Friday, April 14, 2017

California Visit

I wanted to share some photos from our recent trip to California. It was a wonderful vacation for us, and much needed after Jeff successfully defended his dissertation earlier that week. Wohoo!

Great to visit the Hartvigsons and see Aunt Annie. Elena had a blast with her second cousins, or, "my friends," as she called them. It was especially fun to see Eleina Hartvigson play so well with Elena Skidmore. Name buddies! We very much enjoyed seeing everyone, eating Polly's delicious food, having lengthy breaks from parenting while the girls played happily on the farm, and dreaming of our future owning land, etc.

Here is the cute trailer we got to stay in.

Here is the view of the mountains that border the 5 acre farm. The weather and the scenery were gorgeous!

Snake adventures! This gopher snake was spotted several times around the farm while we were there. When Jewellia found it on Friday, she called Brigham and they tag -teamed it's capture. It was pretty sweet to watch, and timely that I had my camera out.

Go brother-sister teamwork!

You can probably tell, I think snakes are cool.

Look at these cute cousins!

Elena was in heaven with these kittens

The whole group :)


Outtakes from our family photo shoot.

These cuties

Abby climbing, as usual


Look at Abby's huge smile!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Progression and Joy

A poem I wrote today to express my gratitude for this incredible Plan of Happiness that allows us to progress and find joy:

We are that we might have joy.
But there is so much sorrow.
This life isn’t perfect.
I am not perfect.
How can I have joy?

Well, I try.
I try, and sometimes I fail.
But when I fail
I learn
And learning brings joy!

How great is the Plan of our God!
Because of Him
We can learn from our mistakes,
Without being condemned by them.1

God wants us to learn from our own experience
To know the bitter from the sweet
To choose for ourselves
To want to be good.

He wants this for us so badly
That he lets us mess up and hurt each other and hurt ourselves
All so that we can learn
Not just to do good,
But to be good.

1.     1. quote from Bruce C. Hafen

The Bible Dictionary teaches that the Greek work translated as repentance "denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world." As a former stake president of mine said, "repentance is learning." Anytime I have a realization that changes my perspective and behavior, I consider that repenting.

And in the scriptures, repenting is associated with joy! What else brings us joy? How do we obtain joy? I thought about this years ago and came up with a list that all have something in common.

Gospel living brings joy. Relationships, including children bring joy. Repenting brings joy. Working hard brings joy. Learning and growing brings joy. Serving others brings joy. Being grateful brings joy. 

What do all of these things have in common? I believe joy comes from making sacrifices to be closer to God.

As Elder Nelson said in his recent talk about Joy and Spiritual Survival, "the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives."

We can have joy in any circumstance as we focus on Christ and his gospel.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Afternoon in Anzio

It would be an understatement to say that I can hardly wait to get out of this apartment. Sometimes my heart just aches when we pull into our complex and Elena says, "We're home!" Sometimes when we go outside I have to take my girls somewhere else to play when there are too many young children playing outside with zero adult supervision, making choices I don't want my daughter picking up. Sometimes I get a whiff of fresh air and remember how amazing it feels to be in nature, or to be on land, and how alive and right I feel in that environment.

But sometimes, it's better to just not think about these things. And sometimes I succeed in doing that. I've been praying hard about my unhappiness and have been guided to ways I can find more joy in my life. One thing has been to exercise more intensely and regularly than I have been. Wohoo! It feels awesome. I don't know if weaning Abby has anything to do with it, but I feel strong again.

Another thing I have been doing is working on being in the moment. Right now, the weather is amazing and we need to enjoy being outside as much as we can!

The other day the girls were playing outside and I decided it would be a good afternoon to get out my camera again and practice photography. I seriously have a lot to learn, but it's fun to practice on my girls. These photos do no good just sitting on my computer, and I like to be able to look at all the best ones in one spot, so I am sharing them here on my blog.

Bought myself flowers last week when I was having a bad day. I love flowers on my wood table!!! And carnations were a great choice, they have lasted a long time!

Fun with chalk

My climber

Monday, January 30, 2017

Downtown Tempe Photography

The other day we drove by the historic Hayden Flour Mill and I said, "I need to take pictures of that!" I have always loved old buildings and rusty metal, and since getting my first DSLR camera I hadn't taken a shot at urban photography yet. So this inspired a rather unique date idea. I would go downtown and start taking pictures, and Jeff would walk over from campus and try to find me. I would text him pictures every now and again to send him clues. Well, the finding me part didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, but it was creative! I kept forgetting to text him, and we ended up passing each other. When we were reuniting I stole a picture of him and sent it. I though that was pretty clever, but it was so far zoomed out he didn't recognize it was him.

We then agreed to eat at a nearby restaurant. It's amazing how after living in Arizona for a while, 62 degrees feels really cold. I was shivering! I didn't want to walk anymore, so I was happy there was a good restaurant right where we were on Mill Avenue -- Ra Sushi. YUM!

So here are my pictures of downtown. They aren't amazing by any means, but I am learning! I definitely know my style and what I love, but the art of taking a great picture still needs to be mastered.