Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kofford Christmas Classic

This year for Christmas we had the opportunity to drive down to Las Vegas with Elisa and Alex. Late Thursday afternoon, Alex and Elisa met me and we went and picked up Matthew from work. After Matthew finished vacuuming the car, we were off. It was a fun ride down; we talked and listened to the new CDs I had made from the music Matthew and I bought from the itunes gift card I got Matthew for Father's Day. When we arrived at my parents home we of course spent the next few hours talking with family and staying up way too late, but it is always one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Friday morning the whole fam, with the exception of Jordan, went to the mall to get a family picture taken. This is not a typical time of year for us to be taking family pictures, but one of the foreign exchange students staying with my parents is leaving at the beginning of the New Year and my mom always likes to give them a family picture before they leave. As per usual we needed to come up with a funny picture to take. In years past it has mostly included the latest family joke, like our awkward turtles, or shaping your fingers into the letter L on your forehead and in an awkward voice saying, "I Love You" while using this letter L to point at the person you are speaking to. We have also done things on the fly like pointing in different directions with a confused look on our faces, while Kaleb continues to look straight ahead and smile at the camera or utilize our best modeling skills by giving the camera our best tiger impressions. Needless to say, we are a little weird, but we sure do have fun! This year I came up with the idea that we use Isabella, the first grandchild, as a center theme of our funny picture. Gary could lift her up like the Baboon does in The Lion King while the rest of us bowed and revered her. There weren't any other grand ideas, so we went with it.

After taking the pictures we hung around the mall waiting for them to be printed and while we waited my brothers thought it would be fun to start a pretend football game in the middle of the mall. At first they just pretended to throw each other a ball and a few times some strangers would run in and pretend to intercept the ball. Eventually we all joined in and had two teams playing against each other. We thought it was pretty funny and so did some bystanders, but one of the guards disagreed and told us to knock it off.

After we all agreed upon which photos were best, the parental units headed home and Gary, Haley, Jonathan, Elisa, Alex, Matthew and I headed towards the food court for some grub. Matthew and I ended up just getting some soft pretzel sticks as a snack and then eating everyone else's leftovers which consisted of McDonalds, a Philly Cheesesteak baked potato and Panda Express.

That afternoon we all helped to prep Christmas dinner so our Christmas day wouldn't have to be spent cooking food, then we all helped wrap Santa's presents and played our traditional Christmas Tree I Spy. That night my dad and Matthew went to Midnight Mass with Lorenzo and Jana. I also wanted to go, but wasn't feeling very good. The next day they reported that the "Midnight Mass" actually started at eleven, so they attempted to find another location and when they finally did, they walked in and it was entirely in Spanish.

On Christmas Day we all slept in and took our time to go and open presents. Most of the morning was split between opening presents, eating and trying over and over and over again to call Jordan. We tried calling him, but the number didn't work and then he would call us to tell us to try something different, but it still didn't work. Eventually it ended up working and we had a good time talking to him about his experiences in Guatemala and what things we were up too.

After opening all the gifts and stockings and taking the traditional photo with all your gifts, we changed our clothes and settled into watching one of the new movies. We all decided upon Despicable Me...such a cute movie! After the movie we headed to Grandma Kofford's house for a visit with her and some of the "Kofford" aunts, uncles and cousins. It was fun to see everyone and catch up. Elisa and Alex officially announced to the whole family of expecting a new arrival in June/July. Upon returning home we sat down to our Christmas dinner and as usual it did not disappoint.

On Sunday we all went to Sacrament together. It was nice to see many of the people from my childhood, although many have moved or passed away. Danielle England, one of the girls my age growing up, and her husband were visiting with their new daughter and they blessed her. It was good to see them again, although I have to admit a little hard. I am very happy with my life, but sometimes it is hard to see others have or doing things that I would like to have or do. I know that I am doing what is best for me, but I sometimes still get impatient waiting for things I am excited to have and do.

After Sacrament meeting we all headed back home to change and hit the road. My parents had decided that they would just follow us back home and make a short visit to the snow with us! Unfortunately there wasn't much snow in the neighborhood, but we entertained ourselves anyway. When we arrived that night Elisa and Alex continued towards their home, while the rest of us herded into our little apartment, but what our apartment lacks in size is made up for with all the blankets we own!

Monday we made breakfast burritos for breakfast and hung around the house all morning. Elisa and Alex arrived with their friend just as we were leaving to go eat lunch at Chuck O Rama. They had just eaten lunch, so they declined coming and hung around our place until we returned. In the early evening, before it got dark, we headed towards Temple Square. My
mom wanted to show Lorenzo and Jana, the foreign exchange students, around and inside each of the buildings before it got too dark and crowded. It was actually a really good experience because I saw parts of Temple Square that I had never seen before and Lorenzo had a lot of questions. It was fun to see his curiosity. After walking to and through a majority of the buildings we walked by some of our traditional spots and took pictures. On our way back to the car we noticed that the Conference Center was open and walked inside for a minute. My parents had never been inside. We took a quick look around and asked when tours were given and how long they were. The Missionary stated that the tours run all day until 9:00pm and could be as long or as short as you wanted them to be. It was getting late, so we decided that it would be a fun thing to do when they came up for my graduation in May.

When we got back home Alex, Elisa and their friend couldn't stay because they had plans with some other friends, but Matthew and I decided to make the rest of the family our famous bacon cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries and we watched Inception.

