Monday, December 27, 2010

This Christmas

If I had to rank this Christmas on a scale from 1 - 10, it would be a 9 or 10. I didn't get to go home, but I got to spend tons of time with Lori, with friends, with an aunt and uncle and some cousins. To top that all off, we got to video conference with everyone at home! It honestly couldn't have been any better if we'd been there. And with all of the storms on the east coast, it sounds like it was a great thing that we were here.
I'm reading an AMAZING book right now called "The Silence of God" by Gale Sears. If you want a healthy dose of perspective, read this book. I think it impacts me more that it would normally based on the situation I find myself now. If I had read this book 6 months ago I think I would have been impressed and would have found it just as impactful. The only difference now is the people that I know. In the last 3 days specifically I have found great insight to some people in my life based on the experiences outlined in this book. I realize how easy I have it in life and in the gospel compared to most. I have never been more grateful to have been born in the time period or country that I was than I have now. I feel so blessed that I have what I have, and that I know what I know and it didn't personally cost me anything. That's not to say that I haven't had to work hard gain a testimony, or to provide for myself, or anything like that, but when you consider the conditions of so many in the world...it's just amazing.
I'm glad that I am reading this book around Christmastime. It's made me more aware of what gifts I've been given. Christmas isn't about the gifts under the tree. Christmas is about the birth and life of our Savior, of appreciating what we have, and finding ways to help those around us, whether by physically serving them, or if it's just a matter of lifting their spirits. I feel a small measure of the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children, and with this small knowledge, I hope to be able to help others feel of this love and to treat them as He would. I know as well as the next person that it isn't always easy to be patient, loving, or to even think kind thoughts, but what if we could? What if it was our very nature to have these qualities first, and have to 'work' to experience the opposite, rather than the other way around? Well, I don't really have a plan in place, but it is my goal to develop these good qualities in myself. Will you challenge yourself to do the same??

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tears at Christmas

I've been avoiding my blog as Christmas approached for a couple of reasons:
1 - I don't get to go home for Christmas
2 - I cry every time I think about #1
3 - I'm tired of crying

At Christmas we celebrate Christ's birth, the beginning of the ultimate gift! This year, I'm especially grateful that I have a family who I love more than anything! If you want to know how much you love them, move 3,000 miles away. I'm so grateful for a sister who loves me and continues to live with me despite my psychotic moments. I'm grateful for parents who talk to me at all times of the day and that keep me grounded. Without my family I would be completely lost. I love you all! (And for anyone wondering - I cried while writing this).

On a separate note, we've been trying to stay very busy! Yesterday we left our apartment at about 8 in the morning, we came home for about 30 mins at about 5 and then were gone until almost 9. We have been having so much fun just cruising around town. Lori has been a little bored, so we have just been trying to be out of the apartment as much as possible. Which reminds me, you don't know why Lori is bored.

This is a story that we've already decided is going to be fun to tell our children, mostly in a "don't let your playing get too out of hand or someone is going to get hurt" kind of way. The truly condensed version of the story is that we were in the kitchen goofing off. Lori had a cutting board and she whacked me with it which meant I had to retaliate. I grabbed the cutting bored from her and attempted to kick her leg. She kept backing up and I wouldn't stop (mistake #1). On the fourth attempt, I nailed her. There was a snapping sound, but if you know Lori, she doesn't say much. She looked at her hand and then at me and with no pain in her voice said "I think you broke my thumb". Then she laughed. Then we all laughed. Then we went about our evening. The next day at work I get a text from her that said she went to the doctor and her thumb was indeed broken. Not only did I break her thumb, it is on her right hand, her writing hand, her cake decorating hand. Now she's out of work for over a month, and she's bored. That's the night we'll always remember that I won the bad sister award.

I've been attempting to do an activity-a-day until the end of the year (just before she goes back to work) to attempt to redeem myself and to give her something to do. We've been to the Riverwoods to shop, look at lights, eat, and get our haircut (we've been there 3 nights in a row). Last night we got to go on a horse and wagon ride. We went to Spanish Fork to see the festival of lights. We've gone to the movies, she's gotten a massage, we had a picnic under the Christmas lights. I guess we're just trying to make our own Christmas memories. I guess in the end, that's really all you have each year, regardless of who you are with. You always have the memories.

Merry Christmas to all! May you enjoy this special time of year and take the time to create new memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

While we're on the subject...

While we're on the subject of weddings, I thought this might be an appropriate time to bring this back out...
video

Do the math

What do you get with...
14 bags of marshmallows
3 jumbo Malt-o-meal bags of Rice Krispies
15 cake mixes
25 pounds of powdered sugar
5-10 pounds of butter
2+ dozen eggs

Give up??



Lots and lots of wedding cake!
We love you Sara and had such a great time being a small part of your special day!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My list

This is a brief list (ha) of what we've been doing since mom arrived...
Shopping
Cooking
Laughing
Eating
Reading
Game Playing
Movie Watching
Driving
Talking
Planning
Smiling
Sleeping
Baking
Church Attending
Walking
Picture Taking

Promotion = bragging rights

I got a phone call two Friday's ago, had 3 interviews, lots of training, and it's official! Beginning on Monday, I'm the new HR Rep for the company that I work at. This is a huge step in the right direction. I get a new office (shared with one other person as opposed to two), I get to see lots of people throughout my day, I get to run errands, and I get new work. I'm really excited for this new opportunity. However, they have to fill my current position in Payroll before I get to hand it over, so I'll be doing double duty for a while. (**If you know someone in or near American Fork who has payroll experience, send them my way**)

