Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall break in California!

Well, it was that time of year again.
Alex's breaks from school always result in us going to California.
It's close enough, free lodging, free food, and lots of family time.  That equals a big win for us! :)
This time it was extra family time because the whole fam bam came!
Us and Jack came from Utah and Brittany's gang came up from Arizona.
It made for a very full house and a lot of fun!

We started out our week with a day at the beach!
It.  Was.  Heavenly!
I started out on the nice, warm sand.  It was so soft against my feet and felt great between my toes.
I watched my nephews and niece playing in the water.
It looked so fun, but I knew it was so cold!
I couldn't help it any longer!  I had to get in that water!
So I took the plunge and I am so glad I did!
Me, Britt, Alex, Jack, Isabelle, Jonah, and Hank spent the next hour or so boogie boarding.
I caught the most amazing wave on my last run!
It was the perfect way to end my water time.
I really could not handle the cold anymore so then I grabbed my towel, stuck my feet in the sand, and just listened to the sound of the waves and the children laughing.
The beach really is where I feel the most at ease with life.

Eventually we got hungry so we headed back to the house and then to get ready for family pictures.
So then it was back to the beach for us!
There are a lot of good ones, but here's a few samples:

Chris (BIL), Zak (nephew), Caleb (nephew), Jack (BIL), Violet (niece), Ann (MIL), Dylan (quasi niece), Hank (FIL), Alex, me, Clara (niece), Isabelle (niece), Eli (nephew), Brittany (SIL), Jonah (nephew), Abram (nephew).  That's the whole clan minus Alex's other brother, Wes.  We sure missed him while we were there.
The night was a gorgeous one!

The next day we just hung around Santa Barbara.
Britt, Ann, and I worked out in the morning and got our butts kicked by Ann's trainer.
(Kicked in a good way! :)
Then the whole family cruised downtown and we spent the majority of the day strolling the streets and the pier.
That evening consisted of pool time and getting ready for the big days ahead of us!

That next morning we got up bright and early to head down to Anaheim, CA to start our Disney adventures!!
I have only been to Disney World so I was SOOO excited for Disneyland!
I seriously wish I could have just taped the whole experience.
It really is the happiest place on earth.
And going with nieces and nephews make it even better because then you have an extra excuse to do the things/rides that you would not do/go on if it was just me and some friends. :)
Here are a few highlights:

The Mickey Wheel!
This is also the location of "World of Color" which is a water show at night.
Pretty much puts the Bellagio to shame!
They project images on the water and everything.
I may or may not have teared up a few times...don't judge.
Disney was my life as a child.
Cars Land is amazing!  It seriously feels like you're on Route 66 cruisin' through the cartoon!  And the Cars main ride is to die for!  So much fun!
Tower of Terror is always a must!  I haven't been on it in such a long time so I could not remember when it drops, plus I'm pretty sure it's slightly different than the Disney World one so I was really tripping out...obvs.
Disneyland at Halloween time is so much fun!  There is decor everywhere.
Just been my dream forever to get a picture with this giant pumpkin Mickey!
Ahhhhmazing. :)
Please look at Zac, Alex, and Jack.
They kill me.
No one wanted to watch the parade besides me, Britt, Ann, and little Clara.
Everyone else missed out!
The parade was so stinkin' magical.
I may have gotten teary again...don't judge...again.
Rapunzel is Clara's favorite, but secretly I was just as excited, if not more, when she came around.
One major bummer...NO Jasmine in the parade.  Aladdin was there. :(
We ended off our second day with this crazy dog. :)

Brittany's family stayed at Disney for a 3rd day, but we headed back to Santa Barbara.
We had a nice, relaxing day AND I got to see one of my girls that has already transitioned from New Haven.  She is going to school there so we met up!  It was awesome seeing her!

Brittany's family came back so we could all go to 6 Flags: Magic Mountain the next morning!
There were a lot of great coasters there!
Especially this one coaster we did towards the end of the night called X2!
It literally blew all of our minds.  It was the best coaster I have ever been on...and I'm pretty sure everyone would agree.
I can't even explain it...you just have to go and test it for yourself.

We were all so dang tired at the end of the night!
We slept in a little bit the next morning and then just chilled by the pool until Alex, Jack, and I had to catch our flight back to Utah. :(
I do not like saying goodbye...at all.
I so do love the family I married in to.
I seriously thank my Heavenly Father every day for that side of my family (as well as my own blood family).
I hear stories from friends of their crazy in laws and I am so grateful that is not me.
I miss them all so much when we're not together.

It was such an incredible trip!
Thankfully I have some things to look forward to now:
-Thanksgiving/Alex's birthday...my in laws are coming up!
-Christmas!!  We're going to South Carolina!!!  I cannot wait!  This is the longest stretch I have ever gone not being home!

Did I mention that Disneyland was magical?!



Friday, October 5, 2012

Rach and Bryce's Wedding!

This past weekend Alex and I hit up Oakland, CA for a wedding!
Our friend, Rachel, had decided to tie the knot at the LDS temple there (which was breathtaking by the way) and of course our EFY group just had to be there to support her!
Kate flew in to UT from GA and she, myself, Alex, Nina, and Nina's bf, Ricky, hit the road!
Ashley met us there and when we pulled in, the group was complete!
Even though we got in at 2 am, we couldn't go to sleep because we were having too much fun being together!
I swear, there is nothing better than being at such a happy event, as a wedding, with people that uplift you, make you laugh, and help you be your best self.
Being bridesmaids with these ladies was the best thing!
 Nina, Ash, Rach, me, Kate.

