Monday, November 28, 2011


So Ryan and I were able to take a lovely jaunt down to Orange County for Thanksgiving. We left the Friday before so we could get down to Cali in time to see Ryan's brother come home from his LDS mission in Kenya and Tanzania!
Needless to say, my mother-in-law was quite excited about having her son home after two years of him serving on the other side of the world. The whole family was excited. On the other hand, I didn't know what to think of the matter as I had never met the kid! So I was definitely anxious to meet my brother-in-law.
We all waited at the airport for him to come down the stairs... And he took FOREVER!!! My mother-in-law was so ready for him to be home. She would have thrown people down the stairs to get to him. But he finally came and there were screams and cheers as Elder Coles found his way into his loving mom's arms.Then it was time to go home and hear all about Africa from Evan. He brought home some really beautiful clothes, fabrics and sarongs (I'm sure he called them something different but I can't remember the name for them). He also brought home some Tanzanite! As a geology lover, this was so exciting to see as it is extremely rare and only found in Tanzania (hence the name...). Evan also brought all the girls in the family traditional dresses. They are really pretty! We all wore them to church proudly as he gave his homecoming talk the next morning.
Needless to say, it was a whirlwind couple of days with little sleep as everyone, especially Pam and my nephew, was so excited to have Evan home.
Then the wonderful excitement of Thanksgiving!
Pam and I had a wonderful adventure trying to find a turkey for Thanksgving dinner! Usually she has all the food bought much before but due to Evan's arrival the weekend before Thanksgiving, grocery shopping was put off in favor of making sure everything was perfect for her son to come home after 2 years. So we went to Costco late Tuesday night to go and find some Thanksgiving grub. We found most of our items... BUT NO TURKEY!! They were sold out. Our cashier even told us that one man had bought 20 turkeys! Insane. So, needless to say, we were just praying that enchiladas would not be the main course for the holiday dinner... Well, the next day we went and found a turkey. Thank goodness. It was hilarious though to see my nephew poke the turkey over and over in the cart and say, "That's one dead pig!"
We made a few things that night for the next day but mostly we were excited to set the big table up and make everything.
Thanksgiving was great. We had turkey, stuffing, sweet potaoes, green beans, creamed corn, rolls and more than I could intake. It was delicious! I made a really good dessert too! It was a pumpkin gingerbread trifle! Definitely a good one to have on the holidays. We had all the family there except David and Darcy who were with her family. But we had Nellie and her mom come as well as some grandparents! It was a beautiful family meal. As per usual, we laughed, we cried, we gave thanks and we ate to our hearts content.
It was a wonderful time to give thanks and share in love and togetherness.
I was sad to not see my family on Thanksgiving. It is to have family so spread out and far away. But Ryan and I were able to talk to my parents and brother and that helped ease the sadness.
Well, it was then on to the afternoon nap and Black Friday planning! Nellie and I had our eyes on Black Friday deals. The boys all had a plan to storm the Apple Stores and buy new iPhones. We strategized and at midnight, the plan went forward. However, the Apple Store didn't open til 8 am and H&M didn't open until 5 am. So we left Evan, Nellie and Pam at the mall to go to shopping and Ryan and I went home to bed. We were supposed to rise and shine at 4 but slept in til 6:30. I am so glad we did. The sales were lame. Ryan did get a new iPhone though and he is just giddy with joy. I bought a beautiful red cocktail dress and we were both very satisfied with our purchases.
Sadly then it was time to go home the next day. But our trip was definitely one to fondly remember. Full of sleepovers, dogs, and family.
I am so grateful for family and the Gospel in our lives. I am grateful for my husband and his love. We are truly blessed people are hope that we can share that same light with the world.
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I just wanted to take the time to write a note to the veteran's in my family and to all my friends who have also sacrificed to serve our country.
A simple thank you cannot be enough. Yet, it is one of the few ways to actually convey a message. Restaurants today are giving away free meals. Discounts are given at department stores. In essence, we are all still trying to figure out a good way to say thank you.
As someone who comes from a military family, I can only say how proud I am of my relatives. My father, brother, uncles, aunts, friends and coworkers who have all served in the most trying of times and circumstances. I am forever grateful to those people who have had such an influence on my life in more ways than I can say.
Now, a special word for my dearest Dad and to my brother, Seth. I love you both. I am so proud of you, especially my brother who is currently serving in the United States Navy. To my Dad who was in the Air Force during Vietnam, thank you for being so amazing. You are such a light in my life and an inspiration. My family is absolutely amazing. I couldn't be more proud. Thank you Seth for your inspiring service! We love you!
Thank you to all our veteran's. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. God Bless America!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh how time flies....

