Monday, December 8, 2014

Obviously, I'm very late on a Thanksgiving post. A nasty stomach flu took over my life last week.

This year felt pretty close to perfect- with a Brazilian twist of course.

Also, I have very talented friends. Hannah made the gorgeous flower bouquets, and RaKae made these Thankful Trees. After each person said why they are grateful, we all wrote it down on these tags and put them up. Such a sweet tradition, definitely doing it every year!

Another tradition we decided to try was a variety show. My mom's side does it every year, and everyone has fun with it. It was a "anything goes" theme, so we had quite the range. Everything from a show-and-tell of their recent drawing, Hannah and Daniel dancing to the Nutcracker, playing the guitar, kids singing primary songs, and rapping to Ice Ice Baby. (That would be Alex and I..)

We've come a looong way from last Thanksgiving. And I have so much to be grateful for.

For starters, Alex now knows the words to Ice Ice Baby, and therefore is cultured.

I am a mom! And to see Alex as a dad has made me love him even more. It is hard to put into words.

Our circle of friends has grown a lot. Honestly, I couldn't have said last year that I was truly grateful to be in Brazil. I was really lonely (pregnancy hormones flying all over the place didn't help), Alex was traveling about 4 hours roundtrip to work every day, and we found even the little things so frustrating. I'm not sure I realized how unhappy I was until I looking back from where I am now.

A huge part of that has been due to friends! Being from such a large family, I have always considered my siblings to be my best friends. Of course I always had friends and cherish the relationships with them, but there is nothing like family. So that's what I always relied on, and I never considered myself as a big "friend person". But being so far away from family, I realized how much you need relationships! In a way, we've been creating a big Brazilian family here with Americans and Brazilians alike. It's awesome.

Not to mention, I'm so grateful for our ward. (Aka our local congregation.) It is full of the most generous, welcoming, and giving people.

Overall I feel like we are starting to get the Brazil thing down. Portuguese however still needs to improve.

A little love story: part 3

Monday, November 24, 2014

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Up until this point, blondes weren’t really my thing. Whenever I daydreamed up my one and only, he was always your classic case of tall, dark, and handsome. A Prince Eric type of guy, but a bit more rugged.

Alex couldn’t be more the contrary. Except the tall and handsome part, oops. How odd to be swooning over this blonde-of-all-blondes. But yet it was happening, and happening fast.  

Soon every free second was spent together. We’d study, go to the gym, play cards, lounge at the pool, go on hikes, make smoothies, and stargaze. It was turning into the best summer ever.

Believe it or not, some of these were taken with a disposable camera. I don't know why...

However, let the record show that this boy took forever to kiss me. He sure took his sweet time teasing away, and that was smart. Really smart. There were endless moments when I was positive “it” was going to happen, only to not happen at all. His arms would be around me and we’d be talking so close that our lips were practically touching. It went like this for at least a week, which is a long time when you spend practically 24/7 with each other. I loved that about him.

That first kiss finally took place in the back of his truck (so country, I know) while stargazing. Mid-conversation he unexpectedly leaned over and planted the most gentle kiss. I was in shock by it, and romantically (nawt) sat there like a limp noodle. “Did you just kiss me?” I said like a dummy. He responded with a little more:)

The best part for me was that neither of us felt the need to DTR (if you aren’t from Provo this means Define The Relationship. Also known as the most awkward encounters of your life.) For the past month and a half, we were simply having fun. Why bring in unnecessary pressure? I liked him, he liked me, and that was just fine.

Until it started to get a little hairy. Everywhere we went people would ask, and we would just laugh and sidestep the question. Coincidentally one of Alex’s friends wanted me to double with one of his buddies that weekend. My sister Ashley also had someone in mind, and she wanted to set us up before anything became official with Alex and I. Of course I had no desire to go, but what was I supposed to say? Alex wasn’t my boyfriend, and even though we spent more or less every free moment together- he could be dating other girls for all I knew.

