Friday, December 20, 2013

The Twelve Days of Finals

He did it! Brad survived his first semester of law school!
Finals were rough, but he got through them.
He won’t know his grades until the end of January. They say that’s to make sure they all come back!
But I am sure that he will get amazing grades. He always does.

To help Brad get through finals, I decided to give him
The Twelve Days Of Finals

I figured out which day I would need to start so that I would end on the day of his last final.
All of the things were pretty silly, but I had fun with it.

Sometimes, you just have to do silly things to help each other through difficult things.

For sake of our sanity, I will just post them all from 12 down.

On the TWELFTH day of FINALS
my true love gave to me:

12 Reasons why She Loves Me
11 Songs About Us
10 Dollar Ornament
9 Festive Oreos
8 Kisses
7 Encouraging Text Messages
6 St. Lucia’s Buns
5 Golden Rings
4 Coupons
3 Lucky Pennies
2 Warm Gloves
And a snack for study placed under the tree.

And in case you cared to see, here are the pictures:

Brad really likes cheese crackers.

Poor dear, his hands were freezing on the way to school. 

This was the day before Brad's first exam, so I wanted him to have some luck to take along.
My Grandpa always gave me lucky coins. When I left on my mission, 
he gave me a coin that I always kept in my scripture case. 
Grandpa always looked for good years. 
Brads 3 pennies had good years.
1989: the year we were born
1992: the year we met
2013: the year we were married

Pretty simple.

Each golden (ok, yellow) ring had a message 

Yes, there are more than six, but you know...

He's so great!

Not sure why I didn't put the oreos in this picture... oops. 
They were the Christmas ones with red cream. 

Normally, I would never spend $10 on an ornament... but we have been looking everywhere for an "Our First Christmas" Ornament, so I couldn't resist. Plus, we have a billion gift cards to Target.
The picture isn't great, but it says Mr. & Mrs. 2013.

Glad Melannie got me set up with Spotify!

Last, but not least.

Like I said, all really silly things, but I think it's good to be silly every now and again.
I'm so blessed to be married to such an amazing man who works so hard but 
always has time for the things that matter most. 
I am so proud of him for surviving his first semester of law school.

We are so excited to have a two week break now.
Arizona, here we come!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

St. Lucia's Day, Fun New Cousins, and Dancing in the Kitchen

Man, if that amazing title doesn’t make you want to read this post, I don’t know what will!
 Let me tell you, this is good stuff.

Brad is ¼ Swedish!
Something that I love love loooove about his family is that they follow lots of fun Swedish traditions. Today is St. Lucia’s Day. You can read all about it here . To celebrate this day, it is traditional to make
St. Lucia’s Buns and have the eldest girl take them to family.
We may not have an eldest daughter quite yet, but that doesn't mean that Brad doesn't want his rolls! 
So Brad’s cousin Melannie and I decided that we would tackle the recipe!

Now, some things you should know about me: I LOVE to bake and cook. 
I generally like to think that I’m pretty good at it. 
Except when it comes to yeast… that makes me nervous! 
So, I bravely decided that I would have to overcome my fear of baking with a living organism
so that the love of my life could have his special sweet rolls. 
Plus, Melannie is ¼ Swedish, so her good blood and 
my good intentions must count for something, right?

I had SO much fun spending time with Melannie! That is a super fantastic thing about getting married… you suddenly have an entirely new family on top of your already amazing family! 
Melannie is basically awesome and we had such a blast!
 She has great taste in music, we have similar jobs, and we get along great.
The evening included her setting up a Spotify account for me, finding this song, 
and dancing around the kitchen with spatulas. 
We may have listened to the same song 3 or 4 times in a row. 
It's good.
Go take a listen.

 So we mixed and kneaded the dough 

and prepared it to rise…
Moment of truth.
Had we killed the yeast?
About 20 minutes passed and nothing had really happened.
So Melannie set the bowl above the cupboards since heat rises.
10 minutes later, still nothing…
So we got the space heater and pointed it directly at the bowl 
which we sat on top of a suitcase to be the right height.
And voilà! 
We proceeded to shape them into the traditional S shape.