HAPPY FRIDAY!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty

No, it is NOT the number of recipes I have on my to-do list. It is NOT the number of times a day that I think about chocolate. It is NOT the number of germs you get from typing on your keyboard (actually, I don’t know that for sure, but I guarantee that’s NOT what I’m talking about).
It IS the number of minutes we have every single day. I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have felt empowered to be doing more with my minutes every day. I used to think in terms of hours. I have 24 hours a day, watching a TV show takes an hour. Baking something generally takes an hour, start to finish. I sleep for about 8 hours a night. You get the idea. I used to say that I didn’t have enough time because I would round up my time – something that would probably only take about 30 minutes would really take an ‘hour’ by the time I got it organized, started, and finished. But when I think in terms of minutes, I realize just how much time I actually have in my day. When I have a few minutes that I’m in between things, I realize that I could write a letter, call a friend, speed clean, read, or go for a quick walk. There are just all sorts of possibilities. I have made it my goal recently to maximize my time by using the small minutes that I have to do something great. In just a few minutes, you can make someone’s day, help them feel loved, do something to lift your own spirits or organize your life.
I know that when we take the time we have, the Lord will always help us with our time, and somehow He can help us stretch it out more to do more good in our day.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Carmel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

A couple of weeks ago, our ward went to our bishop's house to pick apples and other fruits. He let us all take what we wanted home with us. I knew, almost instantly, that I wanted to do something "different" with them. I decided to make Carmel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Make any sweet dough recipe - I just use a basic roll dough recipe. It's sweet without being too sweet.
While the dough is rising, you will need to do two things: first, core, peel and slice your apples; second, make a carmel sauce. Apples: I used two for this, but next time I would probably double that. I sauteed them in a sauce pan with a little bit of butter, just until they were becoming tender. Carmel sauce: I have no idea how much of anything I used, but I used a little butter, some brown sugar, and a bit of cream. Cook until the sugar is dissolved. (If I were being the slightest bit technical, my guess would be that I cooked my to soft ball stage, but I didn't actually check...oops).
After the dough has had a chance to rise (doubled in size), roll it out onto a lightly floured surface. Proceed as you normally would if you were making regular cinnamon rolls. Before you start to roll the dough, spread the apples over the dough. Then begin rolling. On The Pioneer Woman's website, she suggested rolling the dough toward yourself - a great tip!
Before rolling

Carmel sauce in the pan, ready and waiting.

Place rolls in pan. Leave enough space for them to rise.

See how well it raised!

Piping hot, just out of the oven.

Just turn the baking pan over onto a larger plate/tray to dump the rolls out. This lets the carmel sauce run all over everything.
The next time I do this I think I would save the carmel sauce for the end and drizzle it over the top. Also, I would add less brown sugar at the beginning since the sauce is rather sweet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

25 Pounds

Trust me, it's not what you think. Last weekend Sam, Cherie, and I went to the farmers market and bought all sorts of stuff, but we ended the trip (and by we, I mean they) bought 25 pounds of fruit; peaches, pears, and plums to be precise. We came home and decided to make pear sauce. Then we decided to do something with the apples, so we made apple pie filling. When we thought we were done, we had the hair brained scheme to make peach cobbler. And just for the record, I'm using we loosely as I'm not really sure who had what ideas. :)
We didn't document the endeavor while in the process, but we did get pics of the finished products.
It may not look like much here, but everything was amazing!

Sam and Cherie showing off their handywork. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LIFE

I have a fascination with acronyms. I like learning them. I like seeing/studying them. I like attempting to create them. I have been thinking about LIFE and what it means to me. How do I define my LIFE? What do I love about LIFE? How would I help someone understand why I love LIFE? It was during these thoughts that I created a new acronym. To me, LIFE can be summed up in four words: Love, Influence, Faith, and Experience.
Love
We are told that the first commandment is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbors. Love is kind of like glue and it holds everything in its place. To love and be loved gives us strength and courage.  When you love someone, you are looking out for them and have only their best interest at heart. I was once told that love is in the beginning, middle, and end of relationships. Love can warm you when you are feeling emotionally cold, it makes you happy when you're sad, and it can brighten your day. To love someone else can bring peace and satisfaction to LIFE, it helps us grow and mature and broadens our understanding.
Influence
Whether we want to realize it or not, we are influenced by everything around us. What are we being exposed to? The influence of others shapes who we are, what we think, and how we do things. We are always being influenced, from our parents, siblings, and friends, to media, magazines and advertisements. We need to be sure that the influences that we allow in our LIFE are helping us to become better and that they draw us closer to our Father in Heaven. Likewise, we have the great opportunity and responsibility to be an influence to those we come in contact with.
Faith
While you can have faith of lots of different things, for my purposes today, I mean faith in Jesus Christ. To me, this is probably the most important aspect of my acronym. I mean, without faith in Him, every other aspect would be pointless. LIFE wouldn't be worth living but with faith in Christ, LIFE is an incredible journey. We are not here alone and we weren't sent here without something to do and become. We have to develop this faith and follow the path that leads us home. Our faith will give us something to hold on to when times get rough. If we've built our faith, we will be able to help and life others in their times of need. Our faith is what gives us the strength to move forward and to continue doing so.
Experience
I guess I could have made this acronym an equation also. For example: L+I+F=E. All of these other aspects give us experience. How boring would life be if we gained no experience? Often, we don't get to choose the exact situations that we are in, but we have the ability to choose how we will respond, thus providing experience. While it's true that Love, Influence and Faith will give us experience, gaining life experience will help in all of these other aspects as well. The more experience we have, the easier it is to do something. For example, having several experiences of building our faith in Jesus Christ will make it easier to do the things we need to do to follow Him.

LIFE is wonderful. Yes, there are times where I wonder if I really think that. And yes, there are times where I'm convinced I don't. But, there are always times, more often than not, where I wonder if LIFE could get any better than it is, and then I do the things that I know are right, and it gets better.

