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Friday, February 29, 2008

Grandma's 25th Birthday

My maternal grandparents (circa 1970, maybe)

My very sweet Grandma Hedy was born February 29, 1908. She actually passed away in February 1999, but it was wonderful today to think of her on her birthday - especially since it only comes once every four years. Today would have been Grandma's 25th Birthday. The fact that she was born on Leap Year is just one of the many things that makes my Grandma the coolest Grandma in the world!

I was really blessed with some incredible ancestors... I mean, there are some really unbelievable stories that stir all kinds of emotions when I think of them. But, let me just tell you a little bit about my Grandma Hedy. She was born in Germany, where she joined the Church with her family. In 1930, when she was 22, she left Germany and most of her family to come to the United States, arriving just before immigration closed. Her younger sister, Paula, came with her and they settled in Vernal, Utah. The two of them ended up meeting and marrying two handsome men who were brothers. The two couples, Hedy & Harlend and Paula & Aubra, lived across the street from each other for the rest of their lives in little ol' Vernal, Utah. It's no wonder I've always had dreams of living across the street from my own sisters.

We spent every Christmas of my childhood in Vernal, with the exception of one or two. Grandma Hedy was a crack up - she wasn't afraid to say it like it was. I loved that about her. She was warm and generous, and 110% authentic.

She spent her last couple of months living in California with my parents, since she had gotten to the point of needing a little extra help. I came home for a weekend visit from BYU just about a week before she passed away. I have very tender memories of just sitting and talking with her that weekend. I was sending in my mission papers and was feeling a little nervous about everything. We came to the agreement that if she were to die while I was on my mission, then she would watch over me. And, that, she did.

About a week later I was back in Provo... I woke up really early one morning, startled with an overwhelming feeling of love. Within an hour I got a phone call letting me know that Grandma Hedy had passed away. I like to think that warm feeling I felt was Grandma Hedy saying good-bye. It was just like her to be thoughtful like that. Always taking the time to be with us individually. She was such a wonderful woman. If she were still alive today I would buy her this shirt:

Happy Birthday, Grandma! Your legacy lives on in our hearts. You will never be forgotten.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Enabling Power

Within a year of coming home from my mission, I found myself sitting in a crowded Marriot Center at BYU, listening to a Tuesday devotional by some person I had never heard of before. I hate to admit this, but sometimes when it would be a speaker I had never heard of I would skip the devotional to get some studying done instead. I don't think I could have known in advance what a huge impact this particular talk on this particular day would have on me. It is one of few moments that I remember vivid details - like, where I was sitting, the view I had of the speaker, and more importantly the feelings I felt.

The man gave an unforgettable talk on the power of the atonement, using scriptures and stories that really strengthened my understanding and testimony of it. I made notes all over my scriptures, wanting to ensure I wouldn't forget his explanations... and it worked. It has been more than six years and it is still very fresh in my memory. In fact, I remember near the end of his talk, being so stunned by the entire experience that I thought to myself, "Who is this guy?"

Well, I happened to be thinking about this talk the other day and decided to see if I could find it through BYU. Well, I was quite surprised to discover that I've actually heard this man speak since then, without even realizing it was him at that devotional in 2001. At the time of the talk, he was the President of BYU-Idaho... who we now know as Elder David A. Bednar.

It was so uplifting to read his talk again today, that I just had to recommend it to everyone else. It really is a very powerful message of comfort and hope.

Here is just a small taste of what you'll find in it:

The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ strengthens us to do things we could never do on our own. Sometimes I wonder if in our latter-day world of ease--in our world of microwave ovens and cell phones and air-conditioned cars and comfortable homes--I wonder if we ever learn to acknowledge our daily dependence upon the enabling power of the Atonement.


There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, "No one understands. No one knows." No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, and succor--literally run to us--and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying only upon our own power.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dessert Cheese Ball

This is a recipe my sister, Mandi, shared with me. Not only is it delicious, but it is such a fun dessert snack! If you like cheesecake, I think you'll really like this! (Sorry for not including a photo... I forgot to take one when I made it.)