Melannie’s S’s were definitely better than mine. 
She says it’s because she is ¼ Swedish. Must be.

Melannie was plenty confident about her S's.

Me? Not so much...

Then it was time to let them rise again. 

This time, the only mishap was that an stove burner was still on from cooking dinner 
(we were multi-tasking), and Melannie burned her finger when moving the cookie sheet. 
Oops. I'm still feeling bad, Melannie!

Then it was time to pop those buggers in the oven and hope for the best. 
Once they were frosted and cooled, we definitely deemed them a success!

This morning, Brad said that they taste just like he thinks they should! Woot! 
Maybe I do have some Swedish blood in me after all… 
(Melannie says that she thinks my great-great-great uncle’s brother’s cousin’s son-in-law’s mom 
...once dated a Swede… could be!)

In all, it was a great time and we are looking forward to many more St. Lucia's Days.

Thanks, Melannie for the good time and good rolls!

And to close off, a quick trip down memory lane of the year Brad chose me
 to play St. Lucia as he told the story at school.
I remember thinking this was a really big deal! And it was!

Happy St. Lucia's Day 
to all you Swedes out there!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

My, has it been a long time since the last post! Sorry guys... life has been happening. Namely, my work hours were increased (which btws was a HUGE blessing), I got a few piano students (ditto to the blessing), school is busy, I am loving the small bit of time that I get with Brad outside of his CRAZY law-school-finals-are-approaching schedule, and the like. Not to mention house work and a total failed effort at is basically a non-effort now. But life is good. Really, it's great. Brad and I are still lucky in love and getting through this tough/busy time together. 

So quick update: Thanksgiving was amazing! We went to Idaho to visit my aunt and uncle and their family and it was perfect! We were able to relax a bit before diving into finals and it was so fun to be with everyone. While we reeeeally missed our AZ families, it was good to be able to get away from Provo without the 12 hour drive and see our amazing family. We are so grateful that they invited us!

So, the Christmas season is upon us! It is my favorite time of year. 
For this one, we WILL be making the trek down to AZ and couldn't be more excited. 
But we are already enjoying the Christmas spirit and 
it is definitely getting Christmasy around these parts!

We bought a Christmas tree and set it up for our Family Home Evening on Monday. 
We had so much fun! It is neat beginning our own Christmas traditions, 
and while we may not have much, we have enough, and we have each other. 
I am so grateful that Brad makes time for me in his crazy busy schedule. 
He is always home on Monday evenings and we always go out on Friday nights and 
Sunday he is home all day. I am truly blessed!!
 Brad works so hard! He is up at 5:00 am for his personal scripture study and to be to school by 7:00 to study before class. Tuesdays through Thursdays, I see him for about 30 min to eat dinner and 
have scriptures together and then he is off again to study til about 10:30 or 11:00. 
Saturday he is gone all day studying hard. I am so grateful for the sacrifices he is making 
to be able to get his degree but even more so for the sacrifices he is making to get away 
from his studies for awhile so that we can still have time together. He is the best! 

Both of us have always had "fun" Christmas ornaments, so it's bit weird having "pretty ones," 
but that is what we can afford and we think it looks nice! 
We want to get an "Our First Christmas" ornament, but we are having trouble finding one. 
There are plenty online, so I might just go that route. 

I collect nativities and have quite a few. I only brought this one up for fear of breaking the others. 
My Mom and my Grandma sent us 2 small ones as well and we have those displayed too. 
I love nativities! How important it is to remember the true meaning of Christmas. 
I hope we can all remember that the first Christmas gift was the Father's gift of His Son to all of us. 
What can we give back this Christmas? 

Now for the part of Christmas time that is kind of difficult for me. 
We had our first storm yesterday.
Let's just leave it saying that this Arizona girl has some learning to do.
I might have driven 25 the entire way to work, praying the whole time that I would make it. 
I might have driven 30 on the way back, wishing that I could just get home already!
But hey, what can I expect for my first time EVER driving in a snow storm! I will get used to it... hopefully!

