Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Delivery


         If I can cook anything it's junk food. One of my current personal progress goals currently is to learn to cook actual meals (I will probably eventually add healthy to the goal but for now meal is enough). So my ability to cook fairly decent junk food mostly goes unused due to my fear of getting fat and my unwillingness to spend money. Yes I'm stingy and physiologically impaired. Anyway, Christmas is one of the few times I allow myself both to spend the money on ingredients and to make lots and lots of treats. Now when I say Christmas I am only referring to this year and last year (this December 25th will be our 3rd Christmas married. 
        Christmas one was awful. I can't remember the exact details but I do remember crying in the car because something was so ... bad. Maybe I was hormonal. Anyway, first Christmas = fairly awful. Second Christmas, we were still living with Grandma. She was definitely bad most days. (Bad as in, not herself.) But, she was still with it enough. Right about that time, our ward had really stepped up to help us with Grandma (especially her visiting teachers and my visiting teachers). Nick and I wanted to find a way to thank everyone who was sacrificing so much of their own time and energy to help Grandma (and us). We decided we would add a food portion to our Christmas budget and make all of the wonderful people in out lives treats.
     Nick and I each found two brand new recipes we wanted to make and went out and bought the stuff. We spent a whole evening cooking and making fun new desserts. I remember that we made toffee perfectly. We thought we should probably make it all the time because it was so easy. (We have tried to make it several times since then and have never been able to make it turn out). That first time must have been a Christmas miracle. Anyway, Nick and I had a lot of fun cooking and just being together. I think we watched a Christmas movie with Grandma while we did it. 
      The next day we labeled all of the plates and planned to deliver the  treats. Unfortunately, Nick had to go to a meeting which left me with Grandma and the task of taking the treats. I was a little exasperated (we could not leave Grandma by herself) but I decided to just ask if she wanted to go with me. To my surprise she said yes. She turned off her TV, found her boots, and walked out to the car. We started driving to the first house when, to my surprise Grandma volunteered to take the treats to the door. I handed it to her and watched her walk up. She handed our neighbor the treats and smiled proudly. By the time Grandma got back to the car she was excited and ready to take the next treats. As we drove around the neighborhood, she would ask me, "who's next?" repeatedly. I would give her the name (usually of a person she had known for years). Grandma would then ask me to tell her about them or, she would proceed to tell me about them. She was still very forgetful but she was closer to being the Grandma I knew than she had been for a long time. We were gone for probably two hours. (It takes a bit longer to take treats around when you want to visit with all of your long lost friends.) At the time I enjoyed it, but I didn't realize what a gift it was to be able to help her thank all of her friends for helping her. It was probably the one of the last times she was coherent with many of the people we saw that day. I don't think she realized what the treats were for but I think everyone who got them did. It makes me happy to think of the way she smiled and wished people well that day. It is hard to believe that that was only a year ago and that now she is gone.
     Anyway, this year I asked Nick if he wanted to do it again. We have a lot of people in our new ward who have helped and befriended us since we moved in in March. He agreed. So we selected our recipes (new things we wanted to try for the most part) and bought the stuff. Last night we were up till 12:00 baking cookies (probably close to 300). We had a lovely time working together and watching movies. Today, we delivered them to what felt like our entire neighborhood. 

     Now I don't like to be the person who actually hands people the treats. Grandma doing it last year suited me fine. I like to make the treats and then watch. This year, Nick was wonderful and delivered almost all of them. I drove and he ran to the doors. I don't think he realized it but the whole day was kind of therapy for me. Everything reminded me of last year with Grandma down to the proud, happy smile on his face as he walked back to the car. I think it is a tradition we will have to keep up for many reasons. One being that it reminds me so much of Grandma, another being that we can make treats, a third being that it helps me be less selfish and more willing to share. Furthermore, I need to be braver. Sitting in the car was enough this year. Maybe I will actually deliver some next time. I hope my neighbors like treats :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Obsession with Apocalypse

       Despite what it looks like, I have been faithfully blogging every week. I just don't always post what I blog because some of them are mucho bigo posts that will probably not be fully read by anyone once they are actually posted. I figured its okay, however, since this blog remains, most importantly, a journal and record since this seems to be the only way I can do it.
      I have a couple of random thoughts today. The first post I started was called obsession with apocalypse. I never posted it because I suddenly thought of a lot more that needed to be said first. I now want to return to that idea.
      First of all, I really hate scary movies, and I especially hate zombies. It must have been heavily on my mind when I started this blog due to the outpouring of zombie movies, tv shows, board games etc. Then I realized, not only does the media portray the world ending with zombies, but it predicts deep sea monsters, world wars, aliens, robots, and plagues. The only thing that seems to be consistent in media is that the world is going to end. It strikes me as sad that our particular generation looks to the future with expectations of declination whereas, previous generations pictured flying cars, hover-boards, and other innovations. I have been trying to decide what I think that says about us. Has Hollywood run out of ideas? Do people have an instinct that tells them that the human race can't survive in its current state much longer? Do we think innovation is leading to destruction? Why are we obsessed with chaos, anarchy, and apocalypse?
       Now, I agree with the movies to some extent. I think the world will end as we know it eventually. However, I don't think it will be an alien and outside force that changes it the most. I think that after all of the bad happens, we will finally get to receive our Lord and Master. Having been responsible for the creation of the earth he can hardly be considered alien. With this in mind, it seems far more logical to prepare spiritually for the end of the world than it does to build an underground fortress full of prepper nonsense.
     Don't get me wrong. There are reasons we are asked to have food storage. We are a church of preparedness. We should not forgot about possible temporal needs that will come with the pre-second coming state of the world. I do think, however, that it would be worse to die spiritually unprepared than to die from starvation. Luckily for me, I can afford to be spiritually prepared (as can we all). I cannot, however, afford not to.
      With this thought in mind, I have once again found myself in the position of needing to take stock of my many numerous faults. If I don't know what they are how can I fix them? Sometimes being Christlike seems so daunting. Especially when missionary work is so stressed right now and I have a fear of talking to people. With that, I suppose its easy to tell which of my faults has been plaguing me lately. I want to be a missionary but it scares me to death.
      I want to share the gospel. Why would I not want to share the very best part of my life? But people intimidate me more, rather than less, as I have gotten older. I am trying. I go to my meetings, and fulfill my callings to the best of my ability, but I know I should be doing more. It makes me so sad when people leave the church due to an offense. I just wish that everyone could understand how imperfect the members are and be able to separate them from the church as a whole.
     Anyway, I did warn that this was a tangent post. I have been working on my personal progress faithfully since deciding to do it. My goals are a lot braver than they were as a youth. I keep thinking that the more I can prepare and spiritually strengthen myself the better the chance I will have of being able to say something that someone else needs to hear. I want to do what I am supposed to do, so I can start being who I could be.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Personal Progress

    Having successfully taught my education lesson to the young women today, I find myself needing to take my own advice as far as spiritual education goes. I read church material regularly. Really studying it, however, is another matter entirely. In order to study and connect to my young women, I have decided I am going to complete my personal progress book again.
Personal Progress Book