Tuesday morning my parents woke up early and headed towards Matthew's parent's home for breakfast, just the four of them. The rest of us just slept or lazily lounged about for the entire morning. When my parents returned my mom wanted a nap, so the boys went outside to toss around a frisbee. When the boys returned we headed up to Ogden to show my parents Alex and Elisa's apartment and to celebrate Elisa's birthday. Elisa thought we were just coming up to see the apartment and then my parents were going to head out, but after we left their apartment the first time, Alex lured Elisa out of the house and we returned to throw her a surprise party. My parents even told my sister that they had forgotten her presents at my house and she would have to get them later. Elisa admitted later that she had no idea about the party until as she was walking into the apartment she saw my parent's car. After opening presents and eating cake and ice cream my parents headed back home to Vegas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Branch Christmas Party

For those of you who don't know, Matthew and I have been serving in a retirement branch for the last year and a half and we absolutely love it. Each Monday night for FHE we have our Sunday School lesson and because we have it every Monday without fail, at the end of the year we have a few Monday nights without an assigned lesson, so we have a Christmas party!

Last year we enjoyed a Choral Group and an assortment of goodies dipped in chocolate from a chocolate fountain. This year we decided to have a dinner and talent show. The dinner was provided by President Langheinrich and his wife Annette. It consisted of delicious chicken salad sandwiches, chips, fruit and an assortment of cream puffs for dessert. Simple and yet delightful and filling.

There are many very talented people in our branch. We have a couple who have both been members of the Utah Symphony, a Sister who was the first female to play the organ for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was on the music committee that assembled the Hymn book, we have a Brother that sings Opera, another Sister that sings and was Miss America at one point and many Brothers and Sisters with so much talent.

For one of the talents, Brother Mueller played a medley of German Christmas songs and his daughter Birgit (Sister Robinson) read about many of the Christmas traditions in Germany. Mike Phillips had us all entertained with the sounds of Charlie Brown and Matthew and I got the whole room laughing and singing to the Twelve Days of Christmas. I sang and Matthew accompanied me on his Kazoo while raising big silly pictures (given to us by the lovely Charlotte Sheffield) of each of the items given, he was in a pool of sweat by the end of it all! Sister Nancy Dixon then played more Christmas songs on the piano while Charlotte Sheffield lead the group of us in singing them. It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Pizza Christmas Party, Taylor Style

For Christmas this year, Matthew and I had the chance to get gifts for the Taylor Clan. We began to think early on about what we could get that the whole family could enjoy together. The very same week we were thinking of gift ideas, we received an email from Cole that stated he was participating in an online fundraiser. Matthew and I browsed through all the items and for the most part, there weren’t any great family gifts, but near the end of our search we found a fun Pizza Cookbook. This book had several ideas for different types of pizzas, including kid and adult friendly recipes; the last page even had a fun dessert pizza. We thought that this gift would not only be a great gift that the Taylor clan could use over and over, but would also give us the opportunity to spend time with them if we brought ingredients as part of the gift. So we called up Liz and let her in on the idea, so that we could schedule a dinner date and on the 17th of December we enjoyed an evening with the Taylor’s.

Over the last few years Matthew and I have frequently had the opportunity to spend time with the Taylor’s and occasionally we have brought our camera with us and captured some fun moments with them. So another idea we had for them was a picture book of some of those moments. Many of them included time we have spent camping and hiking and going to the zoo, and other moments included holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Even with both of these gifts, I felt like there was something else Matthew and I could do to truly serve Liz and Zac. They have been so great to Matthew and I over the last few years and I wanted to do something for them that could help them in even a small portion of the way that they have helped us. Liz has always been willing to listen and talk with me about my struggles and new things that I am learning, and she and Zac have been great examples as parents. So, I thought that a fun thing to do would be to create a coupon for free babysitting, so that they could spend an evening out together without the kids. Here is a picture of the coupon we gave them:

When we arrived at the Taylor’s we all gathered around and opened each of the gifts. Once the pizza and ingredients had been opened, we all headed into the kitchen and began to make the pizzas. Liz and I had arranged earlier to make a stuffed crust pepperoni pizza for the kids and a chicken ranch pizza for the adults. Cole and Spencer were both pretty excited about helping to make the pizzas, James was excited to eat some of the string cheese and take bunch of real pictures with our camera and of course Maddy was excited to eat slices of pepperoni and look cute in her apron. The pizzas took longer to cook then we expected, but we all agreed that it was worth the wait.

After finishing dinner, we had more pizza fun by making a yummy dessert pizza; the crust was a sugar cookie, the sauce was chocolate and the toppings consisted of M&Ms, mini marshmallows and nuts. We really enjoy our time with the Taylors. We love and look up to Liz and Zac, they are not only great parents, but they live the gospel with all their hearts and they show genuine interest in our lives and the lives of all they associate with.

The following is a sampling of James' photography:

Salsa Chocolate

Just in time to help me celebrate the finish of a great semester, my cousin, Justin, came to town for a short visit. And what else would we do with Justin? DANCE, of course!

I actually called Ryan, Justin's brother, in the late morning of the 16th because I knew Justin was flying in and I wanted to know what the plans were. Ryan informed me that he was on the way to pick Justin up from the airport and that he would let Justin know that he was welcome to hang out with me for the afternoon while Ryan took his last final. About 30 mins later Justin called me and said Ryan was dropping him off to hang out.