Brad on the other hand, likes the snow a lot more than I do. 
Let's be real... it doesn't take much to like the snow more than I do! haha. 
But he is a real trouper walking to school in the snow. I actually am really glad that the law school 
is just down the street so that I don't have to worry about him driving on the bad roads. 

By the time I left for work, the snow had picked up a bit. 
I hadn't thought about having to dig the car out of the snow! It was definitely an experience. 
It wasn't too bad yesterday, but today when everything was iced over it was quite the adventure... 
I might have fallen straight onto my rear... twice. 
I might also have gotten stuck in a snow bank when I can home and stopped a neighbor and 
a random stranger to help push me out. 
Thank you, random stranger!!

So what are your tips for driving in snow? 
How about tips for not falling on the ice? My back is really hurting! haha. 

In all, life is great! I have an excuse to drink way too much wassail/hot cocoa/ apple cider, 
Brad is safe walking to school, I am learning a new driving skill, and most importantly, 
we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. He is truly the reason for the season. 

Remember, to find the true spirit of Christmas we need only drop the last syllable, 
and it becomes the spirit of Christ. 

So let me leave you with this...

What will you do this year to have a Christ-centered Christmas?
Who will you help to feel the Lord's love?
What will you do to serve others at this time of giving? 

May you all enjoy the season!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wisdom from Dad: Waiting Upon the Lord

My Dad is such an example to me. When he wrote to me while on my mission, explaining how we could appropriately wait upon the Lord, I knew that I would live by those wise words forever. 
I also knew that I would need to put the saying on something beautiful that I could see often. 
When I took the picture above, I knew that the two went together perfectly.

One of my favorite verses of scripture is Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

So what exactly does it mean to wait upon the Lord? It means that our timing is not His. 
He knows the end from the beginning, and at times, we must wait to know what He would have us do.
At times, we must endure times of trial and darkness before the light shines forth. 
Perhaps we beg the Lord for guidance, and nothing seems to come. 
We ask, "Oh God, where art Thou?" and receive nothing. 
But that does not mean that we have been forsaken or forgotten. 
It means that we must wait upon the Lord. It means that we have an opportunity to show forth our faith and move forward with trust. My Dad taught me how to best do this: 
Work while you wait, whistle while you work, and watch for the hand of the Lord to be revealed.

WORK: The Lord expects us to continue to move forward, even when we do not have 
the entire picture. He asks us to continue in obedience. He expects us to serve. 
While we are seeking guidance, we must do exactly that: seek. If we are but sitting and waiting,
wasting the precious time that the Lord has given us, I don't believe that the answers will come. 
The clearest guidance that I have received from the Lord has come in times when I am on my feet, serving, seeking, studying the word, and striving with my might to do 
what I think the Lord would have me do. We must work.

WHISTLE: We have two choices of attitude while waiting upon the Lord. 
We can become upset and discouraged that we have not received the desired answer or blessing, 
or we can cheerfully do all in our power to be the people He would have us be. 
I have said it before, but I still believe it with all my might. 
Obedience brings blessings. 
Obedience with a smile brings power. 
Yes, the path may be dark. Yes, you may feel that hope is hanging by a thread. 
But, if we will but put our trust in the Lord, moving along with a skip in our step and 
a whistle on our lips, we will be happy and find joy in the journey, even when the path is dark.

WATCH: We must be constantly watching for the answers and directions to come from Heaven. 
God will answer. He has promised us that. 
It may not be in our time, and it usually will not be in our way, but answer He will. 
For that, we must be always watching, ready and worthy to receive the answer when it comes.
We must pray with our might, get up and search the scriptures for answers, and then go forward, looking for that guidance. It will come. And when it does, we must act. 
The Lord gives to those who are ready to receive the word and do as they are told. 
I truly believe that as we receive and act on promptings from God, 
we can be trusted with more, and life can truly be guided by Heaven.

