The Gingko Grove

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When my mom was here for David’s birthday, she took me and David to the Virginia State Arboretum. It’s only about 30 minutes from our house. She showed me the Gingko Grove and explained that when the time was right all of the leaves on these trees would turn bright yellow at the same time.

So a few weeks after she left, John and I made our way to the Gingko Grove and the trees were bright yellow just like she said. We lucked out because John was only home for one day between a work trip to Hawaii and a work trip to Europe. The trees were stunning on this day!

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Halloween 2018

This year for Halloween David was a skeleton. The weather Halloween night was beautiful. We didn’t take him trick-or-treating since he can’t walk and he doesn’t eat candy. But we still had fun dressing him up, listening to halloween songs, reading halloween books, and eating cornbread waffles with chili.

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Here’s a glimpse back at David’s first Halloween. He has grown so much!

Thanksgiving Weekend 2017

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We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family this year and took full advantage of the long weekend. The day prior to Thanksgiving, we went to my parents’ house. I headed there in the afternoon with the baby, and John joined us after he got off work and took his car to the dealer for a tune-up. That night we ordered burgers from The Breeze and watched State of Play with my parents.

I was in charge of making a roasted kale and yam salad, bacon mac n’ cheese, and a pecan pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. While I made items for the dinner, John and his Uncle David hung Christmas lights on the outside of our house. And let me say, I think they did a mighty fine job! We headed to my parents’ house around 3 p.m. and had a fun time visiting and eating. My brother Blake was back home from BYU, and this was his first time meeting the baby. The food was delicious and the company even better.

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Group selfie.
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John snapped this picture, and I think it’s adorable.

On Friday, John and I set up our Christmas trees and began putting up Christmas decorations inside the house. My Christmas tree is on our main level, and his is in the family room in the basement. I prefer white lights on a Christmas tree, and John prefers colored lights. So, it works out great to have two trees that are each reflective of our own style. I just finished decorating my Christmas tree yesterday. We still need to hang ornaments on John’s tree. (We also watched the final Iowa game of the regular season on Friday. Go Hawks!)

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On Saturday, we hiked Murphy’s Farm in Harpers Ferry, WV with my family and our friend Keri. The weather was beautiful, as was the scenery on the hike. From different points on the hike, you could see the Shenandoah River. After the hike, we picked up Mexican food from a delicious, authentic Mexican restaurant in the town where we live. We ordered the food to-go so we could get back home and watch the Alabama vs. Auburn football game. John was pleased with the outcome of the game; my dad on the other hand was not.

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On Sunday, John and I went and visited a couple members of our church congregation and geared up for a new week. Baby David and I loved having John home with us for a couple extra days during this holiday weekend!

 

 

Happy Halloween 2017

This was our first Halloween in our new house. There are a lot of families in our neighborhood, and we didn’t know how many trick-or-treaters to expect. The day before Halloween, we went and bought an extra bag of candy because we were nervous we didn’t have enough. I had previously purchased candy a couple weeks prior because I wasn’t sure when our baby would arrive, and I wanted to be prepared. In the end, we got less trick-or-treaters than I expected. I am not certain we needed to buy an extra bag of candy the day before, but it’s always better to have more candy than not enough.

John’s mom (who was in town on Halloween) went to Wal-Mart the day prior to Halloween and picked the baby up a tiger cub outfit. We previously hadn’t picked up a costume for him because it just wasn’t our main focus as we were getting ready for his arrival. Baby D pretty much slept all Halloween afternoon and evening, but he looked super cute in his tiger cub outfit, and I am glad we had a costume for him for his first Halloween.

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Leading up to Halloween, John made sure we had an opportunity to carve pumpkins. He was a champion scraper and made sure my pumpkin and his were sufficiently cleaned out before we carved them. Pumpkin carving has never been a strength of mine; my pumpkins always turn out looking a little funny. However, no matter how poor a job I do carving a pumpkin, I think carved pumpkins always look great when lit up at night.

Before the trick-or-treaters began arriving, we took pictures out on our porch. I tried to make our porch look festive by picking up a couple extra items from the dollar store.

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Happy Halloween 2017!