My challenge to you would be to focus on one of these things per day - Love, Influence, Faith, Experience. Try harder to love someone (or allow yourself to be loved), watch for the influence you let in your life and the one you give to others, find a way to build your faith, even just a bit, or go out and try something new - gain a new experience. Let's live LIFE to the fullest!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Great in 8

Pretty catchy, huh? Well, the company I work for is starting a new health and wellness initiative. Over the course of the next 8 weeks, they are having a competition with the first place prize a two night stay at a resort in Park City. Once I heard that, I was all up for this competition. After I read the list, I figured this is stuff that I can do. There is a list of 10 things (worth 1 pt each) that you should do every day. Basically, each week you mark down what you completed and then, at the end of 8 weeks, whichever team has the most points wins.
So, in case you want to join along in the fun (by the way, it is only Monday through Friday- weekends are free!) I have included the list below.
1. Eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies
2. Drink 6 (8 oz.) glasses of water
3. Get 7 hours of sleep
4. Exercise 30 minutes
5. No carbonated drinks
6. No "sweets"
7. No "unhealthy" foods
8. No eating after 8:30 pm
9. Eat 2 servings whole grains/legumes
10. 10 minutes of personal time (doing something you enjoy for yourself)
Program runs from September 27 through November 19!! If you're doing this too, let me know. I'm all for supporting each other!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Straight Path

I work in a triangular shaped building. When you exit the building, you walk out to the sidewalk which splits ahead into a V (see diagram below). If you take the left side, it takes you to another sidewalk that lines up next to the cars. The right side, though, which is the one that I take, kind of stops at the corner, but begins at a planter. If I walk straight (walking toward My Car), I can walk right out onto a curb. Now, I don’t know about you, but if there’s a curb, and not too many people watching, I walk it. I have been doing this for over 4 months now and some days I’m completely able to make it all the way to the end of the curb into the parking lot, and sometimes I’m all over the place; I can’t stay on it. One day, while driving home, I began to analyze my situation.
I realized that the days where I look at my goal, which is getting to My Car, are when I stay completely balanced and focused and can walk this curb. The days, though, where I’m unsure, or I’m looking down to make sure I’m right where I should be, I begin to lose my balance, I lose sight of my goal because I wanted to see where I was right then.

I suddenly saw in myself how I am with my goals. I usually have long range goals, but I get caught up in where I’m putting my feet right now that I often forget to keep my eye on the end goal and end up getting a little sidetracked. That’s not to say I don’t get back on the path and try again, but I could see that happening for me if I wasn’t aware. Since I made this discovery, I have tested it many times and am happy to report that as it relates to the actual act of walking the curb and to my life goals, I am staying on the curb. I’m not checking to see if I’m right. I know I’m on the right path when I make it to my car (both literally and figuratively).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Music & Progression

I have always loved music. My mom tells me that when I was a baby, she would sing 'My Heavenly Father Loves Me' to me and I would coo and smile. I loved to 'play' on the piano as I got older. My sister, mom and I would sing while we cleaned the kitchen after dinner, and we would even sing in church meetings occasionally. For my sixth birthday, my grandparents 'got me' piano lessons. At the time, I think I was excited, but I didn't like to practice. Thanks to them, and the insistence of my parents to keep going until we moved when I was 11, I learned enough to be able to play for all sorts of activities: baptisms, sacrament meetings, primary, even a friends wedding. I play now not because I have to, but because I love it. On days when I am really happy, I can't help but sing, or hum, or play something.
People learn in different ways. Some people are visual learners, some are hands on learners. I am a little bit of both of those, but if you want me to really get something, stick it to music. Music is what speaks to me the most. When I hear music, I usually can't help but stop and listen; it draws me in.
Sunday night, our Stake Presidency hosted a fireside. They began by introducing their families, but then they did something that I really didn't see coming. They had us sing several primary songs!! This is significant for a couple of reasons. The first being that it was music. Music has the ability to bring the Spirit so quickly and strongly. I felt so good while we were singing. Music, specifically primary songs, are designed to teach correct principles through music.
The last two are what, at this specific moment in time, meant the most to me. The first was that I have spent the last 5-6 years serving in the Primary in some capacity. For the last 3 years, I have been involved in the primary music, 2 of which I was the music leader. I was feeling really lost yesterday, kind of questioning the reasons that brought me to Provo. I look at what I left behind - I had 40 something (or there abouts) children who I love (not to mention wonderful friends, good job, and beautiful Boston). They brought so much joy to my life. I loved singing songs with them and teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ through music. I cherish the time that I spent there. The second reason that this was so moving was that in the midst of pondering my move here and what I'm doing now, I was really struggling with a need to be loved. Being around children, you are so loved! I miss all of their hugs, and their bright smiles. I miss their curiosity and energy for life. But mostly, I just missed this feeling of being loved and I guess in turn, I missed having that kind of love for people. I still love them all, I just don't get to tell them that each week. As we sang these primary songs, not only did I feel the spirit, confirming to me that what I was singing was true and correct, but I felt an overwhelming sense of love. Singing these songs brought to mind the words of Elder Snow from last week's conference when he said that "Remembering gives us the courage to move on". That is what I felt as we sang - I felt loved, I remembered what it was to love, and it has given me the courage to move on.
I want to be able to have that same type of love for the people that I am around now. I realize the need to live in the present, as opposed to living in the past. I need to remember the people and experiences that have made me, but I have to move on and become something better. I don't remember who said it originally, but when you know what to do, and do what you know, you become something better. That is my specific goal this week. I'm on the path to become something better - and I'm taking my friends and family with me!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coffee Cake

For the past several MONTHS, I have been craving a good coffee cake. I kept researching, trying to find the 'best' coffee cake recipe. After a lot of searching, I came across The Pioneer Woman's recipe "The Best Coffee Cake Ever". Not only was I intrigued by the title (because, let's face it, that's what I was looking for), but the recipe itself sounded like it would produce an AMAZING product.
About 3 weeks ago, I decided I would make it for Treat Day at work when it was my turn. This coffee cake, no lie, is the Best Coffee Cake EVER! Loved it. Because I had to leave my house by 7:15, I had a lot of the ingredients combined and ready to go so I could literally roll out of bed, throw it together, and then get ready for work. I also made this again last weekend for a girls brunch. 2 times in 3 weeks - you know it has to be good.
So, here's the recipe. You can also read all of PW's comments here.