    If I have any former young women leaders reading this they might be chuckling to themselves right about now. I was really a rather stubborn young woman when it came to personal progress.
    Flashback. As a kid, I didn't particularly like to go to achievement days. I didn't necessarily care for structured social interaction and I would have rather been at home reading. Nevertheless, I went when my mother insisted. I had a lot of good leaders and I met a lot of the girls I would grow up with. Then, when I turned 12 I tried to learn the young women ropes quickly. Our young women's program was very small. There were about eight of us (all three levels) on average from the time I was 12 to the time I was 18. There were several of us who were consistently at church and regularly at young women. Throughout the years we rotated through callings. Karina was the president, then she would graduate, then I would be the president, then I would graduate, then so and so would be the president etc. I liked most of the girls I was in young women with. Some of the best friends I had in middle school were in my young women class. However, overall, I did not care for young womens anymore than I cared for achievement days.
     I went because my parents liked me to go and I figured that there were worse ways I could be spending my time. But it was hard. I often felt like I didn't fit in. I wasn't boy crazy like a lot of the other girls, I didn't like scary movies, I had little interest in going to the dances, and I certainly didn't want to sneak out and doorbell ditch. I had my own place amongst them but I usually felt like a loner. There were a few good years in the middle where we were all tight but high school hit and we separated. Anyway the point is, I thought personal progress was worth while while I was in young womens. But, I wouldn't let anybody be involved in it more than absolutely necessary.
     In the personal progress book, there are sections that each have experiences and projects that need to be completed. When one is complete, the young women are supposed to pass it off with a parent or leader. As a teenager I decided that even if it cost me the medallion (that young women get when they complete the personal progress book) I wasn't going to let any adult sign me off on anything. As far as I was concerned personal progress was personal. Personal meant you didn't have to share with others. So, I did my entire personal progress book without to much outside help. We did do stuff at activities that went along with some of the values but I never let anyone sign me off. (I think I did get a medallion, one of my leaders, I suspect my mother, must have taken pity on me.)
    I think I had it half right. Looking back on my book, my own signature next to everything, I am proud to say that I did it and that I did it on my own without the expectation of a reward. What I didn't get then, and still have a difficult time with now, is the fact that the program was set up by people called of God. Even if doing it on my own made sense, I should have been willing to follow the guidelines simply because they were the guidelines.
    I am often stubborn and sure that I am right, I think there is a whole post about that, and sometimes it is difficult for me to take counsel. This is a goal I have currently. I want to be able to be humble and respectful. Willing to follow the counsel and plans that others make. I have defiance and independence down, now its time to master the other half of the spectrum.
    Wish me luck this second time around. I plan on blogging my experiences. Also, I can sign off my own goals legitimately now because I am a leader :)
    Leaders, thank you for being patient with me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Half Baked Bucket List

After discussing bucket lists over chicken sandwiches with Alisha yesterday, I decided I wanted to type mine up. I will have a complete section and an incomplete section.
Note: not everything on the completed section was a goal before  I accomplished it. Rather, I thought it deserved to be on the list in retrospect.
Also, I plan on changing this as I go. Wish me luck :)

Complete

  • Got Married
  • Graduated College
  • Bought a House
  • Lived Outside of the Country (Thailand Blog)
  • Lived in Asia
  • Went Skydiving
  • Pet a Tiger
  • Rode an Elephant
  • Snorkeling
  • River Rafting
  • Took Fencing Lesson
  • Josh Groban Concert
  • Lifehouse Concert
  • Owl City Concert

Incomplete
  • Have kids
  • Go on a Mission
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Visit Europe
  • Go to Australia
  • Go to South America
  • Learn Spanish
  • Masters Degree
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Go to the Louvre 
  • Hang Gliding in Brazil
  • See the Amazon River
  • Visit all 50 States
  • Learn to Water Ski
  • Have a Ski Pass
  • Have Art on Display Somewhere...
  • Write a Book
  • Reliant K Concert
  • Figure out how to get weeds out of a lawn...
  • Learn to Rock Climb
  • Work at a Library
  • Edit a Kids Book
  • Learn to Play a Hymn on the Piano
  • Complete Personal Progress as an adult

Education Rant

     I am supposed to teach young women's next week. So, for the last few days I have been thinking about the topic and am trying to decide what I am going to say. Now, luckily for me, I like this topic and I feel more qualified to teach it than I have many of the other lessons I have taught in the past year. The title is "Why is it important to get an education?"
    This particular topic is important to me for multiple reasons. First, I like to learn. A big part of the reason I went into teaching in the first place was so that I would have the opportunity to be a lifelong learner. Second, stagnation makes me sick. I can't stand sitting around for very long (not that I can't do it) but I like to feel like I am progressing in some way or towards something. Third, I spend a large portion of my time with kids. This being the case I can see what a difference it makes to have educated parents.
    With my young women in mind my goal is to somehow impress up on them the importance of getting an education not only for their own sakes but for the sakes of their current families, future families, and the many people they will one day come in contact with. Education is certainly not about single individuals.
    Before I went into teaching I was an art major. I liked it just fine but I got bored taking classes that pertained to the same subject all day. The idea of teaching, once it entered my mind, was very appealing because not only could I still be involved with art, but I would have the chance to continue learning about math, science, history, psychology, writing, reading etc. There wasn't ever a subject I took that I despised (except for possibly chemistry) so going into education was a win win. My college classes in education were not exactly what I was hoping for but they were interesting. I got to learn a lot more about law and culture than I had anticipated. Actually teaching, however, has been an adventure. Last year, I had to relearn American History (although I admit we only made it to the Civil War) and fifth grade science. Science is not my strong suit though I do like it. I remember being in the building late one day last year trying to understand just what kind of electricity lightning was and how it worked. In my classroom I have also had to become the resident expert on poetry, i-pod usage, and computer skills. Furthermore, I am still taking college courses to obtain endorsements to help me more adequately teach different students. All of this keeps me busy, engaged, and using my time wisely.
     All the learning also prevents academic/intellectual stagnation. I'm no Einstein and it's not like I can't sit still for a movie but I like to progress. Summer is actually hard for me if I don't keep myself busy because I go from constantly using my brain and making plans to weeding my lawn. Not that that doesn't take brains but its definitely different. In fact, quick tangent, (which is also part of my lesson) there are an awful lot of things that one can be educated about that have nothing to do with sitting in a classroom. When we bought our house I quickly became educated on the intricacies of tools, the proper way to paint a room, how to put a ceiling up, and what exactly it meant to pay a mortgage. No one had ever bothered to educate me on such topics before.
    This concept brings me to my third point, sort of. I realize that it is not easy and or fun for many people to learn. I have kids in my class who learn effortlessly and quickly. Then, I have kids who have to work on their homework for hours just to half grasp a concept. However, I can almost always tell whether or not a child's parents have an education. The kids with parents who went to school have bigger vocabularies, more self confidence, and fewer emotional issues (generally speaking). Now this, I think, should be the biggest reason to get educated. I went to college with the mindset that my ultimate goal was a family. One day, I want to raise my kids with further education as a goal. I think I will be able to be a better mother having gotten the degree I did. (I realize many people are born nurturers, I have never felt like one of those people. Therefore, I imagine, this specific degree will help me immensely.) Like I said earlier, getting an education is not just a favor one does for oneself, it is a favor for ones peers and family. The education of few often betters the lives of many. Why would that be different for less well known individuals.
Seminary Graduation
    The last thing I want to make sure I get across when I teach my lesson, is the fact that a person's spiritual education is at least as important as a person's academic education. This is the part of the lesson that I feel least qualified to teach. I try to do everything I am supposed to when it comes to continuously following commandments and building my testimony, but I don't necessarily try as hard as I should. It is easy to succumb to the things that have deadlines attached, or paychecks, or tangible rewards. It takes far more self control (at least for me) to focus and dedicate time to things that are far more intrinsic and require patience.
    However, gaining spiritual knowledge should be at the top of my list of priorities because it is the most important.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Never to Late