I still cannot believe that it is almost Thanksgiving. What a fast year this has been. I honestly feel like it was just yesterday that Ryan and I were walking out of the temple just having been married. But, instead, that has been almost nine months since then and oh the adventures we have had.
I mean, seriously, since we have been married:
Ryan has graduated
Ryan has written a curriculum that he should be receiving awards for.
We have been to four countries.
I have been to Egypt! (LIFE GOAL)
I have been hired for a full time job for post-graduation (though I would love to start now and skip the rest of classes...)
Ryan has decided to get his Master's at BYU.
I graduate in only 5 more weeks (including Thanksgiving week which doesn't even count as school!)
We bought a new car
Ryan and I both had birthdays (24 and 23 respectively)
And at Thanksgiving, I finally get to meet my brother-in-law who gets back from serving an LDS mission to Kenya and Tanzania!
All in all, it has been a whirlwind. But it has been so much fun.
I guess all this reminiscing is just because my graduation is looming in the distance... 5 years and 2 majors later I will finally be done and I will not be going back to start another semester after Christmas. It is just an odd sense to have of not being a student anymore. But it is so much fun to think about.
I know Ryan and I are so excited to have some time where neither of us are in school and therefore can have some fun plans without homework getting in the way.

I went into my work this past Friday and I got introduced to the company that I will be working for. CityWorks is a great company that creates and runs GIS databases for cities to use to maintain infrastructure. I am so excited to be part of the training portion of this company and to get to help and teach people about how to best utilize our products. CityWorks is a great place to work for and the atmosphere reminds me of Pixar to some degree. It's a blue jean workplace so people feel comfortable and innovative and as I was meeting the programmers, they were in the hall hitting a golf ball around brainstorming on new pieces to put into the updated software. All in all, I am so blessed to have this job and to be part of their staff.

I also am getting nostalgic because it is the holiday season. I LOVE this time of year. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the best. The food, the smells, the family, the laughs. They are the best times to remember to be grateful and to give to those who are less fortunate than you are.
Ryan and I are guilty of being the people who start listening to Christmas music November 1st. We just think that the happiness and messages that are in the music can be applied to Thanksgiving as well.
Ryan and I have had an amazing opportunity to begin working with an investigator to the Church. Ryan met our friend (I won't say his name) when he went out with the Spanish speaking LDS missionaries. They met with this family and the young man was interested. He has had a hard life and needless to say, has done some bad things. But, he has a firm desire to know more and to change. We took him to church with us 2 weeks ago. It was his first time to a church EVER. It was his first time wearing a tie or Sunday clothes. He enjoyed the lessons and the atmosphere. He had a lot of questions and thankfully he was receptive to the answers. This past Sunday Ryan took him to our old single's ward. He loved being around people his own age and to be in a place where he could see people choosing to do good without being forced by parents or adults. He was shocked when a guy stood up and announced that their apartment would be watching Tangled that night and making cookies and that the ward was invited. Our friend was in shock that guys in college were watching Disney movies and making cookies. (Weird, but awesome in my mind.) Either way, our friend is moving forward. He is excited to do more things with the Church and I hope that he can stay on the path even during the hard times...

I hope that this season we can all share a little more and enjoy the little things more and more each day. Taking this time to remember those who are away from home and family because of work, military, missions and school. Inviting someone over who might otherwise spend their day alone and sharing with them. That's what this season is all about.
I think that was what I learned most from living in the Middle East this summer... That we are so lucky to have what we do. That here in America, it truly is a land where you can have your dreams of freedom and happiness come true. It humbled me to see circumstances of others, like the Coptic Christians in Trash City in Cairo. Or our friend Muhammad who left his family in Egypt to find work in a falafel shop in Amman. Those are people who changed my life. I miss them as if they were family.

Though there are people in this nation right now who are saying that America is rotten and corrupt and immoral, I still believe that, for the most part, we are just people trying to find success. We still believe that there is hope and opportunity. We still believe that hard work and innovation are what bring forth ideas and industries that change the world. We are a nation of entrepreneurs and mountain movers. Yes we make mistakes and blunders, but a true worker and American uses that as a springboard for greater chances. I still believe in America. And that is something to be proud of.

Again, I hope this Holiday season we can all choose to be a little more loving and caring. That we might find once again the meaning behind struggles and be lifted up in hope that it can and will all be made right because of God and His infinite love for us. I know that my Savior lives and that, through Him, all is well. I know that families can be together forever and that the temple is a house of God. I am so grateful for all that I have. Ryan and I have been truly blessed.
Happy Holidays!