If there could be anything wrong with this weekend, it was that it went by WAY too fast!
Before I knew it, Ash & Kate were on planes, and the rest of us were on our way back to the Wasatch Front.
 I feel like this picture is so perfect for the 5 of us.
And of course this handsome fella was lookin' mighty fine all weekend. :)

In all seriousness, I am so happy for Rachel.
It is so amazing watching someone you care about enter in to such a covenant as eternal marriage.
Even though I've only been married for a short time, I can already feel the power that comes from the covenant I made with Heavenly Father and Alex.
It takes work.  Oh, it takes work.
But when it's someone you love with all your heart, the work is not a burden.
I only wish the best for Rachel and Bryce.
They are so perfect for each other!
I want nothing more for her than to have the most fulfilling, happy life.

Nina is soon to follow. :)
3 out of 5 are taken care of...
C'mon Ash and Katers, pick 'em good. :)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Am Fabulous!

Now before you go and think I have a huge 'ole ego from the title of this post...lemme 'splain myself.
I once had a dance teacher.
This teacher has been on my mind A LOT recently.
This teacher is the most fabulous woman.
She taught me not only about dance, but how to live life, how to love, how to have passion, how to treat people and how to have no inhibitions.
Her name is Holly Brown.  She is not only my teacher, but she is my friend.
I first met her at age 15 when she started teaching hip hop at the dance school.
I was a little shy at first, but after a few classes with her, she helped me come in to my own and hip hop soon became my favorite genre of dance!  It was favorite part of the week.  Not only because the dancing was awesome, but also because Holly made me feel so good about myself.
At the end of EVERY class we had to throw our hands up in the air and yell, "I AM..." then drop our hands dramatically over our faces while yelling, "Fabulous!"
So my Junior and Senior years were spent on the hip hop team with Holly.
She, and her whole family really, made me a part of their own family.
Her husband, Ross, totally believed in my talent and her little kids became like my own siblings.
It was totally normal for me to be at their house just because.
I could be so super silly with them, but also feel true love.
Holly birthed this beautiful family!
They were even younger than this when I first met them and now they're all growing up and I can't even believe it!
But we're bonded for more than just one reason...
Holly is also my mermaid sister...:)
The summer after I graduated high school, Holly asked me if I would help her out with a summer show.  It would be performed every week at an outdoor venue for all of the tourists breezing by.  I said yes.  And boy am I glad I did!  This show ended up being the talk of the island!  We started out with smaller crowds, but by the end of that first summer...we had a large following!  Then we ended up doing the mermaid show for multiple summers and we soon became a family favorite on people's vacations.  We were even a picture on this one family's Christmas card!  It really was some of the most fun times of my life.  Holly was Bubbles, I was Pearl, and amidst some other mermaids we sang songs, did dances, played games with the tourists, and just entertained while having such a great time!
Here are a few of my favorite photos from over the years:


Lately, I've admired Holly even more.
Her youngest daughter, Jasmyn, has had some really serious health problems.
But through it all, Holly has stayed strong for her family and showed us all what she is made of.
I so admire her zest for life, her unconditional love, and the ability to turn a sour situation into a sweeter one.

Out of all the things I HAD to have at my wedding...having Ross and Holly DJ and run the reception was at the very top.  I could NOT give that up.  And in true Brown fashion, they showed up and threw an unforgettable party!
It was so special to have them there sharing in the most important time of my life.
Being thousands of miles apart is hard, but I still feel so loved by Holly.
She is so great at staying in contact and I am forever grateful to have her in my life.
I am a dance teacher now because of her.
And every class I just always try to think to myself, "What would Holly do?"
I know if I think that...I'll never go wrong.

I love you, Holly!
Thank you for everything!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Enlightenment is a peach.

The other day at church I was reading my patriarchal blessing.
I do love reading it so.
It always lifts my spirits and reminds me of what an amazing life I have still ahead of me.
I read one particular part that has NEVER stood out to me before.
It described the kind of vocation I would have for myself.
I won't go in to detail, as that is both private and not appropriate to share with the world on this said internet, but it was spot on of what I do at New Haven.
I couldn't help but smile from ear to ear.
It just made me so happy that when I was a 16 year old teenager, Heavenly Father knew the kind of job that would fill me with joy.
How fun.  And cool.

I seriously can't describe how incredible my job is.
I get to see hurt, scared, hopeless girls come in and strong, healed, lovable girls come out.
One of the girls I am particularly close to is graduating from the program on Wednesday.
I thought I was doing ok with it, but I realized while driving home and thinking about her leaving, that I'm really not ok.  So I just cried.  And cried some more.
I will miss her little British self so.

I start up a new post alllll about my job quite frequently because I want y'all to know in detail what I do, but it overwhelms me.
It is ridiculously hard to describe and then for someone to fully understand.
If I ever get around to doing it, it may have to be a mini series. :)

Anywho...those Costco cookies won't eat themselves...


Sunday, August 12, 2012

1 Year Down!

I canNOT even believe one year has come and gone!
Where the heck did life go?!
I guess they say that time flies when you're having fun, which may be the reason that this year has gone by so dang fast!
Because Alex and I have too much fun together! :)
Alex really is my bestest of friends and I couldn't imagine marrying anyone better than that man.