I brought it up in the most nonchalant way possible. “So..Clay wants me to double with him this weekend. He has a friend in town.” We were driving on 100 North by Smith’s, and I kept my eyes firmly on the road. Without skipping a beat he said, “That’ll be fun! What are you guys going to do?”

I was silently furious. Seriously?? Show a LITTLE concern! Twinge of jealousy, interest, denial, anything! “Well I don’t really want to go,” I said a little later. He was quick on his feet that day, “Ok, then don’t.” The conversation ended there, and we happily went on to other topics. The inevitable would have to wait yet again. I told Clay I was sick.

My sister Hilary was getting married that summer, and right before the wedding we planned a weekend getaway to the Bahamas. Alex was driving me to the airport, and as I finished up last minute packing, my roommates were putting the pressure on big time. “Come on, Alex. What are you guys? You two are together all the time.” I heard bits and pieces of his clearly uncomfortable responses from my room, and was secretly thrilled. For the first time ever, I was ready for this to be a real relationship.

When I came out, I pretended like I hadn’t heard a thing. We hopped in the car, and he drove while I ate cantaloupe. (Side note: I love to eat it by cutting the melon in half, and carving the insides out with a spoon. No bowl or plate necessary.) It wasn’t long until Alex awkwardly began the dreaded DTR. But now, it wasn’t so dreaded.

I let him talk while I happily munched away. In the most roundabout way possible, it finally came out. “I really like you. And I’m pretty sure you like me. So we’re like... together, right?” I grinned shamelessly at him squirming in his seat, clearly not sure how to go about this. “Yeah, I’d take you for a boyfriend.” I went back to my cantaloupe, and that was it. Pretty easygoing, just like it had always been.

We took this picture right before I went into the airport, after the "DTR"

Murder Mystery

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Last weekend we had a murder mystery dinner/surprise 30th birthday party for my friend RaKae. We found a plot that was a 30 year high school reunion- so it fit like a glove.

For the decorations we made a photo collage, a red velvet "bloody murder" cake, hung up photoshopped pics via, and of course the obligatory reunion balloon arch. Thank you for the ideas pinterest! How did we ever do it before you?

I have never been to one of these before, but it seems like everyone else has and it sounded fun. Alex was the stereotypical jock, who was now coming back as a coach. I was the previous head cheerleader. Rounding up costumes in a country where Halloween isn't celebrated allows for a little more creativity, I guess you could say?

As I was teasing my hair ahead of time (which never ended up getting big), I had no idea what to expect. Well, everyone delivered! The costumes were hilarious, but seeing everyone get into character was over the top. We will definitely be doing it again! Especially with this group- having good friends make the biggest difference when you are far away from anything familiar.




Friday, November 14, 2014

Because you can't have enough pictures of a (practically) naked baby in a bumbo

Or clothed. We love this thing!

Sleep beautiful sleep

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I've never been one of those people who does just fine with little sleep, in fact less than 7 hours and I likely turn into a pumpkin. Maybe I'm just one of the lazy ones? But seriously, sleep has always been pathetically important to me.

Allow me to give some background. As a little girl, I was famously known for my "pee-wee fits". Never having a structured bedtime, us kids would fall asleep all over the place. And my dad had the lucky job to wake us up,  carry us to our rooms, and make sure we went to the bathroom.

Unfortunately, this would unravel the beast in a normally quiet, well-behaved little girl. I would scream, kick, and hurl things for hours- refusing to go and hating everything about the world. The next morning my voice would be raw and hoarse, only to be repeated yet again. {I'm not being dramatic one bit.} One night I ripped off all my clothes, tore out out of the house and down the street screaming my guts out. As a dad, what do you do in that moment? The odds most definitely aren't in your favor.

