30 June 2009

the sweetest thing.

Today Rob and I are celebrating our FIVE year wedding anniversary. Man, does time fly by! Some days it feels like we're still newlyweds. But at the same time, it feels like we've been married forever: I honestly can't really remember what life was like without him...

so here are some wedding pictures for you to enjoy: (is it just me, or have we changed a lot?)


And today we got the best anniversary present ever................ A JOB!!!!!


After many prayers, fasting, and even more prayers, Rob signed the papers today and is now part of the United States Army. Joining the military again has always been our backup backup plan, but one day last winter Rob came home from work and told me he'd stopped by the Army recruiter's office. I was sort of like, ok, why?, then I just knew that that's what we're supposed to do. I don't know why yet, and we may never really know, but we're trusting the Lord on this one. It's been a loooong process (we started way back in March) and at one point we weren't sure if was going to happen, but it's really happening! He leaves December 3rd for Officer Training School, and should commission as an officer in March. And at that point he'll find out what specific job he'll have and where we're headed (we're hoping for overseas at some point, but we'll see). So now we just sit tight until December.

And I, of course, have some pictures to commemorate the event. We thought that he'd be swearing in today in addition to signing the papers so I brought myself and my camera to MEPS in Raleigh to capture it. Ends up he didn't have to swear in because he's prior enlisted. So instead I just took a picture of him with his Army sticker:
And here's Rob with his recruiter, (Staff) Seargent Vernon. He's been awesome throughout this whole ordeal and we've grown quite fond of him: if you're looking to join up, we highly recommend him:
On the way back from MEPS we stopped for a yummy lunch (instead of an anniversary dinner) since it was not only lunchtime, but Rob hadn't eaten since about 2am when he left to go to MEPS. Oh, it was so good, see for yourself:
And lucky for us Max behaved himself (although he still made a mess, thank goodness we ate outside). And we snapped an impromtu family portrait:
And then snapped a couple of us. The turned out kind of weird, but when you're taking them yourself what do you expect?

And now comes the hard part (for me): learning all the military jargon. Right now it seems like everything Sgt. Vernon has told me has gone right over my head because I don't speak military yet (oh! the acronyms. They're going to be the death of me!) I hope I can do it. (And then the even harder stuff will start...) But we're all extremely excited and definitely ready to start the next chapter of our life!


Oh, I forgot to mention the best part: we can retire in 16 years if we want!

27 June 2009

the trek

Where to begin? I guess a little bit of background would be a good place.

Most everyone who knows me knows I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A Mormon. And if you didn't know before, you do now. Anyway, there is a rich history associated with my church, full of persecution and faith and obstacles and more faith. (If you are interested in a much better and complete history of my church, go here) And a big part of that history was the trek west to the Salt Lake Valley. After the official organization of my church in 1830, the members were forced to move around a lot because of persecution, and in 1846 were finally forced out of the United States. Thus began the exodus west to find a place no one else wanted, where no one would hurt them or force them out of their homes anymore. And that place was the Great Salt Lake Valley (basically, a desert). However, at the same time there were missionaries (just like today!) sent out, and those sent to England (and some other European countries) were very successful. Back then, all the members were called to join together in one place, so those were baptized in other countries basically sold everything they had to go to the United States to join the other members of their church there. But once the members moved to the Salt Lake Valley, it proved to be a huge obstacle for most. They were very poor, and barely had the means to make it to the U.S., let alone all the way west. Which meant a wagon and team of oxen were out of the question. So they scraped together what money and supplies they could and bought or built handcarts: a little square container with two wheels and a frame in front that you would use to pull it yourself. And they went west, pulling their own supplies and possessions. Unfortunately, in addition to the obvious hardships traveling like this has, many of the handcart companies left late in the season and ended up traveling in the winter. Many, many died on the trek west and today they still serve as an example to us of faith and fortitude. So many gave their lives for what they believed.

So, this summer the youth of this area of my church had the opportunity to re-enact part of the handcart trek. Obviously, we're in a different part of the U.S., so our topography and climate is different, but they were still able to get a little feel of what it was like to travel with a handcart. I went as a photographer and took a lot of photos, but it was TOUGH so I must admit, they aren't my best. After the first couple of miles into it I went into survival mode:) And I'll let you know, I call it a re-enactment, but it wasn't a true re-enacment. We were all dressed like pioneers from the 19th century, but only to an extent: we all wore our own underwear and tennis shoes and I highly doubt there was a single corset. And we had kool-aid and tents and porta-potties and 4-wheelers to cart the sick and injured out. But I'm sure we looked crazy enough to the people who would drive by on the few parts we were hiking down the road.