Here is what I have learned in this past year about my sweet, sweet husband:
1) When I am feeling down (whether he is the source of it or not) he will NOT stop trying to make me feel better until I actually do feel better.  He is a persistent one.  Which I am so grateful for!  Some husbands would just say I was being a stupid girl and move on until I snapped out of it.
2) I can get a little silly and out of control sometimes.  But whether I'm singing at the top of my lungs or dancing around like an idiot, Alex just looks at me and smiles and says I'm so funny.  That just boosts my confidence to keep being a spaz. :)
3) I rarely play the piano around Alex.  For some reason I get nervous around him and the piano.  I haven't figured out why yet.  Anywho...when he does come home while I'm playing the piano, he comes into the room so he can sit down and listen.
4) In his sleep he hugs me, love pats me, kisses me, etc.  He always knows I'm right there.  It's seriously one of my favorite things when I wake up in the middle of the night and he does something cute without even knowing he's doing it.
5) He always asks my input in his outfits if we're going to church or some other event.  I like that he trusts my fashion sense and knows I wouldn't let him walk out looking like a goon. :)
6) He compliments my cooking.  That makes me feel good.  Whether he does it so I'll cook more for him or because he wants me to feel good...either way...I'll take it!
7) He gives me blessings any time I ask for one.  Not that he could really say no...but he could complain about how he just gave  me one or how he doesn't feel like it, etc.  But he doesn't.  He just quietly does what he needs to do to give me a blessing from our Heavenly Father.  What a treasure to me for marrying such a worthy man who can give me a blessing 24/7.
8) He's always telling me I look pretty.  It doesn't matter if it's right when I wake up or if I'm all dolled up...that man makes me feel like a million bucks.  (Though I do tend to get more compliments throughout the day when makeup and a good outfit is involved. :) But I really am always amazed when we first wake up and he tells me how beautiful I am.
9) He apologizes when he's wrong.  Even if it might take him a few minutes :) I appreciate him taking responsibility for himself.  It makes things so much easier around here.
10) He takes upon himself the job of making sure we say prayers together, read the scriptures together, and go to the temple together.  (Even if the Olympics have perhaps screwed up our scripture reading time.  Oops.)  I'm so grateful for his proactivity in our spiritual lives.  I know he'll be an amazing father in that aspect.  (NO...this is NOT a baby announcement!)

I really could go on and on and on about Alex Foster.
But I don't have enough time.
I need to go kiss that sweet man and wake him up to wish him a "Happy Anniversary!"
We're headed to Bear Lake for a couple days and I couldn't be more excited to spend a few days with no one else but my main squeeze.

Happy Anniversary, Alex.
I love you more and more every, single day.
Thank you for being the amazing man that you are and for helping me reach all I am capable of.
Thank you for making me feel like a queen.

I'll leave you with a video I made for him.
I think it's pretty great. :)

video

Monday, August 6, 2012

NYC!

So, here I am (a month later) FINALLY blogging about NYC.
Words cannot even express how fun this vacation was!
But seriously...I don't have enough words to describe how amazing some of the sites are.
I highly recommend going to NYC if you have not been!  I would never want to live there, but it was a blast to visit!
It was great to spend time with my sister-in-law, Brittany, my mother-in-law, Ann, and my niece, Isabelle.  I sure got lucky marrying in to a fun family and I'm grateful I got to know them even better throughout this trip.

The pictures uploaded a little out of order (not sure why), but I picked some of my favorites!

Hudson River Boat Cruise: 
 This cruise took us along the river where on one side you have Manhattan and Jersey on the other.  Seeing the skyline from the water was really cool.  It of course has to takes you by the Statue of Liberty. We got out on the island a few days later, but for now we just cruised by.  It was the most surreal moment seeing it for the first time on this day.  I remember staring up at it and thinking, "Wow...it really does exist."

Breakfast @ Tiffany's:
 One morning before our bike ride, I just HAD to eat breakfast at the Tiffany & Co. on 5th Avenue!  Audrey Hepburn is one of my idols and so this was on my bucket list!  So happy to cross that one off!  A muffin never tasted better. :)

Bike ride in Central Park:
This activity was one of my favorites!  It was so so SO much fun!  Central Park is gigantic!  It's crazy to think that there is one of the largest cities in the world all around you, but you're taken out of it and surrounded by beautiful trees, bridges, benches, birds, boulders, etc.
 While in Central Park I spotted the scene from Home Alone 2 and Elf. :)

Times Square:
 Times Square is a wild place. :) It's the busiest place that we found in New York.  And I'm pretty sure the LAST place I'd want to be on New Year's Eve.  There's tons of people there 24/7, stores, restaurants, and a lot of funny characters.  Like this Naked Cowboy for instance.  He was a crack up.  Right here he is saying, "Feel how firm my butt is."  Brittany and I were dying laughing!  When we told him to be nice with us since we were married he just went, "Oh that's ok...I'm a certified minister!"  Oh, ok...because that makes it ok.  It really did make for a hilarious 2 minutes in our lives.

NYPD:
 The police are a frequent sight in this city...thank goodness.  I just decided to ask them if I could take a picture and the one guy gave me his hat to wear.  Super nice!  That is probably one of my favorite pictures from the trip!

John's Pizzeria:
 AKA: The best pizza on the face of this green Earth!  I've never been a fan of thin crust pizza.  But that's probably because it's Dominos.  The crust at the end of the pizza has always been my favorite...it's the reward for eating the rest of the pizza.  I was worried I wouldn't like it, but I was SO wrong!  It was delicious!  Our favorite was the Margherita pizza that had the freshest basil on top!  We went there a few times since it was so dang good!

WICKED:
 I saw "Wicked" in Chicago 6 years ago, but seeing it in NYC was amazing!  The whole show was jaw dropping, goosebump chilling, and flat out inspiring!  That's really all I can say.  I lose words when I try to describe this show.

Behind the Scenes "Wicked" tour:
 The morning after we saw the show, we went back to the theater the next morning for the behind the scenes tour.  They pulled out a bunch of original prop pieces, pictures, and the original costumes for Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth!  I was dying!!!  They also show you in the theater and teach you all about how the show runs, how many people it takes, the process of starting a Broadway show, etc.  It was really neat and I'm so glad we went!

Subways:
 The Subway was a whole experience in and of itself!  You can get yourself going in the wrong way extremely fast.  Just when I think I got it down, we left.  My favorite experience down there on the platform was the night we were coming back to our hotel.  Isabelle got out.  Brittany got out.  I got out. Ann was not so lucky.  The doors shut right on her face!  We all gasped and were in pure shock.  And off Ann went as we stood there on the platform.  Brittany was in such shock that she threw her hands up and dropped her phone down ON the train track!  At this point we are laughing SO hard.  It all was happening in a matter of seconds and it seriously felt like I was watching a movie.  I came SO close to peeing my pants.  And those of you that know me, know that my bladder will lose control and has no mercy sometimes.  Thankfully, I gained my composure before an accident happened.  This guy came over and saved Britt's phone!  He freaking jumped DOWN on the track, grabbed her phone that was in 3 pieces, and hoisted back up on the platform!  We were so terrified a train was going to come!

