Monday, November 29, 2010

The getting-ready-for-Christmas-hoopla!

I told myself that Christmas had to wait until after Thanksgiving.  Necessary shopping, such as gifts and an artificial, 4 foot, pre-lit Christmas tree (on sale at Michael's for $20), could be done, but Christmas music, decorations, and the like were completely off limits until AFTER Thanksgiving.

[I caved]

I don't know what it was exactly... It might have been going to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"  It might have been the discovery that 99.9KEZ was playing their Christmas music...the fact that the boxed up Christmas tree was taunting me...the fact that the neighbors upstairs had their Christmas tree up...perhaps even the simple fact that it was cold outside... I don't know, but I do know that my justification was that we needed to wrap presents for the Brown Family Thanksgiving/Christmas celebrations the following week and Christmas present wrapping just isn't allowed unless there is a tree up and Christmas music playing.

I also know that Tony thought I was going to have a conniption, or maybe he knew I was having one.
      con·nip·tion: [kuh-nip-shuhn]  a fit of hysterical excitement

Whatever the case may be, Saturday was the day.  We went and bought wrapping paper and those cute little sticky gift tags.  We pulled out the ornaments and Grandma Carter's olive wood Nativity.  We rearranged the living room so that our Christmas tree could have a home.  We created a Christmas music playlist on iTunes and turned it up.  The Christmas tree went up.  The blue ornaments (previously used as centerpieces at our Arizona wedding reception) went on, along with the red apple ornament Tony has had since childhood.  It was perfect!  The presents were wrapped, pictures were taken, and then the lights went off and I sat in awe as I looked at my little Christmas tree and realized that this was the best getting-ready-for-Christmas-hoopla I had ever had.  I was just Husband and me and it was perfect.  I was in love...with my Christmas tree...with my husband...with the holiday season...for a chance to focus my thoughts upon my family and, more importantly, upon my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I love the holidays.  They remind me to be grateful.  They remind me to be compassionate and giving.  They remind me of what life is all about.  Let the celebrations begin, but let us not forget what matters most.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My First Blogging Award

Let me just tell you how absolutely blown away I was to learn that the
fabulous, talented, wonderful, beautiful Michelle
nominated ME for the Beautiful Blogger Award.
Thank you, Michelle!

Beautiful Blogger Award
Terms of this award: must list 10 things about yourself,
thank the person who gave you this award, and pass it on to 10 wonderful bloggers.

1. I have been in denial since mid-June that there were 10 things I could share about myself that anyone would care about.  Little did I realize that all it took was a little bit of creativity and humility.  Humility, yes.  Because my "no one else cares about any of these facts about me" was really me saying "I'm totally awesome, I just don't want to brag."

2. [I'll start off easy.]  I am officially 18 weeks pregnant.  My baby, if my baby is an average baby, is about 5.6 inches in length.  No, I haven't felt any movement yet.  I tell myself it's because whenever I think about trying to see if I can feel Baby move I hold real still and I think Baby decides it's time for them to hold still too.  Husband and I are not going to find out what Baby's gender is for four reasons... {one} I have absolutely no desire {two} it's killing Tony not to know {three} my dad says that finding out is forbidden in our family (my parents had seven children and never found out) {four} I like calling my baby, Baby.

3. If I could be anywhere RIGHT NOW it would be Nauvoo, Illinois. I love the feeling I have when I'm there. It's a mixture of awe and peace and a determination to do better. It also helps that Nauvoo is the place where I met Husband. It's the place where he became one of my very best friends. Nauvoo was a brand new beginning for many of the Saints. It marked a brand new beginning for us too.

4. I love love LOVE Disneyland.  Husband and I were planning a trip last fall, but then I was pregnant.  I decided that I couldn't enjoy it to my fullest potential if I couldn't ride the big roller coasters and if I would be sick to my stomach just from the motion of "It's a Small World."  One of these days, however, I will introduce Husband to the wonderfulness that is Disneyland.  I will show him why Peter Pan is my favorite ride.  I will share with him delicious churros and turkey legs.  We will sip hot chocolate while we watch the fireworks.  It shall be delightful.

