"In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured!"
~ Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, April 29, 2013

Achieving #1

I could be doing a bit better at my New Year's Resolutions for 2013 than I am currently...shall we say. I'm further than I would be if I hadn't made them, but not as far as I want to be, and should be. It's been 4 months for heaven's sake! That's long enough to fail a few times and have a few successes and be getting this new good habits made and turned into regular routines, right? Oh well, at least I'm headed in the right direction, even if it's only at about the speed of a turtle.

I'm overdue for a monthly blog post evaluation of my progress, but what inspired this post is the words to one of my favorite hymns: "More Holiness Give Me". 

More holiness give me,
More strivings within,
More patience in suffering,
More sorrow for sin,
More faith in my Savior,
More sense of his care,
More joy in his service,
More purpose in prayer.

More gratitude give me,
More trust in the Lord,
More pride in his glory,
More hope in his word,
More tears for his sorrows,
More pain at his grief,
More meekness in trial,
More praise for relief.

More purity give me,
More strength to o'ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy—
More, Savior, like thee.

One area that I haven't made nearly as much progress as I was really hoping is my #1 goal: To draw closer to my Savior, strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and grow stronger in my personal testimony of the Gospel. Of course I go to church every week, I do my callings, I pray daily, me and Trevor are pretty good at having FHE, and we pray and read the scriptures together nearly every night without fail. Quite excellent habits if I do say so myself :) But my personal scripture study and pondering time really aren't what I would like them to be. I let too many other things clog up my evening and morning time and distract me. We could also be much better at attending the temple regularly.

Even though we're doing a lot of things right, I still feel like I had a more personal and familiar relationship with my Father in Heaven and my Savior back when my nausea problems were a much more significant daily trial. I guess partly because I always read my scriptures to get me through the rough hours sitting at my post by the toilet waiting for the nausea to finally subside. But probably more so because of the closeness I felt knowing my constant pleas for help were being heard and that even when my struggles felt like more than I could bear (this emetophobia is a beast!), someone was there holding my hand, comforting me, crying with me, and giving me the help I needed to make it through. Every time. My trust in the Lord, and faith that He does see the big picture even though I don't understand it, grew a lot through my experience as well. There is definitely something very beautiful that is born in affliction.

I do NOT want to repeat that experience, but I want that closeness again. While it may not be quite the same, there is no reason for my relationship with my Heavenly Father and Savior to not be every bit as strong, if not more so, now that I am more in my right mind instead of kind of falling to pieces.

So...I am instigating the course of action that I tried a few times during college. No facebook or internet until I have had a good solid 15 minutes (or more) of scripture study and pondering. If I don't have time for scripture study, I clearly don't have time to waste on the internet! And me and Trevor are going to the temple for our date this Friday :)

Onward and upward!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt Frenzie

I've posted a few "healthy" "cookie" recipes on here (yes, both words in quotes. They weren't entirely healthy or cookies, just approximations :). Do not be deceived. I make junk too. And I eat it like crazy. Let's be honest here; how can you be on Pinterest and not make horribly fattening things?

Today's adventure: Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt!

I got the recipe here

It's super duper easy to make.

½ cups Unsalted Butter, Softened
½ cups Packed Dark Brown Sugar
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 cup All-purpose Flour
¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
¼ teaspoons Salt
¾ cups Mini Chocolate Chips Or Chunks
1 cup Vanilla Yogurt

You just mix it up like regular cookie dough, and add in the yogurt as the last ingredient. Then freeze it for a few hours, and voila!

It makes about twice as much as in in the bowl here. I spooned the rest out into individual bowls so it would freeze faster. I'm a bit impatient :)

Unfortunately, this recipe didn't make my list of favorite to-die-for desserts. This one landed itself on my cool-to-make/novelty list, and is hovering near the not-quite-worth-the-calories list. It's definitely got a yogurt twang...which doesn't quite jive with the whole cookie dough taste in my opinion. I guess it is frozen yogurt after all though. 

Oh well, it was still fun to make and yummy to eat, even if I don't plan on making it again :)

That tacky wrinkly brown thing in the background is our sofa. Well, actually the blanket 
we use to cover up the sofa because it's old and ugly. One of the lights in the kitchen 
burnt out so I had to re-locate to the living room :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The 12 Dancing Princesses and Everlasting Nailpolish

Remember that classic fairy tale where the 12 princess sneak out to a fancy ball every night and dance until they wear holes in their shoes? That was me yesterday. Except I didn't wear holes through my shoes, I wore holes in my feet...in the form of ruptured blisters.

