Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whirlwind July and August 2010

As you may or may not be able to tell, I'm super far behind on this blog, but I still have grandiose plans of getting it all captured and up-to-date. Thus, my bullet point list blog post! Just a few quick updates from our many adventures from July and August of 2010...
  • Mark's brother Brett came to visit us for a few nights and we loved having him. We were able to make a trip down to Santa Cruz for a day and go bike riding, walk around the boardwalk and beach, and even get a deep-fried Twinkie.

  • I put together a fun bookstore date for Mark and I. We went to Barnes and Nobles and had to complete certain tasks and share things with each other, such as finding a recipe we wanted to try, finding a book we remembered from growing up and reading it to each other, finding a funny joke to share (we ended up reading Far Side), sharing a yummy treat at the bookstore cafe, telling each other "I love you" in a language we each would like to learn, finding a picture of a place we would like to travel to together, and reading love poems to each other. We had a fantastic time together and spent relatively little.

  • Mark graduated with his MBA from San Jose State!!! I am so proud of him and his diligent efforts to get his education. He is such a hard-working guy and I love him! We were so lucky to have Mark's parents come celebrate with us for the weekend. After the graduation we drove up to San Francisco and hiked around the beautiful Muir Woods. Mark was very excited to receive the PS3 I splurged and got him as a graduation present and initiate our brand new "you are special today" red plate.

  • We traveled to Utah for a long weekend to hang out with family. We also were able to attend a Merlin and Donna May Bowen reunion (my grandparents), held at the Simons' gorgeous cabin. Each of their daughters (i.e. my mom and aunts) shared a sweet memory of growing up. We especially loved being able to relax, hang out and play games with the Wadsworth family. Also, we were able to fit in some visits with Kevin, Rachael, and baby Ben! We sure love all of our family!

  • Mark and I went to a Brian Reagan show. Brian Reagan is one of the funniest comedians I have ever heard. We were laughing like crazy for the entire show.

  • We traveled down to Yorba Linda for Labor Day weekend to hang out with family. It was fun to help celebrate three birthdays; Papa, Greg, and Tyler. We love getting to see our Abbott family so often!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Disney Magic 2010

During 2010 we were able to be part of the "Give a Day, Get a Day" Disney put on. We gave service by making 2 fleece blankets each to donate and got free tickets to Disneyland! I love going to Disneyland with Mark, who makes everything so fun and who knows all the ins and outs of the park. We even brought our own yummiest sandwiches ever for lunch.

Mark knows all about how to use the fast pass appropriately. We had so many for the day!

Posing outside California Adventure.

We really enjoyed having Mark's brother Tyler hang out with us for part of our day.

Tyler was so hungry that he bought the hugest thing of sourdough bread and basically ate all of it in about five minutes. Massive amounts of bread.

Great picture of Tyler and me.

Mark and I wandering over to California Adventure to see the new World of Color show, which was seriously amazing!! I'm sad we didn't get any pictures of the show, but we were too enthralled to even think about it. So cool.

Last year we went to Disneyland on Mark's birthday and got him a funnel cake right as the park was closing. Mark loves funnel cakes and I wanted to make sure he got some sort of treat on his birthday. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of it and I wished I had. We had to recreate the event and take pictures again. Such a yummy tradition and so fun to be out in the park at night with very few people around.

Great day baby!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marriage Advice from The Incredibles

I have a confession... occasionally I listen to movies at work. Not when I have to concentrate and have lots going on. In fact, since changing departments recently I haven't had the need or the time to listen to movies. In my last department though, things could get really slow at times. Listening to movies seriously got me through. If you're ever interested, go to It's kinda sad how many movies I've never actually watched before but now know because I've listened to them (example: Back to the Futures 2 and 3).

Anyways, I was listening to The Incredibles the other day. Such a great movie. I wasn't paying too much attention, but suddenly I got pulled into the movie. Elastigirl was visiting her friend Edna Mode (the clothing designer) and had just realized that her husband, Mr. Incredible, had been lying to her about his job. She didn't know what was happening and perhaps even suspected some unfaithful issues. She started sobbing and asking Edna Mode what she should do. Edna began to answer and my mind started to formulate the typical answer someone nowadays would tell a woman who suspects lying and/or infidelity from her husband. For some reason Edna's actual response took me by surprise.