 

Catching up on Fall 2016 & House Update

I can’t believe on Thursday we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. Fall has flown by. For me, fall seems to officially start the first weekend in October. September is still pretty warm here in Virginia, but October seems to bring the crisp air that I associate with fall. A few years ago, my mom and I began a tradition of walking the mall in Washington D.C. the first Saturday in October each year. This year, my sister and friend Keri joined us. It was a wonderful night.

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Half of October, John and I spent in Taiwan. You can read our trip here, here, and here.

The weekend after John and I got back from Taiwan, John and I went on a scenic helicopter ride out near the Shenandoah Mountains. It was beautiful, and it was fun for me to see how much John enjoyed it. He said it was one of the coolest things he’s done.

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Two weeks ago, we headed back to Iowa for John’s Grandma’s funeral. Grandma June had been sick for a few months. She passed away peacefully. The funeral was wonderful. It was a Catholic Mass funeral. As I sat and sang the hymns and listened to the Priest, I felt such a great sense of gratitude for Jesus Christ and his ability to overcome death. I believe that through Jesus Christ we can return and see God again and we can live with our families forever.

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We helped John’s dad rake leaves that had fallen in the backyard.
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L to R: John’s Uncle Mike, John’s Dad Marty, and John
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A post leaf-raking selfie.
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John and his grandparents’ farm in the background.
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The cemetery where Grandpa Louie and Grandma June are buried.

Progress on the house has continued to plug along. Here are some pictures in the various stages we’ve seen our soon-to-be home. A week ago, when we stopped by for a visit, the cabinets and countertops had been installed. It was so exciting to see. On the drive home, I couldn’t stop staring at the pictures. Last Saturday, we also bought a washer and dryer. This was a much less exciting experience, but it really made us feel like true “adults.” Yesterday we stopped by and the driveway had been poured, the wood floors laid, and the backsplash installed.

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The door will be will be navy blue when the house is done to match the shutters.

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The wood floors are all covered up by cardboard and the countertops are covered with blue plastic.

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Fall 2015 So Far…

Fall is in full swing, and I am loving it. This is my favorite time of the year, and I am excited that I get to get married in the fall. We’re just 12 days away from the big day! Thank you so much to everyone who has asked how it’s going and offered to help. Throughout our whole engagement, I’ve been touched by people’s kind words and gestures, and it’s definitely inspired me to be more thoughtful in my actions.

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Our wedding shoes! I posted this picture on Instagram when we hit the one-month mark.

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Almost a month ago, my sister hosted my bridal shower at my parents’ house. That same weekend, John moved into our new apartment, and we also moved the majority of my things into the apartment. Currently, I am living at my parents’ house and will until after the wedding. It was a busy weekend, but a very fun one. Thankfully, due to the Pope’s visit to Washington D.C., I had some time off during the week (because of the transportation nightmare it created) that allowed me to unpack and begin decorating the apartment. I haven’t taken any pictures of the apartment, but I need to. I want to capture images of our first home together. I have a feeling I won’t really get any pictures until after the wedding is over and we’re a bit more settled. But maybe I’ll be more ahead of the game than I think.

I tried to caption some of the decorations before the guests arrived. Melissa and my mom did a great job decorating.
I tried to capture some of the bridal shower decorations before the guests arrived. Melissa and my mom did a great job decorating.

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Last weekend, we went to Harpers Ferry and walked around. We talked about going on a fall walk for a while, but between wedding prep and the rain, we just never got around to doing it. The weather was cool and crisp. The leaves had not really started changing but it was still fun.

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This past week was Institute’s annual Fall Board Meeting. There is a lot of preparation that goes into this meeting. I think it all went well. In some ways I can’t believe it’s over. It’s been my measuring stick for the amount of time left before our wedding. And now that it’s done, that means the wedding is right around the corner.

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The Institute Curriculum Committee. This is the committee that I work the most closely with.
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The Board of Trustees Meeting.
A team selfie after the meetings with some delicious pecans a board member brought us.
A team selfie after the meetings with some delicious pecans a board member brought us.

