Friday, December 4, 2009

Inheritance (i.e. my ode to Mom)


I've been a bit sick this past week. Nothing too bad, just congestion and lots of sneezing. Which has brought me to a certain realization. I have inherited my mom's sneezes. I have no idea when this happened. I remember growing up when my mom would sneeze and it was seriously the loudest thing you had ever heard. You could hear her throughout the entire house. You knew when she walked in by her sneezes. I always thought it was funny and used to tease her about it. Turns out at some point I started taking after her. I don't think I fully realized it until getting married. Now that Mark has to deal with every single sneeze I ever sneeze, he has pointed out that they are pretty stinkin' loud. And I don't even know how to sneeze quieter! Can most people control the strength and loudness of their sneezes? I just can't help it. My nose starts itching and I just have to get it out. It's the type of sneeze that takes over my whole body and it feels like I'm getting everything out of my system. Also, I can't stop at just one sneeze. Mark always is amazed when it's just one... you can usually count on me for two or three... or more when I'm actually sick. Sure feels good when I'm done though. Silly, but it makes me laugh when I think about it.


My mom is the type of person who cries at, quite literally, almost anything. We tease her about it all the time. I know a lot of people cry at things, but do you know someone who tears up at sweet commercials or lets some tears drop during Full House or Little House on the Prairie (how tear-jerking is it when the little girls make up after bad fights)? That's my mom. And I always used to think she was so silly. Just my cute little mom who had some sort of emotional instability. (sorry Mom, I know that's not true, but as a young child it was just hilarious how much you cried). Over the years I have noticed that I would occasionally tear up at certain things, but nothing too bad. I remember tearing up at the end of watching the LDS soldier movie when the guy dies (sorry, don't remember the name right now... and sorry if I gave away the ending to anyone) and being in the movie theater sitting in between all these boys and feeling so silly. Nothing a little quick dab couldn't take care of though.

Well, especially since getting married, I have become a complete and utter emotional wreck! Any movies dealing with spousal... anything... well, I most definitely tear up. My tears seem to be limited to movies/tv. Maybe I'm taking them too seriously. I remember one Saturday right after getting married, Mark was out playing basketball and I was having a chill morning watching "p.s. I love you" by myself (because I knew Mark didn't really want to watch it). Oh my gosh. Tear my heartstrings. I was bawling through a good portion of that movie, tears just streaming down my cheeks and sobs heaving. I just can't even imagine and don't want to. Mark means so much to me. Goodness love that boy!! Oh my gosh I am ridiculous though! Another example of this behavior happened last week. For Thanksgiving Mark and I watched the movie "planes, trains, and automobiles" (edited of course), which is probably the only Thanksgiving movie ever made. It's so stinkin' hilarious. Steve Martin and John Candy and their desperate trip to get home for the big day. I watched it for the first time with Mark a few years ago and just remember how funny it was. Watching it the second time after getting married, I remembered a certain fact about John Candy's character that is revealed near the end and thought about it while watching (sorry to be cryptic, but just in case you want to watch it...). Then at the end of the movie when the fact is revealed, I couldn't help but start crying. Mark looked over and noticed and was confused at first as to why I was crying at one of the most hilarious movies ever. I can't even imagine how much worse it will be when I have children and see sad things about children in movies or tv shows.

I am becoming just like my Mother!!. Not a bad person to take after though. Definitely one of the best. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Self Reliance is Grand

So this post really ocmes a bit late, but I've been meaning to do this for forever. Mark and I were asked to give talks in the Monta Vista ward (the singles ward here in Nor Cal) before we got married and changed wards. The bishopric asked us to talk about self-reliance and Mark and I received quite a few comments on them. Whether or not people always give compliments and comments to speakers after their talks, we were glad that apparently we did well. For me it was one of those talks that I had a lot of thoughts about but no real structure until that morning and suddenly everything just fit. Blessings for sure. Anyways, you don't have to read this, but I've been telling my family I would post about it because of the theme of the structure. And I figured I would post Mark's as well.

Heather's Talk

Lessons learned from my parents

Intro: Background of my family
-I am the oldest of eight children. My dad has been a stay-at-home dad for as long as I can remember because my parents always wanted someone at home. When I was 12 my parents had the youngest children, a set of twins, in April. That fall my mom quit her job and went back to school to get her PhD. During the first three years of her program, neither of my parents had a real job. My mom would occasionally do some sort of student teaching or something like that and she made $12,000 a year for those three years. Let me be clear, that's $1,000 pre-taxes and pre-tithing per month for a family of 10. We lived and we survived. As my mom told me, they survived due to three reasons; 1) they had already paid off the house, 2) they had no debt, and 3) my dad is a genius at budgeting. (blog insert: we used to call this characteristic being "cheap"). My parents are my heroes and they have taught me much. Let me share with you some of the lessons that I learned from my parents.

1) Provident Living/Budgeting

Elder Robert D. Hales: "Provident living... means joyfully living within our means and preparing for the ups and downs of life so that we can be ready for the rainy-day emergencies when they come into our lives."

My parents budgeting: my dad used to keep up-to-date records of his different budgeted accounts with manual journal voucher sheets that he was always checking and working on; my dad set up bank accounts for each of us basically the day we were born and helped us to see the value of saving (making me feel that our monthly bank account statements were almost a competition of sorts).

D&C 48:4 "It must needs be necessary that ye save all the money that you can, and that ye obtain all that ye can in righteousness..."

Elder Hales: "Provident living means not coveting the htings of the world. It means using the resources of the earth wisely and not being wasteful, even in times of plenty"

Age of entitlement: people now feel like they should own what their parents have. My parents saved up their whole lives to move into a good neighborhood (after I graduated and moved out of course) whereas there are young couples moving into the same neighborhood.

