August 18, 2014

happy, happy monday


I think I'm cursed every Monday morning. Waking up = death. When I finally get into work there are already a million emails/hearings/trials/subpoenas/meetings/phone calls needed to be made,  even though I was all caught up last Friday afternoon? And that just takes us to 10 AM.

So today was chaos. 
But then I ran across this:

"Promise yourself 

To be so strong that nothing 
can disturb your peace of mind. 
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity 
to every person you meet. 

To make all your friends feel 
that there is something in them. 
To look at the sunny side of everything 
and make your optimism come true. 

To think only of the best, to work only for the best, 
and to expect only the best. 
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others 
as you are about your own. 

To forget the mistakes of the past 
and press on to the greater achievements of the future. 
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times 
and give every living creature you meet a smile. 

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others. 
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear 
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.

To live in faith that the whole world is on your side,
so long that you are true to the best that is in you."
-Christian D. Larson

I love it.
I love it so, so much. 
I love people who are like this (I luckily know a whole bunch of them)
And I'd like to always be like this too.

Happy, Happy Monday!

(and thanks to Amanda for sharing it with me!)

PS. I can't love Taylor Swift (or her new song) any more than I do now.

August 7, 2014

a 20 year tradition

I finally got around to uploading a few of our pictures from Wallowa Lake this year...







I've said it time and time again: this place is my home away from home and hands down one of the best parts of our summer. Even without the dole whips (a true tragedy) we all agreed that this was the best year yet - which is saying something when you've been visiting the lake your entire life.

If you're ever in eastern Oregon, make a stop. It's a little piece of heaven on earth.

August 5, 2014

a few more book recommendations

Last I checked, I'm about 23 books behind schedule of reading 100 books this year. 23! We tried making Wednesday nights our Barnes & Noble night, but because of some exciting job opportunities this summer, I've been a little bit slammed and haven't found as much time to catch up on reading... So for now, I'm shooting for 75 (fingers crossed :)

Below are a few of the books I've read over the last little while that I've loved/liked/meh/etc:

Where'd You Go Bernadette - Oh my gosh, I loved this book. I loved, absolutely loved Bernadette! She's one of my newest favorite fictional characters. The author, Maria Semple, is hilarious - so funny that I looked her up online and found out she has written for shows like Arrested Development and Ellen DeGeneres. Read it!

Killing Kennedy - I had heard so much about the Killing Lincoln, Killing Jesus, and Killing Kennedy books written by Bill O'Reilly that I couldn't ignore it anymore, so I picked up Killing Kennedy first and thought it was fantastic. It's not necessarily any new or "breaking news" information but it was riveting to say the least. Has anyone watched some (or all) of The Sixties documentary on CNN? What a fascinating time and turning point in history.

I Am Malala - One word: Wow. What a story. I thought about it for weeks after I finished; it's hard to imagine living in a world where women's education/and Christianity are not allowed - and that fighting for those rights means risking your life. What an inspirational young woman, it's hard to believe she is barely 17.

FanGirl - Okay, so I admittedly skipped over most of the actual fanfiction part of the story - even though the 12 year old Kelsie could sadly relate to all of it in a way. Mostly though, I enjoyed the love story between Cath and Levi, and the complicated but unconditional loving relationships between Cath and her family. It felt real and heart-warming and was just a feel-good book.

Eleanor & Park - Considering how much I enjoyed FanGirl and Rainbow Rowell's writing, I was disappointed with this one.  Not my favorite.

Ghost Soldiers - I picked this book up in particular after Goodreads had "recommended" it once I finished reading Unbroken (have you seen the new trailer??), so I think I may have set my expectations a little high. Regardless, it is still an incredible story of those who survived the Bataan Death March, and it truly opens your eyes to some of the horrors of war. I finished it within just a few days.

The Things They Carried - Whatever you do, read. this. book. I've never read anything about the Vietnam War because everything surrounding the Holocaust and WWII has grabbed my attention first, but this is easily one of the best books I have ever read. Absolutely incredible.