Fortunately blisters heal. What I'm more concerned about is that I also danced holes in my toe pads! BOTH of them! And they are brand new!! :(

Well technically I bought them like a month ago once Cinderella rehearsals were in full swing and it was time to dance en pointe again. But I hurt my knee (first a sprain/strain in my medial collateral ligament, then some mild injury behind my kneecap), and we didn't have rehearsal the week of General Conference, and I think I was feeling sickish for one or two rehearsals...etc. etc. Long story short, I wore them for the first time to a mini rehearsal on Tuesday, and Saturday was my first full-blown rehearsal in them. They're a new kind of toe pad I haven't tried before, and I really like them! Much more cushy than several other kinds I've tried, but not so thick that I can't feel the floor. They do have one major downside though...

After about an hour or so of dancing they looked like this:

No no no!!! Not my new pretty pink toe pads :(

Bad news, folks. Toe pads in this condition don't quite cut the pain.

I bought them online from Discount Dancewear, and they were very apologetic and sent out a free replacement pair that I should be getting here in the next few days. We'll see how the new ones work. Hopefully better than the first pair!

On a happier note, unlike my feet and toe pads that apparently get holes quite easily, I bought this cheap neon pink nail polish on a whim and I painted my toenails last Tuesday. Nearly a week, several days of wearing tight flats with no socks, a ballet technique class, and 2 rehearsals on pointe later...and my neon pink toenails still show basically no signs of wear! They still look almost freshly painted! As every ballet dancer knows, that is saying something. Never in my life have I experienced this. It's nice to know at least one of my pink foot-related purchases can take a pounding :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Think It Not Strange..."

I recently came across these scriptures in my personal scripture study, and I love love love them!

1 Peter 4:12, 5:6

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you."
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time."

I just LOVE the way it explains so clearly that life is going to be hard, so get over it! There will be trials in this life, so don't go thinking you're being picked on by God just because you are having a hard time. 1 Peter 1:7 even calls the trial of your faith "much more precious than of gold". The key is to be humble and press on with the understanding that God is there, and that He is aware, and that he will bless you. All in due time :)

As you may have noticed (assuming you read my blog posts periodically), there has been a surprising lack of blog posts about my stomach and nausea issues for the past...9 months or so. (Well to be quite honest, there has been a lack of blog posts period, so part of the reason is that no time to blog period means no time to blog about my stomach). Aside from that, I haven't posted about being sick lately because a miracle occurred and the nausea is magically gone now!!!

HA. I wish! But no. The problem has decreased noticeably; but feeling sick randomly, and frequently, is still very much a part of my daily life adventures.

The real reason I haven't posted as much about it is that I am getting much better at dealing with it, both physically and emotionally. It's still hard, but it's getting less-hard. And the fact that the severity is decreasing really helps make it a lot more manageable!

A couple of years ago I received a blessing that said we are all given trials in this life, and this is one that has been selected for me. That has helped me refrain from the whole "why me! This is so unfair!" attitude that is so easy to get stuck in, and has helped me trust that there is something for me to learn from all of this. Having hard stuff happen is normal. It's to be expected. A little bit more refining that I evidently need. Some hard nuts to crunch through and give texture to my nice thick slice of life :)

And just in case the thought of plowing through years and years of difficult trials for your entire life has got you down, just listen to this!

Isaiah 41:10

" Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Isaiah 43:1-3, 5

"Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shat not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior!...Fear not, for I am with thee"

And just one of many many wonderful quotes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"In the gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil, and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike--and they will--you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding at reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven, in defense of Abraham's seed.”

So even when it's hard - and it's going to be hard! - it's all going to be ok. We're on the winning team, and we've got the absolute best help there is :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Soup for the Sick

Today was a gray, cloudy, rainy, chilly, and otherwise blah yuck Spring day. Snow is even in the forecast for tonight :( And my Trevor is a sick puppy. A sick puppy who still has to go to school and do homework. All that plus the fact that I actually had time to do stuff since I didn't have to cut 11 hours out of my day for work (the chiropractor I work for is recovering from back surgery. I know, I know, the irony is killing me too), means today is a soup day :) 

I had a few pre-soup adventures today while Trevor was busy being smart and productive at school. No work means no work clothes, which means pink and polka dots are in order! I also decided it was high time to have some glitter fun! So I painted a clear glass plate, as well as a clear plastic "glass slipper" decoration I have.

My new favorite dessert plate!

