Sunday, January 31, 2010

ah, weekend

on friday, i just wanted to put my head down on my desk and have a good cry, and i couldn't figure out why.  i was tired after working a couple of very long weeks without a weekend to recuperate, but i didn't think that was reason enough to cry while at work.  i guess i was a bit tired and homesick.

i wanted to run home and be taken care off all weekend.  i wanted to have my mom make her cream of turkey with rice soup with homemade bread and apple pie bars for dessert.  i wanted to watch dumb fort documentaries with my dad, and then watch a romantic comedy with him and my mom.  i wanted to go for a long walk up through the fields and enjoy the silence found only in the mountains of northern utah.  sometimes i wish i didn't live so far away from places where it's easy to find quiet.

instead of running to utah, i spent the weekend enjoying my home here.  it snowed really hard most of the day yesterday, and i spent it helping a friend finish up the chores that come with moving.  it was fun to spend time with her and we laughed about some of our adventures together as we worked.  mainly she needed moral support while buckling down to do the last of her packing and decision making.  i hate that part of moving as well, so i was glad to help and spend time with her.  it felt good last night to go to bed tired from physical exertions and read until i fell asleep.

unexpectedly, i had a very quiet day today.  church was cancelled due to the six to eight inches of snow we received yesterday (yes, i know we are snow wimps here in dc).  with the morning free, i spent it alternating between sleeping and reading, deliciously warm and comfortably tucked in my bed, and relishing not having anything to do or anywhere to be.  it's not often that i have so much time in which to do nothing, or so much time to be quiet.  i spent the rest of the day enjoying my free time, reading, watching a movie, crocheting, chatting briefly with a friend and going for a walk to watch the sunset through the bare branches of the trees around lincoln park.

i'm thankful for weekends that recharge my batteries.  i'm now ready for the new week ahead.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

more snow this weekend

more snow this weekend in dc.

i love this photo with the light from my flash
catching the snowflakes.

let it snow,
let it snow,
let it snow!

photos by me

fort monroe, va - two weekends ago

it was a gorgeous, sunny 60 degrees farenheit on the virginia penninsula.

it was a perfect tidewater day to visit fort monroe and walk about being a tourist.

it's good to be the commanding general.
you get to live in a house like this.

other officers get to live in houses like this.
beautiful old oak trees everywhere.

this is the view you get from the houses above.
they face one of the busiest shipping lanes along the east coast.

there's a ship in the distance.
it was a gorgeous day, with a strong, brisk wind
coming down from the north, pushing the clouds along.

the gulls lined up just for me to get a photo.

ft. monroe even has a lighthouse. 
it's poking up over the berm of one of the gun emplacements.

this is the tunnel through the east wall of the fort.
the white house at the end is full of history.

as you can see, i got to walk where president lincoln walked.
i love historical weekends.

some of the officers' quarters still have christmas spirit.
chesapeake bay christmases are some of my favorites.

the west wall casements even get decked out for christmas.
jefferson davis was held prisoner here after the civil war.

i love this metal filigree cross.

a view of the moat from the top of the fort wall.

another view from the top of the fort wall.

this is the west causeway bridge.

the west moat and another gull who posed just for me.

this grand looking bullding is the base gym.

thanks cousin jay and sue for a great weekend.

photos by me

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

the wrong shoe

these are the shoes i wore to work today.
i also wore them to dinner this evening
and then to book group.
at first glance it's difficult to tell the difference, but

i am wearing two completely different shoes.
i'm just glad they were both black.

i've been laughing at myself all day.
gosh, i'm getting old... or something.

photos by me

Monday, January 25, 2010

happy birthday sis

i love my sis.
she's one of my best-est friends in the whole wide world.
to me, she is amazing.

i am in awe of her as a mom.  she is so good at it.
she goes through hell to become a mom, but she pulls through it.
she lets her boys go off and explore the world,
and keeps an ever watchful eye on them.
i hope i am a lot like her when i get to be a mom.

we've had our differences.
for instance, i accidentally ran over one of her pet geese,
and learned a very important lesson--
always wait until you can see the goose
on the other side of the car before driving forward.
she didn't speak to me for about a week.