This weekend I had the pleasure of being a kid again when I went to Arches with my parents and Candace. As I watched my mom tackle our miles and miles of hiking I learned several important things.
    Before I start the story, I want to back up a bit. My mom has worked her butt of this summer. She ran all the time to train for the color run (she is much more persistent than I am). And, she hiked almost
every weekend all summer (some of the hikes were really difficult). She told me on one of our many summer hikes that she finally decided that the key to having an active lifestyle was to have an active lifestyle. So, she did. When the summer started she had a difficult time with a lot of the hikes, by the end she could practically run up the mountain.
   I need to back up once more, even further. When I was 15 my whole family went to Arches National Park. I enjoyed it but didn't remember too much. The coolest part, I always thought, was walking on a fin by Double O Arch. For years, this is what we (My dad, Spencer, and I) reminisced about. Candace was 6 and was with us and we were scared to death that she was going to walk off this fin. Now, my mother, because she was being a good mother did not go on this part of the hike with us. My brother Ben, had had it by the time we got to that hike and sat down a log refusing to go another step. My mom stayed with him (sidenote: Ben was wearing a Darth Vader helmet the whole time we were there but that is another story).
Mom on the Fin
   Anyway, for years my mom wanted to go back and do this hike. The fin hike. I think both my parents just figured they would wait till we were a bit older. Unfortunately, certain members of my family didn't like hiking no matter how old they got. So we didn't go back and finish that hike.
     Fast-forward (it has been nine years), after my mom's summer of hiking she decided she wanted to go do that seven mile loop with or without the whole family. Those of us who wanted to/could go cleared our schedules and we went this weekend.
    My mom did such a good job. I know parts of it scared her and I know parts of it were physically demanding but she did the whole thing. From this, I learned, that it is never to late to fulfill your goals. I also learned, that it is important to do everything you can to make sure you don't have too many regrets.

Arches Travelogue: For posterity of course :)
On top of Double O
     My parents, Candace, and I drove to Moab early Thursday morning and went straight to the seven mile loop. We hiked it like bosses (the fin was far less impressive than I remembered it being, possibly
because I wasn't worried about Candace walking off of it this time around). Candace and I climbed on top of Double O arch (nearly gave me a heart attack). We also stalked some hikers who looked like they knew what they were doing and walked down a wall.
Delicate Arch
     The next day, we did the delicate arch hike, sandstone arch, broken arch, and random hitchhiking moment in a campsite. The best part was when we
finally got up to the top of delicate arch. I made some remark to Candace about that being the actual arch and she looked over and kind of gasped because she hadn't seen it before. In other news, I climbed on top of Sandstone Arch and we also did a lot of downhill speed-walking.
     The last day Candace, Dad, and I went through the Fiery Furnace with Ranger Kate and a swarm of old people. That is the type of place I would want to get a permit for. There were so many rocks just asking to be climbed. Anyway, whilst in the Fiery Furnace Candace got stuck no less than three times and shushed by a grumpy old lady during a shrimp lecture. After the Furnace we did a few more hikes and headed home.
    Throughout the trip I read "The Fault in our Stars" every time we were in the car. This resulted in me crying in the backseat for the better part of the trip home. I just kept thinking to myself. If only they had the gospel. This undeniably proves that I am my mothers daughter. And, the older I get, the more I think that that is a blessing. She is amazing, there would be nothing better than to grow up and be just like her :)
  Sidenote: I learned stuff from my dad too. Like, it's okay to change your clothes anywhere in the
wilderness (including the parking lot).

I have fantastic parents :) (and a fantastic Candace).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Life is always Fehr for me. Or so I have been told.


    Life is not fair. It's best to learn that lesson fast because it isn't. Luckily for us, God is undeniably fair. It may not always seem that way because such awful things can and do happen, but everything will balance out eventually.
    When I was student teaching I was at a very difficult school. It was Title 1, it was in a low-income area, and the kids in my class had to deal with a lot of issues that I had never had to deal with as an adult. It was really quite a wake up call. Not everywhere, even in Utah, was as safe and clean as I had previously thought.
    I turned twenty two that year and had the pleasure of spending the whole year in one class. That was how the U did practicums. For the first half of the year I went to the class on Monday and Tuesday and observed until I felt comfortable teaching. Then I went to classes at the U the rest of the week. The second half of the year I was in the classroom full time. My cooperating teacher was great. In that sense I definitely had a one up on a lot of the other people in my cohort. She let me go at my own pace and was always ready to help when I needed her. My class, however, was difficult. They were a troubled bunch of kids, some more than others. There were many personality issues. There were kids who needed a lot of attention, there were kids who needed a lot of academic help, there were kids who couldn't stop talking, and then there was me. I didn't know how to handle any of them. Theory and practice are completely different and I only knew theory. As I began to take over I struggled a lot. There was one kid in my class who had so much pent up anger and disregard for authority that he made me cry weekly. (This was before I was super weepy.) He used to say and do things that I didn't know how to control and I definitely didn't understand. I think he spent most of the year in the office and I spent most of it pulling my hair out. I used to get home at night and wonder what on earth I had gotten myself into. I seriously thought about getting the teaching degree then going into a different field. As far as I could see, teaching was a nearly thankless task. But there were moments. Not all of my kids gave me nightmares and anxiety. Some of them were very sweet and very trusting. I loved to see understanding flash in eyes as I taught. I liked to see the happy faces who were eager to learn first thing in the morning. I liked to a long thought out lesson go over well (that does not always happen). There were moments.
     Throughout that year, I found myself lamenting the unfairness of my situation. Why was my class so hard? Why was I losing sleep? Why was I not getting paid for the sometimes daily hell I was going through? At times, it was hard to see the positive. I had a wonderful husband working his butt off to support me while I finished school. I had a great cooperating teacher who supported me consistently and taught me a lot more than I realized. I wasn't paying rent. And, I was learning so much. 
    When I finished my practicum at the end of March I applied for a substituting job in Granite School District. It was a way to earn money and scope at job opportunities ( I had resigned myself to fact that I needed to get a job and let Nick do school even if it was sometimes awful). Almost immediately after signing the papers I was called by a principal and asked to interview for a long term sub position in fifth grade. I accepted and got the job. I was warned that this particular fifth grade class was rough and that I would have to be tough. I figured that wasn't anything new.
    I remember going in to the school to plan lessons over Spring Break. The teacher hadn't left any plans and I was kind of lost. However, I found the stuff I needed and planned enough to get me through a week. I went in the next Monday ready to be a nazi and found that this "difficult" group of kids could not hold a candle to my own class. All of the unfairness and sleeplessness of the year had made me really tough. I had learned a lot of management skills even if they hadn't worked so well in my student teaching class. I was fine. 
    That difficult fifth grade class and my behavior management led to my current job. In fact, I have the same classroom that I long term subbed in. My first year of teaching was hard but it had more to do with learning to do everything than it did with the kids. As far as I was concerned, my class was angelic. They did what I asked, they liked each other, the tried, no one had a swearing fit in the back of the room, it was great. And, this year is even better.
     Looking back on that painful year of student teaching I am so grateful that I had the experience as well as the support that I did. Without it, I don't know that I would love my job as much as I do. Teaching is still hard and under-appreciated but I love it. So far, the pain and the pleasure has balanced out. It didn't all happen right away but the bad was worth the good.

