Monday, February 22, 2010

My stint at the Academy

This past week, I had the awesome opportunity to attend the National Character & Leadership Symposium at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Seriously, it was so cool. I have never seen such a group of top-notch speakers all in one place. I took 5 students with me and we flew into Denver and then drove down to the Academy. We got in to Denver around dinner time, so we needed to have dinner somewhere. I used to live in Denver when I was in kindergarten and the only thing I remember about living there was this restaurant...Casa Bonita.

So I decided that we needed to revisit my childhood and go there. I told the students that I made no promises it was going to be good. The only things I remember about it was that it was Mexican, they had hot salsa (for a 5-year-old!), that there were cliff divers, and that there were these little flags on the tables that you raised up when you needed the waiter.

It was everything I remembered and more! Picture the Mayan doubled with a sort of ghetto version of Disneyland. It was completely awesome. Not only did they have all these things, but they had a live mariachi band, caves, and the restaurant itself was huge and quite the adventure. They even had a pirate show with a gorilla.

Anyway, the food wasn't that great at all, but it was so fun. And for a 5-year-old, it was the coolest place ever! No wonder I remembered it!

We spent 2 days at the Academy, and it was awesome. The students had a cadet escort that took them around everywhere, and they stayed with their cadet in the dorms. I did not have an escort so I was kind of lost trying to find my way around, but I managed just fine.

The Academy is right up close to the mountains and it is huge! But the part that we were actually in was fairly small. The rest was just forest and woodlands. I guess they use those areas for flying and basic training and jumping out of planes. And everything was covered in pine trees.

We ate lunch with the cadets in the mess hall, which was quite the experience. They just put a stack of plates and cups at the end of each table and drop the food off and you pretty much make your own lunch. They make the freshmen pass out all the plates and stuff and they have to serve everyone at their table. And you have to ask permission from the head of the table when you are ready to leave. And they have the Air Force logo at the top of the plate, and your plate has to always stay a certain way. They have to walk in straight lines across campus and turn at right angles. It was just so fascinating!

This is the cadet chapel. Apparently it is the #1 tourist attraction in Colorado. It was designed to look like a bunch of jets all standing up in a row. I thought it was pretty darn cool. They have 4 different chapels inside...a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jewish, and a Buddist. Seriously, it was pretty cool.

The inside was pretty impressive also. Tons of stained glass. They have a pew reserved for the MIA soldiers and POWs. It always stays empty no matter how full the chapel is. Anyone can come to worship services, and they told us that oftentimes the cadets will go off base for church. The LDS cadets go to a local ward in town, and the LDS families come pick them up at the base and take them to church.

And the walls are soundproof so you can't hear what's going on in the other chapels. In the Jewish synogogue part, they actually have stones from Jerusalem that make up the floor. So cool!

Anyway, the main portion of the conference was listening to speakers talk about character and leadership and values. And these weren't just any old speakers, they were top-notch people. I heard from the top special agent from the FBI, a 9/11 Pentagon survivor, the father of a student killed at Columbine, a helicopter pilot who was on a special mission in Afganistan, Tommy LaSorda (a big-time baseball coach), an NFL coach, the author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, an Army general, and lots more. There were so many others that I wanted to hear, but I ran out of time.

And they were all phenominal! Normally I can't stand sitting and listening to lectures all day, but these were not boring people. The stories they shared were amazing. And the cool thing was that they all had awesome messages about being a good person, having moral values and integrity, and standing up for what you believe.

My students were kind of complaining about the whole thing and I just didn't understand why they couldn't see what an amazing opportunity this whole experience was. It was just so inspiring and to hear what some of these people had been through and their outlook on life was just incredible.

Honestly some of the time I felt like a little nobody being surrounded by all these great people, but I learned so much. It was kind of awkward when I was at the same table as some of these people trying to make myself sound intelligent. But I met some amazing people and had some really good conversations. I also felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb, being one of the youngest advisers there and wearing my bright pink coat amidst the sea of navy blue. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope I get to go again next year.

There were these military bands playing before some of the bigger sessions. I love military bands! It was interesting how formal everything was.

But seriously, it was so inspiring to hear from these great people about how dreaming big isn't a waste, and how the little things are what makes the biggest difference, and how integrity and having values is important. I needed to hear that because lately I have been feeling kind of down on myself and feeling like nothing I did was important or mattered to anyone. I was feeling sad because it seemed like no one needed me anymore, and everyone likes to feel like they are needed. Anyway, it just opened my eyes that even though I might not feel needed and important, I am and the little things I do really do matter and that consistency in just being a good person and trying my best are what really matters.

I have such a new respect for the Air Force and the military and these other people that I heard from that I've never even heard of before. Thank you cadets for making this such a great experience for me!