2) Do not go into debt

-We once went to a wedding reception where the couple had put a box in the middle of the table with little pieces of paper to write advice on. My dad in big bold letters wrote "AVOID DEBT" and that was his biggest advice he could pass on.

-My parents only got a credit card when I was probably in college or maybe high school. They never had them before because they didn't like the idea that you're spending money you don't have. Instead, they built great credit with their loans. In fact, when they went to apply for a loan for their current house, the person reviewing their credit scores told them that he had never seen as good of credit as my dad has. And now the only reason they really have a credit card is to earn things from their purchases. They always pay them off immediately.

Elder Hales: "To pay our debts now and to avoid future debt requires us to exercise faith in the Savior - not just to do better but to be better. It takes great faith to utter those simple words 'we can't afford it.'"

3) Pay tithing and fast offerings

Elder Hales: "The primary purpose of tighing is to develop our faith. By keeping the commandments to pay 'one-tenth of all [our increase] annually' (D&C 119:4), we become better - our faith grows and sustains us through the trials, tribulations, and sorrows of life."

-My grandpa (my mom's dad) once told her that tithing was the only commandment that we can each live perfectly. We can all pay 10% and be able to say that we were perfect in one commandment; whereas the others are harder to keep 100% of the time. Don't we want to say we're perfect at at least one?
-Tithing settlements: my parents used to take us each year to tithing settlement as a family where they would state in front of the bishop and in front of us that they were full tithe payers. And then as we stared earning our own money we would have to do the same. They continued to pay tithing even during those three crazy years. This emphasized to me how important tithing was to them.

4) Serve others, even in hard times

Elder Hales: "It is important to understand that self-reliance is a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to become like the Savior, and that goal is enhanced by our unselfish service to others. Our ability to serve is increased or diminished by the level of our self-reliance."

President Marion G. Romney: "Food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves. Money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse. Support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved. Teaching cannot come from the unlearned. And most important of all, spiritual guidance cannot come from the spiritually weak."

-Every Christmas growing up (even through the hard years), my parents always made a big deal about serving someone somewhere, whether we did the 12 days of Christmas for a family in our ward or we participated in the Secret Santa program to purchase presents for people in need.

Elder Hales: "This... is the gospel vision of welfare: to put our faith in Jesus Christ into action. We serve others as the spirit directs."

This is a gospel of action. As it says in Mosiah 4:910- "9: Belive in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. 10: And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them."

My parents taught me many other things, including the importance of education and spiritual preparation... wrap-up...

Mark's Talk

Started with awesome funny story about how his mom tried to get everyone excited about food storage once, but Mark's brother Greg came up with a great way around this. They lived next door to a big Mormon family with lots of boys their same age called the Youngbergs. Greg decided that the only food storage they really needed was a baseball bat. If an emergency happened, the could just go over the Youngbergs and take their food storage.

1) Debt

Elder Hales: "where we go into debt, we give away some of our precious, priceless agency and place ourselves in self-imposed servitude. We obligate our time, energy, and means to repay what we have borrowed - resources that could have been used to help ourselves, our families, and others."

Sopranos story about a man who got into debt with his friend who was a mobster (bad idea). The man's whole life got taken away because of his debt (family, home, job, etc).

Story would have been different if there had been a mediator, like the Savior provides for us spiritually.

2) A part of being self-reliant is taking responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal welfare and for those whom Heavenly Father has entrusted to our care

Joseph Smith: "A man filled with the love of god, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the human race"

Keith Knight in Mark's home ward used to home teach a man named Brother Bowser who never came to church and often was drunk when Brother Knight would come on his visits. Brother Knights continued teaching him for years.

Serve those under your stewardship even if it's difficult.

Use your assets to serve.

3) As we prepare for the future, we must have the desire and capacity to rely on the Lord

Nephi's Psalm - Lehi had just died, which was out of Nephi's control, but still Nephi was extremely distraught (2 Nephi 4:17-19)
How many of us have felt that way or would feel that way if we lost jobs or had to move to different houses or sell cars or whatnot?
But then Nephi changes his tune (2 Nephi 4:19-22, 28-30)

Mark's personal job search and how that was so difficult, but then he found peace as he came to the Lord in prayer and everything worked out.

Self-reliance versus relying on the Lord (must have both)

We must make the change ourselves


So long!! Sorry for those who actually made it this far.

Our door was broken...

We have a sliding door that goes between our bedroom and the bathroom that occasionally comes off the track a little and takes some jiggling to get it back on track and working. It's started squeaking every time we open it over the past few months. And then finally it happened... we broke it. Somehow the wheels got off the track and we for the life of us could not get it fixed. It just became worse and worse. Then at some point we had the door seriously stuck closed. We could barely get our fingers in to try and push the door open somehow. We eventually managed to at least get it open, but it, once again, was stuck. At least it was open enough for us to turn sideways and squeeze through instead of walking around and using the other door to the bathroom (leading to the front room).

Our landlord came and spent some time working on the door and he got a repairman to come by who basically just put the wheels back on the tracks and told us to be careful with it. The squeaks are still there. How long until it happens again?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some updates...

So I have a few minutes at work before my next meeting and I wasn't sure what to do to fill the next ten minutes... so I'm going to do a quick update blog!