    I think the same principle must apply to everything because, as I said earlier, God is fair even if life isn't. For some things, the recompense isn't going to come in this life. We may have to wait for the next. We need to remember that God is just, that he is fair, and that he loves us.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Proposal

      As a child and a teenager there were a lot of things that I thought I wouldn't do. I thought it was embarrassing to live at home after you graduated high school, I thought it was crazy to plan a wedding before a proposal, and I thought that people should get married quickly and have children right away. The older I got, and as I faced some of these choices, my preconceived notions ideas began to shift. I began to understand why one might ride the gravy train, or plan a wedding before a proposal, or not have kids right away.
Time with my family :)
   I did leave home, in a manner of speaking, when I graduated. I went all the way to the dorms downtown and I only came home three or four times a week. I was independent see, and I only needed to go home for food, laundry, comfort, boredom, and family. That was it, the rest I could handle on my own. My second year of college, I was offered a second dorm scholarship, I didn't even want it. I decided to trax down to the U every day because I enjoyed living with my family. I liked going home at
night to people I wanted to be around. The food was better, I had the chance to save money, and I knew that the time we had as whole family (with everyone still home) was quickly coming to an end. I was able to buy a car, I was able to make a lot of my own choices, and I was able to go to school. Living with my family did not turn out to be as embarrassing as my teenage brain had always thought it would be. And now, I look back on those last couple of years at home and am grateful that I had them. For currently, I am truly independent. I only go home two or three times a week for food, boredom and family. (I do my own laundry now.)
    Now, I remember watching people I know plan their whole weddings before a ring was given. I thought that was nuts. Was it really so difficult to get engaged before planning the big day? It turns out that yes, yes it can be. I'm sure I'm repeating some earlier post, but I decided to go to Thailand about 11 days before Nick got home from his mission. While he was gone, I had, like he told me to, dated other guys (some more seriously than others). I also had made a lot of male friends. I had been treated very differently by all of them. Amongst many of them, I was practically one of the guys. That is a position I never really minded but hardly the way a potential girlfriend wanted to be treated. By others, I was treaded carefully around. I got the feeling that they were not quite sure how to treat me. I wasn't a flirt, I never played dumb, and I wasn't particularly encouraging. By others I was just treated like a friend. That was the most comfortable position to be in because there were no unspoken expectations. There were a few, who genuinely liked me, that I might have been able to love  had I not still been wrapped around the finger of my absent missionary. Nick had always treated me like his princess and I couldn't find anyone while he was gone who came close to making me feel as important as he did. (Remember I am a red I need to feel important).
Sketchy "motel"
     Anyway, whew that was quite the tangent, the day Nick got home from his mission I had finally gotten into an air conditioned room at our sketchy "motel" on Kho Phi Phi (an island in the middle of
the Adamon Sea off the coast of central Thailand). I didn't hear anything from him right away and was slightly heartbroken, which I probably deserved, but that is another story (I later realized that I had a different e-mail address then when he left). I eventually heard from him and was able to actually talk to him for the first time in two years. I felt the same. I still loved him, even without seeing him I knew I still loved him. He felt the same. Between May and August of that summer we communicated via skype and facebook. We knew we were going to get married when I got home but I made him promise he would not propose over skype (not that he would have but I needed to make sure). He did inform me over skype that he had asked my parents if he could marry me so I really wasn't sure what his limits were. We planned almost our whole wedding on-line.
   I was one of those people I had always considered crazy. Wedding date was picked, wedding was planned, I was yet to be engaged. In fact I hadn't even seen him for 28 months. When I finally got home on August 17th, we were pretty ecstatic to see one another. I knew he was going to propose sometime soon because we had less than two months before the wedding. I suspected it would be on my birthday (Sept. 4) but he couldn't wait that long. He proposed on August 19th.
   
  He picked me up for our very suspicious date that evening and told me that we were going up the canyon for dinner. We both like fire cooked meals and fresh air and I was thinking that that would be a nice place to be proposed to. Unfortunately, it was the last weekend of summer vacation and everyone and their dog was having a fire cooked meal up the canyon that night. After driving up all three major canyons in the Salt Lake Valley without finding an empty table Nick gave up and decided we would go out to eat. Which was sad because he had planned such a romantic fire cooked Asian meal. We ended up getting take out Italian and eating on the lawn of a park in Draper. The park had a view of the whole valley and it was fun to be able to see it all while eating pasta and drinking guava juice from fancy glasses. We talked about our future watched the sunset and Nick looked into my eyes and said, "ready to go?"
     I was baffled. I was sure he was going to propose. I thought maybe I had gotten it wrong and he was being sneakier than usual. We cleaned up, got in the car, and started heading up the mountain rather than down. He drove me to the Draper temple, it clicked. We got out of the car, he took me to a secluded bench and told me how much he loved me. He held my hands and said, "Well, lets go."
     I couldn't figure out what he was doing. It did cross my mind that he wasn't even trying to make me think he was going to propose and that I was just paranoid. We got back to my house and I figured I had been mistaken. We walked to my back porch and there sitting on top of tub of cheesecake ice cream was a ring box. He picked it up kneeled down and proposed for real. I can't remember what he said because I was actually surprised and a little busy bawling my eyes out. I remember putting the ring on and pulling him to his feet. (A little background knowledge. My back porch was the place we had our first kiss. A rather unfortunate over-planned incident in which my sister saw more than she wanted too ha ha.) We went inside and told my parents and he called his parents and we lived happily every after, so far.
     As for kids, I quickly learned that everyone is on their own timetable for children. Some people want them and have to wait (for various reasons). Others have them before they mean too. Some plan them and have them. The Lord guides and directs individuals and we try to listen. We do want children more than anything but we don't think the time is here yet. So, unlike my teenage self, I no longer think there is a right way of doing many things. There is a right way for individuals however, if we are willing to turn to the Lord and find out what it is.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Best Two years