Ingredients


■FOR THE CAKE:
■1-½ stick Butter, Softened
■2 cups Scant Sugar
■3 cups Flour, Sifted
■4 teaspoons Baking Powder
■1 teaspoon Salt
■1-¼ cup Whole Milk
■3 whole Egg Whites, Beaten Until Stiff
____
■FOR THE TOPPING:
■1-½ stick Butter, Softened
■¾ cups Flour
■1-½ cup Brown Sugar
■2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
■1-½ cup Pecans, Chopped

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat egg whites and set aside.

Cream butter* and sugar. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until combined. Don’t overbeat. Fold in beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula. Spread in a well-greased 9 x 13 (or LARGER!) baking pan. A cake pan with higher sides would be best.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients with a pastry cutter until crumbly**. Sprinkle all over the top.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until no longer jiggly. Serve warm—delicious!

*Leave the butter out overnight so it is room temp/softened to work with first thing.*
**I made the topping the night before and then placed it back in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I loosened up the combined mixture and topped the batter with it.**
*When I made this the second time, I forgot to leave my butter out to soften overnight so my topping didn't mix together as well, but it still tasted amazing. Soft butter is the key*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Regional Conference Thoughts

This past weekend we had a regional conference with several church leaders. It was an absolutely amazing experience. I want to share one thing I learned from each of the speakers.
Elder Stephen R. Snow
Remembering the past gives us the courage to move on
Sister Julie B. Beck
We’re doing better than we think we are, but we could always do a little more.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Go when you’re called to serve in whatever capacity; there is work to do everywhere.
President Boyd K. Packer
Satan can only have power over us if we choose to let him.

Sunday night, we also got to hear Elder Richard G. Scott at the CES Broadcast. Often times, when people speak of marriage to the college aged crowd, people tune out. But Elder Scott did such a great job in that he shared many personal experiences of his marriage to his wife Jeanine who passed away in the 90’s. It was more like a grandparent saying “look at how happy marriage can be, this is what I want for you”.
His talk also made me realize some things about myself that I want to change. He said that they never had an argument in their house, that harsh words were never said. I realize that I do have trouble with this and if I want to have a home like that someday, I have to start now to watch what I say and how I say it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stop At Nothing

I was talking with a friend a few days ago and he challenged me to push harder, to stop at nothing for the things that I wanted. Initially, I had several thoughts in my mind of things that I wanted. Initially I felt empowered by this thought and resolved to accomplish the goals that I had in mind.
A day or so later, though, I found myself still pondering this and it brought a second, much larger question to my mind. What do I REALLY want? What is it that I want to fight for in my life? All of a sudden, I felt that I had limitless possibilities. When we had this conversation at first, I had thoughts in mind, but I had, unintentionally, limited myself to just certain things and I couldn’t move past that. But now, I feel this complete freedom to change everything that I had thought for myself and move in entirely different directions.
I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the things we think we should do, or just to the things we think we can do. Go for your hopes and dreams. If you’ve been idly wishing for something, now is the time to take action. If it’s something you can’t do for yourself, plot the course on how/what needs to happen for it to work. No matter what, though, don’t give up!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Seasons

I love the changing of the seasons, especially from winter to spring, and from summer to fall. Here in Utah, there are already some fall colors hitting the mountain and there is a cool, crispness to the air. It isn’t as hot, the wind seems to blow more, and overall, it just has a different feel now.
I saw a flock of geese flying this morning in V formation. (As a side note – have you ever noticed that when geese fly in a V formation, one side of the V is always longer. Do you know the reason behind this??? There are more geese in one side than there are in the other! Thanks, dad, for a timeless classic!) And, speaking of our flying, feathered friends, there was a bird sitting just above my window at work yesterday and every few seconds, feathers would come lazily drifting by. Something about it made me feel happy and carefree.
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, the feel of fall. I always look forward to fall. It feels so refreshing, especially if you’ve experienced an especially hot and/or humid summer. I love that pumpkins and straw are the decoration of choice, that apples find their way into so many foods (apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple pie, you get the idea), and the fact that leaves turn grown adults into little kids. Fall has this feeling of anticipation, of change, a new beginning. To me, fall often has this feeling of being a fairly tale, it feels magical.
Often, we think that the start of a new year, or spring, are new beginnings, but each season is a new beginning. For us, each day is a new beginning. Each day should have a sort of magic that drives us and motivates us to push through our limits and to work harder. We have the ability to grow, change, start over, and become better. That, I guess, would be the ‘magic’ of the atonement. We aren’t limited to where we’re at because of poor choices we made, or even things we’ve done. Our Heavenly Father wants us to become the best we can be. Through Christ, this is possible. I’m so grateful for this understanding in my life!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pancakes

I was cooking breakfast a few months ago and on this particular morning, I was making pancakes. I love breakfast food. I could eat it for all three meals and be happy. Pancakes are just one of the many breakfast foods that I love and could probably eat often. I can eat them plain, I like them with peanut butter and jelly/syrup, and sometimes I like to top them with fruit. Sometimes I get adventuresome and put surprises inside. A pancake is so good plain, but just a slight addition and it becomes something truly magnificent (come on, I know you talk about your breakfasts like this!).

As I pondered my love of pancakes, I thought about how much life is like a pancake. Life, as itself, is great. But then you start adding things to it: friends, family, activities, knowledge, and more. Now, you’ve taken something that is great and made it magnificent. Something that you don’t want to end, something that you want to share with everyone you know. Let’s be more willing to share the great things we have in our life with everyone we know. When we are more willing to share the good, we see more good, and ultimately we are happier and we want to share more of the goodness. It is a fantastic circle of optimism and greatness (which is also similar to a pancake).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Continue climbing

Just before my birthday, I posted 24 random facts about myself. One of them was the fact that I have this incredible fear of coming down from things. I don’t have a problem going up things. I can climb stairs, hills, mountains, bleachers, almost anything, but I just can’t come down.

As I’ve been thinking about this phobia of mine, I started trying to make comparisons between my real life experience and some sort of gospel centered principle (because that’s what I do). I finally came up with this – don’t come down from your standards.