As for the car:

Mark had it towed over to Pep Boys or someplace like that. Thankfully the towing was once again covered by our car insurance. Awesome. Apparently when he got the car there it took four guys to push it around and they all commented that it was heavy! So it's not just us. Even with several more guys, it probably would have been impossible to get it up those little bumps out of our parking lot. As is, I'm impressed with us that we were able to get it up the little incline. Back to the car: turns out that the battery is getting old but hasn't kicked the bucket yet. It's actually the starter that was having issues, so they had to replace that which ended up being pricy. What can you do? They then charged up the battery to make sure it would be okay and they said it took forever... it must have been pretty dead. From now on we're going to be good about not wearing out the battery to prolong it's life as long as possible. But the car is back and in great working order! It's so nice to have that taken care of.


So, yes, I do love fall and I do believe all the things I wrote about in a previous post, but I'm remembering some of the downfalls recently as well. It's freezing cold!!! I feel like I'm almost constantly cold. Maybe we need to start running our heater or something, but it's not just our house. It's cold at work and it's especially cold outside during the morning and the evenings. And, let's be honest, those are the only hours I'm outside anymore, leading me to my next point...

Does it always get this dark this early every year?! I think it's always a shock to me, but this year seems to be even more so for whatever reason. I leave for work and it's at least sunny (but freezing), but when I leave from work it's already getting dark and basically is dark by the time I get home at 5 or 5:30. And then the rest of the night I just feel tired all the time because my body thinks it's 10 o'clock at night and time to get ready for sleep when it's only 6:00 and we're still eating dinner. So crazy.

We've had some fun adventures lately (including having my sister Amber come visit the area for a weekend with the rest of the BYU Women's Soccer Team and play in the NCAA tournament!), but I have pictures of those and will have to blog about it later. Especially because my ten minute limit is basically up now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Eventful Day

Mark's car started having some problems at the end of last week. Mark drives a white 1998 Honda Passport. He took it into the Honda dealer right next to us for them to just clean off the battery, because Mark had heard that sometimes it's just a problem with the cleanliness of the battery. The guy took out a regular pocket knife and scrapped off all this gunk. He said it was the grossest battery. He also recommended changing the battery. Being the non-trusting and cheap people that we are, we didn't get the battery changed. We figured that we could drive it for awhile longer and then when it died we would get it taken care of. Turns out that may have been a bad choice...

We were gone for the weekend (having Halloween with Brett, Becky, and kids... to be blogged about at a later date), leaving the car parked in our parking lot. It hadn't started at all that day before we left. Turns out it hasn't even vaguely started since we got back. We were hoping it would at least start so we could get it over to a mechanic. No such luck. On Monday we both had school/work. Thankfully, those two destinations are only about 10 minutes away from one another, so we have been able to carpool pretty easily when Mark had school. On Tuesday we wanted to take the car in, but weren't able to get it taken care of before I had to go to work. I ended up having a ridiculously long two-hour lunch scheduled, so I was able to come home and try to jump-start the car. Neither of us had ever jump-started a car before. Thankfully I had purchased cables sometime in the last year or two. We tried time after time to jump the car, but to no avail. With meetings to attend, I had to rush back to work. Mark used our emergency roadside assistance from our insurance company to get someone to come out and jump the car for free. Turns out the car is completely dead... the professional wasn't able to jump the car either. So maybe we're not so bad at jumping a car. :)

This morning we set our alarms for extra early to finally do something about the car. We had decided that we could push the car to the Honda dealership that is literally across the street from us. We had such faith in ourselves... such blind and misplaced faith. :) We were able to back the car out from the parking spot due to a very slight decline. After we got it out of the spot, we started pushing. And nothing happened. We couldn't move that car to save our lives. In our defense, that thing is rather large and in charge. We quickly realized that even if we were able to get in the groove and get some momentum going, there was no way we were going to be able to get the car past the little hills out of our parking lot. Yes, that's right, we were trapped in the parking lot because of a little hill. Truly sad. Disheartened, we realized that we would have to put the car back in the parking spot and get a tow truck to take the car across the street (which should also be free with our emergency roadside assistance... cross your fingers). Mark braced himself at the back of the car and I got set to steer us back into the spot. And now we literally were moving backwards instead of just standing still. The slight incline had turned into a daunting task. Everytime we would start pushing, we would maybe move forward just a few inches, but gravity would eventually catch up with us and the car would start rolling backwards before I could grab the emergency brake. Eventually we switched places, because Mark was better at pushing, steering, and emergency braking without sitting down. Even without my sitting down in the car while we were pushing, it was difficult. I literally thought a few times that our car was simply going to have to remain blocking the entire parking lot. It was ridiculously funny at 7:30 am and so stinkin' hard to push that thing up the small incline. It literally took us 15-20 minutes just to get the car back into its spot. Mark's shoulder still hurts from pushing the car this morning. What a stud. So, we're still hoping that we can figure out the car thing soon....

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. This evening though, we had a bit of a mishap... We were eating the last of our chocolate covered peanuts (the best ever!! love the Winco grocery store by Brett&Becky) and two of the peanuts were stuck together. Mark was trying to be cute and romantic and put one of the peanuts in his mouth so I could eat the other one... i.e. the cute spaghetti kiss from Lady and the Tramp. Turns out this wasn't so cute. In my excitement for the chocolate, I apparently missed and got some of Mark's lip. Yes, that's right... I wanted my chocolate so badly that I apparently bit his lip and bit it hard. He has a blood blister of sorts now. You can't see it super well in this picture, but it's the red thing on the bottom right of his lip. I felt so bad, but we laughed pretty hard about that.