9/11 Memorial:
 This place has the oddest feeling to it.  The only way I can describe it is eerily spiritual.  I'm so happy with what they've done to make it a special place.  Even though you're in the middle of the business district it is surprisingly quiet.  I was handling my emotions pretty well until I was sitting on this patch of grass watching an American flag wave in the wind.  This man nearby was looking up to the sky and just started sobbing.  Thanks, dude...that's when I started to lose it.  So many thoughts start flooding your mind like, "How scary would this have been?" "What would I have done in the last seconds of my life?"  It was hard to leave because you felt like you couldn't get enough of that feeling.

Carlo's Bake Shop:
 If you don't watch "Cake Boss" on TLC, then you will have no clue what this place is, but for Alex and I...we like that show a lot.  It is just right across the river in Hoboken, NJ.  Thankfully the line wasn't too bad so we didn't have to wait a super long time for our treats!  I got an eclair and a cupcake, which were delish!
 When we got our treats we just went across the street to sit on some benches and eat.  That was also one of the most fun times of the trip.  It was so pleasant to eat treats and people watch during the evening hour.  We were all enchanted with Hoboken, NJ.  If for some reason Alex or I got a job in NYC, I would live in Hoboken.  I loved that little city!

Hoboken, NJ river front:
 Seriously...such a charming place.

NEWSIES:
 I have watched the movie my entire life so it was so exciting to see it on stage!  I was really pleased with how they did it!  I was sad that some of the lyrics were different and the story line was altered slightly, but overall...it was such a fun show!  It has such a great energy and the dancing was to die for! I definitely recommend seeing this if you ever go to NY!

Brooklyn Bridge:
 One morning for our exercise, we decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.  I'm so glad we did!  It was such a fun thing to do!  That was another moment where I thought to myself, "It really does exist."  The architecture is amazing and it really was so fun to walk around on it.

Serendipity:
 Giant frozen hot chocolate?  Need I say more.  It was dang delicious!!  And the restaurant has such a delightful atmosphere.  Thankfully our wait was only an hour.  Mmm...I want one of those right now...

Traces:
 This show hasn't been around very long and is actually off Broadway, but was still amazing!  The only way I can describe it is if a bunch of circus people got together in a junkyard and had a party.  The amount of talent on the stage was ridiculous!  It made me feel slightly mediocre.  I bet it will explode very soon!

Manhattan Temple:
 I'm so happy we went to the temple!  It was such a cool reminder that no matter where you are, you can feel the spirit.  The temple was built within a building so all city noise is gone when you walk inside, which was super cool.

Empire State Building:
 Hello from 88 floors high!  Seeing the city from way up there was crazy!  You can see so far!  It's also crazy that you can see from one end of Manhattan to the other and that there are sooo many buildings in between those two ends.  Central Park is also easily spotted, as it was the large green blob. :) I felt very "Sleepless in Seattle" while walking around up there! :)

Rockefeller Center:
 Too bad it wasn't winter so no ice skating was done.  It was still so fun being there!  In the left top corner, the Today show is filmed right there!  We looked through the windows and you can see where they sit and all the different sets they use.  On our bus tour to the hotel on our first day, they drove us by the "Today Show's" Friday morning concert, which was...Maroon 5!  I saw Adam Levine standing there waiting to go on!!  I went a tad crazy inside. :) Too bad he wasn't there while we were just strolling around.

NBC Studios:
 The best "Gilly" face I could muster.  If you don't know what Gilly is...watch SNL.  If you don't know what SNL is...you live under a rock.

Metropolitan Museum of Art:
 The MET is GIGANTIC!  We were in there for 4 hours and only went through like a quarter of it!  The Egyptian collection was incredible!!  But this here is me with Mr. Vincent Van Gogh. :)


 Statue of Liberty:
Before we went to the airport for our flight back to Utah, we hit up Lady Liberty's island.  She is much larger than I realized.  Unfortunately, she is under construction so we couldn't go right up by her, but it was still super cool!

Well...that is my NYC trip in a nutshell!
It was such an amazing experience and I hope I can return someday!
Seriously though...this doesn't even do it justice, but hopefully y'all caught a glimmer into the awesomeness of it all! :)

Thanks Ann, Britt, and Iz for the best time!

Monday, July 23, 2012

July the 21st.

Lots of things happened on July 21st.

1) First and foremost...Daddio's Birthday!!
He's been around a long time and I hope he continues to be around for a long time!
He certainly is the best daddy I know and I'm so grateful for him being in my life.
I hope my daughters adore Alex as much as I adore my father.
(I bet they will. :)
I'm so glad he could have a party with all of his favorite things: family, close friends, steak, and zebra cakes.  He said there were some pointy hats involved as well.
Happy Birthday, Daddy!  I sure love you lots!


2) Our cat, Fuzzy Butt, passed away.
My parents had to put her down.
Her little body just could not handle everything anymore so they did what was best.
It still is so sad though!
We've had Fuzzy since I was I think 8?...a very long time!
She has survived climbing herself so high up in a tree we didn't know where she was for 4 days, tumors, cancer, and just being outside.
She looks like she should be inside on a silk pillow with tuna all day long.
Not Fuzzy!
She just wants dirt, pinestraw, and sharpening her claws on tree roots.
She also had the most awesome meow.  Though I'm not sure if you could call it a "meow."
It was this raspy, gravely outburst of noise.
But she would greet you and purr to her heart's content.
She was a good cat, that Fuzzy Butt, and will be sorely missed next time I go home.