Ryan stayed for a little while and we all caught up. Shortly after Ryan left, Justin said he was hungry and wanted to take me out somewhere. I told him about this Thai restaurant and he was in. I realized that if I called fast, that I might be able to catch Matthew before he started eating his lunch. I caught him just in time and told him I would pick him up for a lunch date! We went to Chanon Thai and ordered calamari and two entrees to share. It was a wonderful, filling lunch.

After dropping Matthew back off at work, I invited Justin to play our Wii while I did a little more cleaning and attempted to finished the scarf I had been knitting for Bella for Christmas. He had fun creating "Mr. Wiggle" and then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon dueling. He was still dueling when Matthew came home and Matthew was immediately sucked in. Just a few weeks prior, Matthew had spent an afternoon dueling, but couldn't get past the fourth level. It took Justin about half the day, but he had made it through all the levels and now he had started completing the levels in reverse. Matthew wasn't too upset about it, but decided he needed to try and finally get past that fourth level. After three attempts he finally did it and of course the entire time I was mocking him, and so he challenged me to "try it." I took the challenge and much to his dismay I got through at least the first five levels in one try.

Soon enough came the time for us to go out, but we had one pit stop to make before going dancing; Anthony Woolf's new wife Laura was having a birthday party and they invited us over to their new apartment for cake and ice cream. We stopped by for about 30 mins and enjoyed swapping silly stories about being pulled over by the police.

Before dancing we were driving around Provo picking up a few people and we passed by the Provo Tabernacle, which is one of the older buildings in the area and decided that it's a place we need to visit. The next morning we found out that the building was destroyed by a fire. It is crazy how things in this world can change in an instant.

After leaving the party we headed down to Provo to meet back up with Ryan. We went to a Salsa Club called Salsa Chocolate. Justin took me Salsa dancing quite a few times while I was in Pittsburgh and I had a lot of fun and because he is an instructor I think he was curious how the Salsa scene is out here. He was happily surprised, as was I. There were many more people at this club than most of the places we had been too and the dance floor was huge. I think Justin really enjoyed himself. He and Ryan are such good dancers, they have different styles, but it was fun to dance with both of them. I feel bad sometimes, because I know that Matthew knows I love to dance, but he is so uncomfortable. I hope one day I can have more patience and he can have more confidence so that we can both take lessons and truly enjoy dancing together.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goal Attained

Last Tuesday (Dec 7th), I was on my way to work when I was pulled over and cited by a Utah Transit Authority police officer. She cited me for failure to stop at a red light. I was riding a bicycle.

That's right. Much to my surprise, UTA police officers have the authority to write traffic citations. Also to my surprise, they are serious when it comes to cyclists abiding by traffic laws. As surprising as those revelations were, they did not shock me as much as some of the other details surrounding this experience. Now let me confess up front that I did not stop quite as promptly, nor did I initially take the officer as seriously as she would have preferred. This did not help my situation.

Here's the story. I was stopped at a light when the officer pulled up along side me and began to talk to me out her window. Apparently, she quickly suspected that I found some amusement in the situation because she asked, "Do you think this is funny?" Now, I believe in being honest but perhaps this was one scenario in which it might have been wisest to answer with something other than, "Yeah, I kind of do." I believe that was the pivotal point at which the situation turned from a verbal warning to a citation.

The light changed and the officer followed me a block and a half to the back entrance of my place of employment where I decided we had better stop and talk. I was shocked when two more UTA police cars arrived within a minute or so. I was further shocked when a South Salt Lake officer arrived within minutes as well.

At the time, I was very confused why it was deemed necessary that so many resources be dedicated to a traffic citation for a cyclist. It was not until later that it occurred to me that it was likely because the back entrance to Access RV is very secluded and could have proven to be a dangerous situation if I had been armed or had otherwise become violent.

The officer who pulled me over approached me in her jeans, T-shirt and fuzzy slippers and requested my driver license and while she was reviewing my lack of criminal history, the two other UTA officers chatted casually with me. Suddenly, the South Salt Lake officer approached me and curtly informed me that if he had addressed me as she had and I had not stopped immediately, that instead of just following me to work, I "would have been eating gravel." This statement was the one that disturbed me most. For an officer of the peace whose focus should be primarily on public safety, I was horrified to learn that he would intentionally cause bodily injury and property damage simply to proclaim his authority.

I was informed by the female UTA officer and the South Salt Lake officer that they could arrest me on the spot and charge me with fleeing. They reiterated this multiple times. Oddly, they referred to the fleeing offense with varying levels of severity. They seemed unsure if it was a misdemeanor or a felony. Either that or they changed their tune to felony when I seemed unimpressed with the misdemeanor charge. Ultimately, she wrote me a citation for failure to stop at a red light and they left.

My coworkers were all very intrigued by the scene I created for them as they arrived at work. So I told the story multiple times all day. All of them were as shocked as I was at the spectacle of four cop cars versus one bicycle. My boss found it laughable that while riding my bicycle, I received a traffic citation that included a penalty of some points on my driving record. In the course of these conversations, I keenly observed that while I do have the cycling merit badge from the Boy Scouts of America, I have never been licensed for cycling by any government agency.

I went home and told Kara the story. She was unamused and disinterested in the details. She simply responded that if I weren’t breaking the law by running red lights, none of this would have happened. This is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is such a woman of principle. She often puts things in proper perspective for me.