While I was at it I painted the soles of my hot pink wedding shoes sparkly too! Not super thick, just a nice bit of sparkle. The world is a happier place here now :)

 Just a tiny sneaky bit of glitz :)

The pictures didn't turn out super well, but you get the idea :)

And I added a bit more bright happy joy with an arrangement of bright silk flowers I put together for the kitchen table with the bits of things I found while going through boxes last night. And by "arrangement" what I really mean is that I randomly clumped different sprigs of fake flowers together and stuck them in a vase. Those of you with any sort of floral artistic ability...please close your eyes.

I did some cleaning up too, and started the spider poison spray-down after finding the first big hairy spider monster of the season.

first blood. dead as a doornail.

The library was calling my name today too. There's just something about libraries. So much to learn! So much to imagine and discover! Gah! I could just live there and be such a happy girl! It blows my mind how easy it is for me to fall back into the mindset that I don't like reading. I have a hard time concentrating on reading, so I'll go for months - or more often for years - without picking up a book other than my scriptures or an occasional textbook, and be fine with it. Then I just walk into a library and I remember the truth again :) I love to read! One of the patients at work told me about a book she's reading by choreographer Twyla Tharp called The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. Another patient told me his favorite book at the moment is The Alchemist. I went in with the intention of getting both, but neither one was available. As I was walking out, the shelves sucked me in, and I just couldn't leave without taking a few of the books with me! Now I have four books to read in addition to the other two. I don't know when I'll ever find the time to finish reading them all since I have to go back to work soon, but I do know when I'm going to start. Tonight!

I didn't make it out the library doors without grabbing a few DVD's either. Three dance ones, and The Testaments. Trevor and I have been studying the Book of Mormon together before bed. Right now we're in 3rd Nephi right around the time Christ visits the Americas, so it's pretty much exactly what we've been reading about! We cuddled up under our blankets with our soup and grilled cheese and watched it for FHE earlier this evening. Perfect :)

...Which leads me back to the soup. I had ambitions to make a nice, hearty, from-scratch soup. Let's be honest though; glitterizing things was much more important. So I took the shorter canned soup route. Many moons ago I was the Compassionate Service Committee chairman (chairperson? chairgirl?) back when Swine Flu was a big deal. So me and my committee put together care packages of chicken soup and tissues and the like. Not all of them got used (hardly any of them actually), so I ended up inheriting several cans of soup at the end of the school year. I still have them. Just last week I found out someone in the ward was sick so I was going to take them one of my many cans of chicken soup, but someone else had a can that was more handy. Thank goodness for that! Because today I opened one of the cans and noticed some small moldy-looking grey blobs floating in the corner and on the top of the can. Totally weird. I opened another can; it had the same thing. Gross! Defective soup!

 the chunks look way bigger in real life

And then it occurred to me...I bought those cans at the beginning of a school year, and I didn't even meet Trevor until after the following school year had started, and we didn't get married until almost a year after that, and we've been married for almost 2 years now...so that is some really old soup! I'm not quite sure how that evaded me.

I guess it just looked so at home with all of my grandparents' old food storage...like these cans of chili con carne from 2003

and this powdered sugar from - that's right - 1980.

Anyways, after I discovered that all my cans of soup were ancient and no good, dinner was saved by my husband who bought soup a couple months ago despite the fact that I told him not to because we had so many cans already. Good thing he forgot!

So we eventually had a can of good chicken noodle soup. But that wasn't good enough for me to serve to my poor sick hungry husband! He is in need of a good nourishment! Not just salt water and soggy noodles!

The solution? Dress it up :) We added a cup each of fresh celery and carrots, a fresh clove of minced garlic (that stuff gives colds a good hard punch or two), 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 Tb of dried parsley, and a couple shakes of basil and oregano, and simmered it for a bit while we made grilled pepperjack cheese sandwiches on multigrain bread, seasoned with Morton's Nature's Seasons. Goodness gracious. Sooooo delicious!!! I do believe I have come up with a new favorite sick-day recipe :) You'd think since I took so many picture of gross old food, I would have at least taken a picture of the good yummy food. Nope. It didn't even occur to me. We gobbled/slurped it all up quick, it was just that good.

Unfortunately, it didn't magically cure my Trevor. But fortunately we have chocolate to cheer him up :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Prologue to the Next Chapter

My poor blog is basically crying for attention these days! Poor neglected thing! This princess has been a bit busy working and earning money...and wasting far too much time on stuff like watching Community and Battlestar Galactica and other such shows with her husband, but starting today I have an unexpected week off of work, so I guess it's high time I start getting back on track!

