Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where do you Live?

Remember when we were working for Disney?

Well, we're not anymore.

There are a lot of reasons why, but it really comes down to we didn't want to anymore. So now we get to spend Christmas with family! But there is this pesky question that keeps coming up: "Where are you guys living now". For some reason people don't like it when you just stare back at them.
I mean there is no way for us to answer that question without telling our whole life story. By the time we're through, people are cross eyed and thinking "are they avoiding the law?" but I rest assure, we're not. We just can't sit still. Some people, when first married and without kids, travel to South America or back pack across Europe. We apparently like to drive across America. So consider this our virtual Christmas letter about our family, because I don't know all ya'll's mailing addresses anyway.

We currently attend BYU-I. BYU-I has a three track system to where you can only be assigned to two tracks at a time and usually have the third off. There is an option of "fast grad" to apply to go all three tracks but you're only eligible once you attend two consecutive semesters at BYU-I. So we are assigned to the Winter/Spring track and were going to have Fall off. PJ had the option of applying to fast grad but then I would be out of school for another semester sitting around our apartment and that would be boring. So we decided (after much prayer) to see if we would be accepted to the Disney College Program. We were. We moved to Florida expecting to stay in Florida until January when we would start school again. But once we got to working, we didn't see each other much, we didn't make much money, and overall we were not happy. So, even though logically we should just stick it out, we felt like we should leave. We did.

So now we're roaming around visiting family in Georgia and North Carolina until we go back to school in January. Our top priority right now is finishing school and, seeing as how we have about 7 more semesters to go, there will not be much else for us to do until January 2nd. I guess the short answer to "where do you live" is nowhere. We're just moseying along.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Disney Thoughts

-I am probably the only person out there that doesn't like Cinderella, but I don't. It's too bad she had an evil step mother and mean step sisters, but don't all of us have to clean eventually? I feel like Cinderella didn't do anything out of the ordinary (except have a fairy godmother) in order to win her Prince. I actually like Stephen Sondheim's take on the Cinderella story better in "Into the Woods". Yes, we all wish our houses could come magically clean so we would have time to go to the ball, but shoulders to the wheel you know?

-People spend a lot of money to go to Disney World. Best times to go to Disney World: February-May and Late September into middle November during the week. A lot of locals come to Disney World on the weekend when they're out of school/work and if it's a three day weekend, people who live a days drive away will try to make the trip too. Do not go to the park that has Extra Magic Hours- that park is always the most crowded. Also, we just recently had a promotion going to where if you stayed in a Disney resort you got a free meal plan during your stay. Look for these promotions!

-Hollywood Studios is my least favorite park. I hear the peanut gallery already going "what??" but it's small, the ride lines are really crowded together and people only go to that park to ride Aerosmith and Tower of Terror. Once that's done with they wander around and, while there are some other great rides in that park, there are a lot of [great] shows. Indiana Jones, Lights Motor Action!, Beauty and the Beast, Ariel's Grotto, along with rides which involve a certain amount of show such as The Great Movie Ride and the Back Lot Tour. Don't get me wrong, it is still a fun park, but it takes the most planning to get through successfully.

-Which leads me to Animal Kingdom is my favorite! I have been to Animal Kingdom 3 times since we've been down here and I still have not experienced everything. Animal Kingdom has a much more relaxed atmosphere. At first you'll want to do the "Disney Walk" and get to Everest or Dinosaur, but you'll find you can't stop looking all around you. The attention to detail is amazing from the trees, animals, to the pavement. Oh, and if you ride the Kali River Rapids ride- you will get wet. Just a heads up.

-If you're thinking about working at WDW, it will be different in other ways from any other job you've had, but it will be the same in many ways. One of the biggest differences will probably be a demand for excellence. A pro, especially for doing the Disney College Program, is the acknowledgement from the company that you will only be there for 5 or so months and the comfort in the back of your mind that you will only be there for 5 or so months. I have worked many part time jobs knowing I would not be there for long and it so nice having the communal consensus that I will be leaving on a certain date.