There was also one morning when my older sister Erica, after repeated attempts to wake me up (i.e. first gently prodding, then taking my blankets away, turning on the lights) resorted to pouring water on me. I was beyond infuriated, and yelled every swear and bad word I knew. Which for a 6 year old, wasn't very many. So I repeated them many, many times. As punishment my mouth was washed out with soap shortly after. I still cringe thinking about the chunks of soap caught in between my teeth, and the taste seemed to linger for days.

And so, I tell Alex on a regular basis, "I was born this way". We (aka me) have established time and time again that I am in no way responsible for the things I said when I was half asleep. Which are unfortunately quite cruel. (I.e. the usual "go away and never come back!!" Luckily he finds it funny.)

For good reason, this was probably what frightened me most with having a baby. Getting up in the night...multiple times? To CARE for someone, let alone an infant? A serious recipe for disaster.

Turns out, becoming a mother is magical in a lot of ways. Something kind of like 6th sense comes along with it. So far, there have been no pee-wee fits (to Liam anyway), and thank heavens no running around the apartment complex naked in an angry rage.

But yet, how I dearly, DEARLY miss sleeping more than a 4 hour stretch. Liam wakes up 2-3 times a night, which is actually a huge improvement from a month ago. However, last night was a umm.. horrible and he essentially pulled an all-nighter! Liam, I adore everything about you. But this sleep thing has got to improve.

pretty please?

6 months

Friday, October 17, 2014

My little prince is officially 6 months old..! Bah.

...Of course that calls for celebration! He had rice cereal and we had cake. I have to say, we deserve it.

However, it would not be a real milestone if we didn't take millions of pictures. Looking through them afterwards, I was dying laughing. My sweet, smiling boy can pull out a pokerface instantaneously when the camera comes out. Suddenly he is the most serious little thing I've ever seen, and I am pretty sure there isn't anything funnier.

So through the course of a few hundred pictures, we managed to find a few smirks.

The past 6 months have been pretty wild. I've learned a lot, but have never felt so keenly aware of how much more I need to learn. I am getting really good at changing the lyrics to any song to be about Liam- on the fly. (Another weird mom thing?) I'm learning when to throw the to-do list aside and enjoy the moment. Which is kinda a big deal, since I'm a to-do list enthusiast. And nothing melts you faster than seeing your hubs comforting or giggling with your little one. The bond they are already have is so sweet and special, but I suppose that shouldn't surprise me considering they are basically the same.

Out of the blue Alex said he can't imagine our lives without this boy, and I keep thinking about that. Sure there are some things that we miss (i.e. sleep?), and I would be lying if there weren't moments when I'm completely overwhelmed by this whole learning curve thing. But nothing holds a candle to the inexplainable happiness that comes with it all. AND it just keeps getting better! What did we possibly do before?!

A philosophy on birthdays

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I'm just going to be blunt. Alex is such a strange duck. His ideal birthday (which is today) would be nobody saying happy birthday, no special treatment, and coming home to watch a movie. I guess ice cream would be nice. Basically, it is like every other day. Oh, and the birthday breakfast he always requests is oatmeal. OATMEAL!

So depressing.

However, to respect his wishes (somewhat), we are compromising. Even though I've offered to make crepes, stratas, overnight french toast, clafoutis, popovers, ANYTHING- I accepted his request on oatmeal. But to elevate oatmeal as much as it can, I found a rocking recipe. It basically tastes like a big oatmeal cookie for breakfast. Therefore, I have to share this recipe and it is below.

Next, his favorite people (Liam and I, duh) are meeting him for his lunch break at his favorite restaurant. And tonight when he gets home, we will get in sweats and watch a movie with ice cream.

Before you roll your eyes at how utterly lame I am, I am planning a dessert and game night with friends this weekend. All of his favorites- lots of cards and Settlers, lemon bars, ice cream, homemade peppermint patties, and chocolate cake with mousse filling. Okay, the last one is completely my idea. And it still sounds lame, but I have to remind myself this is not my birthday.

Notwithstanding, I absolutely adore that man.

