My Happy Place

We are a week or two away from knowing where we will be moving in May and all of the possible locations are nowhere near where I expected to live in my lifetime. (Some locations I had never even heard of). That unknown, coupled with other crazy things that happen in my mind on a regular basis are throwing me for a loop. A couple of days ago, Spencer suggested that I listen to piano music on Pandora, lay on the couch, close my eyes, and go to a happy place in my mind, so that's exactly what I did.

I closed my eyes completely expecting to go to the beach but surprisingly, I found myself running South on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that overlooks Cache Valley in Logan, UT. My mind was clear, I was running fast, and I felt strong, fearless, and calm. As I effortlessly ran up and down the windy path, my eyes were fixed on the breathtaking view of Cache Valley and on my two favorite and personally significant landmarks - Old Main and the Logan Temple.  I looked beyond Old Main and the Logan Temple and as I gazed upon the majestic Wellsville Mountains, I thought of someone else who once viewed those exact same mountains - my ancestor, Peter Maughan, who was called by Brigham Young to settle Cache Valley.

Peter Maughan was born in England and after he joined the church he moved to America; first to Ohio, then Illinois, then Wisconsin, then Salt Lake City, then Tooele and finally to Cache Valley. I wondered when he reached Cache Valley and viewed the beautiful but desolate valley if he thought, "This is the place? This is my final destination?" Was there more fear or relief in his heart? Did he know how he was going to feed his family, build shelter, take care of his people, establish a church and deal with the very harsh winters ahead? Did he ever miss England or feel guilt for leaving behind his first wife who he had just buried two months before he left with his children for America?

I began "thinking" to my faithful, courageous, and most likely fearful grandfather who just reached the valley. Peter! There is happiness ahead! A temple will be built! A university will be established! Your religion will flourish here! Many people will settle here! In fact, one day, a cute little brick house with orange carpeted kitchen floors will stand at the mouth of Logan Canyon. My great-grandparents will live there, my mom will live there, and I will eventually live there. I will live there when I meet my husband and when we live together as newlyweds and when we bring our sweet first born son into the world. We will pray there and worry there and laugh there and rejoice together there, all because of your faith and courage. You will love Cache Valley and so will your posterity! 

As I continued to run, I wondered what Peter Maughan would "think" to me today. I am certain he would want me to know that there is happiness ahead, no matter where God wants us.
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Halloween Hangover

We are all exhausted from our Halloween festivities this weekend and it's hard to believe that Halloween is not until Thursday!

On Friday, I took Jack to our playgroup's Halloween Party, we went trick-or-treating at Whole Foods, and we went to a chocolate/cheese fondue party that night at our friend's house. I am trying to find a good excuse to make Jack wear a puppy costume every day for the rest of his life...
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This Saturday was the first Saturday since April where we had absolutely nothing on our schedule, so obviously, my anxious task-oriented self filled up our entire Saturday with as many activities as possible. We went to the zoo in the morning, watched the Biggest Loser during Jack's nap time, and went trailer trick-or-treating at night.

Let it be known, blogging world, that on Saturday, October 26th, the sloth at the Birmingham Zoo MOVED! My zoo attendance averages about 1-2 times a week since May of 2012 and this is the second time I have ever seen that sloth do anything but sleep in a ball so it was a big deal! Please be excited for me.
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Also, I am extremely excited about this season's Biggest Loser because the Ruben Studdard, the American Idol winner who I called in and voted for about a million times when I was 13 years old, is competing! He is from Birmingham, AL and ironically there is even an annual marathon held in his honor here so I am excited to see how far he goes.

On Saturday night, we experienced the coolest Halloween Party ever and coolest event I have ever attended in Alabama. We even made a riddle about it - what do you get when you cross camping, Alabama football, and Halloween in the South? (The answer is whatever the heck we went to on Saturday night). We went to Tannehill State Park where about 300 camping trailers camped and got completely decked out for Halloween and the Alabama football game. There was tailgating, trick-or-treating, barbecuing, camping, satellite tv, and the most intense Halloween decorations I have ever seen.  I truly don't know how they hooked up all of the electricity to do it. Over six thousand people came for trick-or-treating and when we asked one man how much he spent on Halloween candy he said over $500! It was by far the most efficient and exciting way to trick-or-treat. Pictures don't do it justice.
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Sunday we walked, went to church, painted pumpkins, and made carmel apples. (Neither the pumpkins nor apples turned out very aesthetically pleasing)
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After this weekend, I may be convinced like my little brother, Isaac, that Halloween really is the best holiday ever.