Keeping the commandments and committing to live the standards of the church are like climbing a mountain. When we lose our footing or stumble a bit we grab on tighter and continue to climb and to become better (this is what we would relate to the atonement).

Imagine climbing to the top of a mountain and having one of the best views around. You probably wouldn’t want to come down. I mean, you made it! Why would you leave? This happens all too often, though, when it comes to living the laws our Heavenly Father has given us.

I’ve made a commitment to myself that I will continue climbing, forever. I will not come down from where I am. I will do all that my Father in Heaven asks of me, no matter what I have to do.

I’m reminded of a line in the movie “Mulan” when Shan-Yu has taken the emperor up to the balcony of the palace and tells the emperor to bow to him, the emperor says something like,” no matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.” I refuse to bow to the winds of temptation and sin, and even laziness to not move further, when they come – and I know that they will come. Satan’s mission is to keep us from reaching the top, but we can make it – we have to make it! Buckle down, stay focused, and accomplish the work you are here to do.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Help Them On Their Way Home

This week for FHE, our ward divided into 3 groups and then went to each of the bishopric member’s home for a lesson. The Morgan’s shared a general conference address with us given this past April by President Eyring entitled “Help Them on Their Way Home” (If you want to read the entire talk, click here). I just wanted to share a few quotes that I liked.
“Brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father wants and needs our help to bring His spirit children home to Him again. I speak today of young people already within His true Church and so are started on the strait and narrow way to return to their heavenly home. He wants them to gain early the spiritual strength to stay on the path. And He needs our help to get them back to the path quickly should they begin to wander.”
“Foreseeing the needs of His children, a loving Heavenly Father placed directions and rescuers along their way. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to make safe passage possible and visible. He called as His prophet in these times President Thomas S. Monson.”
“The family has an advantage in the first eight years of a child’s life. In those protected years, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Satan’s use of the mists of darkness to hide the path to return home is blocked. In those precious years the Lord helps families by calling Primary workers to help strengthen children spiritually. He also provides holders of the Aaronic Priesthood to offer the sacrament. In those sacramental prayers, the children hear the promise that they may someday receive the Holy Ghost as a guide if they are obedient to God’s commandments. As a result, they are fortified to resist temptation when it comes and then, sometime in the future, to go to the rescue of others. “
Hearing this talk again came at a very critical time for me. I’ve decided that I love what I’m doing now, but it isn’t what I want to do forever. Since I was in first grade, I wanted to be a teacher, but couldn’t decide between that and business type careers. Now I see, more than ever before, that if I want to make a difference in the world, it will be through teaching. Teaching won’t always be in a classroom setting, or just at church. I can teach now through my example to those around me, to find ways to strengthen my friends, and hopefully to teach correct principles to my own family when that time comes. I want everyone I know and hold dear to find their way home.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Proof

See, I told you I had a goofy, picture taking personality!
Happy Friday!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy

I could (and do) look at these over and over. They just bring me so much HAPPINESS! At least now Lori and I know where we get our goofy picture taking from. :)

Love you dad!




(This is my personal favorite)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Need a laugh?

Before you read on, you have to understand first and foremost that I have a sick, twisted sense of humor. That being said, yesterday was a funny news and headline day (not for the people it involves, per se, but for me).



The first is an excerpt from an article written today about the trapped Chilean miners. They are not telling them exactly how long it is going to take to get them out and they are doing everything they can to keep close watch to the situation of every person down there. This is what it said (I will highlight the parts that I found amusing):

"One of the miners has nursing experience and authorities are working with him to pass along questionnaires to the miners that will shed light on their health.
Based on a survey of the miners, three or four of them are showing signs of anxiety and depression. Another survey indicates that there are at least nine miners who would be too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft, Manalich said.
However, Manalich said the miners are estimated to have lost about 8 kilograms, or 17 pounds, during their time in the mine, and officials expect them to be in shape to be rescued by the time the shaft is completed.
The miners have survived by sharing small amounts of tuna and mackerel that were in a shelter, along with water, officials have said.
What the miners eat and how much will be monitored by officials, and tubes will constantly pump oxygen and drinking water into the shelter where the miners are."

The other headline I found completely amusing was:
Johnson & Johnson Recalls Hip Implants

Can we just say "ouch"!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What does it mean?

Last night I had a very strange, but entirely too real, dream. In the dream, I was participating in some sort of triathlon. We had done the swimming and I was on my bike. At some point, a friend called me and told me that she and her kids were at the movie theater in town and that I should stop by. I get to this rotary in town and see the theater, so I decide to go inside and stay for just a few minutes (apparently I was confident about winning the race…that, or I didn’t even care about finishing). Anyway, there are signs everywhere telling movie goers that no outside food is allowed. The next thing I realize, I am reaching into my pockets and realize that I have this bag of cotton candy and a bag a Cheetos. I decide that it must be in my pockets for a reason, so I go and find my friend and her kids and sit there for a bit. The kids start whining about how they’re hungry and I’m all like “Hey, look what I have”, whispering of course so no one knows. I tell my friend to make some sort of subtle noise so I can get the Cheetos bag out without drawing attention to me. For some stupid reason, she starts clapping in the middle of the movie.
All of a sudden, some woman sitting a few rows back says “We’re going to need security in theater 8”. I immediately shove the bag of Cheetos between the cushions (this theater had couches – very bizarre) and then stood up. I told the woman that I had just stopped by to see my friend but that I needed to get back to my triathlon. She very boldly told me that I wasn’t going anywhere. The big ol’ security guys come in and start pulling the couch apart and she asks if I have anything else on me. I told her no, but then remembered that bag of cotton candy. The security guys are still trying to figure out how to ‘tear apart the couch’ – all brawn, no brains kind of guys, apparently. The woman asks me again if I have anything on me and she proceeds to tell me that they’ll go easier on me if I confess to having something before they find what they are certain is in the couch. I tell her no again, and then I pretend to be checking my pockets and decided to be all like, “Hey, I just found this but didn’t really know it was here”, all the while just lying through my teeth.
The next thing I know she is walking toward me, very angrily I might add. Then – I WOKE UP!! I don’t even know what the punishment was for ‘crime’. I don’t know if they really went easily on me. I don’t know if I ever really told the truth. Does it make me a bad person if I lie and break rules in my dreams?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Motivation

I always feel like I should have some grand story and interesting facts, or even some witty comment to make on my blog, but alas, I have come up empty handed. So, I will just share with you some of the thoughts that have been running around in my mind over the past couple of days and that have been motivating me.