when we were younger, i felt like we were so different.
she rode horses, competed to be a rodeo queen,
milked cows, doctored calves, moved sprinkler pipe,
drove a tractor and hunted each fall during deer season.
i sang in the choir, worked on the school news paper,
performed in plays, wrote short stories for fun,
watched classic movies and musicals, and
on occasion helped her move sprinkler pipe.

i wondered if we would ever find our common ground.
it took a while, but we did.
i think i had to grow up to be able to appreciate our differences.
i think we both did.

we've had a lot of fun times together.
her visit to london rocked!
she asked me to take her engagement photos.
i got to see her husband-to-be surprise her
with the official proposal and ring, and capture it on film.
we love being aunt becky and aunt christine.
we have fun singing together, and playing duets on the piano.
we had fun with our brother on the deer hunt from hell.
we have fun talking on the phone for a really long time,
and sharing all the great times and the really hard stuff that happens in our lives.
i miss being able to see her whenever i want.

so, to my sister becky, i love you.  i'm really glad you're my sister.

H A P P Y  B I R T H D A Y

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

more on growing up

I’m an independent soul. I often insist on doing things all by myself, and I’ve been this way ever since I was a child. I remember how I felt riding the bus home on my first day of school. This was the first time in my life I had done anything away from my mom and I felt so grown up as I stepped off the bus to walk up the hill with no adult supervision. This was it, I was growing up.

Much to my disappointment my younger brother Raymond was waiting for me when I walked off the bus. My mom had sent him down to meet me because he really missed me. He and I are a year apart, so he probably wanted to feel grown up as well. My mom must have thought that I would be excited to see my brother.

I was so mad. This wasn't turning out at all how I had planned. I wanted to walk up the hill by myself and not with my little brother. I made him walk up the hill ahead of me. According to my mom and the vague memories I have of the incident, I think I might have even thrown some rocks at him. My poor mom thought she was doing something really great and fun for my first day at school, but instead she had a crying child and one very angry kindergartener on her hands. What a brat I was!

I am laughing as I write this, because I can just see myself asserting my five year old sense of independence. At times I feel that not too much has changed.  I don’t throw rocks at my brothers any more, but I do try to assert my independence. I still find myself having a hard time asking for help or even accepting it when it’s offered. I often think I have to walk up the hill all by myself.

I am continually learning that I can’t and don’t need do it all myself. I have to keep remembering that just like my mom God doesn’t want me to walk up the hill all by myself. He sends help, and all I have to do it is let Him in so I can see the help He sends.  When I do I feel stronger, my heart a little softer and a little less bratty, and most of all I don’t feel alone.  And this I think is the point for all of us--He doesn't want us to feel alone, and He knows we are stronger when there is more than one of us in the mix.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


i escaped this weekend into quiet seaford, virginia.
it was a much needed break.

and the best part was being with family who love me.
i needed that.

thanks jay & sue for a totally relaxing weekend.

photos to follow

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

growing up

image from:

I have a list of things I want to do, and slowly I've begun to cross items off of the list.  One small thing I wanted to was to enter a writing a contest.  I wasn't so concerned with winning, but I did want to write something I felt was worthy of entering into some sort of contest.

I chose to enter the Real Simple Second Annual Life Lessons Contest.  I wrote an essay answering the question: When did you realize that you had become a grown-up?  While I didn't answer this question as directly as the editors might wish, I did have fun writing and thinking about the moments when I have felt grown up.  Congratulations to Andrea Decker of Arizona for winning the competition.

I also am trying to do things that scare me.  Sharing some of the experiences in this essay in a public forum scares me.  It's okay to be scared sometimes.  Being scared shouldn't hold me back from doing things I want to do, unless it's doing something really stupid or dangerous.  And sharing this essay isn't really stupid or dangerous.  So, here goes...

For your reading enjoyment, here is my non-winning essay:

I’m not done growing up and I freely admit it. I still struggle to learn the lessons that life has to teach me, but over the years I’ve learned to follow my heart. I’ve also learned I can’t be passive and still be a grown up. Looking back on some key turning points in my life, I can see that the times I actually did feel grown up, were because I trusted and followed my heart.