(and if you need any recommendations on MCAT prep books, you can always ask Max ;)

July 31, 2014

babies

Lately Max and I have loved -- or should I say lllllooooovvvveeeedddd playing with the babies all of our family and friends have been bringing around lately. It is such an amazing thing to witness those same family members and friends, some we've known since we were little, turn into such wonderful mothers and fathers of their own little children. Honestly, there's nothing quite like it.


(Mandie and Amber with Eleanor and Cooper)









(Ryan, Alissa, & little Norah // baby Reese)

Even though I know I took it for granted when I was younger, I am incredibly grateful for good parents and for loving families and little children and all the other wonderful, wonderful things that make life so beautiful. I can't imagine a life without having families being at the center of it. I just can't.

(And congratulations especially to two of my best friends, Alissa - on the arrival of her gorgeous new baby girl!!! And Kylie, who has a little one on the way too!! They are both going to be the most amazing mothers.)



And PS. I had to include the video above of little Asher (danny and amanda have the cutest kids on earth!) Seriously, how cute is he? (and how cute is max going to be when he's a dad too? ;)

July 28, 2014

frankly my dear...




Okay, this video makes me miss my Media & Advertising classes at BYU. So genius.

July 4, 2014

let freedom ring

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite days of the year - it's the quintessential summer holiday + we get to light off fireworks. Most especially though, I love the Fourth because of what we're reminded of - some of the amazing history that comes with this country we live in.


I was lucky enough to attend the Freedom Festival Gala several nights ago with my dad, which honored some incredible individuals who understand the price of freedom far more than I ever may be able to. It was inspiring and humbling to say the least, to meet those who have sacrificed greatly for the rights of freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to worship, and freedom to choose everything else we so easily take for granted.

I readily admit I love the BBQ's, re-runs of The Sandlot and Ray Charles' rendition of "America the Beautiful" (seriously there is no better version out there) - but most of all I love this country. Although it's kind of a joke to those who know me, growing up I kept a picture of George Bush on my dashboard in my first car, and gave a speech about "my love for my country" during the Miss Junior Miss Pageant when I was sixteen (which, by the way, was a disaster) - and who knows why, but I was born with this patriotic/political bone in my body that just won't go away ;)

So Happy Fourth of July everyone!!
Hope your holiday weekend is fantastic.

June 23, 2014

two years + a video

I am happy to report that this has definitely been (so far at least) one of the best summers yet - passing up 2010 and 2012 if that's possible. The only downside is that I keep dreaming of what life would be like in warmer weather year round. Would I get sick of it? Never. Would I miss a white Christmas? Probably not. California always sounds like a good idea to me.

Mostly, though, I wanted to get online to share some thoughts regarding two years of marriage and our two year anniversary this past weekend, but have unsuccessfully sat for the last twenty minutes typing, deleting and then re-typing what I was hoping I could put into words. But I can't. There are too many things I want to say and too many things I want to describe. So I'll just say this:

A few weeks ago we left town for the weekend and sat at dinner in a little table tucked into the corner of an "Irish pub." People were talking and singing loudly and our waitress kept forgetting our order, but I had that brief moment where your brain takes a picture as you hold hands across the table and think: I am lucky in every way.

Now, these moments don't come every day of course, sometimes I feel like our lives mirror chickens with their heads cut off -- but I was gratefully reminded that day, that moment particularly, of how lucky I am to have Max. Sometimes I think about that night over two years ago before we were ever married, as I cried overwhelmed with the future and Max (as per usual) reassured me with his hands on my shoulders: "I will help you, and you will help me, and we will love each other." I guess in a nutshell that's what these two years have been: everything from our first apartment, paying the bills and working hard to create our future; or even the simple things like watching re-runs of the Twilight Zone in bed at night, and waking up next to each other every morning (which is way more glamorous in the movies than it has ever been in real life) - all of it. I will help you, and you will help me, and we will love each other. Max is the best decision I've made and the best companion I could've picked for the small adventure of a life together. I am lucky in every way.