3) Lastly, I worked a 16 hour day at work.
Yes...that is a long time.
Yes...it's tiring.
Yes...I LOVE my job.
Just when I think I couldn't love it anymore, I do.
I love my girls so stinkin' much, that sometimes I just cry all the way home because they're so amazing.
Fun highlight: I let 2 of my girls bring home some goldfish they won at the carnival.  And by win I mean, they did not in fact get the ping pong ball into the fish bowl, but the lady loved them and felt bad so she just gave the fish to them.
So they had the staff that was with them call me up and ask if they could bring them home.  I said yes and they were beside themselves.
When they got back they gave me the biggest hugs and gave me the biggest Diet Coke I've ever received in my life.  They know me too well. :)
New Haven rocks!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Judge Not.

So New York was seriously a BLAST!
I have yet to blog about the whole thing because, quite honestly, it overwhelms me to think about everything I did!
So maybe someday...hopefully soon. :)

Something that HAS been on my mind though, did happen while in NYC.
One morning, my mother in law, Ann, my sister in law, Brittany, and I headed to Columbus Circle to do a session in the Manhattan Temple.
I was SO excited!
It really was so amazing just going along and then all the sudden...HELLO, Angel Moroni, glowing all proud amidst all the other buildings.
We got there about 45 mins early to make sure Brittany could get in (since she had brought her child's recommend instead of her own. :)
As we were waiting for them to call her Bishop, we hung out in the lobby area with one of the security people.  She was nice and was telling us stuff about the temple, membership in NYC, etc.

Then a lady walked in.
She was bald.
She had more amounts of facial hair than usual for a woman.
She had very large, thick hoops in her lobs.
She was very sweaty.
She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

The security lady looked a little bewildered and asked the bald lady if she was a member.
She replied that she was indeed and immediately just pulled out her recommend to verify.
She told us all that she had just biked from Brooklyn (which is quite the ways to bike on an extremely hot day) and that she did not want to wear her dress biking.
The security lady still looked uneasy, but let her go up to the bathroom in the church area to shower up.
About 10 minutes later she was back down, in a dress, and ready to enter the temple.

Ann had taken me up to the church area to show me around and Brittany was waiting by the recommend desk to hear back from her Bishop.
She told us that the bald lady went to the desk and handed the man her recommend.
The man said, "You should use this more often." (meaning the recommend)
The bald lady goes, "I do.  I'm here."
Man: "If you used it at least once a month your recommend would be wrinkled.  That's how you know if you're going enough."
Lady: "Well...I'm here."
And she walked on in.

A few minutes later we went up since Britt was verified.
The bald lady clearly had been there often.
She knew her way around, she looked comfortable, she was with friends, etc.
The whole time during the session I made sure to smile at her whenever she glanced my way.
I wanted her to know that I thought she was welcome there.

When we left the temple, the 3 of us started to discuss that lady.
I definitely went off on a soap box.
I know people are no where near perfect...BUT...
I was just appalled that people of her "own kind" still judged her.
Ok, yes.  She did not look like your "typical" LDS person, but she was still worthy to enter the temple.
And the man at the desk?  UGH.  I was so mad!
What if her recommend was only a month old piece of paper?
What if she just keeps it in a nice, safe spot?
What if she keeps it in a case, like I do?
Mine is not wrinkled, even though I use it often, but the man did not question me.
(Well...besides thinking I was there with the youth group.  Um, no.  I'm 25 and married, thanks.)

Ann, Britt, and I discussed how this was definitely a lesson that we always want to keep in mind.
The Lord loves all of his children...even the ones who don't look "typical."
And He loves her even more for going to His house and doing what He has asked of her.
She BIKED from Brooklyn!  She is obviously committed.
I so appreciated her and I hope I can always teach my children to never be quick to judge.

Besides that...the temple was AMAZING!
It was so pretty and it was crazy how all of the city noise was washed out and was perfectly silent inside.
What a refuge from the storm!
I loved it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Life long dream!

TODAY (ok...well tonight...like LATE tonight...basically tomorrow)...
I head to the Big Apple!
BUT...I have to be at the airport at 10pm so it still feels like today.
Then we head out at 11:55pm, and 4.5 hours later...I'll be there!
I've been so giddy all morning!
I could not sleep well last night and woke up before my alarm.
I'm at work right now, go to a reception with Alex, head home to finish packing, then BOOM...off to the airport I go.
This day seems like it will never end since I'm so anxious!
I am so excited for this trip filled with Broadway, sight seeing, shopping, exploring, and family time!

The one VERY big downer is that I won't have my sweet husband with me.
But since it's a girl's trip...no boys allowed.
I feel terrible though with the thought of leaving his handsome face for 8 whole days.
Last night I went grocery shopping to get him all stocked up for the time I'm away.
I even got him a lot of goodies: pizzas, ice cream, wheat thins (sundried tomato and basil, duh), pringles (multigrain), hot cheetos, apple juice (the only way to go when your blood sugar drops. :)
The lady at the check out line asked if I was having a party.
Haha, nope...just feel bad about going on this extravaganza without him. :(
But, it just means I'll be all prepped for when we can come together!

Wish me luck!
Here I go on this midnight train to Georgia...or plane to New York...:)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

So Emotional.

Now I know I'm a girl, but...really?  I get so emotional sometimes.
(I'm doomed for when I'm pregnant.)
No matter how many times I watch when Ross and Rachel break up in season 3, or when they FINALLY get for real back together in the finale, I cry every single time.

Alex obviously does not understand it.
He's always like "You know what happens..." after I watch them break up.
It doesn't matter.  Still crying.