Brad and I have seen this prove true in these last almost 5 months of marriage. 
When we first moved up here, I was wanting things to fall right in to place. 
When they didn't, I was frustrated and sad. But my dad's words rang true in my mind. 
Work while you wait, whistle while you work, and watch for the hand of the Lord to be revealed. 
As we have done this, job opportunities for me have opened up at the perfect time. Those jobs came after I wanted and asked for them, but exactly when I needed them and was truly ready for them.
People have blessed our lives at church, in school, and in the community. 
We have found places to serve and bless others. And the Lord continues to guide our steps daily. 
There are still moments when we have to take a step into the dark, 
not sure of exactly what we are to do, but we can be sure of those steps, 
because The Savior is holding our hands, guiding us through that darkness into a more perfect light.
The Lord knows the right timing. He knows me. He knows you.  
Waiting upon the Lord has truly enabled us to renew our strength, 
to run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint. 

How have you been blessed by waiting upon the Lord?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Traditiooooon! Tradition!

If it worked to keep Anatevka in balance, it will work for us!

A super fun part of the first year of marriage is establishing family traditions
It's fun to take a little bit of what I grew up doing, and a little of what Brad grew up doing, 
and mix in some new ideas of our own to create fun new traditions. 
Halloween was no exception for us.

I LOVE any excuse to dress up. Brad does not so much, but he is a really good sport about it because he knows that I really enjoy it. So we had great plans to go to a law school costume party. When Brad told me about it, I readily agreed. We went to the thrift store to get some awesome costumes together! 
The day of the party, I left work and listened to a message from Brad.
It basically went like this. 
"So... I was talking to people at school to see if they were going to the party tonight. 
No one seemed to know what I was talking about... so I checked the email again with the info.
...And... you can make fun of me for this forever... 
the party was actually last Friday..."
Gotta love stressed-over-law-school-and-therefore-also-semi-scatterbrained-husbands.
So, we didn't get to dress up this year,. But on the up side, 
we already have awesome costumes for next year. 

Another Halloween tradition that we both love is carving pumpkins
We decided to share one pumpkin instead of carving two, 
and that is where the decision making came in. 
I am a free-hand kind of pumpkin carver. 
We're talking 3 triangles and a half moon (with some spiky teeth of course).
Brad is a pattern kind of guy.
We decided to tackle a pattern.

Taking the guts out of the pumpkin is always a joy. 
Or not.

We realized after we started that we don't actually own any tape... 
I don't really know why not... haven't had a need in 4 months of marriage I guess...
Note to self: Add tape to my grocery list.
So we stuck knifes into the pattern to hold it to the pumpkin. 

So cute and concentrated

We think it turned out pretty great!

A tradition that we took from my family is a spooky Halloween dinner. 
With only the two of us, I didn't go all out like my Mom does. 
Seriously, she is the queen of Halloween food. 
But we still had a fun dinner. 

Eye balls that don't exactly look like eye balls... but they were tasty!!

Something that Brad and I were both really looking forward to was giving out candy to trick-or-treaters. We live on a main road, so we weren't sure we would get many, but figured 
we would get at least a pretty good number. 
So I bought a big bag of candy. 
And at the end of the night, the grand total of kids who knocked on the door?
8... Seriously. Four groups of two kids each. 
But we still had fun being able to give them some sweet treats!
And we now have entirely too much candy in the house.

One activity that will not become tradition that we tried this year was watching 
"Nightmare Before Christmas." For reals. I couldn't stand it. 
As a child, I was not allowed to watch Tim Burton movies. As an adult, I just don't like them. 
I had never seen it, but Brad remembered liking it. After an hour and a half of weird music, a bad plot, and plenty of creepiness, we realized that neither of us are fans, so that one will go out the window. 

But dressing up, pumpkin carving, Halloween dinner, and 
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will remain! 

In all, it was a great first Halloween, and made for a couple of super fun date nights!

What are your Halloween traditions?

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