Chef Boyar-Abbotts

I've never been what I would term a chef. Or even a cook. Growing up my mom would let me make desserts occasionally by myself, so I became great at baking. Give me a recipe (well, a fairly simple recipe... preferably a yummy dessert) and I will follow it. Although, as in my younger days, you may end up with less cooked treats at the end than you would imagine because I absolutely love eating dough. Any kind of dough. Of course cookie dough is the ultimate yumminess. But I love eating any kind of dough... pancake batter? You better believe it. Totally good. Bread dough? Delicious. I continued eating dough even despite the many warnings my dad gave us over the years growing up that the raw eggs would probably kill us. Hasn't happened yet, but I don't endorse the eating of dough just in case. Actually, you should probably let me test it out first. Send it my way. I remember when I was little, my mom would have us sit around the counter and "help" while she made cookies. She would hand us a measuring utensil and help us each measure out and pour in a specific ingredient. Then she would be in charge of the mixers. We all looked forward to the 5-10 chocolate chips that she would give each one of us. After we had the batter all mixed up, my mom would either give us a beater or a spoonful of dough. We would fight over those beaters like crazy. Of course, this was happening while my dad in the background was telling us that we really shouldn't eat dough. One beater or one spoonful was never enough for me. To this day, I can eat soooo many spoonfuls of dough that it's pretty crazy actually. I usually have no appetite for the cooked cookies afterwards because of the massive amounts of consumed dough, which is totally fine because dough is ten times better than the cooked cookies. I remember thinking that when I was older and in college (yes, that was the epitome of independence and adulthood in my childhood mind), I would make up a batch of cookies and not cook a single one. I would just put the bowl full of dough in the fridge and snack off of it. While I haven't actually gotten to this point, I have several times bought the packaged cookie dough just for the purpose of eating raw. Such goodness.... sigh....

Anyways, other than desserts, I've never been that much of a cook. I will not claim greatness now either; however, I must admit that I have improved far beyond what I had thought. It's this marriage thing. Makes me feel more domestic. While I don't have a ton of time to put huge efforts into cooking because of working and we don't have a ton of extra cash to spend on exotic items, I have found that I really enjoy cooking. I enjoy making something so yummy and inventive. Cooking up a new recipe and watching it turn out is kind of a rush. Especially when Marky enjoys it. I feel like such a nerd in admitting this, but I enjoy cooking. :) It's been fun to find new recipes and try things out. I have many recipes that I've gathered over the years and several recipe books. We also heavily use google to find recipes for any weird items we have. One of my favorite salad recipes that I found on google is below. We've made it a few times this summer and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Pear/Avocado Salad
-Lettuce (we've used both spinach and romaine... both tasted good)
-2 pears (sliced, usually carmelize with honey for about 3 minutes... see note below to see why this is necessary)
-1 avocado (cut into small bite-size pieces)
-Grilled chicken (we use the Costco breaded frozen chicken... totally awesome!, cut into bite-size pieces)
-1/4 to 1/2 cup candied nuts (we've just used slivered almonds, but you can also use pecans or walnuts or whatever... as long as they're candied/carmelized... yummy!)
-Cheese (we've used blue cheese, but you could also use gorgonzola)
Dressing (I half the dressing when it's just for the two of us... otherwise way too much dressing and the dressing tastes great with this salad but not really with just lettuce)
-3/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup lemon juice
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 Tbsp honey
-salt and pepper
Such goodness. Here's a finished picture of the salad that we had about a month ago...
And now, the best part... Mark getting ready to eat a bite. And yes, for those of you who know Mark and paid attention to the recipe, he is about to eat pears!!! I know!! Mark eating fruit! Crazy. For those who don't know, I have such a cute husband with very interesting eating habits. He totally enjoys eating vegetables, but he won't eat normal fruit at all. He doesn't like the texture of fruits like apples or melons or most other fruits. He'll eat berries or he'll eat applesauce. But nothing delicious like apples or pears. Turns out if you douse the pears in honey and stick them in a delicious salad, he will eat them!! If anyone knows of any other recipes for cooked fruit, which he will eat (because it changes the texture), send them my way! I'm always looking for ways to get Marky to eat some fruit. :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Favorites

I never used to enjoy the fall season in the past, I think mostly because it signified the beginning of school and the end of summer fun and warmth and all I had to look forward to was freezing cold weather (although I will admit that I am a fan of the snow). Since I no longer get any such summer break (sigh), I'm beginning to realize more and more that I actually do enjoy fall. Maybe it has something to do with being in California as well. As Mark says, fall is the best season in California. The weather isn't too cold, but we've lost that feeling of extreme heat. There's just a little hint of briskness in the air that makes me feel alive! So, in honor of my extreme good feelings for this season that I have harbored so much animosity for in the past... here are my Top 5 Things I Love About Fall.

1) The briskness in the air: I've already talked some about that, but one other thing that I thoroughly enjoy is driving in my car with the windows down in this beautiful weather. I've always really enjoyed feeling the wind as I drive, but it just gets too hot during the summer to actually make this comfortable and too cold during the winter. I just love the feeling of being free. The hair flying around and getting completely ruined isn't my favorite anymore so nowadays I wear my hair in a bun tucked up into a baseball hat. I keep this hat in my car simply for these occasions. For anyone who knows Mark's style, you can tell that this was actually a Mark purchase from some thrift store that he gave me as a gift. I had to take a picture of my "get-up" while I drive home today. I still need the sunglasses because it's too sunny. I probably look crazy to the other drivers as I'm driving around with the windows down and my get-up, singing to the radio turned up high. Good times.

2) Crunchy leaves: I stomp on crunchy leaves. It utterly fills my heart with joy to feel and hear the crunch. I walk along the street trying to step only on the leaves, which means I walk in shorter steps or longer steps or by crossing legs or whatever it takes to get as many leaves as possible. The colors are pretty nice too.

3) Sweatshirt weather: I have been in the mood to wear sweaters for at least the past month but it's been way too warm so I would end up just carrying the sweater around wishing it were cooler. And now it is!