It was in the 90s all three days and HUMID and really muddy because it had rained a lot the days leading up to it. And there were CRAZY obstacles those kids had to work around, like hills (and hills and more hills), and logs, and switchbacks, and a 4 foot drop, and creeks. And honestly, before I went I wasn't too worried about the physical side of it. I mean, I'd been jogging in the mornings and walking a lot, and I'd been on my fair share of hikes and death marches (really really hard backpacking trips). Well, I could not keep up with these kids. I would start out in the front, and slowly work my way to the back as one handcart after another would start to run me over. They were incredible. Not only could I not keep up with them (granted, I was carrying a very heavy camera and a bunch of other stuff, while they carried nothing and took turns pushing or pulling, which is a little easier than straight up carrying stuff) they tackled each obstacle like it was nothing. The last day they had to deal with some switchbacks and then the 4 foot drop. And they breezed right through them so fast they were forced to take a long break so they wouldn't get to the "valley" before their families were there to greet them. So even though I struggled and was completely exhausted every night, I'm so glad I went. It really was an incredible experience.

And now for some pictures...

They started in "Nauvoo," which is the city on the east bank of the Mississippi in Illinois that the original Mormon pioneers left from. One of the most recognizable features of Nauvoo is the temple there (which was actually burned as they left, but was rebuilt a few years ago) and they actually built one out there in the wilderness of the Cherokee Scout Camp. It was so neat and helped to set the mood (although we did not burn this one).
And an example of what we were hiking through. It was all over our legs and hems and hands and bums.
My adorable sister. And that's actually my other sister in the greenish dress that she's looking at.
The wheel of one of the handcarts.
Notice the mud? And it got worse as we kept going.
We had our dinner out of dutch ovens the first night. YUM. Everything tastes good out of a dutch oven.
Here is what a handcart looks like.
We even got to witness some spectacular sunsets out there in the wilderness.
And did some folk/square dancing. This is one of my favorite photos: I love the girls expression and the yummy light.
Here is one of the hills. This one literally made my jaw drop when I saw it. They had to attach a rope to the handcart and wrap it around a tree at the top to get them up it.
And here are the "badlands." THey were trekking over small logs and stuff. In direct sunlight. Man, were they troopers.
And here is the gator. After the first two days I was beat. And not sure I would make it another day. So I got to ride in this to as far as it could go and only had to hike about a half mile to the creek with the drop-off where they wanted me to take photos. It was so nice. If I do this again, I'm going to insist on them doing this everyday. Not because I'm a complete pansy, but so they get better photos. When we'd get back to camp I had no energy to move, let alone muster up the creative energy necessary to take great photos. And if I hadn't gotten a ride the last day, there would be no "if" I do this again, it would be an "I'm NEVER doing this again."
The pretty sky. And fun with the fisheye. Sorry for the ginormous watermark in the way.

And here is one of the many logs they had to maneuver those carts over.


So I hope that gave you an idea of what I did and why I did it. They're making a movie of the whole experience for the reunion in August; hopefully they'll put it online so everyone can see!

Oh, and here is a link to the article about it that was in the paper.

22 June 2009

june 22nd

Today was my birthday.

My 24th birthday to be exact.

And yes, it was very good, thanks for asking.

After 24 years, I still think birthdays are kinda cool.

Just in a different way than when I was, say, 4.

It's like I have rose colored glasses every time it's my birthday.

No matter what I do (or don't do) it's still a happy day.

And now I have 365 days to go until the next one.




I can't wait.

20 June 2009

home again, home again, jiggity-jig

I made it out of the wilderness alive.


And this nasty picture is all the proof I have that I was there.

Was it rough? Most definitely.

Was it worth it? I'm still working on that one... but I think the answer is yes.








p.s. the only reason I look happy in this picture is because this was the day I got to ride in the gator to my spot instead of hiking the ump-teen miles to it. Riding in a gator is fun. If I ever do this again, I'm insisting on one for my own personal use.

16 June 2009

happy!... happy! (I'm envisioning me saying this like Mugato from Zoolander... I love that movie.)



Early birthday presents make me happy.