    Before Nick and I got married, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about both of us. I definitely thought we had a leg up on most couples because we had already known each other for 10 years. I still think our extensive friendship made the transition more natural but that didn't mean there wasn't stuff to learn.    
  Growing up in the Mormon bubble and the wayward world led to a lot of different and conflicting ideas about marriage. On the one hand, the world sells the idea that marriage is a relationship of convenience. It is meant to enrich ones life but can be ended or thrown away if it becomes difficult, or inconvenient to ones personal desires and goals. The church, on the other hand, teaches the opposite. Marriage is one of the primary reasons that we were sent to earth. Marriage to a worthy spouse is to be sought after, nurtured, and put at the top of one's priority list. On Monday I will have been married for two years. In those two years I have learned a lot about myself, about Nick, and about what marriage can be if we let it.
      One of the first things I learned during our first year was about me. I had never considered myself overly sensitive. I had always kind of been a say what you think and mean what you say type of person. But, the rules changed when I was with Nick. As much as I had always appreciated when people were blunt with me, and vis versa, I could not handle him being overly blunt with me. This served me right because I was suddenly married to someone who was as open and tactless as I was. I learned what kind of effect words can have on a person regardless of how they were meant. This taught me to be more careful and patient with others. And, to keep my mouth shut when my point is mute.
    On the other hand, the open bluntness we both jumped into marriage with, has saved us what I would guess could have been a lot of time and pain. If one of us has a problem with the other we have learned to discuss it quickly and tactfully. Nick knows that sometimes I just need to say something to feel better and I know that he is never trying to hurt my feelings.
    Another thing I have learned, has to do with running our marriage smoothly. Early on, I realized that the way in which I treated Nick often dictated the way he acted. If I was grumpy or corse with him he quickly became grumpy and corse. If I was to busy to give him attention he reciprocated. When I made him a priority and treated him like a hero, he acted like a hero and would put down his work long enough to spend time with me. I thought I had it down. I just had to treat him the way I wanted to be treated and everything would be fine. However, one day I realized that it wasn't all up to me like I had arrogantly supposed. I definitely had a huge impact on the mood of the marriage but he had the same influence over me that I had over him. I mimicked his actions and reciprocated his attitude as much as he lived up to my expectations. This has led to having our highs be very high and our lows be very low. If one of us came home grumpy the other quickly followed suite. If one of us was happy and full of gratitude the other usually started feeling the same. We have discussed this particular point several times and have learned to be positive as often as possible. We try to pull each other up instead of down and we work as hard as we can to put each other first always.
   This leads me to my third point. Marriage can't be selfish or it's miserable. When we first got married it was an interesting jump to worry about another person when before we had only had to worry about ourselves. How can I put both of us first? I used to wonder when I thought about our different jobs and schedules and needs. Then one day it hit me. I couldn't. I could only put one of us first and it had to be him. So, I really tried to do it. I thought about how I could meet his needs, and make his life better, and be what he needed me to be. I noticed two things. First, he became happier because all of his needs were being met. Second, I was fine too because he had been doing the same thing for me since day one. In essence, when we both put each other first, all of our needs are met and we grow closer together in love (gag).
      My next point, has everything to do with relying on the third party in our marriage. Everything goes better when we trust Heavenly Father to lead and guide us. In order to that we need to be ready to be led and guided. We try to go to the temple regularly, we read our scriptures together, we pray daily, and we go to church. Every time one or both of us falls out of one of these habits we can both feel it. We drift apart from each other and from God. This makes days harder, longer, less peaceful, less productive, and less healthy (emotionally and physically). The trick is to pinpoint the problem and rectify it as soon as possible.
    After two years, I am so grateful for Nick. People told me before we got married that the first year was the best. I thought that was a bit depressing because ideally people only have one first year of marriage. I thought that if the first was the best then what on earth could people look forward too for the rest of their lives? So far, I disagree with those skeptics. The second year was better. We learned a lot. We experienced the death of a loved one, we bought a house, we remodeled a house, we traded roles, and we got to know each other even better. I expect things will continue to improve and I look forward to our third year of marriage.
   
     

Sunday, September 29, 2013

House Shopping With Nick and Rory

Nick and I had a house goal almost as soon as we got married. We dreamed of getting a house right after marriage but reality slapped us hard when we realized we couldn't even afford an apartment. Apartments were expensive and truthfully I couldn't stomach the idea anyway. The privacy, and opportunity to truly be on our own was appealing. However, the monthly rent was not. I could not wrap my brain around the idea of dumping money into something every month with no return. I really wanted a house. Then, I figured that the money we put into it wouldn't be gone forever. When we moved in with Grandma we created an incredibly tight budget for ourselves in order to save money. I'm talking twenty dollars a week on groceries. The whole budget was fairly unrealistic but we were able to stick to it because we had so many relatives willing to feed us. Grandma took us out to eat fairly regularly in the early days, and my parents fed us several times a week. Before we knew it we had a couple thousand dollars saved.

Meanwhile, Nick was working at a bank. He was a loan officer and got fairly familiar with different types of loans, grants, and mortgages. He also really started to appreciate the importance of saving wisely for the things that he wanted. Not that he was ever out of control with spending but between the two of us, he started as the impulse buyer (we may have switched at some point).

Nick and I sat down and decided that we wanted to be able to pay down twenty percent of our future mortgage right off the bat. Our "plan" was to buy a house that cost exactly $100, 000 dollars, pay off $20,000 of it at closing (to avoid the insurance), and proceed to live happily ever after. We decided how long we would need to live with Grandma to accomplish that goal and had all of our timelines ready. We continued to save and scrimp and go to the park for our dates. Everything was going well until Grandma started to decline. During some of the scary times I thought to myself that an apartment would not be so bad.

Kitchen
Anyway, we got to the point with Grandma that we knew she would need to be moved out of her own house. This left us in an interesting situation. The house needed to be sold, her possessions needed to be sold, and we needed to be out. We made a deal with my dad and his siblings that we would clean out the house if we could live there long enough to find a place of our own. Nick was fairly prepared for this. He had done a lot of the tasks that needed to be done before home shopping. We were pre-approved for a mortgage loan and we had a realtor. We moved Grandma to a care center, proceeded to gut her house of 50 years worth of memories, and began looking for a place of our own. All during school. We were lucky that Nick didn't have a job at the time, because house shopping was a full time job. I went to look at different houses occasionally but for the most part it was Nick and Rory (our realtor) doing everything.
Bedroom Closet


Having not saved quite 20,000 dollars yet, we were even more determined to find a cheap home. Rory told us that $100,000 was bit unrealistic considering the fact that we wanted an actual house but we asked him to keep it as low as possible. We looked at a lot of houses in West Valley, specifically within a few minutes of the school I teach at. I really didn't want to live by my students and I really wanted to live a bit closer to my parents. Nick monitored the HUD home website very carefully because that is where we found the best deals.

Downstairs Room
One day, a little house popped up in Midvale. Rambler with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two car garage, and a yard. We were already living in Midvale so I knew I was comfortable with the area and the house had all the major qualities we were looking for. Nick and Rory went to see it and Nick immediately liked it. I went with them to see it later that week and felt the same. The house reminded me of my parents house. Which as many of you know, is older with a lot of interesting features. I walked through the dirty, abandoned, uncarpeted, smoke stained mess and thought to myself, I think I could live here.

When we got home we talked about it briefly before deciding to ask Rory to make an offer for $120,000. Rory thought that was a safe bet, but called us back a few minutes later to tell us that HUD had already accepted an offer. We were slightly heartbroken but decided that that must not be the house for us. I didn't know how I would know when we found our house. I just knew that that house seemed okay. We continued to search for the next week and a half when we got a call from Rory.
Sketchy Stairs
Less Sketchy Stairs
The original offer on the little house we loved fell through and they were opening up the bidding for one more night. We told him to go ahead and bid for us but to only bid $115,000. We were a little bit wary and didn't want to lose the house twice on a higher bid. He called us soon after to tell as that if we wanted it it was ours.

We got the house inspected and learned that we couldn't test the plumbing. This meant that there were probably issues. It was winter, which meant that we couldn't see the yard. Most of the house was in need of intense repair and cleaning. We decided after fasting and praying to buy it anyway.

Bedroom Closet
Near the beginning of March we signed all of our paper work and put down 5% instead of the original 20% we planned. But the house was ours and we got it at a really low interest rate.

We changed the locks and made a list of the many, many things we needed to fix. We prioritized, we budgeted, we bought supplies, and we recruited a lot of help. We had many family members and friends who helped on multiple occasions and who did less than pretty jobs. We managed to clean and paint almost our entire top floor in one weekend thanks to all the wonderful people in our lives.