4) Cool weather (especially at night): Can't say enough about how much I love this weather. Snuggling up into bed feels so much nicer now. I love it when Mark comes over and puts his arm around me and snuggles up close. I loved it during the summer as well, but I would get so overwhelmingly hot while trying to stay still just to revel being in his arms.

5) Upcoming holidays: I love the upcoming holidays that just get better and better. It all starts off with Halloween and the fun of dressing up, followed by the amazing amounts of yummy food at Thanksgiving, Christmas time with all its splendor and sincere spirit and family time, New Years Eve to reminisce our engagement, and then... the best of all... my birthday! So much goodness in the next few months.

Runner-up) General Conference! I had such a great time this past weekend listening to the words of our prophets and apostles. Such a time of rejuvenation and growth (that I will hopefully carry on for the next six months). In keeping with my parents family traditions, I made a nice breakfast Sunday morning. As evidenced by the picture below, I was less than enthused to have a photo taken of me fresh out of bed and still groggy. You can see the conference starting on the computer. I'm so glad we were able to get it in our home.

And now, my complete and utter guesses on Mark's Fav 5 for the Fall season...

1) LAKERS!!!! So many games and he'll be able to watch all of them. It honestly is a little intimidating to me at the moment, but I'll get through. The team is looking to be amazing this year. Ron Artest will be a great asset to an already fabulous team. Mark definitely is excited for the games to begin. As he told me recently "it's not that my love for you will change at all, but my love for Lamar will just increase."

2) TV shows: The fall line-up of shows is back on and running. Mark and I enjoy several shows... I'm not going to list all of them because it may be depressing, but just to give you a flavoring: So You Think You Can Dance (mostly my show, but Mark will watch), Survivor, Amazing Race, Glee (amazing show!!), the Office, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, Community, Project Runway (mostly mine again), Mad Men (Mark's show), Biggest Loser (mine), etc, etc. :)

3) Going along with the sports idea... better sports highlights. Mark loves sports and watches a show called "Pardon the Interruption," which is also known as PTI by some, and (my personal favorite) "two old men fighting about sports" by Abby. It's much more exciting when the highlights and stories aren't all just about horrible ball... as Mark's brothers call baseball.

At this point I'm not positive anymore, so this may be completely inaccurate...

4) Cool weather. Although, he really likes hot weather, but I think he enjoyed the coolness to a certain degree as well, or at least just as a change.

5) Better movies coming up, but that's not for a few more months or so.

Runner-up) The brothers emails. Mark and his brothers have these amazing emails that go back and forth between all of them, which will only get better with the Lakers season and even better things to talk about.

Well, anyone have their own top five list of great things about the fall? Please share!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Back a few months ago, on May 25th to be exact, Mark and I celebrated our 1 month anniversary! It was crazy at the time to realize that we had been married for a whole month, yet it felt like we had been married for much longer than that. Even more crazy is looking back from our perspective now, when we're coming on six months. How much life has changed in so many ways since our wedding.

We decided that for the first year, we would celebrate our first month by planning an activity together. Then we would switch off planning activities for the third month, sixth month, ninth month, and then one year anniversary. We definitely wanted to celebrate but weren't sure if we wanted to make a huge hoop-la every single month. In fact, this may be sad to admit, but we almost missed our second month anniversary. It wasn't until later in the evening that we realized it had come and almost past.

So, for the first month anniversary we were quite lucky. It ended up landing on Memorial Day (or is it Labor Day? I'm pretty sure Memorial is in the spring, but I always get those so confused and I don't want to look it up right now... look it up yourself if you are burning with curiousity... does this make me a lame blogger when I'm not willing to look up facts? or it just means that I'm months behind and trying to catch up). We decided to have a day up in San Francisco, but not before Mark surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of roses. Thankfully we hadn't been able to return the huge marble holder (as my new brother-in-laws called it when we opened the present as they were also chanting "take it back"), which worked as a beautiful vase and is a great addition to my kitchen decor.

We then drove up to San Francisco where we ate at a yummy Chinese restaurant called Eliza's. Such goodness. Because we apparently really like to eat, we then headed over to Ghirardelli Square for some ice cream. We walked around the little beach area nearby to chat and people watch.

We were a bit full so we just shared one cone, but it was so worth it. I absolutely adore Ghirardelli ice cream (as you can tell from the picture).

And Mark loves making faces, as you can also see from this picture. Oh sigh, I love this man!!

Just as an update: all of the roses in the bouquet eventually dried out and the petals all fell off, except for one. Which still remains in the vase as our "Beauty and the Beast" rose because I haven't found something else to put in the vase. Those petals are on for good!

Then, for our third month anniversary, I planned a little hiking and picnic adventure to the Big Basin Redwood Forest because neither of us had ever been. Unfortunately, Mark hurt his foot playing basketball just a few days before, which he kept telling me he could handle walking on, and he apparently doesn't like driving on windy mountainous roads. And let me tell you, the roads were definitely windy. Mark was such a trooper and went on all these hikes for the few hours we were there, even though his foot really hurt him. What a stud. I forgot my camera and literally have no pictures, but I just stole one off the internet machine of one of the amazing trees you can see there. The trees are so ginormous! They are ridiculously tall and ridiculously large. Some have been there literally for 2000 years and some are as tall as 329 feet! One of the most incredible trees was the Chimney Tree. They believe that several successive fires over years ignited the inside of the tree and created a chimney effect... meaning that the tree is literally hollow from top to bottom. It was insane. Here's the picture I yanked off the internet that someone took from the middle inside of the tree up towards the top:

Anyways, we had fun for both of our anniversary celebrations and we're looking forward to our 6-month later this month. I love Mark more and more and am so lucky to be married to him. Marriage is pretty amazing!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our first apartment!