 

And yes, I finally threw together random clips from random videos I've taken over the last two years... This has been on my to-do list for quite some time now, and I finally got around to it last night (ha!) Voila. Two years in two minutes. I sure do love that Max of mine.

June 15, 2014

let it go

Max and I are still teaching Sunbeams (the three and four year olds) in our ward. Some people imagine that this calling might make you go a little crazy after 18 months, but we're still going strong ;) Actually in all honesty, we absolutely LOVE it. The kids are the cutest and really, when you teach lessons like "I am grateful for fish" how can you not love what you do?

Anyway, when we get to class and have our own opening exercises we've noticed that the opening songs over the last few months have rotated mainly between Jingle Bells and Let it Go (I don't know one four year old not obsessed with the movie Frozen) So I thought I'd share a video of our little Alice passionately singing this solo:

video

CUTEST EVER. Alice also can't really pronounce words with the letter "R" which is why we may/may not have her recite every Sunday: "I really love my perfect purple wonderful family." Is this mean? Because it makes our day. Every time.

April 25, 2014

documentary club

Last week, during our "annual springtime picnic" (which, unfortunately, went undocumented for the first time in history because sometimes you get to the age where you just don't care enough to take pictures of your picnic!) we somehow started talking about documentaries we've seen, and let's be honest, how some of those are actually the most interesting shows to watch on Netflix. At least I think so. I have a hard time really getting into television series, and most movies on there (besides Titanic, of course) I never want to watch anyway.

My best friend Sara, who graduated from BYU with a media arts degree (and just got accepted into Northwestern's documentary grad program!! So, so excited for her!) is the queen of knowledge when it comes to these kinds of things. So by the end of the night we decided on starting a documentary club where we get together once a month + in sweats + and watch/discuss whatever documentary we've chosen, Sara leading the way. For anyone who has Netflix and an open night, I just want to recommend the following:

Queen of Versailles
This film won't change your life, but it's definitely an entertaining two hours worth your time. It's about the Siegel family with millions and even billions of dollars, in the midst of building the largest home in America (90,000 sq. feet! that is literally over 100 times bigger than where I live!) ... and then the stock market crash of 2007 hits. The entire time all you keep thinking about is how unsatisfying all of that "stuff" is, or would be, I guess. Money does not buy happiness, but good relationships with family and friends do. I really, really liked it, and found the wife, as extravagant as she was, to be really likeable and endearing.

Ken Burns: The War
I hadn't heard of him before, but apparently Ken Burns is an amazing world-renowned filmmaker, and this 8 hour documentary is absolutely incredible. It took me a few weeks to get through, but Max, whose never been into this kind of stuff, watched all of it with me. If anything about WWII is fascinating to you, I'm sure you would love this. There is so much I learned, and some of the footage is simply unreal. I heard his other documentaries are just as good too!

Blackfish
You may have heard of Blackfish before, or maybe at least of the famous performing "killer whale" Tilikum at SeaWorld. Truthfully, I've never given much though to "animal rights" or activists until I saw this movie. It's really sad and at times even disturbing, but it is so well done with an argument so compelling you want to do something about it by the time you finish it.

Mitt
Surprise, surprise. If you're not a Republican/conservative, you will probably only watch this and be grateful he never won, and maybe (maybe) at least walk away thinking that their family values and relationships are worth mirroring in your own home. If you are a Republican or a conservative, you will be genuinely depressed about the 2012 election all over again and secretly hope your sister marries one of his sons. And maybe hope that you can be as classy as Ann Romney one day too. I feel like this documentary shows a really honest and real side to politics, and yes, of course I'd recommend it.

That's it. My coworker tells me that anyone who signs up for Netflix should automatically be required to buy a gym pass too :) (she has a point)

Have a great weekend!