She said "What are you talking about? You are Elastigirl! Pull yourself together! What will you do? this a question? You will show him that you remember that he is Mr. Incredible! And you will REMIND him who YOU are!"

The first thing Edna suggested is that Elastigirl needed to show her husband that she remembered that he was Mr. Incredible. I truly believe this is one of the sacred duties we as wives should always be working on. Husbands need to be reminded and shown, both by words and through actions, that we know he is Mr. Incredible. Mark is the most incredible man, and I never want to be guilty of bringing him down. I want to build him up and remind him of who he is. He is not only my Mr. Incredible, but a divine son of God with the most amazing potential. Some days I'm better at this than others, but it's a goal I have for myself every day. Husbands need to be reminded how wonderful they are and how much they are appreciated. Don't take your Mr. Incredible for granted!

Another thought though... the second piece of advice Edna gave was to remind her husband of who she was. We are beloved daughters of God and we need to respect and love ourselves. When we are confident, we are better able to build up people around us.

Well, enough random advice. I do feel strongly about this and hope it helps someone else out there as well! It's been a great thing for me to remember and work on every day. Oh, and random, but I love Edna from The Incredibles. She is so hilarious. The whole movie is great. Go watch it again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Adventures in Primary

Do you remember that movie "Adventures in Babysitting"? I used to think that movie was so funny.

Anyways... Mark and I have loved teaching Primary for the past year or so. We are currently teaching the CTR 4 class (i.e. kids ages 4 turning 5 during the year). Yesterday, we were in the Junior Primary Sharing Time listening to some really neat presentations. They had members from the ward dress up with shawls and tell us stories as though they were people from the Bible who had witnessed miracles performed by Jesus Christ. A really great lesson that seemed to be going over well with the kids, based on the unusual quiet in the room. One woman ("Martha")stood up and told us about how her brother Lazarus was raised from the dead (see John 11-12). She very vividly described how Lazarus then walked out of the tomb/sepulchre, still wrapped in his burial clothes and with something still covering his face. I started thinking about how scary that really could have been.

Suddenly, from the back of the room, we heard... "was he a zombie?"

Oh my. I love my calling. Good question kid. I'm glad we got that straightened out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Favorite Books of the Year (and probably longer)

I love reading. I always have. I remember watching my mom read all the time. She loves reading to relax. She prefers the mystery novels, a la Mary Higgens Clark. I learned from her the wonders of diving into a good book and losing yourself in another world. Or just forgetting what's going on around you and relaxing for a few hours. Both of my parents encouraged us to read often. Going to the library was always a trip, starting with trying to collect all the books we had to return. The books were loaded into our square laundry basket. Yes, you heard me correctly. Who borrows just one or two books from the library? We would stack them high in our laundry basket. Probably around 20 or 30 for all of us. I loved searching the shelves for new books to read. I have fond memories of Sweet Valley Twins (and High), R.L. Stein, Babysitters Club. All the classics. I felt so grown up when I would occasionally need a book from the regular library (i.e. not the juvenile section) and I had to walk up the stairs to the mass of books waiting. Some reading experiences will never be forgotten. I have a very vivid memory of reading in my bed while eating the chocolate peanut butter Girl Scout cookies, whatever those are called. I even remember the vague plot of the book I was reading... something about fairies and another world or dimension or something. I remember crying as I read the chapter where Dumbledore dies in Harry Potter #6. I was lying on my bed at Campus Plaza, unable to put the book down, while my friends were hurrying me from the front room so we could go somewhere. I had to find out what happened. I also remember forcing the five youngest in my family to sit down and let me read them Harry Potter, despite their protests. I knew they would love it. Another thing you should probably know about me... I don't know how people can read and actually enjoy non-fiction. I need some adventure and excitement and drama. Some magic. I read for pleasure.

Okay, enough reminiscing. I wanted to let you all know my absolute and utter favorite books that I read this past year. For more details on my book list, you can join and become my friend. I am in love with that website now. In no particular order, here are the top three best books I have read this past year:
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (and I really should include the two other books in the trilogy... all very good!)

