Thursday, December 31, 2009

Visiting Home

I think one of my New Year's resolutions should have something to do with blogging. This is getting pathetic.

Shawn and I had a very enjoyable anniversary (way back on December 21st). We went out to dinner using a gift card that we had received as a wedding gift (yes...we were given the gift card two years ago). We went to a place called the Palomino, which is a more upscale restaurant (though not overly fancy). Although everything we ate was good, my favorite part of the meal was actually our appetizer....a king crab and artichoke dip! Sooooo good!

On Christmas Eve, we flew to Ohio to spend the holidays with my family. The whole trip was pretty low-key, but it was very nice to get to spend time with everyone. While we were here, we also got to spend some time with my friend Sara (who I've actually known since I was three!) and my friend Lis (who I've been friends with since Junior High).

Today, we were originally scheduled to fly out at 6:00am, but when we attempted to drop off our bags, we were told that our flight had been oversold. We agreed to take a later flight in exchange for two free travel vouchers, so my poor parents came back to the airport (driving through the snow) to pick us up. We'll be hanging out here now until it's time to go back to the airport for our afternoon flight.

Unfortunately, this means that our evening plans will have to be changed, since we won't be getting in to Seattle until about 10:30 tonight. I doubt we'll be able to make it to our friends' party before we may just have to ring in the New Year while in our car, driving back home. :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Anniversary, #2!

It was two years ago today (December 21st) that Shawn and I were married! I'm typing this, two years ago at this very moment (6:30pm, MST), we were either taking pictures in the church after the ceremony, or we were arriving at the reception. :)

I have such wonderful memories of that day! I couldn't have asked for anything better. Sure, our guests probably would have preferred if it hadn't snowed (especially since we were married in the mountains, and most of our guests had to come up from Denver), but that just made it all the more memorable for everyone! And we got some pretty awesome pictures. :-)

The last two years have been absolutely much has happened, and we've been truly blessed! I'm excited to see what year #3 will bring! I love you, Shawn!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Counting Down...

So...Christmas is just over a week away. Where has the time gone?! It really hasn't felt like Christmas to me for the most part. It's helped having the decorations up, but it was very easy for me to forget that it's actually December. I think part of that is the fact that I'm still not used to living somewhere that gets so little snow. (We did get a little recently, though...just enough to dust the ground.)

Last Friday, my facebook status had something to do with the fact that I hadn't started buying presents yet. Honestly...not a single gift (except for the ornament I bought for our "Nestie" gift exchange). Not even an anniversary gift for Shawn. So on Saturday morning, Shawn and I went shopping. And we didn't leave the living room. It was pretty awesome. :)

As of today, I think we have 3 more people we still need to buy for. Unfortunately, I think I might be on the verge of being too late to buy the rest online, so I might have to brave the mall area on Sunday. Should be interesting. :)

And as of right now (midnight, Wednesday night), I have 50 Christmas cards written...70ish to go! Oh, and Shawn still needs to sign them. And they need to be addressed. And stamped. And sealed. My goal is to have them finished by Friday night so they can be dropped off at the post office on Saturday. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Using God's Gifts

If you're a church-goer, I'm sure you've heard sermons and lessons about the importance of using the gifts that God has given you...right? I remember as a kid thinking that I didn't really have any "talents." I can definitely carry a tune, but I'm not a great singer. I took piano lessons for about five years (and there were very brief stints at the violin and the flute), but I wouldn't say that I'm a talented musician. I've been in plays, but I was always cast in minor amazingly great acting talent here. I'm NOT athletic, so that's definitely not a gift that God gave me. In my mind, these were the kinds of gifts these sermons and lessons were talking about, so I always felt a little bad that I didn't have a gift I could use.

As I got older, it finally dawned on me that there are lots of different kinds of gifts. I spent a lot of time as a teenager volunteering with different groups and organizations. I think that the willingness to give of yourself and of your time is a gift that people often don't consider. As an adult, I realized that one of my gifts is the ability to handle of group of middle school and/or high school students without losing my sanity, so I taught Religious Ed to 6th and 7th graders at church for a few years.

Since getting married, though, and moving up here, I haven't really been doing much in the way of using the gifts God has given me. I think this is probably the case for a lot of us...and I think I might know why. Another sermon/lesson I remember hearing a lot is the importance of being humble. Don't think of yourself as being better than others...right? Don't be proud. And yet, to be able to use the gifts God has given you, you have to acknowledge that you are gifted in a certain area, don't you? You have to be able to think, "Yes, I am good at *this*, and here's what I can do with that."

I finally started acknowledging a couple of my God-given gifts lately. #1 - I really don't mind public speaking. It's been a long time since I've gotten nervous to stand in front of a crowd and talk. And #2 - I'm good at reading out loud. I actually enjoyed having opportunities to read out loud to my students, and they would occasionally ask me to do it for them.