Downstairs Room
Nick spent countless hours at the house while I was teaching and we devoted every weekend from March to the end of May getting the house fixed up. I learned a lot about Nick in those months. He was good under pressure, he was very resourceful, and he knew a lot more about houses and yards than I did. He redid our hard wood floor, fixed the plumbing, rewired a lot of the lights, changed out all kinds of fixtures, put in a new ceiling and wall, communicated with a lot of different professionals to get things figured out and set up, and supervised the changing of our house. Then Grandma's house sold and we were able to move in. Prices on houses all over the valley shot up the next month, other houses on our street were sold for nearly $50,000 more than we paid for ours in the next couple of weeks. The timing of everything worked out perfectly and I can only think that everyone involved was blessed because of how smoothly everything went. For one reason or another I know without a doubt this is where we are supposed to live for right now.
Kitchen

We moved in on a late rainy night with the help of my family. I took one day off of work and got the majority of our stuff unpacked. We continued to work for the rest of the semester making most of our house livable. Then summer came and we did almost nothing. That baffles me. I don't know if we were both exhausted and overworked or what but we made very little progress that summer. Now we are close. We still have projects (I suspect we will always have projects), but looking at the original list of goals we made, we are almost there.

I am so grateful for my house, my wonderful husband, my great family, all of my awesome friends, and for a Heavenly Father who helped us along every step of the way.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This Is Not The End

I was sitting in class in ninth grade one morning when it was announced that one of the school's students had died over the weekend in a tragic car accident. I knew her. She was my partner in Spanish class and a casual friend. Throughout the day, grief counseling was offered for those who needed to express themselves. I didn't go. I just went through the motions for the remainder of the week. I think, in retrospect, that I might have been in shock. It was hard to swallow the fact that someone so young, who had been alive and well the previous week, was gone. Eventually, the reality of the situation hit me and I remember crying over losing her, death in general, and what I thought was a completely unfair end to a young life.
    I attended her funeral later that week with several friends. Her family was not LDS and so her funeral was held in a funeral home rather than a chapel. It was the first, of the very few funerals I had been too, that was held outside of the church. It was depressing.
    The speakers talked about the unfairness of her short life, about the things she would never get to do,  and about how sad it was that they would never again see her. I felt myself shrinking as I heard my own previous grief stricken thoughts mirrored back at me. I knew better.

    Two weeks ago exactly, I got a call from my mother, before I was even awake, telling me that my Grandma was found on the floor at the care center where she lived. They were taking her to the hospital and would update us shortly. I went to church at 9:00 and awaited an update text whilst I relived my memories of having found my Grandma on the floor, and the many changes that followed that discovery. We made it until sacrament meeting (third hour) before we were told that she would be okay and just needed rest and antibiotics. They were, however, going to keep her at the hospital under observation. Nick and I left sacrament early so that Nick could assist my dad in giving Grandma a blessing. When we got there she didn't look very good but we left with the assurance that she would be released the next day.
    On Monday, I went back to teaching and assumed that I would be updated as needed. Wednesday afternoon I was preparing to leave school and go home for the birthday date that Nick had planned. On the way out the door, Nick called me and told me that Grandma had a dead leg (because of the position she had been in on the ground when they found her), the doctors said she would either need to lose the leg and live for a few months on weekly dialysis or, we would need to let her go. Her kids decided it would be best to let her go rather than prolong her suffering. With this knowledge, we spent Wednesday night at the hospital with my family and a semi-incoherent Grandma. It was hard to watch her be so confused about her situation. She didn't know where she was, she didn't know who all the people (doctors and nurses) were, she couldn't remember falling or having undergone surgery. We just took turns standing by her, holding her hand, letting her know she was loved and not alone.
    She stayed at the hospital on heavy morphine for a few more days, then they moved her back to her care center to finish up her journey. She had visitors almost constantly. Her children surrounded her continuously; holding her hands, singing to her, and putting her affairs in order. Her grandchildren and in-laws were around fairly regularly as well. Nick and I went almost everyday, spending our evenings by her bedside. It was difficult. It was hard to say goodbye to her every night not knowing if she would be there when I went back the next day. It was difficult to watch her breathe raspy inconsistent breaths, it was painful to wonder if she was in pain, it was sad to watch a woman once so full of life wither away before my eyes. Yet, it was ten times harder to be somewhere else. All I wanted to do was be by her and make sure that I made the most of the time I had left with her. I was restless unless I was in her vicinity. She must have been surrounded by people from both sides of the veil who loved her because there was more peace in her dark room than I could find anywhere else during her final week.
Taken in the last 6 months.
     On Sunday night, we went to the care center. And, for the first time we were left alone with her. I was able to hold her hand and tell her what a wonderful Grandmother she was. I told her how much I appreciated her. I thanked her for our house and explained that she was the reason we had one. I thanked her for taking such good care of Nick and I when we first got married. I told her that every room in our house reminded me of her because we inherited so many of her earthly belongings. I told her what an honor it was to have been able to take care of her for a while. I thanked her for being a viable presence in my life and supporting me in everything I did. I thanked her for birthday dates and Christmas presents. For taking us to plays and buying us ice cream. I thanked her for coming to my band concerts and choir performances. I thanked her for supporting me in school fundraisers, my trip to Thailand, my graduation, and my marriage. I told her that I was grateful that we had the opportunity to spend so much time with her in the last couple of years. I reminisced about our many times together and told her that I loved her over and over again. I cried and cried and held her hand. I know she could hear me and that she knows I meant it. At one point I looked at her and said, I love you so much. She started blinking at me. I told her that I knew she loved me too and she nodded.
    After I had said everything that I needed to say, Steven came back in the room and we sang her several songs. Including "God be with You Till We Meet Again". I mostly listened to that one, since I was incapacitated by tears at the time. When we left, I grabbed her hand one last time and told her goodbye. That was the last time I saw her alive.
    She passed away Tuesday afternoon while I was at school. She was surrounded by her family and went quite peacefully. Friday night we had a viewing and yesterday we had the funeral.

 Now, I started with the story of my friends funeral because, as far as I can remember, that was the last funeral I had been too up until yesterday. The feelings that permeated the funerals were completely different. My Grandmother's funeral was almost happy. It felt far more like a tribute to her life and the celebration of a job well done than did my friend's. At my Grandma's, there was talk of eternity, and freedom from pain and disease. There was talk about being with loved ones again. It was nice to be able to think of my Grandma and Grandpa being together again after 21 years. My aunts and uncle reminisced about the good times my Grandmother had had, the people she blessed and influenced, and the righteous life she lived.
Taken over 21 years ago.
    When we got to the cemetery I looked around at one point, only to see that every single one of her children was smiling and/or laughing. I marveled at how blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father that has enabled us to be with our loved ones again for eternity. It may be hard to be without them for our brief mortal experience but to have the knowledge that this is not the end embedded in our hearts was an amazing comfort. We were all so happy for Grandma. She had made it. She may have lived a longer life than my friend did, but they had that in common. They both made it home. They are in a much better place than here. My friend may have missed out on a lot of earthly experiences due to her shortened life, but I'm sure they were replaced with much more meaningful experiences in heaven.
 