5. Rice Krispie Treats are my favorite homemade treat ever.  I can eat a whole 9x13 pan in a week (if not three days).  Besides their delectable taste, I love them because they are easy to make and because  Husband doesn't like them, so I don't have to share.

6. I was valedictorian of my high school's graduating class of 2009.  It was cool and exciting then.  It wasn't so cool and exciting when we were driving to Wells Fargo Arena where I was supposed to give a speech in front of 3,000 people and I couldn't stop crying and I thought I was going to throw up, and I still wasn't a big fan of how my hair looked with a graduation cap stuffed over it.  It was cool and exciting again when I didn't die giving my Dr. Seuss inspired, poetic speech.  Now it's not so cool and exciting anymore because no one really cares what you did in high school.

7. I like to think that Husband and I are professional budget-ers.  I'm a full-time student and work only 8 hours a week and Tony has been unemployed for a year or so.  Consider that and figure out how we've not only had the money we need to survive, but also that we've paid off debt each month and that our amount of cash in the bank has also been increasing.  Like I said, we're pros.

8. I love to go hiking.  I'm glad Husband does too.  My mom and I have hiked the Grand Canyon twice together.  The second time it was a rim-to-rim hike.  Tony and I aspire hike the Grand Canyon together as well.  In the mean time, we go for small hikes around town.  Once we even hitched up our fancy backpacks and a tent and hiked to the top of Flat Iron and spent the night on top.  That was an adventure.

9. I don't donate blood.  I did it once.  I wanted to be a hero.  I ended up passing out, chugging orange juice, and then ridding myself of orange juice.  It didn't help that I was on the way to a very important event when my tummy decided it didn't like the orange juice.  I had to stop at the grocery store so that I could wash my hair in the bathroom and buy instant stain remover (orange juice and white dresses don't mix), febreeze, and such.

10. I love to see the temple.  Tony and I have the unreachable goal of visiting every temple in the world.  So far we've been to Nauvoo, Arizona, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, St. George, Las Vegas, and Oquirrh Mountain.  We're going to visit our tenth this week!  We've also been to the Gila Valley Temple Open House and Dedication and the Gilbert Temple Groundbreaking.  It's an outrageous goal, we know, but we also like to dream of all the cool places we'll go if we really do it some day.

That wasn't so painful...
Here are my Beautiful Blogger nominations:
Melanie, Katie, Whitney, Alexa, Katelin, Rocki, Sherra, Casey, Nalani, & Tayler

Monday, November 22, 2010

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Last week, Tony and I went and saw "How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical."  We had a splendiferous time!  It seems like lately we've both been content to stay at home and read a book together or play a board game or go for a walk on date night, so it was fun to get out of the house. 

The performance was outstanding.  I still can't get over how talented the 6 or 7 year old Cindy Lou Who was.  She could sing, dance, and act like you wouldn't believe!  I have no doubt in my mind that they really got Mr. Grinch to come to our need for an actor. 

Tony's favorite part was when the audience was invited to sing along to...

You're a foul one, Mister Grinch!
You're a nasty wasty skunk!
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mister Grinch!
The three words that describe you are as follows, and I quote, "Stink, Stank, Stunk!"

The Grinch helped us get into the Christmas mood...a perfect preparation for our Saturday night getting-ready-for-Christmas-hoopla (to be discussed at a later time)!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gilbert Temple Groundbreaking

This last weekend we had the opportunity to attend the Gilbert Temple Groundbreaking. Tony and I took my four youngest siblings with us.

It was a wonderful event. There were probably 6000+ people in attendance. Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, from the Presidency of the Seventy, presided over the dedicatory service. His talk, along with the those given by his wife, the current Mesa Temple President, and others were phenomenal. I was especially impressed by how much they talked about the children and youth of the Gilbert Temple District and how important it was for them to gain a love for "their" temple.