But while we are chatting about it, here is my philosophy on birthdays.

First off, low expectations. What a downer to start with, right? But high expectations in this case usually lead to disappointment and attitude. If your expectations are low, then every little thing is wonderful! Win win.

That being said, birthdays should be thought out ahead of time. To me, birthdays (and any holiday for that matter) are the perfect excuse to break from the monotonous day-to-day. That's why I love them so much- they are something different and anticipated for. Celebrating is always a good idea.

Growing up in a family of nine kids, birthdays were that magical day of the year. We didn't really do presents, but a lot of "special treatment"- which actually meant a lot more. A homemade happy birthday banner, breakfast (usually pancakes or waffles, because why not start the day off on a huge sugar rush?), front seat in the car, and your choice of dinner that night. Magical indeed.

Which leads me to, birthdays should be full of good food. This doesn't require any further explanation.

And lastly, birthdays shouldn't be stressful. That's when you know you have gone too far and are completely missing the point.

Enough talk, back to the recipe. I'm serious, you gotttta try it.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal 

1/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup craisins (optional)
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups rolled oats
1 apple, pealed and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix oil, sugar, and eggs in a large mixing bowl
3. Add oats, baking powder, salt, and milk. Stir in fruit.
4. Pour into greased 9" square dish.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm.

A little love story: part 2

Friday, September 26, 2014

Read part 1 here

It was eventually decided that the “payment” would be treating me to frozen yogurt sometime, one of my favorite things. I went down to the ranch that weekend and ended up staying another week, but we stayed in contact the entire time. Even though service was really patchy, whenever I found a couple bars there was always a text from that cute boy. I felt like I was starting to get to know him much better, which is weird to say because it was just texting after all.

For that reason, I was a little worried how this would translate to real life. We still had hardly said a word to each other in person. And the first time, it definitely was weird. The night I had originally planned to come home he called and left a voicemail saying he had some questions about American Heritage. I ended up staying another week. When I finally got back, he indirectly asked me three days in a row if I was free that day. But my cousin Tyler had driven up with me and nothing interrupts cousin time.

(Can I just say, it totally cracks me up how insistent Alex was? It wasn’t until I re-read my journal that I even remembered these details! For those of you that know him, that’s not his personality with this sort of thing.)

The night before the 4th of July parade in Provo, everyone camps out on University Avenue with blankets, music, TV’s, and of course food. It’s like a big party all night long. Way more fun than the actual parade. And since my apartment complex was right on University Avenue, we had the prime location. Around 2AM, someone managed to hook up a flat screen and a bunch of us were bundled up in blankets watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Including Alex and I, but not sitting even near each other. He came halfway through the movie and took an available spot in back. I was huddled up front and didn’t want to make an awkward scene getting up to talk to this kid I really only knew through text. Especially when everyone was quietly watching the movie. Eventually Alex left and I felt soo dumb and juvenile for not saying anything to him. As funny as it sounds, I was still nervous about stepping on my roommates’ toes.

The next morning at the parade, pretty much the same thing happened. He showed up, but I don’t think we said anything to each other. By this point I was completely convinced this would stay and end very soon in the texting world. But afterwards he came to our apartment, anddddd we spoke! In person! And decided to get yogurt when he got off work the next day.

It is totally cheesy, but that first date was the best first date I had ever been on. And being at BYU, I definitely had my fair share of first dates. The key to success: it was simple. We went to Farr’s, sat outside with our yogurts and talked. Conversation flowed so effortlessly and afterwards, Alex insisted that he teach me how to drive stick shift. I had tried a couple times before, but honestly it still terrifies me to this day.

We went to a big, empty parking lot outside BYU’s football stadium. FYI, my mom has this hideous story about totaling her high school boyfriend’s car when he was teaching her stick shift, and I couldn’t get that image out of my head. So when he told me to slowly release the clutch, it took me at least 30 seconds I did it so dang slow! Literally millimeter by millimeter. We were both just dying laughing the entire time, and I’m sure I impressed him with my mad skills. Nawwwt. I haven't attempted to drive stick since.