I remember one time when I was sixteen years old, sitting on the stairs with my father and him telling me, “The only reason I’m still here is because of you kids.” I remember not knowing what to say or feel. “Then leave, we’d be better off without you,” I said without thinking. I looked up at him, waiting for him to say something, and thought, “Only a grown up girl should hear a thing like this from her father.” And when he said nothing, my heart hardened into steel. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep the steel there, but I thought I would try it for a while. I felt a little grown up that day.

Many months later in the local corner store, I stood listening to some boys I knew talk about my dad, the small town cop. He had caught them making mischief a few days earlier and turned them over to their parents for discipline. They were saying how mad their parents were and how stupid my dad was, and were calling him some pretty bad names. I felt my heart harden again and thought, “That’s it. I no longer care what these people think. I’m not going to live my life worrying about what they think.” I stepped around the aisle and said to them, “That’s my dad you’re talking about. He was just doing his job. Maybe, if you hadn’t done those things, you wouldn’t be in trouble now and your parents wouldn’t be mad at you.” As I walked away not caring what they said in return, my heart softened just a bit and I felt grown up that day.

When I was almost nineteen and training for the Navy I met a very cute, young Marine. He invited me to dance and the next thing I knew I was being kissed for the very first time. I floated home. The next day at lunch my roommate came up to me and furiously asked, “What were you doing kissing my boyfriend at the club last night?” I was stunned and crashed back down to earth with a broken heart. I was so disappointed. This wasn’t at all how I had pictured my first kiss. Later when he found me at dinner and tried to act like nothing had happened, I stopped him. “You can’t act like nothing happened. You don’t play fair. You’re a liar and a thief. You stole a moment from me that I can never get back,” I told him. As I stood up for myself, I felt my heart come back together a little. I guess it wasn’t steel after all. I felt grown up that day.

A couple of years later, I was a missionary for my church in Chile. The postman was delivering mail to a woman down the street and when he saw that we were missionaries, he began yelling obscenities at us for no reason. My heart stopped. How do you respond to something like that? Without thinking I opened my mouth and started singing a hymn I had recently memorized in Spanish. He stopped yelling and actually listened. My heart lightened as I walked away. I hadn’t responded in anger, but had still stood up for my beliefs. I had followed my heart, and I felt so tall and grown up that day.

A few years later, I boarded a plane to England on orders from the Navy. I would finally see Big Ben and the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park, walk down Bond and Oxford Streets, visit the Lake District and Penzance, and meet a boy with an English accent. I was so full of dreams. I did meet a boy with an accent and we fell in love. He asked me to marry him and I said yes, ignoring the voice inside my heart telling me to say no. I threw myself headlong into the relationship, determined to make it work between us no matter the cost. I kept ignoring all the little things that didn’t add up, including the voice telling me, “He is not the one for you.” After months of waiting for him to do his part on the visa paperwork, I listened to my heart. I did love him (as much I could then), but I could finally see that it really wasn’t right. I gathered my courage and told him no, I couldn’t marry him. I watched his face crumple and his heart break--and my own heart broke too. It was hard to believe I could cause that much pain in another person. It hurt so much to keep saying no as he begged me to reconsider, told me he’d change and that he loved me. I finally showed him to the door and closed it softly; stood for a moment, then turned and walked away without looking back, knowing in my heart I had finally done the right thing. I felt very grown up that day.

After living in England for almost three years, I returned home to attend school and actually moved back in with my parents. My youngest brother, who was seventeen years old, was also living there and for the first time we had a chance to become friends. I learned so much talking with him about life and watching him interact with my parents and his friends. He stood up for others, befriended those without friends, spoke with kindness to everyone and told my mom not to sweat the small stuff. He even set me up on a date with one of his teachers—the highest compliment I’ve ever received from one of my brothers. Then one awful day he was killed in a skiing accident. It seemed like the world had gone dark or that it was a cruel joke, but he really was gone. I was so sad and angry, yet I knew that somehow I had to decide what was true, then hold onto it and put my heart back together. I’m so thankful I listened to my heart and didn’t let my pride prevent me from moving back in with parents and living with him for the last sixteen months of his life. My heart was broken again, but I could still find joy in the darkness. I feel very grown up when I look back on this.

