March Moments

March brought our only snow storm of the winter season. It was beautiful. John loves snow, and I felt so bad because he was in Chicago for work and missed it all. He hadn’t traveled at all since David was born, and of course the first week this snow-lover was gone we had a snow storm.

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March also brought a new experience for David (aside from snow). He ate solid food for the first time. His first experience was with pumpkin, which I think is quite fitting since he was born in October. He has pretty much been accepting of all solid food. The only thing he seemed unsure about was mashed up bananas. I’m wondering it if was the texture he didn’t feel comfortable with, since the bananas were mashed and not pureed.

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I didn’t realize how many bibs we had been gifted until I pull them all out. I found six more after I took this picture.

March also brought my and John’s last visit to the Washington DC Temple for the next two+ years while it’s closed for renovations. I wrote about our experience on The Faith Friends blog. For those living in the DC area, once the renovations are complete, the Temple will be opened for tours before it is re-dedicated.

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And finally, in less than one week, our little guy will be half a year old…crazy!

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Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day Weekend

Valentine’s Day was on a Wednesday this year. John had all-day client meetings at a location nearly double the distance of his normal commute, and I had a personal finance class that night. Even though we didn’t get to spend much time together, we still managed to squeeze in a fast evening celebration after he got home and before my class. I made a heart-shaped cookie pie and for dinner we had heart-shaped pizza (from Pizza Hut), plus some sparkling cider, which we both love. John brought home some tulips, which was a fun surprise. I knew how busy his day was, and I honestly didn’t think he’d have time to pick anything up.

We previously planned to do a belated Valentine’s date to the Shenandoah Caverns on the following Friday. John worked in the morning, and that afternoon we drove about an hour to Quicksburg, Virginia, where we toured the Shenandoah Caverns. Tickets are normally $25 per person, but we were able to find them on Groupon for $11 (love a good deal!). The drive there and back was beautiful. I love driving through the Shenandoah Valley. The tour of the caverns was phenomenal. I liked this tour better than Luray Caverns, which I’ve visited a couple of times. Our tour group was small, and our tour guide was very sweet and knowledgeable.

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The remainder of the weekend was low-key and calm. We had fun hanging out as a family, playing games, and relaxing. John has been busy with work, consulting, and church responsibilities, and this was the first weekend in quite some time where it felt like we had a lot of time to hang out as a family. John’s uncle David came over for dinner on Sunday. It had been about a month since he’d seen baby David. We enjoyed having him over and spending time with him. On Monday, we watched the movie “Wonder,” which I had been wanting to see. We loved it!

We also had a friend in our church congregation come over and take some pictures of David. She had offered to come and take newborn pictures, but the transition to motherhood was a bit more overwhelming than I expected and I wasn’t up for having someone over then. So four months later, we had her come by and take some pictures. Below is one of my favorite shots 🙂

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2017 Holiday Recap

Since we went to Iowa this year for Christmas, John, David, and I had our own Christmas celebration on the Wednesday prior to Christmas. We had a “red and green” dinner with sparkling cider, exchanged Christmas gifts, and then watched a Christmas show.

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This is the only picture we took during our family celebration in West Virginia haha.

On December 23rd, we drove 17 hours to Iowa (a drive that normally only takes us 13 hours). We rented an SUV since John had some free rental car days that were going to expire. John’s Uncle David came with us. Baby David was a champ. He didn’t get fussy until about the 15-hour mark. It was a long day, and to make things more interesting, we received a call from our security system company saying our house alarm went off (thankfully, our home was fine).

On Christmas Eve, the extended Longenecker family came over to my in-laws for dinner and a gift exchange. On Christmas Day, we headed over to John’s aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas dinner and an afternoon of games. It was a white Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is something I’ve rarely experienced as a Virginian. The beautiful white coating on the ground made it feel extra Christmasy. At the end of Christmas Day, John, baby David, and I drove around looking at Christmas lights.

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Annual Christmas Eve family photo (without shoes haha)
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A tired baby on Christmas morning.
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David’s first Christmas morning!
Opening presents.

On the 27th and 28th, we headed to Nauvoo, Illinois so John’s family could participate in services at the LDS Temple (it’s the closest LDS Temple to their house). While they were in the Temple, baby David and I explored Nauvoo. It was fun to be back where I served as an LDS missionary.

Historic Carthage Jail.

On the 30th, we headed home. The drive back home didn’t take us quite as long as the drive to Iowa, but we did run into some snowy weather. Thankfully we made it home safe and sound.

