine:

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.  It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.  If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places- and there are so many- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.  The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

-Howard Zinn



Also, have you read the book the Four Agreements?  It’s my new Bible.  The ideas are a little oversimplified, but it’s a good read.

Hope you’re having a great week! Go Warriors!