Or when we were watching the NBA finals last week.
Now, I'm not a Lebron James hater, but I just like Kevin Durant way more.
So when the Thunder lost, I was bummed.
But what got me even more was watching Durant's face!
His whole demeanor showed just how upset he was.
You could tell he wanted it SO badly.
His sad little face had to congratulate everyone on the Heat, hug all of his teammates, walk to the locker room, and then hug his family...that's when I really lost it!
He's a class act, that Kevin Durant.

And then sometimes I think about if all the sudden Alex wasn't there.
(Or I straight up have a dream about it...morbid, I know)
And that just really gets me.
What also gets me is just hugging him after we've been apart all the live long day.
And then I'm SO grateful I have him and the love and connection we share.
THAT'S where it's at, my friends.

Whoo...I need to stop crying.
Packing for NYC will perk me up!!
I leave TOMORROW!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ragnar: Wasatch Back 2012!


So way back in the beginning of February, my sister in law, Brittany, texted me while I was at my husband's band's show at Liquid Joe's.  She asked if I would be interested in running a relay race on Father's Day weekend.  I told her that I was in no way, shape, or form a runner.  She said that that was ok and that it was mostly about having so much fun and having a great time with your fellow runners.  Being as I love Brittany, I said yes.  Little did I know that she 100% lied to me...you do in fact need to be a runner.  Or at least that would have been helpful.  She did NOT lie about the fact that it would be so much fun and that I would have an awesome time with my fellow runners. :)

I definitely should have started hard core training THEN...but I didn't.  I kept going about my daily business and kept telling myself I'd start "next week."  But all of the sudden, Ragnar was 6 weeks away and I had not started up my running.  I still worked out and had my dance classes, but HATED the treadmill.  But I started to buckle down and run.  And by run I mean maybe 2-3 miles on the treadmill or run around my complex.  The week leading up to it, I tried harder, but only got up to about 5 miles...on a treadmill...in a controlled temperature gym...with "Friends" on TBS.

Remember that conversation Britt and I had in February?  And she said it was Father's Day weekend?  Well...in my mind, that meant Saturday and Sunday.  And no where in any of our meetings did anyone say otherwise.  Well, Friday, June 15th, rolled around and my sister, Krista, gives me a call.  (Krista was our driver.)  She wakes me up and says, "Where are you?"  I'm like what are you talking about?  As you're all beginning to suspect...I had the days wrong.  The race was Friday and Saturday and I was supposed to be packing up our van with my team at that very moment.  I immediately burst into tears!  I was not ready!  I had not packed my bag, I had not gone grocery shopping, I had not stretched, and most importantly...I was not mentally prepared for this to start TODAY!  My sister just told me to get my running stuff together and just get there!  There was more than enough food and to just get my essentials.  My sweet husband made me breakfast and packed up some snacks while I raced around our apartment like a mad woman getting my running clothes, blankets, and anything else I knew I would need.  I got out of there in 10 minutes and ended up only being about 35 minutes late.  When I got there, my team had already decorated the car and packed it up.  So all I had to do was put my own stuff in, we took a picture, I kissed my husband goodbye, and off we went!


(We hated our team name that Van 1 came up with, so we just called ourselves "Sexxxy Mommas" :)
My awesome team: Nikki, Brittany, Liz, Tiff, Jaclyn, and myself!

Someone got the brilliant idea to add up the amount of children our ladies had birthed.  I had no contribution (obvs), but Brittany made up for it with her 7! :)

For those of you that do not know about what a Ragnar relay is all about...let me explain.  So you're on a team of 12 people, but divided up in to 2 vans.  You pretty much only see your other van when you're exchanging off to them and then when you cross the finish line together.  You always go in the same order (3 times in a row) and every leg is varying amounts of lengths and hardness.  Since Ragnar has to put exchanges in convenient places, some legs are not very long and some are extremely long.  They also have van support on a lot of the legs.  That means your van can stop along the way during your leg to give you water, spritz you down, pump up the jams, give you some cheers, etc.  I, however, got the legs where there was no van support.  I was #11!  

We left Bountiful and headed on up near Ogden.  (The race actually starts in Logan, but Van 1 had started at 5:30am and our van met up with them in Ogden.)  There we got our safety speech, our orange flags, etc. so we were all good to go the rest of the race.  Jaclyn was runner #7 so she was the first in our van to start racing!  Nikki was #8, Britt was #9, Liz was #10, and Tiffany was #12!  And Krista was our awesome driver!  Poor Tiffany and I never had van support. :(

I was feeling pretty good until Liz started her leg.  Then the jitters started!  All these questions started flooding my mind.  Could I do this?  Would I be able to finish?  Would my team be so mad at me if I did not finish as quick as they wanted me to?  Let me tell you why I was so anxious...my first leg was 7.3 miles UPHILL!  From the start of my leg, to the end of my leg, I gained over 2,000 feet!  Well, Liz rounded the corner and I did not have time to think anymore.  The moment of truth was here!  She slapped that orange band on my wrist and off I went!
Here I am when I started!  My heart was pumping so hard!

My first mile I was fairly pumped!  I couldn't believe how long I was running uphill!  It was kind of fun!  When people would pass me (or "kill me" as they say in the racing world), people would wave and say: "Good Job!" or "You're doing awesome!"  I loved it!  It made me not care that people were passing me!  Then the stamina started to wane.  So from there on out I would run, speed walk, run, speed walk and just kept that rhythm until LOW AND BEHOLD...DOWNHILL!  I plowed down that thing!  Unfortunately, it was only about .5 of a mile before the road went back on up.  There was a water station there and they told me I had gone 3.5 miles!  I seriously was like, "Are you kidding me?  I feel like I've already gone 7.3!" But no stopping now...so I kept on going.  It was really getting hard at this point!  My body wanted to stop and the sun was beating down on me.  I slowed down for a little bit to regain my strength and then started to run again.  I hit another water station and they told me I had 2.5 miles to go!  UGH!  I really didn't know if I could do anymore, but I had to!  Soon after, my body language must have shown I was ready to give up because all the sudden, I felt 2 fists in my back and this guy was behind me yelling, "GO!  DO NOT GIVE UP!"  He stayed with me for a little bit and then went on ahead.  I was so impressed with his sportsmanship.  FINALLY...I saw this sign:
...which I have learned, is the absolute, most deceiving sign!  You are so excited, but then it feels like it really is 3 miles, instead of just 1!  Soon after I saw the exchange, all the cars, people waiting, and it really pumped me up to push myself that last little bit!  I passed the Ragnar man and I heard him say into his walkie talkie "691."  As I rounded around I heard another person yell, "691!"  And then I saw my teammate, Tiffany!  I slapped that bracelet on her and off she went!  