I did a little research on the Utah State website and learned that traffic laws in Utah hold cyclists to the same standard as motorists and that there is even a question to that effect on the written driving test.

This morning before work, I rode my bicycle to the Salt Lake City Court House to pay my debt to society. I briefly mentioned to the hearing officer that I was hoping at least to avoid points on my driving record. I asked him to note the vehicle shown on the ticket. That's all it took and he had a city prosecutor change the citation from "failure to stop at a red light" to "failure to follow bicycle rules." This meant no points and it reduced my fine from $90 to $70. I paid my fine, walked out and rode my bicycle to work.

I've always said I wanted to be pulled over on my bicycle just so I would have the story to tell. Now that I've attained that goal with such flying colors, I can focus more on other goals.

I stop for red lights now regardless of my vehicle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well, I've done it, I've finally done it! Today I took the last of my final exams! I am now done with all of my bookwork for graduate school! And to make things finish off even better than I could have asked for is that I earned two 100%! This has not been an everyday occurrence for me in my graduate career, so I definitely ended on a high note! Now all that stands in my way are two internships, a $500 boards exam and getting a job! I never imagined that this day would come so soon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


A few weeks ago Matthew dropped a hint that we had some sort of special occasion to celebrate on the 10th of December. I racked my brain and could not figure out what anniversary I was forgetting. You see, Matthew is a data type. He likes to take note of things like: the first time we said that we loved each other, the day he decided he wanted to marry me, the first day we met,our first date and so on. So when he finally gave in and told me that the special occasion was 1000 days of marriage I wasn't too caught off gaurd about it, but I was excited. To celebrate this grand achievement we went to dinner at vinto. I know that's nothing new and exciting, but it was a nice evening out with each other. We tried a new dessert because the one we have tried before is seasonal so it was unavailable. This time we had a peice of lemon cheesecake.

This year the second year class from the PT school were in charge of our Christmas party. It was announced that the party would be held at the chapel on Sunnyside and that there would be dinner, music, games, a raffle, an ugly sweater contest and a mechanical bull.Matthew wore the same sweater I bought him for the Christmas party we went to my first year in grad school and I wore his Hunter High School Student Body Officer Sweater. At the last minute I realized that the sweater was the same color as BYU's colors, but unfortunately I didn't have time to tape on a big Y. I think if I did, I might have had a chance of winning the ugly sweater contest. Most of my classmates were there including Danny Johnson and Evan Papa, who were both wearing hideous turtle necks with another sweater over the top.

Dinner consisted of a variety of soups with rolls, vegetables, chips, fruit, and a lot of other random things. It was really tasty. After eating a bunch of people started playing "Tornado" which is a basketball free throw game and others started to ride the mechanical bull. Underneath Matthew's ugly sweater he was wearing the bull riding shirt that his brother bought him from Spain, so after mustering up courage, he rode the bull in his bull shirt. His ride didn't last long, but neither did mine, but we did have fun.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


If you had asked me in August if I could imagine that the semester would have ended this fast I would have laughed. Even though time has flown by these last few weeks have been tough ones in school. The desire to study or to even care is very evident in many of my classmates. I am just grateful that Thanksgiving break is here..or at least was. It was a break that I needed. I like my classmates well enough, but I think we have spent too much time together, so it was a nice change to spend more time with family.

Elisa and Alex decided that this year they would spend Christmas with my family down in Vegas, but because Alex's family is scattered and his parents are on the other side of the country, he and Elisa were planning to stick around for Thanksgiving. Matthew's mom was
kind enough to invite them to celebrate Thanksgiving
with us. Matthew's extended family gets together every other year for
Thanksgiving and this year Cynda was in charge of the planning and instead of heading to Price, we had the party just up the street from our apartment in one of the church buildings in our Stake.

Because Alex and Elisa worked morning shifts on Wednesday and didn't have to work on Thursday, they decided to come down to Salt Lake Wednesday night and spend the night. For about a year Matthew and I have been wanting a Wii and with the graduation money that Matthew received from his parents we planned on getting one, but we were waiting to find one on sale. In the mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Alex called me telling me that he had just purchased a Wii for about $80 cheaper than it usually is and he was wondering if he could bring it down with him so we could play it all together. I told him of course and then asked him a few questions about where he got this Wii system. Alex told me he bought it used at GameStop and so, later that evening when Matthew arrived home we drove over to our local GameStop shop and bought a Wii of our very own! We are such proud owners. That evening we enjoyed trying out some games so much that we were up well past midnight.

On Thursday we joined Matthew's family for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. We also spent most of our time talking and playing games. It was really nice to have the majority of Matthew's immediate family there. I was able to talk a lot with Matthew's sisters in particular. My favorite game that the family plays when they all get together is called "Smash Ball." You play with a little ball and each player has a paddle. There are 9 spaces on the ground and the point of the game is to get to the first space. You do this by getting the players in the spaces above you out by getting the ball to land in their space. It is a very exciting game with the right crowd. It was a great afternoon and the food was amazing, of course.

For me the best part of the day wasn't all of that though. A lot has been on my mind lately about the decisions about children that Matthew and I are making. I am for the most part excited for all the things to come, but with all of that I have also had fear and doubt. Change is sometimes a scary thing, especially when you are comfortable. I think that when things are good it is hard to imagine them differently, because what if different isn't better? And I know, at least for myself, that my fear increases when I can't see how it will all work out. I was contemplating all of this when I sat down to read my scriptures.

