Blake is Home

One week and one day ago, we welcomed home Elder Morgan (Blake) from his mission! He served as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission.

Dulles Airport, where we met him upon his arrival, has lots of doors where passengers can exit. We hoped we were at the “right” door, but we weren’t. John started wandering the airport to see if Blake came out a different door. And sure enough, John found him.

Family photo at the airport.


2016 Year In Review

Before I start posting more about 2017, I wanted to take a moment to recap 2016. The first few months of 2016, were calm and quiet months for me. I simply enjoyed newly-wed life and appreciated not planning and preparing for a wedding. John had a full year from the start due to lots of work travel. Once the spring hit, life seemed to speed up for me a bit and became even more full for John.

In May, we signed a contract to build our first home.
In June, we celebrated my birthday.
In July, I concluded my time (nearly five years) at the U.S. Chamber (Institute for Organization Management program) and started a new job at the American Academy of Audiology. This picture was taken with my colleagues the last night of West Institute. After I returned from West Institute, I was back in the office at the U.S. Chamber for one day and then started my new job the next day.
Also in July, we celebrated John’s birthday. Sadly, John’s birthday was spent in a car driving to Iowa for his grandfather’s funeral. Next year, we will have to celebrate with double the fun to make up for this year. This picture was taken right after his grandfather’s funeral. We stopped by his grandparents’ farm and the corn was lush and beautiful.
In August, we had the opportunity to attend the Philadelphia LDS Temple Open House. We met up with John’s friend Dann and ate at an amazing restaurant afterwards.
We took many trips out to our house to check on the progress.
We took many trips out to our house to check on the progress.
In October, we spent two weeks in Taiwan. John’s Uncle David lives there right now. It was a neat experience, and one I know we’ll always treasure.
Another picture from our Taiwan trip, just for good measure 😉
We celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary on October 24.
More trips out to the house.
In November, we went to Iowa twice. Once for John’s grandmother’s funeral, and the second time was for Thanksgiving. During the second trip John’s friend Dann came with us, and we spent two days in Nauvoo, Illinois, which is where this picture was taken. Dann had never been to Nauvoo, so it was fun to be there with him.
On December 9, we closed on our home. This is a quick selfie we took after the home was officially ours. I had to run off to a work meeting right after. John stayed at the house and worked hard installing curtain rods and a ceiling fan in the great room.
On December 16, we officially moved into our new house. We were supposed to move on Saturday, December 17, but a predicted ice storm made us change our plans. And thank goodness we changed our plans. The ice storm was no joke! Shortly after we moved in, the first few decorations were hung 🙂
We capped off the year by celebrating Christmas. We celebrated with my family in Virginia. John’s family came out to West Virginia a few days later for a visit. We had a fun time with both of our families.

Each year, instead of setting formal New Year’s resolutions, I pick a scripture to make my focus and theme for the year. This year, I picked the scripture that says, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not,” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). Truth be told, I don’t feel like I did the best job emulating this scripture. During the home building process, there were many times I let fear/anxiety creep into my mind. Even though I felt I could have better emulated this direction given by the Lord, I am certain I grew in ways (perhaps unrecognizable to me right now) as I sought to better trust in God. I am grateful for a Savior who can help me when I fall short of the person I want to be.

Well, that’s a wrap! I look forward to see what 2017 has in store.

A Weekend Getaway to the Swiss Alps

About a month ago, John asked if I’d be interested in a quick trip to Switzerland. You see, he’s been away on work travel a lot lately, and he was scheduled to go on a ten-day work trip to Europe. He has cousins in Switzerland and planned on seeing them while in Europe. Because of all his work travel, he had racked up airline miles we could use to cover my flight. It sounded like a neat opportunity to me, so I welcomed the chance to see Switzerland, spend time with John, and meet some of his extended family whom I haven’t met.

I am sitting in the Zurich airport waiting to fly home (my flight was delayed four hours) and figured this was a good time to write about my experience.

It’s Monday afternoon here in Zurich. I arrived Friday afternoon around 3 p.m. John was coming in from London that day but his flight didn’t arrive until 7:45 p.m. So I bought a train ticket and rode the Bahn train 10 minutes to the Main Station stop and then walked around the area and grabbed some dinner before heading back to the airport to meet John.

The scenery as I approached Zurich.
Main Station in Zurich.

That night we boarded a train to Visp, which is about two hours by train from Zurich. John’s aunt, uncle, and cousin Debbie picked us up. We then drove 30 minutes to Eischoll, where John’s aunt and uncle have a cabin in the Alps.

The drive was beautiful. It was a very clear night, and the stars were also beautiful. When we arrived at the cabin, we ate some delicious soup, chatted, laughed, and then headed to bed at about 1:30 a.m.

The next two days it snowed. We began our first full day in Switzerland with a European breakfast of bread with cheese and jams. We had a fun time chatting, went on a walk up the mountain, attended a Catholic Mass in a beautiful old church, and had a delicious, cheesy dinner with John’s aunt, uncle, cousin Christian, and Christan’s girlfriend Bettina. The meal was called Racklet, and it’s basically a dinner of melted cheese that you scoop up with pieces of potatoes. It was very yummy! Afterwards, we played a card game called Ligretto. I was not very good 🙂

We had two hours of clear skies while we were here. This is the view from our room in Eischoll.
Our winter walk.
The second half of the walk John’s uncle and I did by ourselves because John didn’t have the best shoes for it. We came upon this cabin, and you can see the snow is much deeper. It was a slick adventure getting back home, and I slid and fell a few times haha.
A picture after Mass. I wish you could see the town better in the picture.
After games with Christian and Bettina.

The next day we headed to a ski resort town, where John’s cousin Katrin was staying with her in-laws. We visited with Katrin and her cute 9-month-old Lukas while the others skied. We ate another delicious meal, prepared by Katrin’s mother-in-law, and then headed back to Visp, where John and I caught the train bright and early this morning. He headed to Germany, while I headed to the airport in Zurich.

Before leaving Eischoll, we took pictures in front of the mountains. It’s been a warm winter, which is why the mountains weren’t as snow covered as usual.



Katrin and baby Lukas.
On top of one of the mountains.

One of my favorite experiences of the weekend was a gondola ride we took in the Alps. Below is a video.

Overall, it was a great trip! Jet lag was more tough than I expected. I adjusted way more quickly and easily when we went to Taiwan last fall. Consequently, I thought it would be no problem. I was wrong 😉 But even with the jet lag, it was a great experience I will remember for a long time. A big thank you to the Schinders for being such great hosts!