   I didn't speak at my Grandma's funeral because I was to scared that I wouldn't have been able to actually speak. If I had spoken, I would have talked about what a wonderful example she was to me of service, love, and charity. I would have shared stories that illustrated what a tough, capable woman she was. And, I would have talked about her love for the gospel and her family. As it was, all of that was covered and more. I just got to sit back and appreciate the fact that I was blessed enough to be one of her descendants, and that she was strong enough to have joined the church on her own, and that she loved me. I'm grateful that she was in my life. I'm grateful that I will see her again whole and mended. For now, I can't think of a better guardian angel to have on my side.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tales of an Art Major

Senior Art Project (Change A Classic)

    I grew up on art. Both of my parents are artistic in different ways and I grew up doing projects. I was encouraged to create and had plenty of opportunities to try different medias. This led to me circling the art credit in just about every schedule I ever had to fill out. Seventh and tenth grade art were not helpful or impressive but I enjoyed them and got some perspective. Eleventh and twelfth grade art taught me a lot and gave me the chance to see what kinds of talents I might have. I don't know at what point I decided to try to make a career out of it because I certainly wasn't anywhere near the top of my art classes. 
Double Ben
Acrylic

Alisha and I
Watercolor

 I think it was partially a spur of the moment decision when at my freshman orientation we spilt into different colleges. I was with Franklynn and before I knew it we were both in the art/architecture building (ironically the ugliest, most depressing building on campus) getting the low down on our artistic futures and the freshman expectations. Two full semesters of 3D art, 2D art, and a whole lot of art theory.
Wood Project
   Now I run the risk of offending people, but from my experience the majority of people majoring in art at the U are a bit...out there. Having grown up in Sandy Utah I just wasn't prepared for the variety of people I was suddenly with constantly. I also wasn't prepared for the many MANY things that apparently passed for art. I learned/saw things in my modern art class that I thought were well out of the bounds of art and decency. I  learned more about the Kama Sutra then I ever cared to know in my Far Eastern art class. And, I nearly chopped my finger off with the table saw in my 8:00 am 3D art class. I made art with garbage, I burned my fingers with hot glue and plaster, I watched Franklynn make a project so big that it took both of us to move it, I learned how to cut and shape sheet metal, I made a paper mache tombstone, I made videos, I used photoshop, and I watched one of my teachers dance with a tree.

Trash Project (Can you spot the razor blade?)
Trash
  For the most part my art education was very informative but rather useless. Mainly based on the fact that I was planning on going into graphic design. NOT metal work, wood work, garbage work, filmmaking, or plaster.
Me (Chuck Close Style)
Acrylic
   
   Luckily, I loved my 2D class. I wasn't particularly good, especially compared to my eccentric classmates who lived and breathed creativity (possibly on another planet). But, I got better as the year progressed. It was nice to be learning how to do something better. To feel like I was moving forward. That class was, hands down, the highlight of my "studies". There was nothing like getting lost in a drawing and a book on CD. I could draw and listen for hours.
Still Life # six trillion w creepy mask
Charcoal
Nick early attempt
Pencil and Charcoal
   Near the end of the year, I finally realized that I wasn't going to make a career out of art nor did I want to. I had one other required freshman class. It was called LEAP and it was fine arts focused but meant to help the newbies get to know a group of people. I hated the class but we had the opportunity to work with a group of kids to create a play. I was in charge of the set and had the chance to help those kids design props. I realized then, that the only thing I liked more than the art itself was showing someone else how to do it. So, I changed my major to teaching. At the time I held the firm belief that even if I couldn't teach art I would at least have some variety in my future academic endeavors and job. I was right.
Still life homework
Pencils
Trees on Campus
Sharpie
   I have plenty of variety, I feel like I am making a difference, I still get to draw and listen to books on CD. I am also happy to report that I love my job even though it sometimes seems impossible.




The Temple (My favorite)
White Pencil



And now, in my second year of teaching, I get to teach the after school art program. :)

And yeah, the art is all over my walls in glorious chaos.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bus Ride

     All through high school I worked very hard to get a scholarship. My patriarchal blessing promised that if I was diligent and did everything that I could, that I would be able to get one. I really wanted to graduate college, so I tried everything. I kept my grades up, I applied for hundreds of scholarships, I wrote essays, I got recommendation letters, I joined clubs, I participated in service projects, and I did a lot of volunteer work. When I graduated college I had one scholarship offer. It was $1000 dollars for the University of Utah. That was not what I was expecting.
     However, I decided that if that was where my scholarship was at, then that was where I would go. I applied, got in quickly, and went to the summer orientation. It was there that I realized that $1000 dollars might possibly cover my books for the year. I was going to need a lot more money.
    I then got a second job at the University of Utah bookstore. This would enable me to pay at least half of my tuition and get free books. I was financially terrified but felt that I had done everything that I could to get ready to face and pay for college. Later, I think it was the same week that I got my job, I got a letter from Ronald McDonald House Charities. RMHC was one of the many organizations that I had applied for a scholarship from. Ready for yet another rejection, I opened it up and found out that they wanted to pay my tuition in full, set me up with a dorm, and pay for a years worth of food. I was floored. Having accepted that my $1000 dollars was the fulfillment of the promise from my blessing I had given up hoping for more financial support outside of myself.
   I called RMHC and accepted the scholarship and found out that they had a dorm room up at the U reserved for the winner. Very quickly, I had to change my college plans. I kept my bookstore job (since I would be living up there anyway), I quit my other job, and I prepared to move to Salt Lake.
   The day I actually moved up to the U was very exciting. I met my room mate, got a tour, etc. After school started, I realized that I lived in the "party dorm". No one ever slept, half the people there were drunk, it was always loud, and the porch right outside my window seemed to be the place to smoke hookah (preferably at four in A. M.). My room mate was great and I really liked one of the other girls we shared the bathroom with but the other girl was so foreign to me that I did not know how to react to her. She was frequently intoxicated (I knew by what I found in the bathroom every morning), she brought boys into her room and into the bathroom (again, bathroom evidence), she didn't care about school, and she had no respect for any of the rest of us.
   Now, I want to interject here and say that I was very sheltered and naive when I was 18. Just because her beliefs and standards were not mine did not make her a bad person. What I never could get over was how she treated the rest of us. She kept us up all the time, she let her friends into our room, stuff was stolen, I cleaned her puke off the bathroom floor more than once (and that was not even the worst thing I cleaned up), and more than one of us walked in on her with her boyfriends. No matter what you believe, that kind of behavior isn't okay.
   Anyway, my college life quickly became mostly unbearable. I missed Nick, I sort of hated my major, and I never got to leave the U (school, work, eat, sleep, all there). I kept trying to come up with a plan that would allow me to keep my scholarship but change my living arrangements. I could not think of anything, I felt trapped. So I prayed. I begged my Heavenly Father to help me find some sort of outlet.I didn't care what it was I just needed something in my life to change.
Picture of me that I drew that year.