I absolutely loved this book. I haven't been this pulled into a fantasy series since Harry Potter. I mean, I know I loved Twilight, but honestly this writing and J.K. Rowling's writing is just on another level. The storyline and the characters in this series are so well-written. Definitely not for young teenagers due to the violent nature of the books (good luck making these into PG-13 movies!). I had heard about these books before, but didn't know what the fuss was all about. Let me tell you, the fuss is all real and all worth it. Although in retrospect, I was glad I ended up reading them just a few months before the last book was released. I went crazy having to wait even that long. Also, this was a series that Mark and I read together and he loved them as much as I did! Another reason I know how much these books affected me... I cried while reading them out loud to Mark. It's a little more embarrassing to cry in front of someone instead of just in the comfort of my own reading session. But it happened during both of the first two books for me.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This book is seriously adorable. I read this the longest ago so it's hard to remember all the specific feelings, but I loved this book. I loved the way it was written, just as letters written between different people. I cared so deeply for the characters and what was happening to them during this difficult time (post WWII England). A must read.
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Oh my gosh I love this book. The storyline, the characters, the writing- it is all magnificent. It is set during WWII in Germany, which can be a very difficult subject but one that can be very important as well. I think that the voice of the narrator for this book is absolute genius. The book is told from the perspective of Death. Not the Death we think of who looks like the grim reaper. It's a Death who simply has a job to do. Who doesn't revel in the unpleasantness going on around him. A Death who is sympathetic to those who are suffering. It's very poignantly told. The way it was written did take a little bit of getting used to, but I ended up loving it. It was also odd to me how I could still be so emotionally invested in certain events, even when the Death narrator had already told us what would happen. It seemed like that would be spoiling the ending, but oh gosh that was not the case. I was glad that I was reading the end of this book in the privacy of our room with the door shut. I love my husband, but I was hoping he wouldn't come in to interrupt. I was so involved in the ending. I believe I sobbed for the last 30-50 pages or so. Literally sobbing. Not just tearing up. I had to work to control myself so Mark wouldn't hear my sobs and come in and interrupt. I needed to be involved in the story and the characters.

The Fourth with the Family

Mark and I traveled home to Yorba Linda for the weekend of the Fourth of July to hang out with our Abbott family. We had so much fun spending time with everybody and celebrating. We watched the fireworks at Greg and Devon's house again. It's always especially fun to see our little nephews and nieces. Baby Ben had gotten so much bigger than before. We were also glad to be present for baby Stevie's second birthday party. We have the cutest families!

Papa and Stevie were being so cute together, laughing and giggling!

Birthday Boy Bash

After getting the house cleaned up, we were able to finally celebrate Mark's birthday!! I love Mark. He is my best friend in the world and I am always thrilled to spend time with him. For his birthday, Mark and I decided to finally check out the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot. We went the day before his birthday because his birthday landed on a Sunday this year. The Mystery Spot is located up in the Santa Cruz mountains. Apparently it's a place where secret mysterious things happen due to some crazy natural phenomenons that scientists aren't able to explain. We had lots of fun and the area was absolutely beautiful.

The Mystery Spot has some weird gravitational things going on. When our tour guide put down the pictured board on a certain spot, one side appeared to be higher. Then, when he put a pool ball on the board, it actually started moving what appeared to be upwards. So apparently it was actually downwards because the gravity was pulling it that way. He even used my chapstick to prove that it wasn't just their weird ball. Really weird.

Mark posed outside the house that fell down the side of the hill after being firmly constructed, just to stop at this spot. They believe it stopped here because this area must be the center of the weirdness. Our tour guide told us one theory of why the area has weird gravitational pulls may be due to magma under the earth's surface.

Mark standing up straight on the table in the house. When you stand up straight, you actually appear to be leaning super far over.

Can you tell what way the gravitational pull is?

Heather posing in the house doorway.

Chilling in the Santa Cruz mountains after our amazing tour.

The next morning was officially Mark's birthday, and here's his official first birthday picture!

Opening presents later that day.

I made lemonade pie instead of cake because that's what Mark likes. Unfortunately, I couldn't find our candles, so I just used the only candle we had. Happy Birthday Handsome!!!