Funny note: when I was writing about this in my journal, the entry started like this, “Just going to write a quick note. I went on a date with a guy named Alex Hill last night.” 

5 pages later... 

“Yikes. So much for a ‘quick note’. This is kinda embarrassing how much I’m writing about this kid. If it doesn’t turn into anything (very likely), this page better be ripped out!”

When he dropped me off at the door he said, “we’ll have to do this again sometime!” I was a giddy mess, but of course didn’t want to show that. My sisters had groomed me well when it comes to the hard-to-get game. My response came out a little hesitant (not fully intended) “...yeahhh...sure!” Apparently when he got back to his apartment, he told his roommates we had a great time but from my response he didn’t think we would go out again. 

Welllll, it didn’t take long.

I suppose you can say that date went pretty well, because I saw Alex everyday after that. Let the record show that this was super strange for me. As I said, my sisters had taught me well. And this everyday thing was so incredibly against the rules. But I couldn’t help it, he was the most genuine guy I’d ever met. When it came to him, I didn’t want to risk games. And he didn’t either, but he was never a game type of guy.

My grandpa always talks about "the law of love's crying shame" -essentially that it is so rare to have two people that like each other the same. Someone wants you, but you just aren't that interested. Or you're really into someone special, who doesn't quite see it the same way. I'd seen my fair share of that from both sides. But this infatuation, for lack of a better word, was equally matched from the get-go. The difference was obvious from the beginning.

Part 3 here


Sunday, September 21, 2014

This past week marks a year since we moved to Brazil. Something I have learned a lot about (and of course still learning) is gratitude. I remember hearing somewhere that it isn’t happy people that are thankful, but thankful people that are happy.

In high school I had the incredible opportunity to spend a month in India where we worked in leprosy colonies. I expected to find a lot of poverty, sickness, and sadness- and I did. But what I didn’t expect at all, is that I would also find the happiest people I have ever met. They were living in flea infested huts, many had been cast out of their families, had little to nothing, and were in chronic pain. It reminded me a lot of Job in the Bible. Yet there they were smiling their radiant toothless smiles, and excitedly showing us their humble homes. It was an experience that I will never forget, and think about often. But it still puzzles (and even frustrates) me to this day.

How is it that I find myself mumbling and grumbling about my silly problems, that pale pathetically in comparison? What is missing here?

I want to be happy like that.

I realize everyone has great and not-so-great days, but I’m not talking about just the day to day. Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave an amazing speech on this topic in the last conference. He explained that gratitude is a disposition, a way of life. And independent of our circumstances. This true gratitude “transcends whatever is happening around us. It surpasses disappointment, discouragement, and despair. It blooms just as beautifully in the icy landscape of winter as it does in the pleasant warmth of summer.”

He goes on to talk about why and how that is even possible.

“Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God… By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony. It comes from acknowledging that we do not always understand the trials of life but trusting that one day we will.

In any circumstance, our sense of gratitude is nourished by the many and sacred truths we do know: that our Father has given His children the great plan of happiness; that through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we can live forever with our loved ones; that in the end, we will have glorious, perfect, and immortal bodies, unburdened by sickness or disability; and that our tears of sadness and loss will be replaced with an abundance of happiness and joy.”

I love those words, because it reminds of a greater perspective. A greater meaning in life. So basically, read the rest. It will knock your socks off.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I have been hearing about Fernando de Noronha (a tiny island off of Recife, Brazil) for forever and insisted we finally try it out. 

Would you be jealous if I told you we found paradise on earth? I hate to brag, but we totally did. 

Everything was so beyond anywhere I have ever been- the weather, practically empty beaches, warm and perfectly clear water, dolphins (because what girl doesn't love dolphins?) I'll just stop now and let the pictures speak for themselves. 


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