My mind and heart were filled with mixed emotions and I had known for a long time that I needed to turn to the Lord. I had finally decided to do it. I prayed for clarity and comfort. I knew that I didn't need all the answers, but most of all I needed reassurance. I ended my prayer and turned to Preach My Gospel. It is the study manual I have been using for my personal scripture study for the past few months. I have been studying about faith and the next scripture I was to look up was Alma 32: 26-43. It was a familiar passage of scripture to me and to many I know, but I gained new insight as I read it. Verse 27 reminded me of the many times I have "experiment[ed] upon [the Lord's] words" and how each time He has kept his promises to me and I have felt of His love towards me. I realized that this situation was no different. In order to increase my faith and trust in the Lord I must be willing to do those things that He has asked me to do.

As I continued to read on I realized how this section of scripture relates to more than just faith, but also children and the blessings that come from having them. I learned that in this situation I must soften my heart and not resist the Lord's will because of my own fears. As I follow the Lord I will be blessed in many ways.As Matthew and I begin to build upon our family we will feel "swelling motions" and will know that it is a good seed and this new soul will "enlarge [our] souls" and "enlighten [our] understanding" and our joy will be increased.

Continuing into verses 37 to 43 I realized that these verses teach us how we should and what things we should do to raise our children. If Matthew and I will take "great care" in nourishing our children, both temporally and spiritually, they will "grow up and bring forth fruit unto us." We need to have faith and be diligent and patient. Only then will we be able to enjoy "everlasting life" with "the fruits of our labor" or in other words, our posterity.

It was a marvelous opportunity to see the Lord answer my prayers through His word. This is another testament to me that He is there and cares for each of us. He cares about our worries and wants to help to guide us and give us comfort and strength. So, the thing I have been most grateful for this Thanksgiving is my Heavenly Father and His willingness to answer my prayers and calm my fears.

Friday morning Matthew and I went out to his parents home to make Christmas cookies with all the kids. It is a little
earlier in the holiday season than normal, but Cynda decided that since all of the grandkids were in town, it would be the best opportunity. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the niec
es and nephews, and especially nice to meet Lucy. The kids were really excited when grandma gave each of them their very own plate of cookies, but I think the parents were even more excited when the kids were still willing to eat apples with their lunch. I am very grateful for family and I'm excited that Matthew and I get
to visit mine for Christmas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finding Passion

School this past semester has been jammed packed and as we come close to the end it is sometimes hard to stay motivated. Many days this semester I have stayed at the school until 4 or 5 to study. I figured that since I didn't have to work this semester that I would treat school as a full time job and try to keep on top of my studying. Some days it has been hard to do and at times I feel like my test scores do not reflect all that I have learned, but I can definitely feel a difference in the confidence I have in terms of knowing what I should be doing when it comes to working with individuals in the neurologic population. That isn't to say that I don't have much more to learn, but more that I think I have found something that I could feel good at and even though I know it would be challenging I think that this is a setting I could enjoy working in. I can't wait until my last two internships. Both will be hard, but I think I will find passion for work in them.

Another thing that came up this semester because of the lack of having to work was the hope to spend time with more of my friends from school, but as I said before, it has been a hard semester, not only in terms of the workload, but also in staying motivated. This semester I have felt even more distanced from many of my classmates, but this past week Matthew and I were able to spend some good quality time with my friend Crystal. I have to say that I love this girl.

On Friday night Crystal came over around 4 or 5 and we started making one of the recipes that Matthew and I discovered that has become a new favorite...bacon burgers and sweet potato fries. I know it doesn't sound original and it really isn't, but it has become a new favorite because of the ingredients we have found to mix in with the beef: ketchup, a McCormick Hamburger seasoning and Worcestershire sauce are the key! And ever since spending the summer in Pittsburgh I have had cravings for sweet potato fries and we found a simple and yet sublime recipe for those as well.

While cooking, Crystal and I were able to talk and get better caught up with the nuances of life, you know, all those things us girls talk about; boys, school, boys, the future, boys. We ate shortly after Matthew arrived home and then we sat back and enjoyed a movie. It was a nice chill evening and I was grateful to spend it with Crystal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good Food and a Little Culture

This week I managed to get through another round of testing and now I just have finals remaining. This week in school was, as my professor Jim Ballard would say, "A Banner Week," or at last there was "A Banner Day" in this past week. This semester I have a Women's Health/Pelvic Floor class, taught by the one and only Jim Ballard and this class, as many could imagine, has brought much enlightenment and yet for many, discomfort to us. But the pelvic floor is comprised of many important muscles and we as Physical Therapists are the "muscle experts" so we must learn. This week was interesting because we learned much about poop. And the Gastrointestinal Doctor that lectured for us definitely kept us entertained, with many such phrases as: "When you sleep your intestines sleep, so God made morning to poop." and the reason gas is stinky is because: “You have breakfast, no poop. Lunch, no poop. Dinner, no poop. Ice cream, no poop. If you put a burger and ice cream in a room and left it, you could not even walk into the room it would be so stinky.” I guess if you are working in such a field as his, you have to have a good sense of humor.