In other news, we got new callings in our ward. We are the activities committee chairs and I am so excited! Our ward currently doesn't have a lot of activities and I am excited to try to do what we can to make this ward a more unified and friendly place.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Boy or Girl?

Now's your chance to guess if we're having a boy or girl! (Check out the poll on the sidebar.) We find out on March 2. FYI....Matt says boy, I say girl! What do you say?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Be mine

Valentine's Day this year was fantastic. It was such a wonderful weekend. Since we had Chinese New Year on Friday night and stake conference on Saturday night, we couldn't really go out for a Valentine's date so we just celebrated at home and I loved it! I know Matt was stressing because he couldn't take me out on a date, but I didn't care! Saturday night before stake conference we ate this cute heart shaped pizza for dinner.

Sunday morning before stake conference, I arranged this little gift on the bed for Matt while he was in the shower. He loves Reese's peanut butter cups but only the big, shaped ones that come out for special occasions like Easter and Christmas and now Valentine's Day! He loves biking so I got him his favorite biking magazine.

Matt got me some really cute flowers and a "Seaside Escape" scented candle since I love the ocean so much. He also got me a pear-scented candle because for some reason he thinks I am obsessed with pears. But I loved them.

But my favorite thing he did was make me this adorable flower out of paper and on each of the petals he wrote something that he loves about me. It was the best gift ever!

After stake conference on Sunday we came home and made a special steak dinner and just relaxed. It was so nice to just relax since we have both been so busy lately. And for dessert, we made ourselves a giant heart-shaped cookie! And then we watched the Wedding Planner.

Anyway, it was the perfect day and I have the perfect Valentine. Matt is so good to me and so patient with me and I love him so much!!!!

Gong Xi Fa Chi!

We had another successful Chinese New Year celebration this weekend to welcome in the Year of the Tiger. It was pretty low-key as compared to previous years, but it was a lot of fun. We went out for Chinese food instead of making our own this year.

After dinner, we went to Caron's house to find the answers to all life's questions using Caron's Chinese fortune sticks. The Chinese gods told us that I was going to pass my thesis and that I needed to be in touch with the wilderness. Matt was told that he needs to move far away when he is done with school and be near the mountains. I guess we will be moving to boonie-ville here in a couple of years!!! We laughed so hard!

I was falling asleep and we still had to drive home so we had to leave before the Chinese checkers were broken out. But anyway, we had a great time! Gong Xi Fa Chi!


I want to make sure I write down some of the details of my pregnancy before I forget them. I am 17 1/2 weeks along right now. We had been wanting to have a baby since last May, but weren't able to get pregnant until November. It was SO FRUSTRATING. Month after month and it was always negative. I wondered if it would ever happen. We just wanted a baby so badly and felt it was time to start our little family. We first found out right after we moved to Springville...around mid-November. I was so busy moving and stuff that I'd kinda forgotten about it. We were so excited. I felt pretty normal until about the end of November and then I just started feeling extra tired. Seriously, I could sleep 10-11 hours a night and be fine! Luckily I never really had morning sickness. I had to have something in my stomach all the time, so I just kept eating little snacks throughout the day. I couldn't eat any big meals or else I would feel sick. But as long as I did that I was just fine.

I have only thrown up 1 1/2 times. Once was after eating breakfast one day, but I really think that was just a fluke. And the half of a time was when I was brushing my teeth. Just a little bit came up. During this pregnancy I have had some gag reflexes when I am brushing my teeth. Kinda weird.

I haven't really had any food cravings or aversions. One time I took a bite of a banana and couldn't eat the rest. But I've eaten bananas since then and been fine. I used to have a pretty bad sweet tooth before I was pregnant, and that has gone down a lot. I would rather have something salty or crunchy than sweet now.

I didn't gain any weight until about 14 weeks, and then I have gained a lot. I've gained about 6 pounds total. I can still fit into most of my clothes, but they're getting a bit snug. That is a hard thing for me. Just when I got to be a normal weight, I get fat again. I still exercise, but not nearly as much as I used to. And I miss it. I just feel lazy and lethargic. But when I try to run, I can only make it about 2.5 miles. And it's hard for me to exercise more than 30-40 minutes these days. That's a lot less than the hour I was doing before. I'm just trying to do my best.

My back has started hurting a little the past 2 weeks or so, and it hurts to lie on my back or my stomach lately so I've had to just lie on my side. I haven't felt the baby move yet. Or at least I don't think I have. I feel random jabs and pains in my stomach occasionaly, but I think that's just the growing and stretching.

