COVID-19

I want to take just a few minutes to write down some thoughts about this unprecedented time. My prayers and thoughts are with all those affected physically, emotionally, and/or economically right now because of COVID-19.

As a stay-at-home mom of a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old, my life has not been impacted significantly. Aside from missing outings like library story time and lunches at Chick-Fil-A, life for me on the surface is very similar to what it’s been. I enjoy being home with David and Brooke and watching them play together. David is really starting to use his imagination. It is also very nice to have John home more often while he works from home. The kids LOVE when he comes upstairs from the basement to grab a bite to eat.

It is weird to go to the grocery store and see lots of items missing from shelves. Thankfully, John suggested very early on that we stock up on some things. So, I did a lot of my shopping for staples (like toilet paper) before the masses. We also live in a more rural area, and from what I hear, our grocery stores are a little better stocked than those closer to Washington D.C. where my brother and sister live.

I’m so thankful we moved before all the “shelter-in-place” business began. I love our new home, and I especially love the views. When I look outside and see God’s beautiful creations, I feel peace. I go on a walk each day, and I cherish those times. Sometimes I listen to podcasts and other times I whisper a silent prayer in my heart as I walk.

Our house in West Virginia officially sold this past Friday, and for that I am extremely grateful! I can only imagine the anxiety I’d be wrestling with if it were still on the market during this time.

Our family started a tradition of taking a drive through Shenandoah National Park each Sunday while we don’t have church. It’s fun to drive up to the lookouts and then look for our house.

I’m not sure how long it will be until life feels “normal” again for our communities. I’m grateful for those who are working to combat the virus and for those serving individuals who are suffering.

A Good Reminder

Today I attended a funeral for someone who’s life ended unexpectedly. Last week, my husband’s high school best friend’s father passed away. I listened to the funeral while sitting on a couch in the lobby of the funeral home. You see, right before the funeral began, David became a bit chatty and whiny (we were nearing nap time). So I quietly excused myself with David to the lobby. David fell asleep in my arms within a few minutes. As I sat alone on the couch with my sleeping baby in my arms and listened to the music and the words shared, my heart filled with gratitude for life and for family. I was reminded that sometimes I get too lost in the minutia of life. I stress over little, inconsequential details. I was reminded that my focus and my joy should be in serving Jesus Christ. Life is short; too short to worry about the little things that don’t really matter.

California 2015

I got back from my annual work trip to California early in the morning on Sunday. I was able to extend that trip a couple days and visit my Great Aunt Fannie in Long Beach. The weather in California was amazing 🙂 It is nice to be back home though.

On the yacht for the Big Bash.
On the yacht for the Big Bash.

Me and Aunt Fannie before I headed home.
Me and Aunt Fannie before I headed home.

 

Where Did June Go?

June was a busy but delightful month. I started off the month in Madison, Wisconsin at Midwest Institute. Then I celebrated my birthday, and the day after my birthday, I headed off to Athens, Georgia for Southeast Institute.

Midwest Institute

It's tradition to take a "staff selfie" during the Big Bash.
It’s tradition to take a “staff selfie” during the Big Bash.

With our wonderful Trustees Chairman.
With the wonderful Institute Trustees Chairman.

Someone decided to get creative in their picture taking skills. This is the entire staff that was on-site at Midwest Institute.
Someone decided to get creative in their picture taking skills. This is the entire staff that was on-site at Midwest Institute.

Enjoying the Kickoff at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Enjoying the Kickoff at Buffalo Wild Wings.

In front of the Wisconsin State Capitol.
In front of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Birthday

I had a great birthday this year. John was out of town so we celebrated the weekend before. On the actual day, I spent time with my mom and sister looking at venues for an upcoming event I have yet to write about on the blog (but will soon!). In the evening, I went to dinner with friends and then headed over to my parents for cake and ice cream.

John was out of town on my birthday so we celebrated the weekend before.
 The iPhone/restaurant lighting doesn’t make for the best picture.

Dinner with friends on my actual birthday.

After dinner, we headed over to my parents for cake. My mom decorated the mantle in the family room.
My mom decorated the mantle in my parents’ family room.

Two delicious cakes - coconut and chocolate peanut butter!
Two delicious cakes – coconut and chocolate peanut butter!

Southeast Institute

Someone brought a selfie stick to Southeast Institute. I had never used one before.
Someone brought a selfie stick to Southeast Institute. I had never used one before.

Staff wearing the funny hats at the First-Timers Reception.
Staff wearing the funny hats at the First-Timers Reception.

The traditional "staff selfie" during the Big Bash. This time I looked tired and felt tired :)
The traditional “staff selfie” during the Big Bash. This time I looked tired and felt tired 🙂

Blake is off!

Last Tuesday Blake left Virginia to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He’ll spend the next two years serving the people of Arizona as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is my last picture with him at the airport when we dropped him off.

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Sending Blake off on his mission was bittersweet for me. Sweet – because I know these two years will bless his life more than he’ll probably ever be able to articulate. And bitter – because I remember how lonely I felt at the beginning of my mission. I missed my family and felt overwhelmed by the amount of time that needed to pass before I could see them again.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had to serve as a missionary, and I know Blake will cherish this experience forever. I am also extremely grateful for the faith of my parents and ancestors. As Blake prepared for his mission I really felt the power of that faith in ways that I can’t fully describe in words.

If you wonder why Mormons serve missions, you can check out a blog post I wrote on The Faith Friends.

A Quick Trip to Kirtland, Ohio

Last weekend, I went with six friends to Kirtland, Ohio. Kirtland plays a significant role in LDS church history. It was in Kirtland the first LDS Temple was built. The Kirtland Temple is now owned by the Community of Christ (a church that splintered off from the LDS Church). The temple is not used for religious purposes and they offer tours through the Temple.