On New Year’s Eve, we went over to my parents’ house for some delicious food (we’re a foodie family) and we played Telestrations. John, David, and I left before midnight. John and I watched the ball drop in bed on my iPad right before we went to sleep. On New Year’s Day, my parents and brothers, as well as John’s Uncle David, came over. John grilled brats and I made homemade potato chips. My parents thought he was crazy for grilling since it was FREEZING. When I told them I asked him to grill, they thought I was crazy haha. We had fun watching football and playing Hoopla. Sadly, I didn’t really get any pictures of our New Year’s celebrations 😦 I stole this one from my brother’s Instagram…

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Here’s to a new year! I hope to do a 2017 year-in-review blog post soon 🙂

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.

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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.

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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!

December 2016 Moments

It’s officially 2017! I want to write a post that recaps 2016, but before I do, I felt I needed to update the blog with our Christmas experiences this past month. Truth be told, it didn’t really feel like Christmas for most of December because we were surrounded by moving boxes. My focus was so much on making sure everything was ready to go for the move on December 17, that I didn’t feel like I could fully get into the Christmas mode.

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Our annual Christmas Eve photo in front of the Christmas Tree (this year’s turned out blurry).

On December 16, we officially moved into our new house. We were supposed to do the big move on the 17th, but an ice storm was predicted to hit the area on the 17th. So, after work on the 16th, we rented a truck and loaded it up and headed to our new home. Thankfully, John had taken over lots of loads during the week since we closed on the house, so there wasn’t too much stuff to move. My parents and brother also came and helped us move. By 1 a.m., we were getting ready for bed in our NEW HOUSE.

Even though the move was a big focus this month, we still found time to participate in Christmas activities. The first weekend in December we headed to the National Zoo to see the Zoo Lights. We also attended a Christmas sing-a-long with my parents at Shenandoah University.

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Later in the month, we attended a Messiah Sing-A- Long in Ashburn. My dad played the trombone for the sing-a-long.

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This year for Christmas, we stayed local and celebrated with my family. On December 23, we went to the Kennedy Center with my immediate family for the annual Messiah Sing-A-Long. We gathered together on Christmas Eve with some extended family for a delicious dinner, caroling, and a white elephant gift exchange. That night John and I exchanged presents after returning home. The next day, Christmas Day, we went to church with my family, ate our traditional monkey bread for a late breakfast, exchanged gifts, FaceTimed with my brother Blake, who is serving as an LDS missionary in Arizona, and finished the day off with a turkey dinner.

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We spent the next couple of days after Christmas working on the house. We did manage to also spend some time with two friends who came over for lunch and an afternoon of games. We had an adventure getting to lunch because of a road closure, but ended up at the most unique restaurant called “John’s.” John and I drive past this restaurant on our way home from work. It’s a small restaurant on the side of the highway, and its parking lot is always filled with cars. The inside looks like an antique store and the food is all homemade. It was a fun lunch experience!

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In the foyer of the restaurant.

John’s family came into town on December 28 and will leave tomorrow. We’ve had fun doing Christmas activities with them, as well as with my family. My Uncle Kevin, Aunt Diana, and cousin Cory also came into town and stayed with my parents.

On December 29, we bundled up and headed to the National Christmas Tree. We walked around and looked at all the state trees and then took pictures by the National Christmas Tree. My dad has a picture of John and I by the Iowa tree, but I don’t think I’ve grabbed that from his phone.

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Sisters & Sisters 🙂

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On December 30, we headed to the Washington D.C. LDS Temple. We participated in a service at the Temple and then walked around and looked at all the Christmas lights. Inside of the Temple Visitors’ Center, there was a room full of nativities from all around the world. My favorite part of the evening was attending a hand bell concert. The McLean Stake Hand Bell Choir performs at the Temple Visitors’ Center every Christmas season. I’ve not been able to go the past few years and see their performance, but this year it worked out. They were great!

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John and I with my Aunt Diana and Uncle Kevin.

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On New Year’s Eve, we gathered at my parents’ house for food, football, and fun games. We chatted, laughed a lot, and I personally ate way too much food 🙂 Yesterday, New Year’s Day, everyone gathered at our house for dinner. It was fun to have our first family gathering in our new house.

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I don’t want to end this post about Christmas without saying how grateful I am for the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ. He truly is the reason for this season of joy. He is the reason I can have joy each day even when life is hard or challenging.

February Fun :)

It’s time for a quick update on life. I am working hard to make life less of a checklist and more about making memories and enjoying each day.

One of the fun memories over the past few weeks is a game night with friends from the church congregation where John and I met, as well as a friend from when I was younger and her husband. It was so fun to have all these friends over to our home to play games. We mainly played Telestrations, which is such a hilarious game, and I love it. My parents actually stopped by our apartment and brought treats for all of us. When they knocked on the door, we had no idea who it could be. Seeing them and receiving goodies was a fun surprise!