I've been meaning to post about this for awhile... we moved into a new apartment and have been busy trying to put it together. I'll give you some before shots and shots of the place today.

The beginnings of our kitchen...

Our kitchen today...

The beginnings of our front room...

Our front room today...

The beginnings of our bedroom...

Our bedroom today...

The beginnings of our bathroom...

Our bathroom today...

And here's a few pictures of us during the moving in process...

Love you all and wish you could come visit us here at our house! We have a very comfy air mattress for any who would like to!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My wedding ring is more sparkly in the temple

Mark and I had the opportunity to go to the Oakland Temple this last week. I always love the temple, but for some reason this trip was special. Maybe it was because we hadn't been for awhile... we go every month, but in June we went at the beginning of the month and we didn't return until the end of July. I felt like I'd been away too long. I had missed that peace and beauty that permeates my soul and makes me feel at home and loved. It's such a beautiful experience and one that was made better by having Mark there with me. Several times during our visit I couldn't help but notice how much shinier and more sparkly my wedding ring was than usual. I am so used to my ring that I don't often notice it anymore, but it was simply and utterly more beautiful within the temple. I felt an overwhelming gratitude for Mark and for our eternal marriage. I am grateful for the temple that seals families together and will allow me to be with Mark forever. Mark is my best friend and the kindest husband, and the temple sweetens and brightens our relationship. The temple is a place where we can go to be reminded of what's truly important in life and to be reminded of our own worth, as well as the worth of those we love. I love to see the temple!!

Funny side story: after leaving the temple, we decided to go walk around the temple grounds. You can walk up some stairs and actually walk on a second story ledge around the temple. They have beautiful trees and bushes on the ledge and a fabulous view, especially at night. We walked around and came back to the gate that lets us out into the parking lot only to find... the gate was shut and locked. With no way out. It was honestly quite a humorous moment, but we weren't sure what to do. Sleep on the temple grounds until morning? Climb over the tall fence in my skirt and high heels? All options seemed bleak (but really amusing), until a security guard came back after making a sweep of the place to let us out. In retrospect, of course they wouldn't accidentally lock people in. Although after all the Man vs Wild type shows that Mark's seen, I'm sure he'd be able to figure out a way to get us out eventually.

The craziest, most exciting weekend ever!!

I'm a little late in posting this, but here it is!!

Mark and I decided to get married the same weekend of his graduation from BYU. Needless to say, it was a crazy weekend! Here's my recap:

We flew into Utah Wednesday evening. It was a crazy mess. We were finalizing our packing and just getting ready to leave for the airport when I got an automated call from the airline company telling us that one of our two layover flights to Utah had been canceled. I immediately began to panic thinking, "but I'm getting married! I have to get to Utah!" After some negotiations with the airline, we were able to switch to another flight out of Oakland airport the same night, which was actually a direct flight and got us into Utah sooner than we would have originally. We booked the flights and frantically started calling anyone we could think of who could drive us last minute an hour away during traffic. We are soooo eternally grateful for our friends John and Eliza McKeon (just married this last weekend, congrats!) who quickly answered our pleas for help and even left work early to get us to our flight on time. One thing I've learned time and again during my life is that immense blessings come when life throws us something hard.

On Thursday, we had a whole list of errands we had to run, including getting our marriage license, picking up Mark's tux rental (which had to be fixed that day because the legs were too short... my stinkin' tall husband!), getting my nails done, and taking pre-wedding pictures.

I have two sisters who each got married within 8 months of me. My mom wanted to get pictures of all three of the girls in our wedding dresses and the boys in suits. So yes, Mark saw the wedding dress before the actual wedding day, but it was for a good cause! The pictures turned out absolutely darling! Here are a few...

My sisters and I:

From left to right: Seth and Heidi Larsen, Mark and Heather Abbott, Dave and Ashley Voelkel:

After the pictures we hung out for a bit with our Wadsworth family until Mark went to hang out with our Abbott family for the rest of the night (and he honestly had to watch the Lakers tournament game). I have such a crazy amazing husband! I completely accidentally plan our wedding for the middle of the NBA tournament... the Lakers played game 4 the day of our wedding during our reception with a record of 2-1! I know what a huge sacrifice this was for him to not be able to watch the games and I love him to pieces for not being annoyed or complaining about it (or at least not to me)!!

So Friday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn for Mark's 8:00 am graduation. Mark even had to be there an hour earlier... poor guy! Mark's parents, Kevin and Rachael, Uncle Clay and Aunt Marcia, and my mom were able to attend with me. To clarify a bit... Mark actually graduated from BYU in the English/Humanities department last December 2008. However, for whatever reason, BYU doesn't hold an actual graduation ceremony in December so Mark had to wait until April to have us cheer him on while he walked across the stage (wearing borrowed robes from Rachael Abbott - thanks again dear, we dropped the ball on ordering his robes!!!) and received his diploma cover (not to be confused with the actual diploma that we had received months earlier). Mark graduated cum laude, which is quite impressive!! I'm so proud of him for all the hard work that he continues to put into his education and into bettering himself. He's the best example to me of someone who knows what they want and works hard for it!