We spent more time driving than actually touring the historic sites in Kirtland, but I very much enjoyed the whole trip.

(Disclaimer: The sun was very bright so there are a number of closed eyes in the group pictures).

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February Birthdays: Cabin Life and Luray Caverns

Melissa and Eric both celebrated milestone birthdays this year.

Melissa’s birthday was on the 23rd, which was a Monday. We (my mom, Aunt Diana, Keri, Melissa, and I) celebrated by going to a cabin in Warm Springs, VA from the 20th through the 22nd. Originally, we planned to go to the Jefferson Pools (natural hot springs) while we were there, but we ended up getting about 15 inches of snow and the whole town shut down. The snow was absolutely beautiful.

At first I wondered if we would get a bit of “cabin fever” because we were snowed in, but my mom and Aunt Diana planned many fun indoor activities. Keri and I went for a walk in the snow that was picturesque and beautiful. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of DC and embrace the beautiful winter weather. On the drive down to the cabin, we stopped at the neatest consignment shop, where we tried on funny hats, and I fell in the love with the cutest dog.

Outside the cute little thrift shop.
Outside the cute little thrift shop.

Trying on funny hats.

The cute little dog I fell in love with at the thrift store :)
The cute little dog I fell in love with at the thrift store 🙂

Our home for the weekend.
Our home for the weekend.

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Out in the snow.
Out in the snow.

The main highway totally snowed over.
The main highway totally snowed over.

Birthday dinner table settings.
Birthday dinner table settings.

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Day one snow storm.
Day one snow storm.

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Beautiful and sunny last day.
Beautiful and sunny last day.

Eric’s birthday was on the 15th. To celebrate, we went to Luray Caverns and The Apple House on the 14th, and then we had a birthday dinner on the 15th. Luray Caverns were neat. It’s been many years since I’ve been there, and I absolutely loved the tour. Our trip to Luray actually inspired one of my posts on the Faith Friends blog. For the birthday dinner, I made pork loin in the crockpot with a new recipe. I am including the link to the recipe here so I will always know where to find it. I would probably cook the pork loin for less time and add more water to the crockpot because it was a little dryer than I would have preferred. However, I would for sure try it again.

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Arizona

We’re already a month and a half into 2015. I’ve been slow to blog because, while life’s been quite busy, there haven’t been too many experiences I’ve felt the desire to post on the blog.

One very exciting announcement I did want to share is: My brother Blake received his mission call! He will serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. Our family had a google hangout when he opened his call. Even though we weren’t all there in person with him in Utah, we were still able to be a part of the exciting moment.

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I traveled to Arizona for work in January. We had a successful Winter Institute at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The weather was really cold when we arrived. It snowed there two days before we arrived (crazy). Thankfully it warmed up and we had a few beautiful days of sun and warmth.

U.S. Chamber Institute Staff
U.S. Chamber Institute Staff

Traditional staff selfie at the Big Bash (Andrew is so tall)
Traditional staff selfie at the Big Bash (Andrew is so tall)

Getting ready to tear it up on the dance floor
Dance party time

A photo I took while out on a walk - love the palm trees
A photo I took while out on a walk – love the palm trees

I posted twice on The Faith Friends blog during the month of January. In this post, I shared a favorite poem that helps me when I struggle. And in this post, I talk about having life clarity versus feeling peace. Spoiler alert: I don’t feel like I have clarity in life right now but I do have peace – which I’ve learned is a gift from God.

A Moment To Remember Our Veterans

Last week we celebrated Veterans’ Day. To commemorate those who have served our nation, my friends and I went to the World War II Memorial in Washington DC to welcome veterans who came to see the memorial for the first time through the Honor Flight program. Below are some pictures I took while we were there. Standing across from us while we welcomed the veterans were these sweet kids from Lake Braddock Secondary School. It made my heart warm to watch their eyes light up each time they shook a veteran’s hand and with gratitude said, “thank you for your service.” I hope that when I have children, I can teach them to truly love, honor, and respect those who have fought for our freedoms as these kids did.

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Veterans’ Day happened to fall the day after it was one of my scheduled days to post on The Faith Friends blog. My post was about a very special veteran I met ten years ago. You can view the post here.

End of October Moments

I feel like 2014 has flown by. It’s hard to believe in some ways that there are only two months left in this year. Right now I am enjoying my favorite season – fall. Although, I feel like the weather has been quite inconsistent. Some days it’s super hot and other days it’s very chilly.

Last Saturday was one of the more warm days. It was also the Ghost 5K in Leesburg. My sister started a tradition with her friends of running in this costume 5K each year. I’ve participated for the last two years. This year’s group was a little smaller than normal. Below is a picture of those of us who participated. I was a bumble bee. Last year, I was a college student. I wore a Harvard sweatshirt, glasses, and ran with my backpack on. I was told that wasn’t a very creative costume since I could in actuality be a college student, so this year I tried to be a little more creative (a big thanks should go to my coworker who provided me with this costume).

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I am not the biggest fan of running, but was grateful the weather was nice for this run. As a side note, my friend started a blog called “The Faith Friends,” and she asked me to be a contributor. I post every other Wednesday. Last week I posted two lessons I learned about life and faith while running this race. You can check it out here.

Last Sunday we celebrated the fall birthdays of the VA/DC Morgans and Wagners. My dad, Ross, and Carl all had birthdays in October. And Morgan and Tyler had their birthdays in September. It was a really fun night! I appreciate living so close to both my immediate and some of my extended family. We had delicious asian cuisine followed by pie. Below is a group selfie Carl took at the dining room table as we were all eating together.

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