Happy Thanksgiving

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. My roommates and I went to my parents’ house to celebrate with the traditional Thanksgiving meal. My sister was there, as well as my Aunt Terri, Uncle Rich, and cousins Kate and Jake. It was so fun and the meal was delicious. There was so much good food and laughter. My contribution to the food was macaroni and cheese (I’m told it’s a southern thing to have mac ‘n cheese at Thanksgiving…who knew?) and a chocolate chip pie (or as Keri calls it, a chocolate chip cookie dough pie). I was a little nervous about the mac ‘n cheese because I’ve made it one other time, and I really didn’t like the outcome. This recipe was way simpler and in my opinion very good. You can find it here.

Roommate picture before the meal.
Roommate picture before the meal.
That table decorated by my mom.
The table decorated by my mom.
Pre-meal group selfie with my sis and roommates.
Pre-meal group selfie with my sis and roommates.

After the meal, we lounged, which was delightful. The men watched football and the women made gingerbread houses. Unfortunately, I must have made my roof too heavy and my house imploded, but the others turned out great.

After my gingerbread house imploded, I participated in the festivities from the couch in the living room.
After my gingerbread house imploded, I participated in the festivities from the couch in the living room.
The completed houses of Melissa, Keri, and Jen.
The completed houses of Melissa, Keri, and Jen.

After the guests left, my parents, Melissa and I, decided to watch the movie “The Giver.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s definitely a movie that will make you think about the grander purpose in life and was a perfect Thanksgiving movie.

All-in-all it was a great day. My brothers were not there, but thankfully we’ll all be together in less than a month to celebrate Christmas. Speaking of brothers… My brother Trevor is in an a cappella group at BYU called Beyond Measure. Yesterday his group released a new music video. At some point during the music video, they all hold up a sign of what they are thankful for. My brother is at the very, very end. So when they stop singing, keep watching!

I posted again on The Faith Friends. This time my post was on thoughts I’ve been having related to true gratitude. You can read it here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go eat some pie for breakfast 🙂

October Moments: Mid-Month Update

It’s 10:30 a.m. on Columbus Day and I am still in my pajamas… I haven’t had such a relaxing morning in months. I’ve been up for a few hours, responded to emails, read, and caught up on Once Upon a Time. It’s raining gently outside, and my bed just seems too peaceful to leave, so I figured I would update my blog.

Jen’s Birthday

My roommate Jen just had a birthday. She’s leaving here in a couple of months to return home to Utah. Jen and Keri are the only roommates I’ve had since I graduated from BYU. We’ve lived together for two and a half years. I am sad she is leaving, but grateful we’ve found another great roommate, Lucy. Jen has been such a great roommate. She is kind and a great listener. I was excited we could celebrate one more birthday together. To celebrate, we went to our favorite restaurant — Sweetwater Tavern.

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Institute Fall Board Meeting

The Institute Fall Board Meeting occurs annually in Washington D.C. A lot of prep goes into this two-day meeting. This was my first year serving as the staff liaison to the Curriculum Committee, and I love this new role! Below are some picture from the meetings.

Curriculum Committee hard at work (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
Curriculum Committee hard at work (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
I wish I could remember what Russ said to make us all laugh (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
I wish I could remember what Russ said to make us all laugh (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
Institute team after day one of meetings and a delicious dinner at Carmine's.
Institute team after day one of meetings and a delicious dinner at Carmine’s.
This is probably my favorite room at the U.S. Chamber. It's called the Hall of Flags (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
This is probably my favorite room at the U.S. Chamber. It’s called the Hall of Flags (photo courtesy of Raymond Towle).
Quick team selfie before the start of day two of meetings.
Quick team selfie before the start of day two of meetings.
Eating delicious chocolates (thank you Nick Kieffer) at the conclusion of day two of meetings.
Eating delicious chocolates (thank you Nick Kieffer) at the conclusion of day two of meetings.

General Conference

Twice a year we “gather” as a church to listen to the Prophet and apostles and other leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak. Gather is in quotes above because we can’t all fly to Salt Lake to participate in General Conference live in person, but we are able to gather in our homes and watch the broadcasts via the internet. I love General Conference weekend. You can view all the talks from General Conference here.