Mark right after getting his diploma:

One of the last pictures of the two of us pre-wedding:

The Abbotts (Kevin, Rachael, Abby/Mom, Mark, Heather, Papa) - Tyler was in Utah for the wedding but didn't join us until after the graduation... too early:

Mom and I had a lot of fun eating and laughing during the graduation:

The rest of Friday was full of celebratory eating out for breakfast and dinner with the Abbotts, picking up our Budget truck rental to drive back all our stuff to San Jose (crazy adventure in and of itself... those things are ginormous!), and wiffleball madness! We were able to play a rousing game of wiffleball with some of our dearest friends, Arie and Abi Dekker, Dave Theurer, Forrest and Lindsey Parker (and their cute Davis!), Mike Hansen, Kevin and Rachael Abbott, Tyler Abbott, and Jayne Bradshaw. Here's the whole wiffleball gang:

That night Mark hung out with his family and I got to have my "bachelorette" party hanging out with my bestest friends!! Amber, Jenn, Ryan, Todd, and Jessica made my night before the wedding so fun. We had yummy appetizers and drinks at Spark Restaurant Lounge and chatted. I love being with them because we always end up laughing so hard! I wish I had pictures of the evening, but I didn't get any. Love you guys!

And that is our crazy weekend right up to the wedding day... but that post will have until another day. :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The best feeling in the world...

I love being married. When I sit and think about all that it encompasses, I just can't get over how wonderful life is and how lucky I am to be able to spend the rest of forever with Mark.


On to today's story. First off, you have to know that I have never really been a morning person. I love sleeping in. Always have. My family growing up would typically sleep in until 10 am or so on Saturdays. We loved to stay up late and sleep in like crazy. In fact, I have sisters who used to be able to sleep in until the afternoon if we didn't wake them up. A bit crazy, but that was our life. Mark on the other hand, is most definitely an early riser (at least compared to me). I remember him telling me once that he had slept in until 9 or 10 am and being so proud of him for how late that was for him. It's probably better for him in the long run to get up early and eventually I will have to become more of a morning person. I'm starting to get better. Usually I can't sleep past 9 am or so anymore. But getting up before that is always kind of a struggle, to be quite honest. Also, another fact you should know... our bedroom gets very light early in the morning. We have thin curtains and the sun shines right into our room. So in the morning's I usually put on a pair of my eye cover sleep masks. Yes, I know it may sound a bit weird, but I have seriously used them since I was in high school. I just need complete darkness to really sleep. I've gotten better at sleeping with some light, but it's still not optimal. So when the sun starts coming up in the morning, I'll slip on my sleep mask and go back to sleep until the alarm goes off or I finally wake up.

Anyways, now that you have the complete and utter back story... here we go.

This morning, being a Saturday, I was definitely looking forward to sleeping in. I had been quite tired this whole week and wanted to catch up on my sleep. As usual, the sun came up early this morning and I put my sleep mask on and went back to sleep. I then would occasionally wake up and toss and turn and go back to sleep. I completely lost track of time, partly due to the fact that I was completely unaware of how light it was in our room. At some point, I woke up and began wondering what time it was. I suddenly realized that it could be late enough that Mark may have already woken up and, being the great husband that he is, not wanting to wake me up, he may have gotten up already and gone into the front room. I immediately began to miss him and want him. I turned over and, completely blindly, stretched out my hand slowly to see if he was there. My fingers soon found Mark sleeping quietly next to me. I relaxed and felt such peace with the world. I happiily snuggled up closer and went back to sleep. Best feeling ever.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's getting hot in here...

So turn on all your fans and prepare for a warm one!

Turns out it's summer now, apparently. We honestly didn't think too much about it before moving into our new apartment, but turns out we don't have A/C. Which really isn't so bad. Except when it's hot outside, like now. We have a few small fans though and we bought one big fan so far. During the evenings it's actually quite cool outside, so we just open our windows and we put the fan in our bedroom window to blow in the cool air. Our bedroom gets downright chilly at nights... or at least as close as we can get to chilly. So we hadn't really noticed how hot it was getting. I knew it was hot at times, but just hadn't thought about it. Until... the butter.

A bit of a backstory... I decided about 6 months ago that one thing I was looking forward to having in my married life is a butter dish. I decided I hated having to scrap open the butter packets, which get all gross looking (especially with roommates it seemed) and also I hate using hard butter on toast or bread. Thus I have been soooo excited for my new butter dish (thanks to Aunt Susan!) at our apartment. It's a white dish, so I can't see the grossness of the butter except when I want to take off the lid and use the room temperature softened butter. It was a dream come true, for a few days. Well, the other day we realized how hot it was getting in our kitchen when I went to open the butter dish and found melted butter all over the bottom of the dish. So sad. We now keep the butter on the dish, but in the fridge. Sigh, at least I can use the cute dish. Then to remind us again how warm it is getting... last night we pulled out my scriptures to read together before bed and we pulled out my marking crayon/pencils case that my mom had bought for me over a year ago and found that they had melted and resolidified into one giant crayon of six colors. Sigh. Pretty funny though. Not sure how I can mark my scriptures now, but I'll figure something out.

So we're going to be purchasing another big fan and using that in our front room to push the air out of our apartment. My dad recommended having the flow of air to make things feel even cooler. And we'll survive either way. It's been a learning experience for sure! The joys of young married life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Go Time...

So this is Heather's husband Mark giving his shot at the blog. I prefer to think of it as a guest spot, you know, like someone that comes on every once in a while (months, years,...) and wows the crowd. So I'll keep it simple, to make sure that it won't be hard to out do myself next time. Let me just say that I have the bestest wife and I love her very much. Now, time for some predictions. The Lakers will beat the Rockets in Game 7, the Nuggets in six games, and the Cavs in an insane Game 7. Harry Potter will be the best movie of the summer, followed by Terminator...and Transformers will be way good as well. So long for now...

So, turns out we're married!!