    The next day, I got off work a little bit later than usual causing me to just miss the shuttle back to the dorms. I was tired and frustrated and generally in a bad mood. I waited sullenly for 15 minutes until the next bus got there. When I got on, I saw a girl who was in one of my classes with an empty chair next to her. She recognized me and waved me over. We got to talking and realized that we both lived in the dorms. I told her which dorm I lived in expecting some pity but to my surprise she was jealous. She wanted to live in the party dorm and was mad that she was stuck in the dorm that wasn't coed. I quickly realized that she lived right next door to the only female friend I had made at Institute. She told me that she had been looking for someone to trade dorms with for a while and asked if I would be willing to switch her. I had not even know that was an option and was more than happy to oblige. The final day to trade was the next week and we were able to make arrangements and meet the deadline.
   My new dorm was much better. Not ideal, but it was exactly the outlet that I needed to get me through the year. The next year, RMHC renewed my scholarship without the dorm and food offer. I lived at home and commuted to school for the remainder of my degree (I changed majors after year 1).
    As for my patriarchal scholarship promise, it went much further than I ever expected. Every single year, in one way or another, I was given enough scholarship money to pay for my books, my tuition, and summer semester. I worked hard to get the scholarships but there is no way that the various sources and almost exact amounts I needed (within dollars) were random. My Heavenly Father took care of me and went above and beyond his promises.
   I sometimes think that I learned more in that year of college than I did in any of the other years. Not academically of course but spiritually, socially, and emotionally. I learned a lot about myself and about how I reacted and what my limits were. I learned about other people and cultures. And I learned to trust my Savior. His love and concern for me were manifested over and over throughout that year. The bus trade was just one of millions of prayers answered.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Candy!

So yesterday, I found myself walking down a touristy beach street in Oregon for the second time this week. I already had my souvenir as did Nick and Candace. We were basically window shopping with the intent to buy nothing while we waited for Ben to find whatever it was that he was looking for. That being said touristy beaches have all kinds of treat places. These Oregon beaches seem to specialize in salt water taffy and Tillamook ice cream. My intent to buy nothing turned into an intent to buy something delicious. I spotted a little treat shop that I wanted to peruse and began to approach when from behind me Candace said in a too loud, high pitched, voice "Candy!"
   Inside the candy shop the bored looking clerk bounced out of his chair and stared intently at us through the door. It was kind of a scary stare haloed by his blond fro. At that point, we all decided that we no longer wanted to go in. We casually stepped into the next store where Candace informed us that she did not even mean to say "candy" out loud. Lesson learned.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You Can Choose


    I would be willing to bet that I am not the only LDS female who has ever wondered whether or not she should go on a mission. It is a difficult spot to be in, maybe less so now that the mission age has been changed, but when I was turning 21 it was a hard choice. On the one hand, I was halfway through my bachelors degree, I had several jobs, and Nick was less than a year away from coming home (not that I was waiting ahem...). On the other hand, I wanted to serve, I wanted the opportunity to travel, and I had always kind of thought I would go on a mission. If I could have gone when Nick left I would have, but as it was, I had a choice to make.
     I prayed a lot and I started listening for guidance in talks and meetings. I applied the question of whether to go or not to almost everything I did. And the answer I kept getting was: whatever you want to do is fine. 
    That was hard for me. I fear making bad choices and to know the choice was mine was frightening. I weighed my options, I made pros and cons lists, and I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to serve but that I would rather not go on mission (for various reasons). In my prayers, I discussed this decision with my Father and asked him if it was an acceptable choice. In the two weeks following, quite a few things happened. In one of my college classes, I was assigned the task of three hours of service a week. In my singles ward, I was called to the Relief Society Presidency. And, I was given three extra people to visit teach.
   Very quickly, I went from having a lot of free time to having a lot of my time filled with serving opportunities. As I continued to pray about my decision I had a very strong impression that all of the opportunities I had been given were my answer. I really felt that if I wanted to go on a mission that that would be fine but that I didn't NEED to go on a mission to be able to serve. With that reassurance under my belt I was able to serve in my ward and the schools nearby happily. I was also able and brave enough to find other serving opportunities in my community and elsewhere. I was able to go to Thailand, finish college, and marry Nick all of which came with very different but VALID opportunities to serve.

    I sometimes wonder how my life would be different if I had gone on a mission instead (since I always felt like that was an acceptable choice). My guess is that I would have a different set of equally amazing memories. I still want to serve a mission someday, but for right now I am right where I should be.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

π

     My junior year, in early April, I got the kissing disease, mononucleosis, without having kissed anyone. Rip off right? It took quite a while for the various doctors to pin point what I had because a lot of the symptoms seemed like the flu. One day, however, after a dizzying episode in church someone wised up and did a blood test. It was nice to know that I wasn't imagining being being sick but I started to panic when the Doctor told me the remedy was sleep. I didn't have time for sleep. I was in the middle of several college courses, and precalculus. I had lots of homework and finals were fast approaching.
     I was scared to death to stop and sleep in the middle of all of this. I was determined to get some kind of scholarship and I feared that my grades would slip if I stopped to rest. But I NEEDED the rest. I remember that my mom had to go talk to a lot of my teachers and explain the situation because I was so out of it. I woke up some time after she had been to the school and my mom explained that all of my teachers were willing to work with me to accomplish the grades that I wanted. Their cooperation ranged from less work, to extended deadlines, to alternate assignments. This was all great but I was scared to death of math. Now, I have always been fairly good at school, however, math is not necessarily my strong suite. I was worried that even with extended deadlines I would fail because math was not a subject that I could teach myself. Enter Franklynn.
    I met Franklynn in seventh grade when he said some less than nice things to me. I suppose I wasn't nice to him either but I guess we were/are over that. Academically we had always been similar and so had always been in a lot of the same classes; it wasn't any different that year. I think he was in all of the classes I had that merited worry. I also think that he was the answer to my prayers.
   Before I finish the Franklynn part, I want to explain how my days went. When I woke up in the morning I would decide how I felt. If I wasn't feeling okay I just went back to sleep. If I was, I went to school, stayed until I got tired and/or dizzy, then took my magic hall pass down to the office and checked myself out. Either way, a large majority of each day consisted of sleeping.
   Luckily for me, Franklynn showed up at my house after school every day like clockwork. He brought me everything that I missed in my important classes, then he taught me precalculus.

  -Side note: Franklynn is rather brilliant when it comes to math. I had almost every math class with him between seventh grade and graduation. It seems to me, that he slept through every lecture only to wake up when it was over and finish his math homework before the bell rang.-
   
  Anyway, while I had mono, my mattress was downstairs. This made it so that when Franklynn came over after school he could pull out the giant whiteboard in my basement and try to teach me how to do precalc. Sometimes he would write on the board and I would take notes like normal class. Sometimes he would walk me through my homework. Sometimes he would wring his hands in exasperation when I didn't get what he was talking about. And sometimes, he would bring his play station over and play with my brothers until I woke up. He was really quite resourceful considering what a comatose student I was. Once, I woke up and he was talking to Candace, my eight year old sister. (She often brought a small chalk board down when Franklynn was teaching me math.) Franklynn had drawn the pi symbol on the board and was explaining to Candace that it meant 3.14. Candace was nodding at him with a thoughtful look on her face.

   This continued for almost two months while I recovered. At the end of the year, I passed all of my finals and managed to get straight A's in my difficult classes. I take very little credit for this. If it hadn't been for Franklynn's willingness to help me get through math, my teachers willingness to give me the benefit of the doubt, and my mothers willingness to make sure that I got better and had the things that I needed, I don't think the year would have ended so well.
   I don't know that Franklynn would appreciate knowing that he was an answer to my prayers but he was. Not only did he save my butt in math, which ultimately helped me get scholarships, but, he was a great source of comfort and friendship. A lot of people were a little scared of me while I was sick. It was so reassuring as a teenager to have someone I wasn't related to, care about me enough to be there regardless of what was wrong with me. 
    I have been thinking about that experience lately and have decided that I want to learn to be that source of comfort to those around me. I don't know how to do it yet, but, I think it is a worthy goal.