April 20, 2014

Because of Him



Oh how sweet the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives.

I'll never forget sitting in a small hospital room with an entire family of brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and spouses and children, all gathered together around my Grandpa whose time left on this Earth was not long. We knew it would probably be the last time we would be able to say goodbye, the last time he would be here with us, the last time we would be together as a family with Grandpa in the room. I remember the sadness I felt, of course, you could see and feel the sadness of everyone in that room. It was the first time in my life someone who I knew and loved so much would pass away. But I also remember the feeling that this would not be the end. This would not be it. I just knew it, just like I knew anything else. I felt it. We would, each one of us in that tiny hospital room, be together as a family again one day with my Grandpa there too.

Today, I still know that there is life after death. There is life after mistakes that take us down a path we don't want to go. There is life after heartbreak. There is still life when you feel that all is lost. Because of our Savior, nothing is no longer impossible, nothing ever will really be "the end." There is always hope. We all have a Savior, the Savior of the world, who is never going to give up. Not on you, on your neighbor, on your best friend or on me.

How grateful am I again this Easter that He paid a price none of us could pay, and how grateful I am for the joy this sentence gives: I know that my Redeemer lives.

April 18, 2014

random thoughts on a friday morning

99% of the pictures of Max on my phone are of him a. sleeping or b. waking up. If I send you a snapchat, it is most likely one or the other.

I don't know how many of you decided to stay up late to see the lunar eclipse on Monday night, but wow! How amazing! I wish I would have remembered my summer stargazing kit and made a date out of it with Max, but unfortunately we decided to just set our alarm for 12:30 AM because we wanted to go to bed earlier on a weeknight ;) When we woke up and walked outside to see it ourselves, I kind of felt like I was in a scary movie because it was so eerie to see the moon red. But really neat too!

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose! So I finished Friday Night Lights a few weeks ago, (honestly I was addicted for the first two months of the year) and all I can say is: Texas Forever. Max has looked into med school at Baylor - and Tim Riggins can be our friend and/or neighbor ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Max loves him as much as I do. And Coach Taylor is quoted in my quote book.

I'd like to issue a public apology that I ever financially supported Justin Bieber by going to his concert/movies/and/or bought his CD's. I'm real sorry about that.

I made tilapia the other night (who would have thought I'd like fish?) and I went on my first outdoor picnic of the year and had a minor sunburn for all of 12 hours. It's feeling awfully cheery around these parts, and I think the good weather + food might have something to do with it...

TGIF

April 14, 2014

what the whole year's all about


Because Friday we have a high of 75 and John Mayer said it best,
"a little bit of summer's what the whole year's all about."

2. Secret Garden Party
3. Huckleberry lemonade (here) // chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches (here
4. Liiibrary trips
5. Twilight Zone marathons
6. Camping (once)
7. 25 (twice)
8. Wildfire - John Mayer
9. Wallowa Lake
10. Otter pops + Beach Boys (anything)
11. Max


March 30, 2014

life is like that.

Sometimes Max doesn't get home from school until eleven and I tell him I feel like a widow. Sometimes the idea of eight more years of school sounds impossible. Sometimes my routine feels a little bit mundane and predictable. Sometimes (read: all the time) our conversations center around where to invest our money, instead of spending it on one of my many $$$ dream vacations. Sometimes I don't want to wake up at seven AM Monday through Friday. Sometimes I would rather go on a crazy shopping spree instead of not. Sometimes Friday night dates are spent watching Friday Night Lights on my computer while Max sits next to me and has to study instead. Sometimes people aren't always nice. Sometimes I say something I regret. Sometimes (also read: all the time) I wish McDonalds delivered. And sometimes life is what is it: a lot of hard work, patience and occasionally a few tears at the end of the day.