On Friday night Matthew and I decided to see our friend Carrie, perform as Maria from the play The Sound of Music, with her stake. Before going to the show Matthew and I decided to use the rest of our "Dining out" budget for the month to get some sushi. We know that it will be awhile before we get sushi again so we decided to get our fill. The show was wonderful and as usual, Carrie shined on the stage. Over the past few years we have been able to go to a few of her concerts and I am continually blown away by her talents. She is just an all around wonderful person that Matthew and I both look up to. She has done many wonderful things and she always has great ideas. It was also fun to see all the children perform in the play. At the beginning of the play there was a small girls choir that came out and sang a medley of the classic songs in the play. Matthew and I were impressed that even the younger girls had memorized all the words, and laughed when we could hear one of them singing out really loud and then saw the little girl next to her try with all her might to quiet her down without drawing too much attention. This included nudging her and then giving her somewhat of a dirty look, all while a third little girl was trying to hold the second little girl's hand. It was very sweet and comical.

On Saturday, Matthew and I got together with some of his old high school friends and their spouses to eat and play a couple of games. We met at the home of his friend Jaime and her husband Braden and were joined by his friends Dave and his wife, Holli and Jim and his wife, Heather. We enjoyed very delicious food including nachos, Italian sodas and an excellent pumpkin chiffon that Holli made. For most of the night we caught up with one another, talking about school, work, kids and future plans. We also enjoyed playing Catch Phrase and a sort of "Newlywed" game. It is kind of amazing to me that Matt still keeps in contact with his friends from high school, but I guess he is still living in the same area where he went to high school, whereas I am in a different state and all I have to keep me connected is Facebook.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wonderful Wedding Weekend

So this weekend Matthew and I had two great friends, Anthony Woolf and Ashley Christopherson, get married on the same day and needless to say it was pretty busy, but a lot of fun.

Thursday night the wedding extravaganza began with a dinner for Anthony and his new lovely wife, Laura. We ate at a little cafe in Draper where they served fresh fruit and french toast. It was very yummy. After eating, the Maid of Honor, Best Man, both sets of parents and the Bride and Groom all gave little speeches. Many of the speakers spoke about what a great fit the two are and many spoke of their experiences with Anthony and how lucky he is to have Laura. Anthony spoke last and it was so cute how he spoke of Laura. It is so great to see Anthony so happy and Laura too, she is a wonderful catch! Matthew and I are particularly excited to go on "Dates" with them in the near future.

After the dinner I headed off to Ashley's house for a Bachelorette party! We got to see her dress and talk about honeymoon plans and catch up with Jen about life in Texas. Then we played a "how well do you know each other game" where if Ashley answered the question wrong a part of her gift was taken away. She only answered 2 or 3 wrong, but they were pretty vague questions, so in the end we let her keep everything. After playing the game, we made some cookies and continued talking.

While I was at the party, Matthew took Anthony out for their own Bachelor Party of sorts. Matthew tells me that they ended up at "The Ritz Classic" bowling alley. He reports that they played two games of bowling, where Anthony completely destroyed him and then they moved on to play 3 games of pool where Matthew won the first two games and Anthony won the last one. In one of the games Matthew hit his last ball in and then it ricocheted off the wall and then hit the eight ball in. He, Anthony and a few bystanders were in complete amazement and if you know about Matthew's skills when it comes to pool, you would be amazed too! After leaving the bowling alley, Matthew and Anthony ended up outside our apartment talking about this, that and other random things for about an hour and a half. It might have been longer, but Anthony knew he still had about 3 hours of work to do on a portrait of Laura and it was already after midnight.

Friday after school I picked Matthew up from work and we headed to the Draper Temple for Anthony and Laura's sealing. We got their early and contemplated grabbing something to eat, but decided to sit in the temple for a little while instead. While waiting for the sealing we were able to read some scriptures about marriage and talk with Laura's dad. The sealing was wonderful and helped to remind Matthew and I of the promises we have made to one another and the love that we feel. We had a good time talking with one of Matthew's friends from high school, Craig Fisher and his wife, Crystal. We also chatted with one of the missionaries that served with Anthony. We had fun taking some pictures and were excited to get some food and a small nap in before the evening festivities began.

Later that night I dropped Matthew off at Anthony and Laura's reception and headed over to Ashley and Rusty's reception for a little while. Ashley was beautiful of course and the reception was elegant. I was stationed at the guest book for 30 minutes, to help the guests know what to do. The guest book was unique because it wasn't really a book, but rather the guest signed river rocks with sharpie paint and Ashley and Rusty plan on putting the rocks in a vase to put on a table at home. It was a very cute idea. I was able to see Ashley and Rusty cut their cake and dance before I had to head back over to the other reception.

Anthony and Laura's reception was at an art gallery, which was the perfect setting for them, especially since Anthony is an artist. When you first entered the gallery three portraits Anthony had drawn were front and center, one of Anthony, one of Laura and one of the two of them together. They also had a photo booth and props for the guests to take pictures in so they could put them in the guest boot and as a gift for the guests to take home. They served yummy crepes and cupcakes. I was able to talk a little more with Craig and Crystal and meet their three adorable little girls and also talk with Justin Jay Kofford. Close to the end of the reception, Matthew's parents showed up and we were able to take pictures, eat and talk with them. It feels like ages since we have seen them last, so it was good to see them again. Soon Anthony and Laura cut their cake, threw the bouquet and we sent them on their way with a line of sparklers. Matthew and I stayed to help load gifts into the car and then headed home.

