Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Tale of Two Graduations

The week after school let out for me we headed to San Diego for the high school graduations of my niece and nephew, Lauren and James.  The tricky part was that the graduations were on the same day, back-to-back. We were originally going to Uber it but my dad volunteered to be our personal Uber driver for the day.

The first graduation was Lauren's at Westview. This is supposed to be one of the most academically competitive schools in the area. They run their class schedules similar to colleges. It wasn't built when I was a teenager so it was fun to see. Also, there was a cabana selling smoothies and coffee.

Next up was James' graduation at Mt. Carmel, my Alma Mater (and that of all my siblings). Needless to say it's gets nostalgic going back there, especially the track! 

We're so proud of both James and Lauren for accomplished so much during high school! James is attending UC Santa Barbara and Lauren will be taking a gap year and we wish them luck as they move on to new phases of their life!

Bonus: I think we figured out why Ollie gets scared of Dave sometimes . . .

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

La Caille Field Trip

Our school's French and Teen Living teachers plan a trip to La Caille, a fancy French restaurant, for their students to enjoy each year.  They always asks for volunteers to help chaperone so my team of teachers (Lauren and Franco) and I decided to join. We got to the restaurant a little early to walk around. When 2 out of 3 in the team likes photography, you get a lot of pictures. The grounds were beautiful and it really did feel like we were at a chateau in France. Before a change in original ownership, there used to be a lot of feral bunnies roaming the lawns of the restaurant. We only saw two, but it still made me happy!

This is our creepy The Shinning imitation. Wouldn't you be scared seeing us down the hall of an abandoned hotel?

I think the directions for this picture were, "Pretend like you just delivered her child and it was really ugly." or something like that. 
Lauren and I decided we do not have a future as Vogue models.

One of the goals of the trip was to have the students try escargot. We thankfully didn't embarrass ourselves and no snails were sent flying across the dining area. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

John's Birthday Weekend

John is the hardest person to get gifts for because he doesn't like "things". He would much rather eat a good meal, read a book, and have uninterrupted video game time than receive presents. Due to this lack of material enthusiasm, I booked a two night stay at the Grand America for his birthday.  We were both able to relax, eat way too much food, and lounge by the pool.  Basically we indulged in all of John's favorite things, minus the video games ;)

The cake from La Bonne Vie that was waiting in our room.

Mirror selfies.

The view from our balcony.

Donut breakfast from Banbury Cross. We also got to experience the famous Sunday Brunch at the Grand before we checked out. Honestly, I was a little overwhelmed by all the choices there, but tried to get one of every dessert.

We took an excursion to the The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve and had the place to ourselves. It was very sunny and hot.

This structure reminds me of something out of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We had a nice dinner at Valter's Osteria, but forgot to take a picture so I had John take one in the hotel lobby to remember that we got fancied up for the night.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thoughts on Infertility Part 2

I've been spending the last few hours cleaning out old clothes to donate or sell. The ideas of Marie Kondo's book have reached me even though I haven't actually read it. While I was pushing back an under-bed box of old shirts I looked up and saw some of my old notebooks on the bottom of the nightstand on John's side of the bed. I started flipping through them, amused by my past musings. Most of them were filled with notes from General Conference talks, random sketches of bunnies and food, and quotes from novels I was reading at the time. In one of the books I had written a single journal entry dated August 2009.  It in I had put down a list of things I wanted improve on. The last item on the list read: "Think more seriously about having a baby." Reading that sentence made me pause. 2009 was the year before we found out we were infertile. It was a couple of years before the many years of constant medications and doctor's appointments. I started to silently chide my past self with a "If only you knew." I thought what a luxury it was to worry about having kids and how naive past me was to the trials and heart ache she would face in a few years. I began to wonder what I would tell myself if I could go back in time. The first thing that popped into my mind was "Don't waste time! Start IVF right away! Don't waste time and money on other treatments!" I'd also add advice for those IVF cycles to avoid having to do so many of them! And then I stopped and thought harder for awhile. Was that the right advice to give? Would John and I be the same people we are today without the trials we have experienced together? What happens to your character when you get everything you want when you want it? How would my personality be different if I hadn't been teaching the past 7 years? What would I be like if I didn't have the opportunity to be in YW and serve as president for as long as I did? What interactions, lessons, and development would I have missed? I look back and wonder now at all that has happened in those 7 years. I know infertility has been hard, but sometimes I think the hard parts of life teach us the most about ourselves.

Early on in this experience, John and I learned how to grieve together. We've found some very large differences with how we cope with grief and now know what to expect of each other and also what we need to ask for from each other during these times. We know how we both act after long periods of emotional stress. These things, while not pleasant, are things I am very grateful for and I feel that our marriage relationship is stronger because of them. 

I don't know that I would tell past me all that I had originally thought I would. I think instead I might tell her that some hard times were coming ahead, that they wouldn't be without moments of joy, but that they would be hard. I think I would tell her to continue to build a strong testimony, that there will be people there to support her, that John will be with her every step of the way, and to go easy on herself. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Salt Flats Birthday Drive

I kind of planned my own birthday celebration last year because I had something really specific that I wanted to do, so this year I didn't want to be in charge at all. I asked John to come up with a plan and this is what we ended up doing:

  • Breakfast at Lamb's Grill - blueberry pancakes, biscuits and gravy
  • Picked up a picnic lunch at Tulie bakery including a tart and some cookies
  • Drove to the Salt Flats while listening to a playlist of podcasts John thought I would like. My favorite was the episode called *Debatable by Radiolab.
  • Played around the Salt Flats and took pictures. John did a lot of research and brought my wellies for me. So sweet! I didn't realize that the flats were covered in a layer of water at certain times of the year. 
  • Dinner at the Copper Onion - those lamb riblets and the sticky toffee pudding!

*John lettered in debate in high school. He said he was terrible at it and hated that the main way people won was by talking faster than the other team. I never realized what real competitive debate sounded like until I listened to this!