-Finally, this is a major operation. WDW is currently in the works for building a second Disney World in China- Shanghai to be exact, and is undergoing a major addition to Fantasy Land in Magic Kingdom. There will be Beasts Castle and a new Ariel place along with a new Dumbo land. I have heard eventually each princess will be represented (other than making photo appearances) in the parks. There is also a new Disney Vacation Club Resort in Hawaii. Disney also hires at least 7,000 college students every 6 months to come work in Disney World alone. Sounds like a pretty generous company to me!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Working for the Mouse

Back in GA we took a class offered by our church and taught by two wonderful people (Welch's) about marriage. Brother Welch told us a story about when he was working as a salesman and, while travelling all over the place, he got really discouraged one night and called his wife to complain. She patiently listened, and when he was done she said "Do you not remember this job came as a great answer to our prayers? Then buck up and get to work." He told that story a lot and I still remember the look on his face as he told this story which means a lot to me now.

PJ has always wanted to work for Disney World. I wanted to work for Disney when we met and I would always talk about being Belle and he said one night "I don't care what I do if it's just a greeter, I want to work at Disney World". I did not share that sentiment and when I found out princesses were a certain height (and I did not meet that height) the only job I wanted at Disney for me was gone. More recently when we were at school, we have a good friend named Bekka who told us all about her experiences at Disney as a College Program participant and I saw the "magic" come back to PJ's eyes as he thought about the possibility of working at Disney World. When I applied to school and was accepted for the Winter/Spring track starting Spring semester and found out I couldn't apply to fast grad until I had two semesters at BYU-I, we started thinking about what we would do for our off track semester in the fall. PJ really wants to do an internship with Disney for Engineering and luckily, for that field, you don't have to go through the College Program first. But what was I going to do for a full semester off school?

So I went off to institute one day and as soon as I walked in the room and sat down, I got an impression so strong I almost jumped out of my seat and ran home to talk to PJ. I waited until the end of institute and then left, but I really felt like we were supposed to apply to do the College Program for the fall and then apply to do his internship in a year. PJ wasn't too sure about it, I mean we both had to get accepted and we would have to find a way down to Florida and we would have to get rid of our apartment contract and, and, and- a lot of possibilities of it not working out. But we prayed about it and applied anyway and we did both get in and we did get down to Florida and we did get rid of our apartment so prayers were definitely answered.

But when I finally did start working, I found out I was going to be in the kitchen in the busiest fast food restaurant in the US, 2nd in the world only to a McDonalds in China. And no, that doesn't mean cooking, it means frying fries and scooping fries and getting the fries out of the window for the guests, being "on the line" if you will. It means closing the park which means I can get out as late as 2:00 on nights when we have special magic hours. And it means not seeing PJ because PJ gets to work until 12:45 every day and he's free to do whatever he wants. I don't get guest interaction, I, I, I, me, me, me right? Then I remembered Brother Welch's story previously told and realized I was being a baby. This will not (God willing) be my job forever, this is a summer job to help us make and save money until we go back to school. I have days off and even if they're not the same days PJ has off, I usually sleep in (from getting off work past 11 or 12) until 9 or 10 in the morning so by the time I'm up and ready to go, PJ's getting off work and ready, himself, to go do something. Lastly, without my crazy job and crazy hours, we wouldn't make as much as we had planned because I get more hours than PJ. There were a lot of hurdles to jump over to get here, and we jumped over every one, with God's help. So for me to complain about it is selfish and ungrateful.

So with all that said we are having a good time. On my days off we have been visiting the resorts and seeing what they're like. I've already been to the Beach Club, Contemporary, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge and recently we've seen the Grand Floridian and the Wilderness Lodge. Each are different, but Disney knows how to make every one great and individual. We get really great benefits such as our fully furnished apartment, free bus fare to and from work (and to other places around town but we have a car so we don't use the bus for entertainment too much), free admission for us and 3 friends each up to 6 times into the parks, 40% discounts off select dining, and once Halloween is over, we will receive a "Christmas bonus" of a book of coupons! So pretty much the best benefits I've ever had working a minimum wage job. There is a night church for us as well in case we work during the morning. Of course what you look for is what you'll find, and I'm looking on the sunny side! Working for the mouse is O.K. after all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here We Are

Here we are in Disney World and I wish I could say so much has been going on! We got here Wednesday and had a good friend take us to EPCOT after a long day of waiting in lines to check in. Thursday we filled out all the legal paperwork to begin working and this same friend then took us to Hollywood Studios. Only, it started to raining-rather storming- and we trekked through it all. The longest line was maybe 5 minutes and we got to ride the new and improved Star Tours, Tower of Terror, Aerosmith, and Toy Story Mania! When we got back to our apartment we were soaked and cold and prepared to go to our first day of training. Only, I got a call the next day stating my back ground check hadn't been cleared so I could not start training yet. PJ went and has been working for the whole time we've been here, but I've been sitting in our apartment waiting for the call to start work. Also, the storm that we walked around in fried our modem and we got back online today. We still have four more months so I'm sure it will become much more lively around here, but right now it's kind of a downer. As Dory always says "Just keep swimming..."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Greetings from FL:

Ahhh, the beach. We have driven at least 3,000 miles over the past 3 weeks and we are ready to sit still for a little bit. We are waiting to check in at our apartment in Disney World, but that is on Wednesday so we decided to get some R&R at the beach until then. We got another great rate at Priceline at a beach side resort with paddle boats and private cabanas. Oh, and tons of fresh seafood. We have had so much fun visiting with our families the past couple of weeks and they have been so great! Great food, comfortable beds to sleep in, and wonderful company of course. We're about to get back into the working world and anyone I know that has gone through the Disney College Program loved it, but I'm still a bit nervous. I'm already excited to start my next semester of school, so I think these next four months will fly by. If you're in the area and want to go to Disney World, just let us know! Until then...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Greetings from GA!

Whew! We made it to Georgia and have not stopped having fun. North Carolina was a blast, especially being able to see my mammow. She is the sweetest lady I know and she took us out to Fatz, PJ's first time. He could not stop eating the dinner roles! He said they were like little butter filled doughnuts. I'm pretty sure he ate a whole basket by himself. Now we're at PJ's mom's house and we've already been panning for gold, walked around the Appalachain Trail (notice I said around), had a swim party, and grilled out some steaks! All in one day. We'll be here for a little while longer and then off to PJ's dad's and then off to... Florida!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Greetings From NC:

We made it! First final destinations of many but we get to stay here for a while and not drive all over the place. The drive once again was clear weather and safe (thank you for all your prayers) but it was a good 11-12 hour day. Thus when we got into town the last thing I wanted to do was sit some more to update the blog. It was really weird driving through the mountains, the mountains that only 6 months ago when PJ would say "look at that! That's pretty" I would frown and say "sure", only to be the one saying "look how pretty!". It really was a beautiful drive (I mean you can look at the pictures and see the difference from all the land we've crossed, Tennessee and NC are certainly the prettiest). We'll be here for a little while and then we're going to cross another border into Georgia! While we're here there will be lots and lots of eating, friends reuniting, and I get to see my gramma (Mammow as we cal her). Good clean fun ya'll- so go out and have some for yourself!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Greetings From MO:

A more citi-fied place. We woke up from what was probably the most comfortable bed we have slept on in a very long time and ate a wonderful breakfast! Then got in the car and expected a pretty short day- maybe only 6 hours of driving. Then, as we approached Iowa, we saw a sign that said "Missouri River bridge closed, take alternate route". So we took the alternate route which was about 15 miles south. When we got to the bridge, we saw yet another sign stating "Missouri River bridge closed, take alternate route." So we did. We drove for another 20 miles South (we're supposed to be going South East so it is out of the way) and when we got to the bridge, what did we see? "Missouri River closed, take alternate route". Thank goodness for Garmin (GPS) because we were about to flip. We drove for another 20 miles South and then 20 more miles East and finally were able to cross the bridge. There was a lot of celebrating going on let me tell you! I guess Missouri was trying to close the borders to the Mormons again. So now we're here and the Giddens have been ever so hospitable feeding us a wonderful dinner and providing a really huge (like the biggest I've ever seen) air mattress. Tomorrow is the last day- back to North Carolina! Until Then.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Greetings From NE:

Kinda back in the city! Today was amazing, clear skies, I got to switch driving with PJ half-way through the day and take a nap, and we didn't have to stop to get food! We have a huge bag of sandwich supplies, popcorn, chips, drinks, and of course chocolate we have been keeping in the front seat with us so we only have to stop for gas and to switch drivers. Today we went from Mountain Time to Central Time so we lost an hour of travel time and since the speed limit on interstate-80 is 75 MPH we also lost an hour of driving! This morning we thought it would take 10 hours to get across Nebraska, but it only took 8. And what do you do when you check into your lovely hotel after an 8 hour drive? Work out of course. We worked out and then ate the best dinner I think we've had (outside of my cooking of course...) in the last 6 months: Cracker Barrel! I got faked out so many times in Rexburg because people would say "we're having BBQ" and I'd get there and they'd have burgers and hot dogs. I would say "oh, so we're grilling?" and they'd say "yah, we're BBQ-ing". So when I walked into Cracker Barrel and they had a real BBQ half-chicken advertised, I knew what I was having. PJ had some BBQ brisket, and we left with a happy and full tummy.
Now our hotel: it is amazing! Each room comes with a kitchenette and it seems like granite counter tops. There's an exercise room, pool, small grocery store, and free laundry!! Last night we stayed at a place in Rawlins which Priceline put as a 3-star hotel and let's just suffice it to say it was not. There are some small things which really stand out like there was a timer on the bathroom light which turned off after 15 minutes and there was no shower liner for the shower. Only a thick curtain. There were stains at the top of the shower and on the carpet throughout the room. The TV was old- like from the 80's or something. And the breakfast provided was in the lobby with no lounge to eat it so you either picked up a bagel and left or went back to your room to eat it. I commented on the internet- but really it was basically non-existent. Now with all that said, of course we were grateful to have a place to stay for the night, but we paid the same price for the hotel here in Nebraska as we did there in Rawlins and we got the better deal here. Tomorrow we're off to Missouri and we get to stay with an awesome family we met in GA and they moved to MO. For pictures from the past two days click here. Until tomorrow!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Greetings From WY:

AKA the middle of nowhere. Our trip was so nice today without any blowing snow, icy roads, or snow drifts. It did rain most of the day, but I'll take snow over the afore mentioned weather. An update on us: PJ has finished two semesters at BYU-I and I have done one. We both got the academic scholarship which pays for our tuition for two semesters so we are super excited (and tired) from that! Since we are off track for fall semester we thought we would go work in DISNEY WORLD until January when we go back to school! Thus we are driving back through the northern part of the country to get back to the southeast to see family for a little while and then down to Orlando to work for the mouse. I will be working in Cosmic Rays- a restaurant in Tomorrow Land in Magic Kingdom, and PJ will be working bus transportation. We're not really sure what that means but he also will be taking a class specifically geared towards Engineers who want to work at Disney World so he will be able to meet some big wigs and learn all about the robots in the park- which he's super excited about. WY looks a lot different without snow covered hills, but thanks to some good friends (Page!) we have some TV shows and movies on our computer to watch when the road gets a little boring. Tomorrow we are headed to Lincoln NE which, last time around, was our worst drive because we hit a snow storm. Seeing how it will be Aug 2nd we're hoping it should be a much smoother ride, but they say you never know out here. I would add some pictures, but the internet here seems to know we're in the middle of nowhere and is not the sharpest crayon in the box, so hopefully we'll have better luck in NE. Until tomorrow!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Here Am I, Send Me

I read a blog of one of my most memorable teacher's sister. I have never met her, but because of my teacher's stories about them together I feel like I have at least been filled in up to this point. Now I read her own words and as strange as it may seem, it seems as though she is not only a teacher to me now, but that I have known her my whole life. She has written many posts on motherhood that resonate with me because she seems to cover the things I am terribly afraid about doing wrong (namely losing my temper...) but one she wrote about has me repeating the mantra even to this day. It was entitled "My Life is Not My Own" (you should really click on over to get the true essence). In this post she talks about her busy mother who when seemingly finding a moment to herself gets a telephone call for help.
Before this school semester started, PJ had a week off between the Winter and Spring semester and I was so excited to be able to relax with him all week. I wanted us to spend so much time together we'd get sick of each other and be excited to go to school to get away from each other, if only for a day. The first day of our break went somewhat to plan but as we were just sitting down to enjoy some Netflix instant play, we got a knock on our door. It was a friend of PJ's who needed help moving into his new apartment. I wanted to tell PJ to tell his friend he would help him in an hour or so. After all, this is our time together and how rude of someone to come over and interrupt us on our "break week". Then I thought back to the aforementioned post and said to myself "My life, My husband even, is not my own."
In retrospect, how great is it that my husband is not only able, but very willing to help others! (and how selfish of me...) But ever since that day, this thought has come into my head at least once. As I'm wanting to sleep in instead of go to the gym for my 2 mile run, as I'm headed out of class and have the ability to either go home (and probably slack off) or go to the wonderful 2nd floor of the library (the quiet floor) to complete my homework for the day, as I walk in the door and realize the wonderful fragrance of food I smelled is not coming from my house and I still have to cook dinner, and as I realize I still haven't planned the Sunday School lesson for Sunday (and it's Saturday...). Through all of these ups and downs my motto has become: My life is not my own. It doesn't matter what I want in this life, there is a force stronger than me which will pull me towards furthering the work of the Lord. It is okay to be tired at the end of the day from working so hard, in fact, it is preferred. And as far as my husband goes; he is no more mine than my children will be. He is here to help me, but he is still first and foremost the Lord's servant. This message has hit home even more today as my Religion teacher testified of Jesus following the Father's will. Even His life was not His own. I am so thankful for the wonderful example we have in submitting our will in order to follow the Father's. May I say with Isaiah, "Here am I, Send Me".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back to School!