So a few weeks ago, I volunteered to become a Lector at our church. If you're not Catholic...a Lector is someone who reads the Scripture readings to the congregation during Mass. I was privileged to be one of the Lectors at Mass each of the last two Sundays, and if I do say so myself, I did a pretty good job. :-)

I was particularly happy to find out that one of the readings I was responsible for (the second reading this past Sunday) was one of my all-time favorite passages. I think it's one that just about anybody can relate here it is!

Philippians 4:4-7 "Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Terrible Blogger!

Wow...I knew that I'd been a bad blogger lately, but I didn't realize that it had been almost two weeks since I last posted! I'm a terrible blogger!

I've actually been thinking about why I haven't been blogging much lately. The first excuse that I thought of was that not much has been happening...but truthfully, just as much has been happening as usual, and that hasn't really stopped me from rambling on aimlessly before. :-) Then I thought that maybe I've been busier than normal...but that really isn't the case at all.

So the excuse I'm going to stick with is this: since I now spend 40 hours a week sitting in front of my computer for work, when I'm finished working, I don't really have much of a desire to sit by the computer and type. Oh sure, I'll still chat with my friends on the Nest, and I'll still use Facebook (including playing Mafia Wars and Bejeweled Blitz), but for the most part, that doesn't take actual brain power.

I'm also going to blame part of it on Blogger (the actual blog site). For the last few weeks (or maybe it's months by now), I've been having issues with my formatting. It's really gotten to be a pain in the neck to get things to load correctly on this blog, and for the slightly-OCD side of my personality, that's very frustrating.

But as an apology, I'm going to brave the formatting issues and leave you with a few pictures of our living room, finally decorated for Christmas. The last photo is an ornament that my Nestie friend Bev sent to me, which I think is completely awesome since this is our first holiday season in our own home!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, 2008 (374 pages)

I had heard a lot of buzz around the internet about this book, which is pretty impressive considering it just came out last year. I'm sure part of the reason for all the hype is that A) it's a good book, and B) the sequel came out a couple months ago. It actually made the New York Times bestseller list.

The story is set in the nation of Panem, which is located in the ruins of a place once known as North America. This nation is comprised of the Capitol and 12 surrounding Districts. The Capitol controls everybody, and to help keep everyone in line, they hold the "Hunger Games" once a year. One boy and one girl (between the ages of 12 and 18) from each District are chosen by lottery to participate in the games, where the 24 tributes fight to the death.

I actually read the majority of this book in one day. Granted, it's a "Young Adult" novel, so it's a fast read, but it's good enough that I didn't want to put it down. I put in a request at the library for the sequel; there are 34 "holdable copies" in our library system, and I started at #170 on the waiting list. I think the quote I found from Katie Roiphe of The Wall Street Journal says it well: It's "[A] stylish, postmodern Lost in direct collision with The Lord of the Flies. It's a little science fiction, a little survival story, and a little social commentary, all wrapped up together.

I really enjoyed this book, and if you can find a copy of it, I definitely recommend it!
Total number of books read in 2009: 41
Total number of pages read in 2009: 14760

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Our lives were certainly a bit more hectic than normal last week with 7 people in the house! But that's one thing that Shawn and I are very thankful for this year...that we were able to purchase a house that allows us to comfortably have multiple people come stay with us! I had the house to myself during the days, Monday through Wednesday, since I had to work. Shawn spent those days with his family, exploring the city. They were nice enough to bring me a cannoli one day and a cupcake another day. :)

On Thursday, most of my day was spent cooking! I did have a bit of help in the kitchen, and I was able to keep an eye on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We also had the football games on (except the Broncos game, which was only shown on the NFL Network...which we don't get as part of our cable package here), and Shawn had some time to play with his nephews.

We ended up having so much food on Thursday! Much of what I made was the same as last year, but that's okay with me! For munchies before dinner, I made the caramel toffee fruit dip and served it with apple slices, and we had baby carrots and celery. Shawn's mom made roasted garlic that she served with bread and cheese. For the actual dinner, I made cranberry sauce, corn casserole, the turkey (of course!), gravy (I'll admit...this came from a packet), mashed potatoes, fried sweet potatoes, and dinner rolls. Shawn made a salad for us, but unfortunately, people seemed to avoid the more healthy options that day. :) We had some friends over, too, and our friend Annie brought some yummy stuffing and the traditional green bean casserole. Another friend brought some desserts...a pumpkin cheesecake and a cranberry-orange trifle. I also made a milk chocolate pecan pie and the same apple pie I made last year. Oh, and we had both whipped cream and ice cream available. :)

Needless to say....we were all really full by the time we finished eating! It was so nice to be able to host a holiday meal for family and friends! I'm hoping that this was just the first of many that Shawn and I can put together. :)