Lots of fun stuff has happened over the past few months (a Christmas vacation at home, some fun dates and crafts and projects, performing Pioneer Legacy, starting rehearsals for Cinderella, performing with Trevor at the ward activity, Trevor graduating from BYU, super fun game nights with friends, speaking and teaching in church, redoing our budget, starting to reorganize our house and stuff, etc.), but the biggest - and definitely the most impactful - thing that has been going on is making our decision of what to do about graduate school.

Trevor had a pretty rough last semester as an undergrad, and that is definitely putting it lightly. Remember this post? We were watching the music video of our theme song and I asked him if it was anything like how he felt. The moment after I asked (about 1 minute into it) it showed some bikers in a race who wipe out right before the finish line and painfully skid across the line in last place. Trevor pointed at the screen and gave an emphatic "yes! just like THAT!" It wasn't quite the empowering gusto that I was going for when I asked, but lets be honest. It was a hard semester!

 And the good news is...we survived!!!!! And now Trevor has much more time for his loving wife, who is absolutely adoring having a husband again!! So, now that he passed everything and finished his capstone, successfully graduated, graduate school applications have been sent in, and all that hard stressful stuff has been satisfactorily completed, everything is hunky-dory and easy, right?

Relatively, yes. SOOOO much better than last semester! But this whole waiting-for-acceptance-letters-and-deciding-which-school-to-go-to thing is hard too!

The hope was that Trevor would get accepted to his #1 school, Penn State, with a scholarship. It's the top school in the country for the program he is applying for, and he's really excited about the school, plus we would be close enough to my family to visit them on road trips. Wins all around! Unfortunately, I guess it wasn't meant to be.

We're still waiting to hear back from 2 or 3 more graduate schools, but we're getting down to decision time. We got a few acceptance letters and a few rejections too, and Trevor has been finding out as much information as possible about the programs and opportunities available at each option, and talking to advisers and faculty at the different programs, and professionals in the field, and basically everyone he possibly can get advice and information from. Taking everything into consideration so far, we've got things narrowed down to basically 2 options.

1 - go to Georgia Tech University
2 - go to BYU

1 - get out of here and start fresh somewhere new like we are super excited to do, and be just a short road trip from my family for the first time in 7 years!
2 - stay put with all the old stuff (my job, ballet, friends, everything) and be super far away from my family, but way close to Trevor's family and my extended family

1 - get a degree from a program so well-known and with such a high reputation, that basically just mentioning it on a resume will land him a good job
2 - have an undergrad and graduate degree from the same school (not to mention from a religious and possibly controversial school), but be able to get a degree in a program more tailored to his particular interests

1 - live in balmy Georgia and be close to Disney Land and the beach!
2 - live in Utah with yuck Winters, but thankfully no humid Summers

1 - have to take out $75,000-$100,000 in student loans, despite both of us having graduated from college with 0 debt. Graduate school can be so expensive!!
2 - have his tuition completely covered, and be given a $20,000 living stipend

1 - get started this Fall, know what we're getting in to, graduate in a couple years, get employed, pay off student loans, and get on with life
2 - give up all the acceptance letters and wait another year to apply to BYU's program (Trevor wasn't planning on graduate school at BYU until recently so he didn't take the Physics GRE because it wasn't required for any of the other programs). In the meantime, continue doing research with the department, hopefully start working at least part-time, and continue taking graduate level classes so he can graduate sooner if/when he is accepted.

The more we find out, the more we start leaning towards staying here. It'll be a bit of a gamble though, since we don't know for sure he'll be accepted into BYU's program next year. We're pretty sure though. And we're a bit bummed that we won't be getting real life going just yet if we stay. There will be a lot of waiting, and it will be longer until graduation.

Having a fresh start and just getting things going is sooo enticing! But starting 2-3 years later with no student loans and $20,000 in-hand (assuming he gets accepted) is pretty enticing too!! And we still haven't heard from 2 of the schools he applied to, one of which was near the top of his list. So who knows? Maybe he'll get accepted and get a great scholarship and living stipend, and we'll be doing something totally different from these two options we've been pursuing! Gah!!!! I hate waiting and not knowing!!

I guess the real bottom line is that things are about to change, and there are definitely a lot of pros and cons with each options. And I think we will end up happy with whatever we chose, we just have to decide which path we want to chose to be happy along :) We've been praying for help making the best choice possible, and we have definitely been getting a lot of good information from good sources to help us make educated decisions. Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us too! We really appreciate it (and we wouldn't mind if you keep praying for us :)! we're getting really close to moving on to the next chapter of our story :)