Change is inevitable. Jump in with both feet and embrace it. If change is something that you have little to no control over, choose to control how you will face the change.

Follow the rules. The cops are out in full force here in Utah, and not just in one place, they are everywhere. There is safety in following the rules/laws. This is true not only of the laws of the land, but of the commandments.

Read your scriptures. Our ward just completed a Book of Mormon reading challenge and for the first time in my life, I actually completed it ON TIME! I’ve read through several times, and I’ve tried to follow along when I have taken classes or have been issued challenges, but I’ve never made it on schedule. It was an incredible experience. If you feel like you’re not getting much out of your scripture study, try harder, make it more of a priority and incorporate it into your routine. I have never been so grateful that I stuck with something. It was also a good thing I finished because I was asked to share a few words about my experience for ward prayer. It would have been hard to say that I hadn’t finished it and that they had better ask someone else.

Watch for the miracles. Right before we left Boston, we got to attend our last Stake Conference there. One of the last speakers on Saturday evening spoke about miracles and said usually we focus on the ‘big’ miracles, the ones that everyone sees and recognizes. He urged us to stop and look around us and see the small everyday miracles that so often go unnoticed. I took his advice and have been overwhelmed by the miracles that occur all around me.

Look beyond yourself. I have this terrible trait of self doubt. I automatically assume people won’t like me, that people are judging me, and that in general, people would prefer I weren’t even around. It is always very hard for me to really get to know people because I’m not confident in social situations (which I blame on past experiences, but that I’m learning to cope with and overcome). I have learned that everyone loves to hear something good about themselves, to know that someone is thinking of them, and is watching out for them. I learned this week that no one is exempt from that, no matter what kind of front they put on, or how they seem in general.

Live like there’s no tomorrow. This kind of goes with my previous point, but don’t wait. If you have a kind thought, say it. If you feel inspired to call someone, do it. If you see someone who needs a hug, give it. Things happen far too quickly in life. Sometimes people are taken from us before we get to do these things, sometimes life just happens. People move and change, sometimes they just move one. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

You only live once. Try something new. Dream big. Make plans. If you want to go to culinary school, or volunteer in an orphanage in another country, or you want to teach (yes, these are a few of my plans), do it. Work towards it. Things may change and you may have to edit your list, but get moving. Don’t wait your life away for the perfect opportunity because chances are that it won’t come.

Realize you are amazing. Every person is. I have always heard it said that everyone has the potential to be amazing, but I have decided to change it. Every person has the potential to do amazing things, but you are amazing just by being you. Granted, the more you do and the better you become, your amazing factor points increase exponentially, but that’s totally beside the point. Value yourself and who you are. Chances are other people see it and just haven’t helped you see it yet, but just wait, that day will come. Until then, tell yourself that you are amazing. Wash, rinse, and REPEAT – over and over. If you need to have a mirror by your front door so you can tell yourself how awesome you are as you come and go, do it. Write it on paper and stick it places you will see it until you realize it and remember it.

You are amazing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

24 Things You Probably Didn't Want to Know

Since I’m thoroughly looking forward to being 24 (tomorrow), I have compiled a ridiculously random list (24 things to be exact - one for each year of my life) of facts, thoughts, and statements about myself. Brace yourself for 24 pieces of useless knowledge.

1. I love the color pink – the brighter, the better
2. I have an incredible fear of coming down from something (bleachers, mountains – you get the idea) or of falling
3. I don’t mind the silence
4. I day dream far too often
5. I love to read
6. I hate the feel of tape on my skin
7. I love getting a foot massage
8. I love office supplies
9. I don’t like to try new food because I forget that I can spit it out if I don’t like it
10. I love listening to someone playing the guitar
11. I sometimes wish I could live in the water
12. I love to try new recipes
13. I like to eat green, unripe fruit – it’s crunchy
14. I love to play the piano
15. I love spending time with kids and being a kid myself
16. I like to make big plans
17. I dream of opening a bakery one day
18. I love waterfalls and butterflies
19. I put my arms out like a bird and wish I could fly when the wind blows
20. I prefer soggy French fries to crisp ones
21. I love take offs in an airplane
22. I love to laugh
23. I would rather be cold than hot
24. I love checking the mail

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The 'Y'

If you live in Provo, you have to hike the Y at least once. Last Friday, Shelly and I did it. We decided at about 9:15 PM to start. It was nice because it was much cooler than during the day.

Here we are before we knew what we were really getting into.
Here's a lovely view of Provo at about 9:15 - still light out!!
Finally, after about 40 minutes, WE MADE IT!!! What an incredible feeling!
Sitting on the Y

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Last night for FHE we split into three teams and did a photo scavenger hunt. There was a list of between 20 and 30 items, locations, and/or actions to take pictures of. Just a few of my favorites were:
Someone riding in a shopping cart (this kid was a great sport!)
A couple kissing (The reason I love this one so much is that, technically, the assignment was a couple making out, but that was a bit too much to ask while they were ring shopping! Wouldn't you agree?)
A human pyramid. We were driving by the park and noticed one of the other groups from our ward, so we coerced them into doing this for us. What a great group of people! Thanks guys!!
Anyway, that's the latest from here.


Visitors

Tonight I got to see 4 of my favorite Massachusetts people. Steve, Elise, Franklin, and Lilly came came down to see Lori and I and took us out to dinner (thanks a bunch, guys!). We had a marvelous time catching up and it was wonderful to see them.
If you happen to be in Utah - come see us! We'd love to see you!