Saturday, Matthew and I spent the day running errands, cleaning and completing some things for church. I was also planning on getting some school work done, but Dennis and Niche invited us over to watch the Utah vs TCU football game and we were asked to babysit for Alli. Unfortunately the Utes lost, but as the saying goes, "You win some, you loose some." Near the end of the game I headed towards Alli's and Matthew headed towards the campus to work on a DVD for his parents. When Matthew finished what he was working on he came over to Alli's to watch a movie with me, but soon we realized that the movie we rented was blank, so we called "Redbox" and they gave us codes for two free movies. So we plan on returning the broken movie today and renting the movies another time. Instead of a movie we decided to catch up on the last few episodes of "The Office" and while we were waiting for Alli to come home we also watched an episode of the new series "Outsourced".

Today we were able to spend another Sunday with the members of the branch we serve at. Matthew and I have grown to love the brothers and sisters in the branch and look forward to each Sunday. Today I taught Relief Society and each week I am more amazed at the things they can teach me. I came into the lesson thinking it was about facing adversity and come out of it realizing that it is about balance and so much more. I love their insights and the experiences that they are willing to share with me. It is a calling that has taught me so much and I know I have grown and become better because of it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Brightest Crayon in the Box

For Halloween this year, Matthew and I were feeling uninspired. Earlier in the month Elisa and I had come up with some awesome costume ideas, but as many say, "There aren't enough hours in the day." So about a week before our first party I called up my mom and asked her if she would send us a box of some of the costumes she has made. Well, she sure loves us because she sent us a box filled with 3 or 4 different sets: Life Savers, M&Ms, a Ketchup bottle and Crayons.

These costumes brought up great memories of halloweens past. My parents created the tradition of the whole family dressing up together. We have been bunny rabbits, bumble bees, The Flintstones, and all assortments of candies from Life Saver's to Hershey Kisses. In many cases (with the exception of the Hershey Kisses) each of us kids were dressed up like a piece of the candy while mom and dad dressed up in the candy packages.

After trying on each of the costumes Matthew and I chose to be the crayons! There was one challenge to these costumes, the red crayon (which Matthew wore) was missing its crayon top, so Matthew took on the task of getting some red felt and making his hat. It was all last minute, but it came together well.
On Thursday my school had our Halloween party and as usual it was a big hit, with many of the students dressed to impress. We had everything from the Ninja Turtles and Smurfette to The Goonies, Sean Connery and Senior-itis (a classmate dressed up as a senior citizen with a shirt on that said -itis). Most everyone brought food to share and it was spooktacular!

Thursday night Matthew and I along with a small group of our friends, including Matt Rager, Lauren, Anthony Woolf, Laura, Danny Johnson and Matt Meldrum (a lot of Matts I know!) went to the Haunted Village at This is the Place Heritage Park. It was a really good haunted house. The actors are very good at staying in character and many times jump out at you when you least expect it. I still have to say that my favorite part was when I stood behind Matt Rager and scared the group behind us as we were letting them pass us. Our group wanted to take our time and really get scared whereas others just rushed through it. When we got back to the beginning Matthew and I pick out a couple cool magnets. We have been to This is the Place before, but have never gotten a magnet yet, so we figured it was as good of a time as any.

Friday I spent the day in Layton at the UPTA conference. I went to the Neuro section and thought it was great. The experience helped me to be more appreciative of the education that I am getting at the U of U. I was excited that I understood much of the information that was discussed, especially since some of the PTs that are working didn't know some of the information. It helps to remind me that even though I am sometimes scared to get out there and work, I do know the information that will help me to succeed. It was also great to run into a few old faces. First I ran into Tasha Cunningham, an old suite-mate and friend from Dixie State. She is working for MountainLand, which is a PT company around the area and is working on her applications for PT school. I remember when we first met and how excited we were to share a similar dream and I am glad she is still going for it. I think she will be a great PT one day. I also ran into a couple of old co-workers from when I worked at Performance Rehab as an aide; Brett Bartlett and Jarod. It was great to catch up with them and I was grateful to get a few tips from them about work and what not. In a way it felt like old times, especially when I'd say something silly and they'd tease me.
Friday Night Matthew and I were invited to a party at the Anderson's house. It was good to see them and catch up on how school and work is going for the both of them. Danielle told us about an upcoming trip to Vietnam she is planning to go on with her school. It sounds pretty exciting. I liked that she was a piggy bank and Cory was a hundred dollar bill. We were asked to bring a spooky treat so Matthew and I brought poop brownies. All we did was make brownies and them squish them to look like poop. Even in poop form they were delicious. We also ran into some of Matthew's friends from high school; Trista and her husband Clay.

Saturday I went to the UPTA conference again, but this time I went to the Pediatric section. It was a little different than the Neuro section because they had multiple speakers, but what was really cool was that it was a newly formed section and they had the elections, so I was able to vote and one of my professors was voted in!

Saturday night Matthew and I went to a party at the house of some of my classmates; Caitlin, Jill and Sarah. It was fun for me to see Matthew meet some of my schoolmates that he hasn't meet yet, including Afshin who is a second year that I have been creating the ultimate handshake with. Cyndi, who was Smurfette at our school party busted out another superb costume as Barbie in the Barbie box. along with hers there were many other great costumes including Miss Piggy (Caitlin), The U of U Crazy Lady (Jill) and the Sasquatch from Jack Link's Beef Jerky commercials (Tiffany's husband Jared).