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

1 package (8 oz.) Cream Cheese - softened
1/2 Cup Butter - softened
1/4 tsp Vanilla
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Tblsp Packed Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
Graham Crackers or Chocolate Graham Cracker Sticks

Beat the Cream Cheese, Butter, and Vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add in the sugars, and beat until just combined. Stir in the Chocolate Chips and refrigerate for 2 hours. Place Cream Cheese mixture onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a ball and refrigerate for at least 1 more hour. Then roll the ball in Pecans and serve with graham crackers (the chocolate sticks are especially good).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tagged again...

This time I was tagged by Carly. Now, here is a woman with a heart of pure gold, whom I've admired from afar... but hope to one day soon meet in person.

What is in your bag???

The Rules: 1. You have to show your bag 2. Show all the contents in the bag, no cleaning it out! 3. Bag tag 5 more people.

Okay, so here's my purse:

And, currently this is what it looks like inside:

And, what is all that junk inside of it? Well, let me tell you...
1. My wallet
2. My eyeglasses case
3. A tupperware of Valentine candy for the Primary class I covered today.
4. The "reading ball" for seminary
5. One of my seminary student's make-up work
6. Receipts and my plane ticket from my trip to Utah last month.
7. Body Shop Mango Lip Butter
8. Five pens, a hair tie, and a safety pin
9. Two post-it notes with a couple of my favorite quotes written on them.

I love my very large purse because it also doubles as my Church bag, my seminary bag, and my school bag. Thus, its contents are constantly changing depending on the day of week. Some of my friends have nicknamed me "Mary Poppins" simply because I've just happened to have much-needed items in emergency situations. I kind like that title. I mean, really, who wouldn't love to be Mary Poppins?

Okay, so I tag: Carrot, Calamity, Jennifer, Amy, Kamie

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I've been tagged

I was tagged by Jennifer. We were both lucky enough to have served in the best mission in the world - Italy Padova. You should check out her blog when you get a chance... she has the most darling little kids and really fun stories to share.

Okay, so here it goes...

What is your husband's name? Marc Dwight. Interesting side note... my two brothers that are just older than me are Mark and Dwight. Yeah, crazy, I know!

How long have you been together? Since November 2001. We officially met on Monday, November 12th. Marc had been in a car accident the Saturday before and I offered to give him rides to school, since his car was non-existent, and he accepted. After two weeks of driving to and from school together, we were pretty much in love.

How long did you date? For about 8 months, from November until July. As silly as it sounds we were both convinced that our relationship was too good to be true, and so we actually had a couple of break-ups in there. We would decide to take some time apart to think things through, but we couldn't stand being away from each other, so the breaks never lasted more than a day or two. The funniest break-up was when Marc's Mom called me (we hadn't even met yet) and told me that I couldn't let Marc break up with me and that he didn't really mean it. Her phone call was such a huge relief! She saved me a lot of tears that night!

Who eats more? Oh man! This question is really embarrassing. I can eat... A LOT. We always take the same portion sizes, even though he's a foot taller than me. My motivation for exercise has always been so I can enjoy food! :)

Who said I love you first? Gosh, I don't remember. I think it was probably him, the day he told me he knew he was going to marry me. I was speechless. It took me two hours to respond.

Who is taller? He is.

Who has more speeding tickets? I think he does, but neither of us have gotten any since we've been married.

Who is smarter? Hands down, he is. I'm constantly amazed at the things he pulls out of that brain of his. It's unbelievable. He knows something about everything. It's very convenient to have a walking "google" always by my side. Plus, it makes it so there's never a dull moment. Love it!

Who is more sensitive? It's a toss up. It may or may not be the case that Marc is known to cry at some chick flicks.

When there is a fight who usually wins? I don't know if we ever fight. We have discussions, debates, and disagreements... but they never reach the "fighting" stage because Marc always does something to lighten the mood and make laughter come out of no where. It's really an incredible talent.

Who does the laundry? Marc. He is an angel. (He also likes cleaning the bathrooms!)