Friday, July 16, 2010

July

Every time I sit down to blog, one of two things happens. 1) Everything that I want to write about all of a sudden either doesn’t make sense or doesn’t seem worth sharing/recording, or 2) I totally forget what I had planned to write about. I also love how right before I moved from Boston I said that my blog was going to have more substance and be worth reading. Well, I have decided to truly try to tackle that. I have also decided that I will record whatever I feel like recording because, well, it’s my blog. (I also think I may have said that before, but it must be worth repeating if it keeps coming up. That or I’m trying to convince myself…)

Some fun things that we have been doing here lately…Lori and I went to Lagoon on July 5th because we were both off work due to the fourth of July holiday. We went with two friends and we had a blast. I went on almost every single roller coaster, which is crazy because I’m not usually an adrenaline junky. Some of my favorites were the Rocket, Wicked, Colussus, and the Spider. Lori even conquered her fears and tackled a few! Lagoon also offers this great deal called bounceback. You can return to the park within 10 days for only $10! You better believe we took full advantage of it. We went back the following Saturday with another friend. We didn’t do as many rides, but we picked a few of our favorites, hung out for a few hours, and then headed home.

I found out that I must not pay very close attention to detail. I got an email on July 7th informing me that my jury duty for July 8th had been cancelled. What?!?!? I knew that I was called for Jury duty back in March and I postponed it because we were moving. I also figured that when I received the next notice, I could just tell them that I no longer lived in the state. Well, there was no second notice and I could have been in some serious trouble (what is the punishment for missing jury duty??). I must say, though, that I would have loved to have had a reason to be in Boston, even if it was for Jury Duty.

I’ve become really quite social. I’m really figuring out a lot about me and I love it. I’m also trying a lot more things that I wouldn’t do normally. I recently found out that I’m not half bad at Ultimate Frisbee. I am by no means good at it, and the people I was playing with weren’t too competitive, but it was a lot of fun. Because of my back (and a dislike of sports in general), I don’t usually attempt things like this, but I found out that I really do like it! Another thing on the list of things I’ve recently tried is elk jerky. I couldn’t look at it for too long before I made myself sick at the thought of it, but it really wasn’t that bad!

I have also recently rediscovered my love for the game of Monopoly. Some friends and I have started playing the past few nights. We play for an hour or so and leave it set up on the floor so we can finish it later. We have restarted the game once or twice because we had people leave and/or join, but it has been an absolute blast. It does have a down side because everyone I play with loves to stay up late and I am not tolerating it very well. I just don’t do well without sleep. Oh well, that’s what the weekend is for, right?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Playing Catch Up

So, I thought once I got settled here I would have time to blog more. Boy was I wrong. I was correct in my assumption that I would actually have more things to write about, but with a lack of time (or poor planning, whatever) I never actually get around to it. So, here's to playing catch up. In no particular order...
I started my new job. I have a desk next to a window that looks out over the mountains. I even have my very own electric stapler (hey, it's the small things in life).
We went to visit Georgia. We got to see mom and dad's new place. I learned how to drive a tractor, I got to shoot my gun, I ate my fill of boiled peanuts, got to go to the swamp and see the alligators and came home with one heck of a bug bite on my foot (seriously, it was the biggest bug bite I had ever had, it took over almost my entire foot. 3 weeks later, I can still see it, but now it just looks like a bruise).
I have discovered my true passion for frozen yogurt. We have it approximately once a week, and I figure it's actually a pretty healthy choice in comparison to some other desserts.
I got a library card, which is actually something I haven't had since we lived in Florida (10+ years ago!!) I always said I didn't like reading. It turns out that it wasn't that I didn't like reading, I was just reading things that didn't interest me. I went to the library today and spent over an hour just perusing the books, what an awesome time. It is my new favorite place to be.
We have experienced 4 days in a row of over 100 degrees and the air conditioning in our entire complex is out. Totally frustrating, but at least we have the pool (of course, the water in the pool is so cold that I don't actually get in).
In the past few weeks, I have also decided to be a bit more social, so I've started going to FHE, attending institute, and trying to make new friends. It's been crazy busy, but I've really felt like I've found myself a home, at least for the time being.
I may not know why, but I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. Of course, that doesn't stop the homesickness for the people I love in Boston, my job there, friends, adventures. I miss having my parents around, too, but for now, everything is as it should be. I started listening to a book on CD from Sheri Dew called, "If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard". That, to me, is the perfect explanation to everything. It's not always easy, but it's life, and that's the way it should be.
Anyway, off for a night of working out, reading, and with any luck at all, frozen yogurt!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Job

As of this past Wednesday, I am employed again! I am the payroll coordinator for a great company of over 450 people. On top of having a great job and working with great people, I have my very own window! I get to look out at the mountains all day. I have a lot to learn, as you can imagine, but I'm 3 days in and loving it!
I can't help but feel blessed!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In case you're wondering

This is the front entry way to our complex.


These are the mountains that I see everyday
Luckily we live on the mountain WITHOUT snow. Please note, however, that the mountains pictured below are right next door!! This picture was also taken from the local park that I like to walk to (and may or may not take naps in).
Of course, everyone has that one thing that is the best about a place. Well, this is mine. It also happens that this picture was taken from our doorway.
The pool has only been open three days and I've already been 4 times!

You've had a birthday...

Shout HOORAY!!

Lori chose to have her birthday dinner at Cracker Barrel! Good food, good times, good friends!


Since Lori works with cake EVERYDAY, she requested ice cream. We made two batches - strawberry shortcake and tropical fruit! Excellent choices, Lori!!



A birthday wouldn't be complete without candles!


Lori has some INCREDIBLE friends!! Two of them broke into our apartment (so, it wasn't really breaking in because I knew they were coming and I left the door unlocked) and they came in and put cute notes to and about Lori on her bathroom mirror. Good job, ladies!!

Hope you had an awesome birthday, Lori!! Thanks for being you and allowing me to be me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

This is REAL!