My other teammates and Krista were there as well.  They got me water and let me sit down in the shade!  Then they told me the greatest thing ever: that I had finished 20-30 minutes sooner than they thought!  I felt so accomplished!  I had gone 7.3 miles uphill in 1 hour and 49 minutes!  I honestly thought I was going to be at least 2.5 hours!  It felt amazing...and it kinda hurt. :)  My hip flexors were dying!  I stretched, Krista rubbed my shoulders, and after a bagel, I was feeling better.  When Tiffany finished, our van was all done with our first legs!  We were near Morgan, so we went to the Subway there, then went on the Morgan Middle School.  We spread out on the lawn in our sleeping bags and attempted to sleep for 2 hours.  It really wasn't much of a sleep since it was like 6 in the evening.  And our Van 1 were speedy speedies so our off time was cut short.  Our van started up again in East Canyon, by this gorgeous lake!
Jaclyn started us up again and was the only runner in our van that got partial daylight, but finished in the dark.
The sunset was gorgeous!
After Jaclyn and Nikki, I started to get really tired.  So when Brittany started at 11pm, I attempted to sleep in the backseat.
It was not so successful.  I think I fell asleep for like 5 mins and the rest of the time I was just relaxing.  When Liz started her run, I started to mentally prepare myself.  Krista got us to my exchange so I could get ready.  When you run at night you have to wear a reflective vest, a flashing light on your back, and a headlamp.  I got all ready to go and then Tiff and I waited for Liz to get to the exchange.  My anxiety really started to hit the roof then.  I kinda started to do the pee dance.  Then I talked with the Ragnar man there.  I asked him if anybody had been attacked by a wild animal while running at night.  He said no, then told me someone saw a mountain lion last year!  Um...ok, man.  You did not calm my nerves, as that was the one animal I really DID NOT want to encounter.  He told me it was way high up and didn't bother anyone.  Then I asked him if anyone had been attacked by a male.  He thought I meant a male animal.  It was fairly entertaining when I meant a human.  He really did think I was nuts and said no.  I knew the only way I was going to stay calm was if I could always see a runner in front of me and a runner behind me.

Then they called 691 and here came Liz!  She slapped that bracelet and off I went on my 2nd leg.  This leg was 5.5 miles of a variety.  Some up, some down, some flat.  My nerves were easily put to rest when I realized we were on a road so vans were constantly passing me to get to the next exchange and I had a lot of runners around me.  It was really cool to see a string of headlamps behind me and a string of flashing red lights in front of me.  I could tell I was by a lake for the majority of the run, but there was no moon so it was not so romantic.  I did indeed see a wild animal...but it was only a deer.  I was hoping it would not run out in front of me though!  After about 3 miles, I was so tired!  But then Fergie came through and "Fergalicous" came on my iPod.  Twas awesome and pumped me up to keep going.  I did not run as fast as I wanted to, but I really did enjoy myself on that run.  My body was so tired, but running at 2:30 in the morning was pretty cool, especially when a bunch of other people are as well.  I was so happy when the bright lights of the exchange were close and then I saw Tiffany! (She was my favorite face of this experience. :)  I did that leg of 5.5 miles in 1 hour and 13 minutes.

Tiffany was done a little over an hour later and then our van headed off to another school to rest up for our last legs!  The sun was starting to come up when we hit our sleeping bags!  Our van had put the sun to sleep and woke it on up!  Crazy!  I fell straight to sleep that time and we got about 2 hours before we had to get to the exchange.
Bagels were my favorite choice of food.
Once Jaclyn took off, we supported her some, and then waited at Nikki's exchange.  That is where we took this following picture!
At a bunch of the exchanges, there were people spray painting on the Ragnar symbol.  Mine is lime green, which is hard to see in this picture.  And this was our random friend who decided to show off his Ragnar tattoo.

Jaclyn came in and was done!!  Then Nikki was off!  Her leg took us from Heber to Midway.  We supported her along the way.  This is us at her exchange.  There were Honey Buckets at every exchange!  As gross as they are...thank heaven for Honey Buckets!!
I'm obviously showing a lot of love for that Honey Bucket.

One of the coolest things happened at this exchange.  We were with Brittany pumping her up and getting her ready.  Brittany was the leg that started up the hill that they call the "ragnar hill."  It was pretty steep and about 8 miles long.  Brittany and Liz split it.  Britt was really anxious about it.  This one girl was about to do that same leg, but yelled out to everyone around, "My dad is about to get here. He has really had a hard time with this leg!  His knees are struggling, but he is so stubborn and won't let one of our runners finish it for him.  Can you guys really cheer for him when he turns the corner?"  Oh geez...I'm getting goosebumps now.  Well, he rounded the corner.  He was probably in his mid 50s or so.  Everyone started cheering for him!  All of us started crying!  He was powering through, but you could tell he was having a hard time.  He kept putting his face down, which I'm thinking was so none of us could tell he was crying...but we all could. :) Then he slapped the bracelet on his daughter and then they hugged!  It seriously was the coolest moment to witness!  Then she was off and he hobbled on to the lawn and someone got him a cane.  Shortly after Brittany took off.