Today Matthew and I went over to Spencer Siady's place for the Disney Edition of Iron Chef SLC. We figured that since today is officially halloween that everyone would be decked out in their costumes, boy were we wrong! We felt a little "dull" when we walked in in our crayon costumes, but everyone complimented us and told us we were awesome, so we felt a little "brighter." It was stupendous food too, there was everything from "Poisoned Carmel Apples" to "Ratatouille Stew." All in all we had a great Halloween with great friends, good food and globs of fun.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Sleeping Arrangements

So once again a leak has sprung and this time we have taken more drastic action. Our bed is now in our living room!

This all started almost a year ago, after a big storm. We came home late one evening only to find the corner of our bed soaked in rusty rain water. Being in the dead of winter there wasn't much that could be done about it, so our landlord put tarps on the roof and promised to get to it in the summer.
Summer has passed and the roof has had some work, but not quite enough yet. Early this morning Matthew woke up with a wet surprise at the end of his bed. What's worse, a leak has also started on the opposite corner of the room, just over the foot of my side of the bed and we tried to turn the bed, but with the heat on, the leaking water is blown onto our bed anyway. So, for now in the living room our bed goes, and vases and buckets replace the empty space!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Day in a Wheelchair

For my Neuro class this semester we were assigned to spend 24 hours in a wheelchair and I decided to really try and experience what it would be like. To make it a little easier on my hands I borrowed Matthew's bike gloves.

To start off my adventure I decided to attempt exiting the school building as one in a wheelchair would have to. The trouble with this plan was that in order to get out of the school parking lot from the handicapped accessible door, I had to wheel myself up a really big steep hill. I got about 12 feet up the hill and was exhausted and my backpack fell out of my lap, luckily my friend Danny Johnson was with me and helped push me up the rest of the way.

For part of my experience I decided that I would take the bus and on my way home I had to drop my application for graduation off at the financial aid building. The part of campus that I had to cross looked relatively flat, but even the slightest of inclines made the wheels turn to the path of least resistance and made it that much harder for me to reach my destination. It took me at least 20 minutes longer to get to the financial aid building than it would have if I were walking. Once I got to the building I was exhausted and my arms were on fire, but I was able to go up the elevator and turn in my application. After doing so, I really needed to use the restroom and thought this would be a good opportunity to try out the public facilities. I have never had to think so hard about how I would open a door before. After my bathroom adventure I headed towards home, and I have never been more grateful for a downhill slope. I was so grateful that instead of waiting for the bus I rolled all the way down 200 South. I had to make a few adjustments to my route because the sidewalk on 2nd South has stairs, but I was able to take a small side street (about 200 yards total, if that) around the steps and back to 2nd South in no time. I was again grateful for Matthew's bike gloves.

When I got home there was a man at the bus stop right outside the house and I felt a little silly because there are steps to get to the porch, so I had to get out of the wheelchair. He asked me why I was in the chair if I could walk and I had to tell him that it was an assignment; he just looked at me strange. What made getting up the stairs even harder was the fact that any time I was out of the chair I was only allowed to use my non-dominant hand; just imagine me trying to carry a wheelchair with one hand up a flight of stairs. Getting around the apartment was relatively easy except when it came to getting through a couple of our doorways, past our couches and into our bathroom, all of which were too small of spaces.

Friday evening Matthew and I had the first session of stake conference to go to, so we got dressed up and he wheeled me over. It was kind of fun to see all the looks everyone gave me when I came in in a wheelchair. Most were very concerned about me, but once I explained the assignment they thought it was a wonderful idea. What was funny is that one of the members of the Stake Presidency was helping to put chairs away and I was in the way. He knew that I was in the chair for an assignment and jokingly said, "Get out of the way cripple." Well, some of the people around us didn't know that I wasn't really a "cripple", some were offended that someone in a leadership position would say such a thing. What was a little bothersome was when I overheard someone say, "Well, I guess he can say things like that since he is in the Stake Presidency." I really hope that they were being facetious and that those who were offended were informed of my true nature and have forgiven him for his silliness.

On Saturday Matthew and I had a few errands to run including going to the grocery store. It was very interesting to see how people reacted to me because of being in a wheelchair. I have never had so many people smile or say hello to me in the grocery store before. There was even one gentleman who offered me his hand basket. I was floored by his offer because there was no reason for him to offer; I had nothing in my hands, I was just looking for the bread we buy when he came up and offered it to me. At one point in our shopping spree, Matthew realized that he had left our coupons in the car, so while he ran back to get them I took hold of our cart and continued shopping. This act created even more looks and many people even stepped off to the side to let me pass.

After the store adventure Matthew and I headed off to a 38th Ward Reunion at Bishop Moore's home. As Matthew and I entered to Moore's home many of our old friends looked at us in amazement. Many asked what had happened and were relieved when informed of my class project. Later in the evening when a few new people arrived and before I was able to explain my assignment, one of my friends told the late arrivals that I had been in an accident and they came up to me with questions and concerns. When I informed them that a lie had been told, they gave my other friend a hard time.

All in all the experience was a very good one. It was interesting to see the response that people had just because of my walking ability. There were times that I felt that people thought that my thinking or comprehension was also impaired. I wonder why we has human beings link those together? Another thing I learned was that my arms are pretty weak and if I have any chance at surviving in a wheelchair I need to go pump some iron.