Can't think of a title

Last week we drove to Arkansas because Spencer had a residency interview there. I think I could survive in Arkansas because it has a play place at the mall and a cool park. Plus it is beautiful. What else do you really need?
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While we were there, my vintage brick flip phone of 3 1/2 years marinated in a puddle of water over night and died. I loved that sturdy phone and now I don't have a twinner phone with my grandparents anymore :( If only that phone had a GPS on it I would have definitely bought it again since I can drop it as many times as I want without worrying.
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We also drove past Memphis and did nothing because it was pouring rain. We took a picture of Beale Street and called it good.
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The highlight of the trip was most definitely driving past Jasper, Alabama where one of my most favorite fictional characters is from. (James "Sawyer" Ford from LOST) It was the most exciting 30 seconds of my life.
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Also, Jack loves pumpkins and dates with Ruby.
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I am craving carmel apples dipped in white chocolate and cinnamon sugar and I want to take a nap.


Pictures from the weekend

On Friday night, we got a babysitter and went to Hoover High's football game. They are currently ranked number 1 and in 2006-2008 they had a MTV reality show about their team called Two-A-Days. We are definitely fair weather fans. We quickly learned that high school football in the South is nothing like we've ever seen before...
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 They had box suites and more concession stands than Utah State football games.
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 They had pink cleats and the coaches wore pink uniforms for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Plus, they won!
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We came home and found Jack asleep with his favorite hat on. He wears this hat basically every day and I love it.
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Hiking/nature walking....
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 I got my new double jogging stroller at a consignment sale and I'm so excited to use it! It retails for $679.99 and you better believe I paid nowhere near that price!
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Things I'm Loving

  • Pumpkin-less fall scents. I think I overdosed on pumpkin last year because I am just not feeling the pumpkin thing. My favorite candles right now are Leaves and Cranberry Woods
  • My awesome friend's popcorn amazingness that is dangerously easy to make (1 1/2 bags light butter popcorn mixed with 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 10-12 big marshmallows all melted together)
  • Jack's cute outfit that my mom gave him. The con about Jack being the only grandchild on my side of the family is that he has no cousins but the pro is that he is definitely spoiled. He is living a double fashion life of cute outfits from my mom and Walmart clearance section items from me.
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  • The Provo City Center Temple, which is a miracle considering that I was brainwashed into hating all things Provo. 
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"Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.

My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally."      - Linda S. Reeves
  • Cinnamon rolls, which I have managed to eat almost every general conference weekend even though I have not made homemade cinnamon rolls since 7th grade home ec. I am proud to say that have extremely good homemade cinnamon roll connections. Spencer ate 7 cinnamon rolls in one session. I was impressed. 
  • This music video, which shows how out of the loop I am with pop culture since I just heard this song for the first time this week. I love everything about this song and video.



In the spring of 2009, I fulfilled a "bucket list" dream and taught English in China. While I was there, I impulsively registered for the Top of Utah Marathon since a marathon was also on my bucket list (and obviously because all bucket list dreams must be realized before turning 20). I skipped over the 5ks, 10ks and half marathons that usually take place before the full 26.2 miles because my goal was just to finish without walking and to just check that darn thing off my list! For four months, I followed my training plan almost perfectly. I trained in the sticky summer humidity of Southern China, the sweltering August furnace of Arizona, and the brisk canyons of Utah.

I hated my marathon. I finished the race and I ran the whole time, but it was the longest and most physically painful 4 hours and twenty minutes of my entire life. When I crossed the finish line, I swore to myself that I would never run a marathon again.

This summer, there was a time or two (or three or four) where I found myself curled up in fetal position, confusingly unable to connect with God and unsure of how I could possibly pick up my feet and keep moving. Strangely enough, every single time I entered that fearful and hopeless state of mind, I felt a quiet but confident voice that I recognized as my own:

I am going to run the Boston Marathon. I am going to run 26.2 miles incredibly fast! 

That seemingly unrelated but consistent message was not exactly what I wanted to hear in those dark moments. I wanted to know how the heck I was going to get through the next hour, not that I was intentionally going to torture myself again in the very distant future!

Yesterday, I went on a walk/shuffle on my favorite trail in Birmingham. The weather was gorgeous, the scenery was breathtaking, and as I felt a sudden gust of wind against me, I thought my heart was going to burst with so much joy and love and gratitude. I felt so alive!

One day, far from today, I am going to run the Boston Marathon because I can do hard things that I never thought I could do and that I never thought I wanted to do. I am going to pace myself and enjoy the time it takes to get there.

Today, I'm happily shuffling forward.