Three years later I moved to Washington, DC with a grown up job, an almost grown up apartment and grown up friends. Walking home late one night I heard a noise behind me and turned to see a man following me. He pulled a gun from his coat, pointed it at my stomach and demanded my money, which of course was in my purse along with my house keys and so many other important things. I did exactly as he asked, gave him my purse, then turned in the direction he indicated and walked away frightened. I was mugged at gun point one block from my home! Later I lay awake in my upstairs neighbor’s spare bedroom thinking how lucky I was and wondering how I was going to force myself to walk home alone the next evening. In my heart, I knew if I stayed inside then I would be giving that man more power in my life. I refused then and there to give him more power. Two nights later, I forced myself out the door and walked alone in the early evening shadows to a friend’s house and the next night alone to another friend’s house. I felt so scared, so strong and so grown up.

Making sense of the good, joyful things in life along with the sad, hurtful things make me who I am. Standing up for myself and the things I care about most, has helped me to trust my heart for the answers. To have fallen in love and been loved back, even though in the end I chose to let it go, taught me love was possible and still gives me hope. Choosing to walk alone in the dark showed me how much power I can have over my fears. So now, when I make choices about what is right for me to say, do or believe, I try to follow the voice deep in my heart, no matter how scary or painful. These are the times I’m truly living my own life, being true to myself, and that is when I feel grown up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010



collaborate and listen is a good idea too.

Friday, January 8, 2010

the afghan women's photography class

I have a friend who is working in Afghanistan as a reporter.  She is posted in a remote area and does amazing things for the women in that area.  One endeavor she is heading is to teach a photography class just for women and girls.  She gave me permission to share the following e-mail and photos.


"December 25, 2009 - Even though today is Christmas, we still held our photography class for Afghan women. Last week we gave the girls their cameras and sent them away with an assignment to photograph people. We gave them no lessons in photography, just some basic camera operating instructions. We just wanted to see what kind of photos the girls would take. I am blown away by the photos taken by one of the girls in particular, Nadia. This is a girl who lives a sheltered life in an extremely remote and rural corner of Afghanistan. Since women are not allowed out without a male relative, the three girls came to the PRT today accompanied by one of their 10 year old male cousins. I have attached six of Nadia’s photos to show you what she produced with no photographic training, and probably never having held a camera before, other than during the disposable camera project we ran through Loyalist College. I am so impressed already, and we are only just beginning to teach these girls. What is also wonderful, from my point of view, is that these girls are able to show us inside their world, a world normally closed to outsiders. Nadia was able to catch the personalities of her subjects so well because they were comfortable with her. They did not see her as an outsider. Once again, Merry Christmas to all."

Thursday, January 7, 2010


image from:

the top 100

100 movies

100 classic quotes from oxford

100 songs

100 notable books

100 influential people

100 carats

100 diamonds

100 kisses
what you might get if you give the above

100 tubes of chapstick
what you'll need after receiving the above

100 acres

100 steps

100 numbers

100 seconds

100 times

100 years
what the below felt like

the first 100 days
way over estimated and reported

100 colors

only 270 stars are this close to us

100 cm

100 m

100 recipes

100 sit-ups

100 push-ups

100 lbs

100 calorie snacks  :)

100 pennies


100 miniature portraits for benjamin franklin

100 stupid things to do at walmart

100 colors

100 letter word

100 posts on my blog

thanks for reading and commenting.

it's been fun to write and share my life. 
i promise to do better this year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


strengthen is my theme for 2010.

this has been in my thoughts for several days as i have considered who i really want to become and how i can work towards this during this new year. one of my biggest frustrations with myself has been feeling weak and uncertain. my hopes are that by focusing on strengthening myself this year i can feel stronger and more certain about myself.  but most of all i want to feel His presence more fully in my life.

i will strengthen...

 - my relationship with God
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. (Isaiah 41:10)  

- others
Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. (Isaiah 35:3)

 - myself physically
Yea, all things which come of the earth, ...are made for the benefit and the use of man, strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.  (D&C 59:18-19)

 - my financial well-being
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.  (Ephesians 3:16)

God is my strength and i rely on him for so much.  i want to be a better steward of the blessings he gives me.  i want to truly feel strengthened in him.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philipians 4:13)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

after the after

On New Year's Eve I threw a Party.