Who does the dishes? We used to have this unspoken rule that I cooked the meals and he did the dishes, but with his work schedule as busy as it is, I've tried to relieve him from the dishes. He tries to be sneaky sometimes and do them when I'm not looking. He's very sweet like that.

Who sleeps on the right? I do. It's so that he can be the first to attack any intruders that come in our bedroom during the night. Yeah, I have a very active imagination. I'm glad he humors me by playing along! I don't know what I'd do if he refused to sleep on the left....

Who pays the bills? He pays the bills that we pay online. I pay the bills that we still pay with checks. It seems to work well.

Who mows the lawn? We fight over who gets to mow since we have an environmental friendly hand push-mower. It really does make lawn mowing quite fun!

Who cooks dinner? I do, but there are certain things that I always have Marc do... like, the cheese-grating and making rice. As random as it sounds, whenever we have a meal that requires either of those things, he always does them. As a result, I honestly don't know how to make rice.

Who drives when you are together? 99% of the time it's Marc. I try to help out when making our 12 hour drive to visit either of our families... then he drives the first 4-hour shift, I drive the second, and he drives the third. I do make one heckuva navigator, though.

Who is more stubborn? We definitely both have our stubborn moments... they just seem to come out for different reasons. FYI, we both have the same astrological sign - Taurus the bull... and we were born in the year of the Horse, according to the Chinese calendar. Not that I believe all that horoscope stuff....

Who kissed whom first? It was very much a mutual effort. We'd been hanging out a lot, and when we got to the "holding hands stage" I started to feel like things were moving too fast. On a Sunday night walk I told him we needed to slow things down. When he didn't freak out and totally lose interest in me, it made me like him even more... so, two days later we had our first kiss standing on my front porch in Provo. He was on one step lower than me... we hugged, then pulled away, and then we both went in at the same time for the first kiss. It was a very sweet moment.

Who asked who out first? It's hard to say. I invited him to Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's, but I don't really consider that a "date." But, the night of Thanksgiving, he called me and asked me to go shopping with him the next morning. I thought it was so strange that a boy would want to go shopping on the busiest shopping day of the year. We went to a couple of stores, but ended up at a little cafe eating french toast together. (I found out later that he was just using it as an excuse to do something with me. So cute!)

Who proposed? He did. We were at his family reunion in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Since we'd been dating for 8 months, there were a lot of questions coming from his family that week of when we were going to get married. A couple of days into the reunion, I ate something that made me sick and spent a day or so resting a lot. Once I was finally feeling well enough to get out, we went on a walk along the beach. Marc was being really quiet and seemed a little distant. We found a driftwood log to sit on, and without any warning he was on a knee asking me to marry him. He was so nervous and cute... we hugged and cried. And then somehow we ended up having a tickle-war in the sand. As long as I live, I'll never forget that moment.

Who has more siblings? I do, just by one, though. I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters. Marc has 2 brothers and 4 sisters. Immediately upon meeting his family, I felt like they were just an extension of my own family. I've been very blessed.

People I am tagging: Christy, Jenni

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

This is the seventh Valentine's Day that I'm spending with the person who I am so lucky to call MINE. There are so many reasons why I love Marc....

Without saying too much, let me just say that of all the things I adore about this man, his genuineness and his gentleness have made me feel safe to fall in love again and again. As an added bonus he just happens to be the funniest person I know and brings pure gladness into my life.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope it's a lovely day for everyone...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

After a month of rain...

We have been drenched with rain in the last month. We even had a couple of days of snowfall, which is very rare for our area. But after so much rain, we had kind of started to forget what it was like to have a nice, sunny day. Well, that day came on Friday. Not only was it sunny, but it was actually warm enough for t-shirts and flip flops.

I'm back in school this semester, and as part of my 17 credit load I'm doing my part-time student teaching in a 3rd grade classroom. Well, Friday I spent the day celebrating Chinese New Year with a group of 8 and 9 year olds. We made wontons, fried rice, sticky rice, and sliced oranges. It was such a fun day!