Especially when I get to pick them out myself. After YEARS of wanting it.

Yes, I am happy indeed.





p.s. Please don't pay any attention to how white I am. Please.

15 June 2009

a love story

Around 8pm Thursday night, the Mrs. is working diligently on a sewing project, when there is a crash! behind her: the shelves that hold all of her art supplies collapsed.

So the next night the Mr. drives and hour and a half (one way) to get new shelves so the Mrs. can get all of her precious art supplies off the floor (since the Mrs. has a lot to do so can't make it there herself).



And the Mr. picks out some beautiful shelves.

Now that is true love.

09 June 2009

thirty-schmirty

Here's Rob's birthday celebrations as promised...

So his birthday was on a Tuesday this year, and we honestly didn't do much on his actual birthday. Instead, he took Friday off and we celebrated in style!

First up: the Ducati dealership.

We found the perfect family vehicle, wouldn't you agree? Max sure does.

For some reason, Max thought this place was pretty cool. Not sure why...

And we picked out our motorcycle. Isn't she beautiful? Now we just need to make some money...

Since we couldn't leave with a motorcycle, we settled on getting Rob, I mean, Max a hat.

Next up: the Lego store.
I'd been struggling to come up with something fun to do for Rob's 30th birthday, and the answer fell into my lap. We got a postcard in the mail informing us that there was a lego store opening in Raleigh, and that we were invited to come join in the festivities by helping a Lego Master build an 8-foot tall statue of Yoda (I think you just have to buy a lot of legos to get an invitation like that, and boy do we have a lot of legos). And that opening just happened to occur the weekend after Rob's birthday, so voila! Celebration question answered. Now, we weren't quite sure how this "helping" was going to happen. All Rob and I could picture was a swarm of people handing legos to the "master." But those Lego people are geniuses.

They built a little statue of Yoda out of normal-size lego pieces, and to make the 8-foot one all they did was scale it up 4 times (and I'm sorry if this is confusing, it makes perfect sense to me because we drew thousands of scaled drawing in school, so I'm going to do my best to explain it). So what all these children (and some adults) did to help out the "master" was to make a lego brick at a 4x scale using normal sized bricks.

Like so.

Here are the instructions that were all over the place.

So we built our little pile of bricks...

And then took them up to the front and turned them in. They checked each one to make sure it was constructed properly, then Max got a high-five for his hard work (little did they know, we were not there for our 2 year old child, but for my 30 year old husband).

Then we got a pass to go get an "official" certificate of participation.

This is not the Lego Mater here, but an assistant working on the statue with the assistance of the peanut gallery. Notice the string to keep the kids at bay (they gradually got close and closer to the statue as the day progressed, courtesy of many many excited children).

And then we went and waited in a long long line to actually get in the store. And Rob was a little annoyed to have to pose with the lego sign in front of a ton of other people waiting in line.

And we finally made it into the store! This was my favorite part: from outside it just looked like decoration, but the back wall was all these little cubbies with various lego pieces. They had little buckets that you would then fill with whatever various pieces you wanted and buy. It was especially great to have something interactive like this for our 2 year old who had been confined to his stroller way too long and was ready to do something.

And as tempting as it was to get the Millenium Falcon or the Deathstar, we settled for some little legos for Max. Which he proceeded to chew on (guess we're buying these, no choice) as we waited in yet another long line (and I mean long, the line was wrapped around the outer walls of the store) to purchase. I felt bad that we ended up getting stuff for Max since the plan was to let Rob pick out a set for himself (he's the one who decided to get stuff for Max), but then I realized we've bought many lego sets for "Max," that he's not allowed to touch (not yet, at least).

And here's yet another picture of Rob looking annoyed because I made him pose in front of crowds of people. But I just wanted to show how cool this was! (Granted, the proportions of the torso are a little off, but overall it's still impressive)

Then we went back to the statue and watched the Lego Master at work. I was a little diappointed, however, 'cause he was signing autographs when we got there, but cut the line off right in front of me so he could get back to work. I was soo disappointed, especially 'cause I was that close!

But Max really enjoyed watching him work, and the master was so good with kids and talked to Max while he worked.



Then we went home and I made Rob's favorite cupcakes:

And used our Darth Vader candle Holder in honor of Star Wars legos.

It was a great birthday, and it was Rob's idea of a great birthday.


The funny thing is, I think it was Max's kind of birthday too.

They never grow up, do they?