Maybe threw isn't the right word--I hosted a game night with goodies on the side.
We ate.
We played Uno Attack.
We ate more.
We watched the ball drop and toasted in the new year with fake champagne.
We played Apples to Apples.
We ate some more.

Okay, maybe I did throw a Party.

Amazingly, with all that we ate I still had
so much leftover food

Today I hosted the After Party.
In church it was Fast Sunday, so we re-convened to break our fasts at my house to polish off the leftovers.
We ate and ate.  
I even invited the missionaries over, because I figured they would be the sure-fire cure for leftovers.  I mean male 19-year olds eat a lot, right?

I still have a ton of leftovers. 

So, tomorrow evening I'm hosting the After-the-After Party,
i.e., Family Home Evening
to polish off  the rest of the leftovers. 

Seriously, I didn't think I had made that much food, but with all the food everyone else brought with them it turned into a veritable feast.

We had:
meatballs in a grape jelly and chili sauce sauce (no, it's not a Utah thing!)
herbed grounay
garlic hummus
chived cream cheese
assorted crackers
toasted baguette
spiced raisin oatmeal cookies drizzled in white chocolate
candy cane brownies
an assortment of SS's mom's homemade Christmas cookies
jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese wrapped in bacon (divine!)
chocolate mousse cake (yum!)
pasta (only for the after party)
mini crabcakes
mini quiches
cheese twists
guacamole (my specialty)
whole grain tortilla chips
assorted Italian sodas.

Who knew this would turn into a three day event?

Here's to leftovers!

image from:

Friday, January 1, 2010

quietly surprising

The year 2009 was a surprising year for me.  I wasn't sure what it would bring, but the one thing I knew for sure was that my life this year would be completely different from my life in 2008.  And it was.  Although, not so surprising since I spent the majority of 2008 wearing ACUs and living in Afghanistan.

This was the year of not being in Afghanistan, enjoying the simplicity of life, doing things only when I wanted to do them and being content with myself and my life.  I also tried to figure out where I wanted to be, and thought long and hard about leaving DC for a smaller town and a quieter life.  This took up most of the year, and in October after turning down an oppurtunity in Malta, I finally discovered that I really did want to stay in DC and that this was where I belonged for now.  And I moved out of my friend's lovely, wonderful house and into my own apartment, which I absolutely love.

So, for the first time in over seven years I'm living on my own, and for the first time ever in my life I'm truly setting up house, surrounding myself with things I love, and truly enjoying the soul filling solitude of single life.  This has been the first year as an adult, that I've truly enjoyed being single and been content with where I am in life.

In keeping with the spirit of not being in Afghanistan, I wore skirts and dresses to work almost every day this summer.  It was so fun to feel so feminine and pretty every day, which was completely different from how I felt wearing ACUs.  Trust me when I say that ACUs are not intended to make a female feel very feminine, although they are very comfortable, and there is a certain freedom in not worrying about what to wear every day.  However, this year it has been fun to worry about what to wear.

I spent the beginning of the year at home with my parents, and traveled to my brother's house in Washington state for a weekend of winter fun with my nieces and nephews.  And thus began the spring and summer of traveling to Italy, Malta and Kenya for a month, Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my good friend KGB, home to Paradise, Utah twice for long summer weekends with my family, and Ames, Iowa with my brother Rob's family for Independence Day.  By August I was traveled out, and was surprisingly content to spend the fall months quietly in DC.

And now as 2009 came to a close, I am quietly surprised at just how happy I am with my life and myself.  Granted I am fully aware of my shortcomings and rooms for improvement within myself.  However, on the whole I feel I'm making progress in the areas in which I want to become better. 

All in all life is good.  I'm expecting great things this year.  I plan on doing more of what scares me, enjoying quiet and not so quiet times, becoming stronger, more content, more at peace and more secure.

Here's to 2010.  May bring it bring a fullness of life, love and laughter for you and for me.  M-wah!