As the exhaustion started to hit near the end of the day, the kids were rewarded with some quiet reading time outside, since the sun was out. The teacher and I also went outside and enjoyed the sun while grading spelling tests from that morning. As I was sitting there, with my back to the sun, the warmth seemed to seep through my whole body. It was so beautiful and renewing!

It was right about that moment that she told me I should just go home early and enjoy the beautiful afternoon, so I did. I came home to find Marc busy working and told him I had to kidnap him away from the house for the afternoon. Luckily he complied and I didn't have to take more extreme measures.

We grabbed a blanket, a book, our camera and tripod, and then made a quick stop at the store to buy this:

Then, we headed up to the lake. We were up there about a month ago and found that it was surprisingly very empty. I had never seen it that low in my life. So, we were curious if a month of rain had helped it any.

Here's a panorama of the lake at the beginning of January:

And, here's what it looks like now:

We obviously needed the rain, so we're happy that things are back to normal and the ducks and fish have their lake back. But, on Friday we sure were grateful for a day of warm sunshine. We sat at the edge of the lake for a couple of hours, soaking up the warmth of the sun, taking pictures, sharing the glorious chocolate ice cream, and we even started reading a new book together.

It was one of those simple moments together that I know we'll remember for a long time. I think we need more spontaneous moments like that - getting out, away from work, away from distractions, just being together and enjoying our life together.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Trip to Australia

This last week has been a little bit of a whirlwind, and I really wish I had some clear thoughts to put out there. But, I don't. So, for now, I will leave you with this little analogy.

I tend to be very careful and selective about using analogies, because sometimes they aren't necessarily true from every perspective or angle. But there is an analogy that I've come across a number of times in the last year that for the most part reflects many of our feelings through this infertility/adoption journey.

The thing I like about it is that the feelings expressed are probably very similar to any other challenge or trial that one might feel while in the midst of the trial. So, to those of you who read this, I hope that whatever challenges you might be facing you'll find something in it that may bring some peace and hope of good things to come. Because of the law of opposition, the underlying truth to every trial is that it is followed by something good. Perhaps the deeper the heartache and pain we experience, the deeper the joy and beauty we will find at the end.

By Diane Armitage printed in the April 21, 1995 "Dear Abby" column:

Deciding to have a baby is like planning a trip to Australia. You've heard it's a wonderful place, you've read many guidebooks and feel certain you're ready to go. Everyone you know has traveled there by plane. They say it can be a turbulent flight with occasional rough landings, but you can look forward to being pampered on the trip.

So you go to the airport and ask the ticket agent for a ticket to Australia. All around you, excited people are boarding planes for Australia. It seems there is no seat for you; you'll have to wait for the next flight. Impatient, but anticipating a wonderful trip, you wait--and wait--and wait.

Flights to Australia continue to come and go. People say silly things like, "Relax. You'll get on a flight soon." Other people actually get on a plane and then cancel their trip, to which you cry, "It's not fair!"

After a long time the ticket agent tells you, "I'm sorry, we're not going to be able to get you on a plane to Australia. Perhaps you should think about going by boat."

"By BOAT!" you say. "Going by boat will take a very long time and it costs a great deal of money. I really had my heart set on going by plane." So you go home and think about not going to Australia at all. You wonder if Australia will be as beautiful if you approach it by sea rather than air. But you have long dreamed of this wonderful place, and finally you decide to travel by boat.

It is a long trip, many months over many rough seas. No one pampers you. (Isn't that the truth!) You wonder if you will ever see Australia. Meanwhile, your friends have flown back and forth to Australia two or three more times, marveling about each trip.

Then one glorious day, the boat docks in Australia. It is more exquisite than you ever imagined, and the beauty is magnified by your long days at sea. You have made many wonderful friends during your voyage, and you find yourself comparing stories with others who also traveled by sea rather than by air.

People continue to fly to Australia as often as they like, but you are about to travel only once, perhaps twice. Some say things like, "Oh, be glad you didn't fly. My flight was horrible; traveling by sea is so easy."

You will always wonder what it would have been like to fly to Australia. Still, you know God blessed you with a special appreciation of Australia, and the beauty of Australia is not in the way you get there, but in the place itself.