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John was concentrating hard during the last game. One of our friends snapped this photo and sent it to me.
John concentrated hard during the last game. One of our friends snapped this photo and sent it to me.

John and I took a detour from our normal weekend routine to visit a thrift store/antique shop in Aldie, VA. Saldy, I didn’t take any pictures on this excursion. We didn’t end up purchasing anything, but I kind of regret not purchasing a beautiful tea candle stained glass lamp. My sister and my mom are stopping by this shop, and I may have them pick up the lamp for me. John loved the antique radios and record players in the store.

John and I went to a Wizards game on Friday night. We invited one of John’s college roommates and his wife to come along. They recently moved into the area. It was fun to get to know them and fun to watch a professional basketball game. After the game, John and I walked through the city for a little bit. We both commented on how beautiful the architecture is in DC and how fun it is to live so close to the city.

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On Saturday, my sister and I had a girls afternoon and went to the Red Door Spa for manicures to celebrate Melissa’s birthday (it’s on Tuesday). That evening we went out with a group of friends to dinner at Vapiano. On Sunday, we continued the birthday celebration with a birthday dinner at my parents’ house. Unfortunately, we forgot to put the candles in the brownies until after we had already eaten a few brownies. But we stuck candles in our partially eaten brownies so we could sing “Happy Birthday” and so Melissa could blow out her candles. It was a really fun evening, with LOTS of great food 🙂

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A couple weeks ago, John and I celebrated our first Valentine’s day. I surprised John with a gift he wasn’t expecting but really wanted. I feel like I am not always the best gift giver, so this made me really happy. John made me bacon wrapped chicken for dinner on Valentine’s day, and it was delicious. He may find himself cooking for us more often 😉 He also purchased this season of NCIS for me. This gift was very thoughtful for two reasons: (1) He knows I haven’t watched any episode from this season, even though I love NCIS. (2) My metro ride home is 50 minutes each day, and I often fall asleep by accident. He downloaded the NCIS episodes onto our iPad so I would have something to keep me awake on my commute home.

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I gave my gift early to John. He came home from a work trip on Thursday (the 11th) and this was waiting for him.

 

Snowzilla: Winter Storm Jonas 2016

All in all we got at least 30 inches of snow this weekend. The crazy thing about this storm wasn’t just the amount of snow fall, but was also the wind that accompanied the storm. To put this in perspective, our apartment comlpex has a covered garage, yet many cars inside are covered in inches of snow that was blown in during the storm.

We spent our weekend safely indoors. We watched many episodes of Leverage (my favorite show on Netflix), played multiple rounds of card games, cooked/baked, and even put up our new headboard that’s been sitting in a box. Below are some pictures from Snowzilla 2016.

 

Our “roasting fire.” It made us feel cozy, and it even made fire crackle sounds 🙂
We parked John’s uncle’s van in our visitor parking while he is overseas. As the snow fell, we watched it get more and more covered.

The van once all the snow had fallen.

 

This is inside our parking garage on Saturday afternoon. I wish we would have taken a picture this afternoon. It was way worse today.

 

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We put up our headboard, and I love it.
John taught me how to play Skip-Bo.

John took this video Saturday afternoon to send to his family.

A Wonderful Winter

It’s March 25 and it’s snowing as I am typing this. Does it normally snow this late in March? Who really knows, but it has been quite the snowy Winter here. I am a little tired of snow, but do appreciate the quiet beauty it brings when freshly fallen. It seems like when it snows life slows down, and I think it’s nice to take in the stillness. Below is a picture of one of the first snow storms of the year. On this night, I went walking with one of my roommates and it was so beautiful. The snow literally sparkled. It was probably one of the prettiest snow falls I’ve seen.

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My house with freshly fallen snow. I love the look of houses with freshly fallen snow at night when the lights on inside the house make the windows look golden.

This Winter has been a fun one. Per usual, I have not done the best job taking pictures (in my defense, the picture quality on my phone was terrible, but I just got an iPhone so hopefully I will take more pictures). Some fun memories include attending two Wizards NBA games, watching lots of Winter Olympic games, walking around snowy DC at night taking in all the pretty buildings and monuments, a quick trip to Deep Creek, my sister’s birthday, lots of fireplace fires, trying new restaurants in the area, and lots of frozen yogurt (those who know me best know I love frozen yogurt all year long)! Below are some pictures of our quick trip to Deep Creek courtesy of Hunter’s iPhone.