I know I have posted for awhile, so this may come as a surprise, but WE'RE MARRIED!!!!! Mark and I are just loving life! We have tons still to do, especially with putting together our house, but we're really enjoying it and things are really coming together. It's pretty small, but honestly just perfect for us. I will have to post some pictures sometime... or you should all just come visit us and check it out yourselves! We're going to get an air mattress for guests to sleep on so we can become the vacation capital of northern California.

Some updates:

The Lakers are still in the playoffs, but it's been a weird series with the Houston Rockets. They lost the fourth game by like 40 points in Houston, but then came back to LA and beat them by at least 40 points... and last night just got beat in Houston again. So lame. We're positive they'll win the 7th game on Sunday, which will be in LA and hoping that these hard games will serve as strengthening moments and push them through.

We had our first visitor of our married life and of our new apartment last night!! Mark's oldest brother, Mike, works in the northern California area every two weeks and will be staying one night a month with us. We are so excited to have him come visit on a regular basis! He was able to watch the game with us last night and chat. He and Mark had time to go see a movie this morning and we're all meeting up for some sushi lunch. What fun! Next time, we'll hopefully have purchased our air mattress so he doesn't have to be a trooper and sleep on a pile of blankets on our front room floor... such a nice brother though, he said he actually liked it!

We officially have cable and tivo! We are most definitely a tv-loving family and are excited for it. Mark looked into all these great deals and found us a Comcast special package for $30 a month and then they also had another special that gave us DVR for $5 a month. We had the cable guy come on Tuesday and I think we've taped at least 15-20 shows thus far. We also get all the HBO channels, so we've been taping movies as well. Oh, random... we switched tv's with Mom and Dad Abbott (who were so kind to let us take the better/bigger tv) and brought it back and found... it's just like one or two inches too big for the tv stand that sister and brother (Ashley and DaveVoelkel) gave us. Totally lame. So, we're probably going to move the tv stand into the kitchen area to give us a spot for our microwave (must conserve limited counter space) and have more storage. It looks a little weird, but it will help and I think it will end up looking good. Then we'll just get another tv stand. We're definitely not throwing away the tv stand we got because it weighs about 5 million pounds and Mark and I carried that thing by ourselves up our stairs. It was the most ridiculous thing in the world and I still can't believe we did it.

So, I think most people know this, but Mark is going to go back to school in the fall and get his MBA (masters in business). We think this will work out really well for us in the future. He can get more of his schooling done now before we have kids and the economy will be much better when he graduates. The big news is....

He has been accepted to three of his top choice schools in the area!!! He's been accepted to Santa Clara University, San Jose State, and San Francisco State. We're currently leaning towards Santa Clara University (and have to decide in the new little while). It is more expensive than the other schools, but seems to have a much better reputation. The school doesn't really offer a regular graduate program, but instead has an evening program (which could mean Mark could work while going to school) where he'll go to school from about 5-10 pm twice a week. That will take some getting used to, but it's not so bad. Santa Clara is currently ranked #10 in the nation for its evening program, along with other schools like USC, UCLA, etc. Because it doesn't have a regular day program, it's not ranked except within the evening programs, but still... that does sound pretty good. Also, Mark originally applied for a program Santa Clara has where they take people who don't have a lot of work experience yet and put them through a 6-month course before they start the evening program. When he went into an interview, the guy was quite impressed with Mark's mission experience. He told Mark that he was over qualified for the 6-month course and instead pushed him straight up into the regular evening program. I'm so impressed with Mark and with his capabilities and hard-work and perseverance. I know it hasn't been easy to go through the job hunting process and the application process, but he has continually had a good, hopeful attitude and kept working away. He's such an example to me of doing the best with what you got (one of his favorite sayings) and he sure does have so much to offer!! We're really excited about these new opportunities!

Okay, I can't think of any other updates for the moment... I'll try to be better about posting more often.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dancing through life...

So, I'm not crazy or silly all the time, but I love dancing. Ask my fiancee or my good friends. I just can't stop moving sometimes. My dance moves aren't anything to be excited about, but they make me happy. I honestly don't realize I'm dancing at times until I notice someone staring at me a bit oddly. Once I was driving home from work sitting in traffic at a stop light. It was a Friday and I was excited for the weekend and a party that night. I had the music up loud in my car and just started dancing around. Such fun! I think it was that song that goes "you're my butterfly, sugar, baby." Anyways, I was dancing around and suddenly noticed that a guy was parked in his car right next to me staring at me and laughing his head off. It was so funny! I'm glad I could make someone's day better. (note: yes, I did continue dancing regardless of his laughing at me... I just couldn't stop!)

On to the story of the day (well, okay, of the month... this happened a few weeks ago actually but I just haven't had time to blog until now). Mark and I had spent an exciting evening dining and shopping, complete with a splurge at Old Navy thanks to a 30% discount coupon and a gift certificate from my Mom. We actually got quite a few items and had fun walking around the store finding stuff and trying them on (or at least I had fun... hehe). About a week afterwards, we had another fun-filled evening... finishing our Target registry! We sure are exciting nowadays! Mark and I were walking around the aisle and we walked past a teenage girl. She looked at me and said, "do I know you from somewhere?" I often will just play along with people who say that and kinda pretend that I vaguely recognize them, even though I know I've never seen them before. This girl was the same way. I didn't recognize her one bit. And it surprised me so that I just said "no, I don't think so." I asked her if she lived somewhere nearby or something, but knew that wouldn't help. I've only been out here for about two years and had very little interaction with family wards or any teenagers. Finally, she said, "wait, weren't you dancing around Old Navy the other day?" To which I did have to sheepishly admit to. Mark and I had a good laugh about it. Apparently my dancing is just that good...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The beginning...

More to follow! Here's a picture though...