We got Nikki in the car and we went to go support Brittany!  We supported Britt a lot since she had a hard hill to climb!  She rocked it!  She made friends with this one guy and they became buddies to help each other up the hill.  His name was Ken...he was awesome! :) We really got in to the spirit on the Ragnar hill.  We were cheering other people on, giving them water, spraying them down with a spray bottle, and just loving the camaraderie!  After 4.4 miles, Liz took over and did awesome as well!  Then, as always, the anxiety starts since I realize I am next.  I had another long one ahead of me.  This last leg of mine was 7.0 miles and was mostly downhill.  Now, if this leg had been first...I probably would have flown down, but being as this leg was my 3rd, even downhill was not so easy.
Here I go!
Yeah...it's all downhill after that first uphill you see in the picture.
My leg started our descent into Park City!  It was so pretty!  I was able to power through a lot of the first half of my run.  I was running at a good speed and was feeling pretty good.  My hip flexors loosened up and did not hurt, but what did start to hurt...my left foot arch!  Like SO painful.  Going downhill is not so kind...it was very jolting and every time I came down on my left foot it would send a shock wave through my foot and ankle.  I tried not to think about it and just listen to my songs and look at the scenery.  About half way through the run, there is this straight up hill that goes for about .5 miles...which lasts forever when you're going uphill!!  Humorously, Maroon 5's "Harder to Breathe" song came on while on that hill.  There was a water station at the top and they told me I had gone 4 miles.  Alright...I'm over halfway!  I can do this.  But I really couldn't.  My body had honestly taken enough.  It did not want to go anymore.  I began to cry as my left foot was sending shooting pain everywhere now.  I began to say a prayer.  It went a little something like this:

"Heavenly Father, I don't think I can do this.  I want to...I really do.  But I hurt so badly.  I need you to give my physical strength and push me to do this.  Please.  I don't want to let down my teammates or myself.  Please....Please."

So I started to run again and pushed through.  Did my pain go away?  Nope.  But I was able to stop thinking about it momentarily.  I went probably another mile and my faith was beginning to fade again. I guess my body language is easy to read because this lady came up and asked what was wrong.  She reached into her fanny pack and handed me an ice cold sponge.  She told me to rub it wherever on my skin that it hurts.  Then off she went running.  That sponge was awesome!  It calmed down my calves and it felt amazing on my face!  At the last water station they told me I had 1.5 to go.  The guy there told me, "If you walk...you get there slower.  If you run...you hurt more.  Take your pick."  I had to run.  I HAD to do it.  So I did...I ran.

When I started my final descent, I could see the exchange down at the bottom.  Then I saw that blasted "1 mile to go" sign.  I started to hurt more than ever before.  I stopped running briefly to walk.  Then I got really mad at myself and began to run again.  Then I repeated this whole run, walk, get mad, and run again routine.  Then, as if divinely inspired, "The World's Greatest" by R. Kelly came on.  Now I know he did a bunch of crap...but this song is where it's at!  At just the moment where the big, black choir gets to the big key change, I see my teammates and my sister.  (And I'm crying all over again) I hear the cowbells and the cheering.  I'm there!  I'm so close!  I power through as the tears start to flow!  I get to Tiffany and slap on the bracelet.  She was so sweet.  Before she took off she asked how I was and told me I was awesome!  Then I hugged Krista.  (Krista was crying as well.)  She told me over and over again how proud she was of me, how strong I was, and that I was amazing.  My teammates joined around and gave me hugs and words of encouragement.  Then I thought to myself: I DID IT!  It took a couple minutes for it to sink in.  I did that 7.0 miles in 1 hour and 28 minutes!  So all together I went 19.8 miles in 4.5 hours!

We had to get on the shuttle, which takes us to a school in Park City where THE finish line is, since Tiff is the last runner.  There they had smoothies and other various foods for us.  We met up with our van 1, and then when Tiffany got there, we all cross the finish line together!!  We had ALL done it!
That's me cheering in the back. :)
Here are all 12 of us.  The 12 of us had gone from Logan to Park City.  The 12 of us had gone 197 miles in 35 hours!  If that's not impressive...then I don't know what is.
Back: Tiff, me, Liz, Britt  Front: Jaclyn, Nikki
But really...I owe it all to these 5 wonderful ladies and Krista!  They were my cheerleaders.  They were the ones that made me realize I can do hard things...harder than I ever realized.  They were the ones that made me laugh.  They were the ones that buoyed me up.  I am eternally bonded to these women and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to have this experience with them.
That's right!  I earned that medal!  I may just wear it everywhere from now on...

We got our free shirts, free pizza, and off we went as we were all seriously beat at that point!
Well, it's been 2 days since we finished.  I am still hobbling around.  I'm impressed at how quickly my quads, hip flexors, and butt recovered.  My shoulders have a lot of knots, my calves are pretty tight, and my dang left foot is still kinda killing me.  It gets better each day though.  I told Alex last night, "You know...my body hurts so much, but I don't even care!  It was so worth it!"  Then I followed it up with, "Kind of like the first 5-6 times we had sex."  TMI?  Too bad...my blog. :)

I so want to do Ragnar again!  It was awesome!  I really want Alex to do it with me so he can understand.  It was such a cool experience, and I want him to have it as well.  Brittany wants to try and do a family team for next year...so maybe I can convince him. :)

Ragnar really helped me see just what the human spirit it all about!  The human spirit is about supporting one another.  Strangers supported me, I supported strangers.  I supported my teammates, they supported me.  The human spirit is about doing hard things.  I, personally, went 19.8 miles on foot in a matter of 24 hours.  I never thought I could do that.  And finally, the human spirit is about having the ability to overcome, with the help of our Father in Heaven.  Ragnar was not only a fun experience for me...but it was also a spiritual experience for me.  I felt so close to my Heavenly Father and I felt so incredibly grateful for the strong body He was given me.

Ragnar 2013?!  I sure hope so! :)