Tony and I went to the groundbreaking not even knowing that we currently reside in the Gilbert Temple District! It was kind of surprising to discover this since the Mesa Temple is only ten minutes away. We are excited, though, to be able to play a part in the building of a new temple here in Arizona. We invite everyone to come with us to the temple when it is complete and they hold an open house. It will be a marvelous experience for us to share with you why the temple is so sacred and so important to us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

While Tony's Out...

I have lots of things on my mind this morning. Husband is putting up flags with the Scouts for Veterans Day. He is probably enjoying the coolness outside. I, on the other hand, slept in. It was joyful, almost as joyful as the toast and hot chocolate I had for breakfast.

First of all, Baby and I have a doctor's appointment today. We are both quite excited. Husband/Dad wants to discover if it is a boy or a girl (it's still too early anyway...) but I am adamant. We will not find out. Aunt Whitney and Uncle Kemp get to find out what theirs is in just a few days and that's enough excitement for me.

We never did report on Tony's 30th (holy smokes) birthday back in September. He and Brooke share a birthday so they celebrated together. She got brownies. He got apple pie.

Tony and I also went to the Rawhide, an old west town, to celebrate just the two of us but at that point he hadn't got a new camera to replace his broken one so we don't have pictures. It was lots of fun, though. We roamed around for a little while and then watched a gun show. We finished the night with deliciousness at the steakhouse. Tony's favorite part was probably the dancing. There was a live band so he took me out onto the dance floor while we waited for our food. All the old people there cheered for us. He was pretty proud of himself and grateful to have a wife who'll dance with him.

Tony also got to go the an ASU football game with Dad and Bryton. He took some neat pictures with his fancy pants camera.

While we're talking about Tony...he's still unemployed. He's been working really hard, though and has been blessed to have a number of interviews. We know that one of these days the right things will come up. Last night we were reading in Alma 58. The Nephites are in a rough spot. They don't have all the soldiers and supplies that they need, but then in verse 11 it says,

"the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him."

Story of our life. Sometimes it amazes me how calm and at peace I am. Having to work hard EVERY MONTH to balance the budget can be tough, but I have peace, I have faith, and the Lord continues to give us assurances. I love when the scriptures apply so directly.

I found out this week that I've been provisionally advanced to the Upper Division Nursing Program. Happy day! I also found out this week that I have to petition that my space be deferred until next Fall because Baby is coming in April and that doesn't allow me to finish up my first semester. Hopefully I'll find out what they say about that in the next 2 weeks.

Other than that? 2 weeks until Thanksgiving/Christmas in Utah! I'm stoked.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Holiday Hullabaloo

It is November 1st and I am delighted at the arrival of the holiday season. Whilst Tony looks at me like I've gone nutty, I am already in full swing get-ready-to-party mode! Observe...

I'm downloading all the free Christmas music I can find. I'm making stockings [traditional denim, lace, and trim]. Hooray for worn out pairs of jeans! I'm racking my brains for gift ideas and I'm elated when I think of just the right one. I can't wait to skip out of class early (hopefully) so we can drive to UTAH to be with the Browns. I can't wait to get our very own Christmas tree to be decorated with blue balls [courtesy of wedding reception table decorations.] I can't wait for egg-a-la and sticky buns and other traditional Christmas treats. I can't wait to read Runny Babbit on Christmas Eve with the chill'ins. I can't wait to be Mary with a Baby Jesus belly while Tony is Joseph for the Nativity play. I can't wait to start my very own Jeri Lin & Tony Brown family traditions! Etc., etc., etc.

I think I might die of elation while I thrill in all the hullabaloo.

This year we'll be spending Thanksgiving/Early Christmas with the Browns and Goodwins in Utah. It is going to be complete with the two pregnant ladies {Whitney and myself} making delicious foods (while the boys watch football, I'm sure), an everything-baby-needs shopping spree for the girls on Black Friday, a secret Saturday activity, our annual stocking decoration tradition, and all that other crazy stuff we do when we all (six plus two) get together. I love my new family. I miss them so much and can't wait to spend some time with them, even if it is a super short trip (thanks a lot ASU).

Christmas will be with the Shinkles. Tony has no idea what he's in for. I, on the other hand, am counting down the days until the festivities begin. It shall be most joyous.