Missing Denver

This afternoon while I was at work listening to Pandora and sending out emails to conference speakers, my mind just started thinking about Denver, and my heart started missing that place. I don’t really know what triggered it, but for about an hour this afternoon I really missed Denver. I lived in Denver for about 6 months when I was 22. I was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center with about 20 other missionaries. In the middle of my mission, I was sent to the Colorado Denver South Mission to experience missionary life away from a visitors’ center. The experience was eye-opening for many reasons. I spent four and a half of those six months serving in inner-city Denver. I learned so much being in an environment that was so foreign to me.

In Denver I had a lot of time to think. As I walked through the beautiful, brisk Colorado air, my mind would often be pondering the purpose of life, faith, hope, integrity, consecration, service, etc. I learned much during these quiet times. It was this time of year that I prepared to leave for Denver. Perhaps it was the first glimpse of fall air we had today that reminded me of this time. In Denver I really learned that life is beautiful when you put others first and allow God to work miracles in your life.

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Denver Colorado LDS Temple at Christmas
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Some of my favorite people in Denver.

 

 

Cowboy Boots and Eternal Families

Meg and Morgan Grandparents
My Morgan grandparents

Last summer my Grandpa Morgan passed away. I went to his funeral out in Utah and was so thankful for that opportunity. I wanted to write a post to capture what I learned and what I felt as I was in Utah for my grandpa’s funeral.

My dad’s parents live in Santaquin, Utah. It’s a small Utah town with only one stoplight. While I was there, I had some time to walk by myself down the dusty roads in Santaquin and look at the beautiful mountains. As I walked, I thought about life and the promise that because of Jesus Christ families can be together forever. I began thinking about what really mattered in life — faith, love, joy, people to people connections, etc. My grandpa had just completed his journey here on earth and was now entering the next phase of his eternal progression. What mattered at that moment wasn’t his career or earthly accolades. What mattered was the person he had become, and perhaps even more important than that was the people he had helped all of us become through his love and example. I believe life isn’t just about what you make of it, but is what you help others make of it.

During the viewing, the night prior to the funeral, my heart was touched by those who came to pay their respects. Most of those who walked through the door were 70-year-old+ men dressed in clean white dress shirts and cowboy boots. My heart was so touched as they spoke of my Grandpa. However, not only was my heart touched as I heard them share how my Grandpa had affected their lives, but my heart filled with great love for these men because I sensed in them a dedication to and reverence for Deity. If my grandpa had still been alive, I am sure he could have shared with me how each one of these men had affected his life and helped him come closer to the Savior through their examples.  To me, cowboy boots will always remind me of greatness — the greatness I sensed in these men who so humbly paid their respects on that night and reminded me of what this life is really all about.

My dad spoke at the funeral and thanked the members of the Santaquin 6th Ward (my grandparents’ church congregation) for the love they showed his parents and our entire family.

Today marks one year since my grandpa passed away. As I reflect back on this year, I think about how his life still affects me in seen and in unseen ways. Every Sunday, my grandparents sent out a “Sunday Thought” with a short message of wisdom for their posterity. My grandpa closed his final Sunday Thought with this message: “Carry on. Be humble and prayerful and have faith.” I don’t think he realized this would be his final Sunday Thought, but I think it’s fitting that this was his final message to us. I am so grateful for his wisdom and faith in Jesus Christ.

2013 Father's Day Weekend Lunch with Grandpa Daly (Photo courtesy of my dad who is taking the picture)
2013 Father’s Day Weekend Lunch with Grandpa Daly (Photo courtesy of my dad who is taking the picture)

I find it also to be a great tender mercy that his funeral happened to be Father’s Day Weekend because this allowed me to spend Father’s Day with not only my dad but also my other Grandpa who would pass away just a few months later. All of these men have had (and still have) a great impact on my life both in ways I recognize and I am certain in many ways I don’t recognize but are known to God. I hope that I will be able to “carry on” in way that I can live up to the legacy of my grandparents and in a way pleasing to God, as I know that would be my grandparents’ and parents’ greatest desire for their posterity.