Those "sometimes days" are a part of life for everyone, and some of my favorite conversations (and posts) are the ones you can honestly relate to and even share with others what life really is like: both ups and downs. And as I was talking to a few of my friends about these things the other night, I also thought about the quote I had posted the other day. I actually read it for the first time a few months ago, but have often thought about it since. It reminded me of what I've also talked about online before -- my blessings book.

I started that book back up again this year, after taking a little bit of an unintentional hiatus last year, (in other words, I had become a major slacker and failed to prioritize something that has always been really, really important to me). I knew I needed to change that. So I did. Every night this year I have written something down that I am grateful for. Sometimes I will even pass the book over to Max and will ask him write something down too. Without trying to sound cliché, honestly, the difference it has made already is like comparing night to day.

I know plenty of other people have said it before, but counting your blessings and then expressing that appreciation to a friend, a stranger, even in your journal, and especially to your Heavenly Father can change everything. It does change everything. It's okay (and important) to be honest about your life. It's okay to openly admit to yourself or to others that it can get hard. Or that it is hard. Last year in particular had its share of difficulties for me, all for many different reasons, (and it's also okay to leave those parts of your life offline and share it with people rather than the internet :) But I also think it's equally important to focus on all of the good around us too. There will always be bad days or bad jobs or other real or more serious problems that we'll have to go through in this life. But those bad days aren't ever so bad that I can't count at least one thing I am grateful for. Because there will always be something to be grateful for. And in the end, what matters the most is "which garden you choose to tend."

"Life is like that—ups and downs, a bump on the head, and a crack on the shins. It was ever thus. Hamlet went about crying, “To be or not to be,” but that didn’t solve any of his problems. There is something of a tendency among us to think that everything must be lovely and rosy and beautiful without realizing that even adversity has some sweet uses. One of my favorite newspaper columnists is Jenkin Lloyd Jones. In a recent article published in the News, he commented:

... Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just ordinary people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise.

Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed... 

The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."
-President Gordon B. Hinckley
(you can read the rest of his talk here)

March 26, 2014

to remember:

  
“.... Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend... When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives, but are grateful for the abundance that's present - love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness] - the wasteland of illusion falls away, and we experience Heaven on earth.
 
-- Sarah Ban Breathnach
(also quoted here)

March 20, 2014

etc etc etc

A quick January - March 2014 recap in pictures:




In words: 

  • We were finally able to see World of Color, which, you guys, is amazing and I cried. 
  • We saw Adam Sandler on Indiana Jones and although I was way too nervous to do anything but take a picture/stalk him, at least Max said hi!
  • I finally accomplished my spring cleaning checklist (!!!) which you wouldn't think would be much of an endeavor living in an 800 sq. foot apartment.... but unfortunately, it is. 
  • I have already started counting down to an official Twilight Zone summer marathon kick off!
  • Work is still the best. So is daylight savings a week after I get used to it.
  • Max only has three weeks left of the semester, which means I'll have my husband back for five days before spring term starts! 
  • I wouldn't be mad if I never heard the words selfie, totes, and belieber ever again.
  • And last but not least: Happy first day of spring/international day of happiness! (is that really even a thing?? i just heard that today?) As Oscar Wilde once said, "With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?" 
  • Amen to all of that. 

March 7, 2014

spring spring spring

I don't remember any time in the last few years where it actually felt like April before March in Utah! I ordered a lemonade (knock on wood) because I will take sunny, sixty degree weather when I can + a strawberry lemonade to seal the deal. This weekend I plan on cleaning out everything under our bed (am I the only one who uses that space as a storage closet?), buying a wreath for the front door, and getting together with friends with a whole lot of catching up to do. Last time a few of us got together, we sat in the restaurant and talked from four until nine! I think we had three different waitresses? Anyway, I hope you're enjoying a little bit of spring weather wherever you are, and now - a few words from ee cummings:

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully out of 
Nowhere)
arranging a window into which people look

(while people stare
arranging and changing
placing 
carefully 
there
a strange thing
and a known thing 
here)
and changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps hand in a window

(carefully to and fro
moving 
New and 
Old things,
while people stare
carefully 
moving 
a perhaps fraction of flower here

placing an inch of air there)

and without breaking anything.

helllllo spring!