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Snow tubing!
I like this picture because it shows how bright the sun was that day. It was also surprisingly warm for a February day, which made it really nice to be outside.
I like this picture because it shows how bright the sun was that day. It was also surprisingly warm for a February day, which made it really nice to be outside.
This picture may not seem spectacular to the casual observer until you realize that we're standing in the middle of Deep Creak Lake. It was frozen enough we could walk out into the middle, and even played a friendly game of ladder ball.
This picture may not seem spectacular to the casual observer until you realize that we’re standing in the middle of Deep Creak Lake. It was frozen enough we could walk out into the middle, and we even played a friendly game of ladder ball.

While I have without a doubt enjoyed this Winter, I am very much looking forward to warmer weather which brings with it BBQ’s, trips to the beach, concerts, tennis, evening summer walks and late night conversations on the back deck, and so much more. And then my favorite season…Fall!

Starting off the New Year in AZ

On January 2, I left for Tucson, Arizona. For work I help coordinate professional development conferences for association and chamber professionals. You can learn more about the program here. Our first conference took place January 5-9 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Those who attend the program four times receive the IOM recognition, signifying 96 credit hours of nonprofit management instruction. Well, not only was I working the conference, but I also was a participant. This was my fourth time participating in the program, and consequently, I too recieved the IOM recognition! I am now officially Meghan Morgan, IOM.

The University of Arizona is a beautiful campus. Nearly everyday I was able to go walking down the main street of the campus. Usually it was morning time, and I loved watching the sun begin to rise over the mountains. As a girl from the east, it was fascinating that on my walks I would see both palm trees and mountains. I loved it.

My morning walking route.
My morning walking route.

After a great week in Tucson, I headed up to Phoenix to see one of my favorite people, Sara Picard! We had the opportunity to serve together as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When you begin your service as a missionary, you spend time in one of the Missionary Training Centers (MTC) throughout the world. Sara and I went to the MTC in Provo, Utah. She was the missionary I was assigned (blessed) to be companions with at the MTC. We were also able to serve together in Nauvoo, Illinois. Sara is one of those people who knows me well enough that without me even saying a word she’ll know what I am thinking (and vice versa).

While visiting Sara, we had the opportunity to attend a conference for LDS young adults living in the Phoenix area. The speakers at the conference were excellent. My favorites include Mitt Romney, Stephanie Nielson, Alex Boye, and Thurl Bailey. Below are some of my takeaways from the messages they shared:

Mitt Romney

“The scale of our service is not the measure of our success. Our success is the scale of our compassion.” – Mitt Romney.

Govenor Romney’s message was centered on defining success, not as the world sees it but as God sees it. He said that if we are to judge our success based on what the world would classify as success, then we are leaving our success and happiness up to serendipity and chance. If we do that, could we be successful? Possibly. Could we be happy? Possibly. But if we want sure success and sure happiness, we need to focus on that which is of God. We need to focus on loving and serving others, and humbly fulfill the duties that are ours to fulfill no matter who is watching.

Stephanie Nielson (you can find her blog here)

Stephanie and her husband were burned in a plane crash a few years back. She counseled those in the audience to remember that everyone has scars. We may not always see those scars, but they are there. Consequently, we should love everyone.

Alex Boye

Alex has to be one of the most energetic speakers I have ever listened to. His main message was to believe in yourself (and the power of God) and to seek after the things that you want and not limit your potential through doubt and disbelief. He advised us to not judge our lives in the moment, but believe we will achieve greatness. He cautioned that when we focus or become so hung up on only a snapshot of our life we limit our potential.

Thurl Bailey

I am going to be honest here and say I had no idea who Thurl Bailey was until this conference… Clearly, I am not a Utah Jazz fan (or NBA fan in general). Thurl’s message was so inspiring. He shared the story of his journey to become a basketball player. When Thurl first tried out in middle school, he didn’t make the team (two years in a row)! In fact, after the second year, the basketball coach told Thurl not to even come out for the team the next year. Well, the next year, the school got a new coach, and Thurl did try out. And he made it! But he didn’t make it necessarily because he was good, but because the coach saw great potential in him. As I listened to Thurl speak, my mind started thinking about potential and how important it is that we all look for the potential in others, and not doubt the potential of another person. It’s so amazing how when even just one person acknowledges and encourages the potential in another person, great things happen (e.g. Thurl Baily and his coach, Esther and Mordecai, Joseph Smith and his family, etc.) I imagine that all greatness that has been achieved throughout the world’s history can be attributed to the belief of one person in another person’s potential.

I had a great time in Arizona, but I am also grateful to be back!

Me and my fun coworkers at the Big Bash.
Me and my fun coworkers at the Big Bash.
The beautiful Mesa Arizona LDS Temple.
The beautiful Mesa Arizona LDS Temple.
Me and Sara :)
Me and Sara 🙂
Me and Robin (another friend we ran into who served her mission in Nauvoo).
Me and Robin (another friend we ran into who served her mission in Nauvoo).