We find out in a couple of weeks the gender. Matt thinks it's a boy, I think it's a girl. Some names we like right now are: Girls: Emily, Emma, Sariah, Rebekah, Megan, Katelyn. Boys: Zach, Alex, Jackson, Eric, David, Charlie.

Matt thinks it's funny to sing the Utah fight song to my stomach. Anyway, we are very excited to welcome this new baby into our family. Sometimes 9 months seems like an eternity to wait!


I feel like I need to write about the many blessings I enjoy after that last post. I really do have a good life. We could be in a lot worse of a situation right now, and I feel so grateful the the Lord is watching out for us. I'm grateful for a wonderful husband who is so loving and makes any bad situation seem better. I'm grateful to have enough to support ourselves. I'm grateful for the opportunity that we both have to get good educations and not go into debt for it. I'm grateful that we are able to welcome a new baby into our family. I'm grateful for the gospel that keeps us on track. I'm grateful for our families and the friends that stick with us.

And I'm thankful that I am almost done with my thesis!!!!!!! I've got a draft done that is being edited right now by a couple of friends. Then I just have to make the edits and turn it in and hope it passes!!!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vent session

Dear Reader,
Sometimes I just need to vent. This is one of those times. If you read any further, please know that I am just venting and that I will get over it.

I am really annoyed with my job right now. I think it's ridiculous that BYU does not offer ANY maternity leave at all. If you take any time off, you have to use your vacation or sick time. So I am saving up like mad to be able to take some time off. The government has this rule that companies have to allow you to take up to 12 weeks off for having a baby, but they don't require that they pay you anything. I'm also really annoyed that I will never get a raise at my job. Not for getting my masters, not for doing a good job, nothing. The only raise I will ever get is a measly 2% inflation increase. What's the point in trying to do a better job if you are never recognized for it? I know that money is not the only thing that equals recognition, but it makes me feel pretty undervalued that no matter what I do, there is no chance for me to get a raise. Especially when we could really use it right now.

I also feel very unappreciated at work. I feel like I can never please anyone. Whatever I do is wrong. I also feel like I have zero support and backup. My job description is very vague and so I try to do what I think is best and just get railed on for it. I am supposedly the "expert" in my area, but yet I have no authority or trust to make any decisions. So what is the point of me being there? I also miss having friends at work. My coworkers are just not very interested in being friends. P.S. To my students that read this, I am not talking about you. :)

I also have a real problem with a certain type of people and I don't know what to do about it, and there are a few of them that I have to interact with on a regular basis. The type who seem like I am never good enough for them. My opinions don't matter, everything I do is wrong, my efforts to reach out and be a nice, helpful person are constantly rejected. They are never wrong and constantly blame things on everyone else and complain about how things wouldn't or would have happened if only certain other people had done this or that--except if something goes right or is recognized by others, for which personal credit is taken. They crave attention and always have to be at the center of it. I really don't know what they want from me or what they are trying to prove by belittling me. And I don't know what to do about them. I have tried and tried to just ignore those things and not let them bother me, but it really does. Ugggh!

And I am just feeling fat and lazy. It is really hard for me to watch those numbers on the scale keep going up. Especially after I have worked so hard for the past few years to lose weight and get back in shape. It's hard to keep the motivation to exercise and eat healthy when you not only don't see progress, but the opposite. I know I have a good reason to be gaining weight, it's just really hard for me and I don't know how to keep up the motivation when I can't see any results. I still exercise, but not nearly as much as I used to. And sometimes I miss just being able to go out and run 5 miles.

Anyway, I guess this is a good chance for me to practice my New Years Resolutions of being forgiving, trying not to take things personally, and being optimistic. Vent over.

Friday, February 5, 2010


So you can probably tell from my mileage log that I haven't been doing too much running this year. My totals are gonna look pathetic next to last years but I decided to keep track anyway because it helps me know when I need to get new shoes. It's hard to know how much exercise is enough or too much when you're pregnant. I feel like I haven't been doing enough and I need to step it up. But I also know that I can't keep up with what I was doing before I got pregnant. I still work out 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes, but I have drastically reduced the intensity and length of my workouts. And I don't run very often anymore...instead I've been doing more of the other stuff. But it's still such a hard balance to know how much to do! And I'm stinkin bored of the gym. I just wanna be outside but I hate being cold! I'm such a wuss! Last year I was running 20 miles in the snow!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Top hats and bowties

For our Groundhog Day/Housewarming Party last night, I decided it would be funny to wear top hats and bowties like the Groundhog head honchos do in Punxatawney! Matt was a good sport and let me take a picture. Unfortunately, this was the only picture I took and I didn't get any of our guests. But we had a good time with a few friends eating our groundhog snacks and watching Bill Murray. Thanks to Anne, Emma, Bekah and Nathan! Happy Groundhog Day!