Six and a half hours of air time later, I am here!
I have officially arrived in Utah. It doesn't seem real to me at all at this point, but I'm hoping that after we move in to our apartment TOMORROW it all sinks in.
For now, I am trying to enjoy not having anything to do. When I was home there was always something to do, or pack, or clean, or something. At that point I could choose not to do anything (not that I would, right?). But here, I have nothing yet. That will change, I promise.
Lori and I are just happy to be in the same state again. We watched a movie yesterday afternoon, and would you believe someone fell asleep (it wasn't me, just for the record).
I always love visiting with Lori because she is totally herself. And if you really know Lori, you know what that means. If I had been fast enough, I would have gotten my camera last night and taken a picture of her sitting in a box - a box! We laughed for a long time!!

On the plane yesterday, there was a plane that flew underneath us. It was a pretty good distance away, and from where I was sitting it looked pretty small. I wasn't concerned with that one. About 30 minutes later, out of nowhere, a jet came flying right by our plane. I have NEVER been so scared in my life. I have to say that the cool part was seeing the jet trail it left behind - very cool up close, but I don't care if I ever see it that close again.
No one else on the plane seemed concerned by it, so maybe I was over reacting, but seriously - the sky is HUGE!! Do we all need to be in the same space??

Anyway, off for the first full day of adventure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pilot error

So, I just went in to delete a post that I had second thoughts on (no one really needs to know my negativity) and I just saw where you can see the comments people have left on your posts. I seriously never knew!! (I won't even admit that I didn't know I could delete a post until about a month ago!!) Maybe I need a manual - Blogger for the Dummy!
Anyway, now I know and I will find you! Thanks to anyone/everyone who stops in. Once I get settled in Utah, I plan on adding real substance to my blog. You can take that as either a promise or a threat - your choice.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The list

  1. My car is being shipped next Tuesday (meaning I have to be completely packed for Utah by Monday)
  2. My last day of work is next Thursday
  3. I leave for Utah exactly one week after that (the 22nd)
  4. House closes on the 28th (possibly earlier)
We're really getting down to the end of our time in Massachusetts. I'm excited for the next phase of life, but it's coming way too fast. I don't think I'm ready!! Guess there's only one way to find out for sure if I'm ready or not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Boxes

Hope this gives you an idea of what we did this weekend...

Boxes, boxes everywhere; in the bedrooms on the stairs
Boxes don't just fill themselves; it's too bad - we'd have no cares.
To the tune of "Rain is Falling"

I looked in the garage and what did I see? Boxes stacked from the floor to the ceiling.
Packing boxes is a nice surprise! I've found things from nineteen ninety-five.
Yearbooks and letters, a teddy bear or two; lots of things need to be sorted through
I wish it wasn't so, but it seems to be, packing boxes is a lot of work for me.
To the tune of "Popcorn Popping"

Oh where is my mixer? Oh where is my mixer?
Oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where, oh where is my mixer?
To the tune of "Oh where is my hairbrush".
*This question did result in the purchase of my very own mixer after a severe smoothie craving*

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beach time

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Paco's Photo Shoot

Most normal people take pictures of their children, their spouse, flowers, scenery, whatever. But I, I choose to take pictures of my baby - Paco. Enjoy!

His "Are you gonna give me a treat for this?" look.

His "Maybe if I don't look directly at her she'll go away" look. (I didn't, by the way)

See if you can spot the real animal here.

Keeping track of the neighbors.

Longing to be with you, wherever you are.



Food

I have done a lot of cooking, baking and creating over the last several months. I even have proof of a few things!

Cheeseburger Quesadilla
Assorted Christmas cookies
Giant Cupcake
Chocolate Box with Chocolate Mousse, Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream
3-D Animal Cookies

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Working out

I recently discovered this new workout dvd from Bob Greene. I was a bit skeptical, but I love it! I am only in week 2, but the work isn't too hard and I feel great results.



It's an 8 week long plan and I'm looking forward to it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Another week down...

I am finally getting really excited about going to Utah. I guess I have been excited, but it is really starting to get real. I packed my first box over the weekend. Granted, we all still have A LOT to do, but we'll take what we can get.




What I'm looking forward to:
Cheese curds - fresh from Wisconsin; will arrive tomorrow. I-CAN'T WAIT. Next to living in Utah and driving to get them fresh, 3 days from WI ain't so bad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Realizations

I have been feeling rather shaky over everything that is happening and feeling very out of control of my life. I have had a short fuse and low tolerance, which I'm not proud of, but I'm working on. I finally, after many prayers, and talking with my AWESOME family have come to grips with everything. I am really getting excited about the things that are happening in my life, even though I may not understand fully everything that is going on. It seems everything is happening so quickly and I'm just trying to hang on for the ride.

Just a quick story: it turns out I'm not as bright as I may seem (thanks for agreeing).
Yesterday, one of the managers came up to me and asked if my boss brought back any blackberries from a recent trip she was on. I had been in a trance, or sorts, working very diligently finishing up my payroll. I thought about it and said "Yeah, she had some earlier in the day but I'm not sure where they are now". Then I thought about it for a second, and realized that he wasn't talking about blackberries, the fruit. He was talking about Blackberry's, the electronic device. Go figure.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Nothing

Literally - I have nothing to write. Sorry for wasting your time.
Tune back in another time.
Have a lovely day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A new adventure

I made it official today, so it's time to spill the secret I can't keep any longer! Due to some unfortunate events for my family, we are moving on. This event is giving me a great opportunity to make a life for myself. My parents will be moving to a location still undetermined. I will be moving to Utah late March/early April. I am in the process of applying to college (fingers crossed) and looking for jobs. My wonderful sister has agreed to let me live with her, at least until I drive her nuts.
I still get a little overwhelmed and a bit scared when I think about it too much, but I have an overall great feeling about the decision I have made. I am grateful for wonderful friends who have given support, encouragement and advice. We all have a lot to do over the next several weeks, but it's all going to work out fine, even though we may not see how at this time.
For now, we just keep doing what we do, have faith, and move forward.