March 5, 2014

two recommendations

Right now I'm about three books behind schedule on my goal of reading 100 books this year. I've read a few really great ones and a few I haven't loved as much as I would have hoped, but I'll write more about that later.

I started Gone With the Wind a few weeks ago, and am about halfway through - it is so long, but SO GOOD. Of course I had seen the movie before I picked up Mitchell's book to read for myself, so I didn't know how much I'd get into it already knowing the story beforehand, but let me just tell you -- it's amazing. Her characters Scarlett, Mammy, Rhett, and Melanie are some of my favorites (whether or not they're always likeable) - up there on my list with unforgettable Atticus Finch and Rudy Steiner (but who can compete with them?) And the way she describes Southern gentility and way of life two hundred years ago, you just can't help but fall in love with Georgia and Tara too. It makes me want to pack my bags up and move there tomorrow!



Also, for those of you who haven't read Unbroken - you need to go read it. Today. Or at least pick it up at a bookstore sometime before December when the movie comes to theaters. It has to be one of my favorites (and Max's too!) - something we both read a few summers ago and loved. This story is something you can't walk away from without feeling incredibly inspired and uplifted, (and in my opinion, we could use a lot more examples in media and literature with these kinds of messages today!) So, so, so good!

February 20, 2014

i think i would make a great mouseketeer.

We're leaving town this weekend, and knowing me you can probably guess where. Maybe I should just get a job with Disney one day, or move to California?

I also wanted to post these pictures from life magazine of an all-night prom at Disneyland in 1961. Love love love!

(other favorites: the heartache of wartime farewells, life with jfk & paris 1963 )

February 14, 2014

feb 14th

It's February 14th! And our plans for the night are to stay in, get takeout, watch An Affair to Remember aannddd maybe Max will let us be serenaded all night long by some of my favorites: the Backstreet Boys. I'm telling you, those key changes (herehereherehere, here - see what I'm saying!?) are Valentines Day GOLD. I don't understand how he can't love them as much as I do ;) When Max asked if there was anything else I wanted to do, that was what my list really came down to. Max + sugar + the good ol' days. Max loves me enough to say sounds great, even though I'm sure he would rather go bowling or get pizza.






(the extent of my valentine decorations are taped on the fridge. 
pictures of us at seventeen years old + our wedding day! how time flies!)

I love Max. I feel lucky that we get to share life together, the ups and downs and everything in-between. One of my goals this year was to learn how to cook new things, and let me tell you - that goal has brought many disasters into our kitchen. One as recently as Monday night, when I threw my gluey potatoes into the garbage and decided it was time to go to bed three hours before 10. Max brought me in a bowl of cereal for dinner and said, "Hey that's okay, your food still turns out 50% of the time" -- and I decided to take that as a compliment instead of getting mad :) I just can't quite say it enough, I really, really love that guy, and am so grateful for him, and that I get him for me.

So Happy Valentine's Day you guys! I hope your day is filled with the people you love and a whole lot of chocolate.

February 10, 2014

humans of ny

One of my favorite parts of a 12 hour flight to New Zealand was the fact that I'd sit next to someone from another part of the world with crazy different experiences than my own. One of my favorites was a woman named Stephanie from Germany, whose life was about as opposite of mine as possible. I loved talking to her about everything from our families to religion to Cary Grant. Obviously I'd love to travel all over the world one day, but in the meantime, I really love when I am able to meet people with different backgrounds or from different cultures, and open my eyes to something outside of my own experience and comfort zone.



I guess that's one thing I love about Humans of NY (website here) or you can follow them on Instagram here. I love that you can catch a little glimpse of someone else's life or perspective - and for anyone else who might love people watching at airports, you should check it out.