This past week was my first week of my 2nd attempt at college at the 3rd university I tried this attempt! This is the third private college I have attended and the second religion- affiliated college I have attended and the first major difference in all these attempts is we pray before every class! First thing in the morning is my Pre-Calculus class and we pray to begin class and it is the same for each class all over campus (yes, even in my science class we pray before we begin). It is such a treat and blessing to have the entire class come together and praise the Lord! In some classes we will sing a hymn together before we pray and I have loved feeling the spirit because of these customs. I plan on working really hard this semester because this school offers a full ride scholarship (upon review per semester...) if you get a 4.0 (which PJ did get last semester- that smart little cookie!). We also have devotional in the middle of the week where the student body can come together and be uplifted by a spiritual message. I know it has only been the first week of school, but I can tell this will be a huge help when further down the road I'll be twice as busy and need some uplifting. I have never experienced prayer in school and I now understand why people were in such an uproar when it was taken out. (I understand both sides of the story- let's not get into that.)
Before school however, my mom treated me to a trip down to Arizona to visit her! I was so excited:
This is what I wore when I left. And really I should have brought a jacket because it was 40 degrees outside. But I didn't want to lug around a jacket all weekend so I tried to stay warm in this.

This is what it looked like when I left. Same ol' cloudy skies and no sun. *But also no snow!*

And this, this is beautiful Arizona!

Notice how blue the skies are! Only, you can't see the stars at night, kind of a draw back as you're relaxing by the pool...

My mom's apartment complex. I love the terracotta roofs and the stucco walls. Every building looks like this. So cohesive!

Some of the local fauna.

Me in my sun dress with no tights and flip flops! (The dress is a size 6 by the way *ahem*)

My mom and I going out to dinner. We got kinda lost... but we were fed and got back home safely so that's all that matters right?

Now to first week of school. On Friday I looked out my window and what did I see? Snow on the ground for goodness gracious' sake. Some days I walk out of the house and say "What is wrong with you!" towards Idaho of course. But the sunrise was really pretty coming over the temple so had to document that.

And don't you just love fresh flowers on a table? I've realized I really like flowers in Mason Jars. A little country, I know, but just makes it feel more like home. We are "storing" a red dining room table so I liked the big red flower in the display.

All in all a pretty great week. Now we enter into the "testing" phase of school where they see if you have retained anything from the first weeks of school. I can deal as long as it continues to get warmer and stays that way for, oh, a week? Please? and thank you.

>>As a side note, some little kid barged into our apartment today as I was sitting at the dining room table doing homework. I looked at him and he looked at me and I said "I think you're in the wrong house" and he left. I then locked the door. How. Weird.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Culture Shock #....

I've lost count. Culture is not wrong or right only preferred. Growing up in the South my entire life I took a lot of things for granted. I met plenty of people not from the South, and even different countries, but I still viewed things as this country does it this way while my country does it that way. There are some who really love the South and I didn't really get it. I of course (as previously mentioned) tended to see the bad before I saw the good. I learned about Western Mormon culture before coming out here but it is certainly different living in it.

When I first got here the shock (that has since lessened) was that everyone had a baby or was pregnant or both. I thought surely I would be able to find 1 couple with out children or who wasn't expecting, and I haven't really. Once again, not wrong or right, just an observation.

Once that shock wore off there were other small differences which caught my eye one of which being drivers. I mean do you really have to sit at a stop sign to make sure all is clear before you go? It's a pattern right? You go, he goes, you go... I get uppity sometimes and have an urge to pass people in the turn lane but you never know who you might see the next day in church.

In the South, food is a bonding moment. If you cook for someone it's like sharing with them a prized possession. When we first moved to Atlanta we had dinner with a member from the ward at least every month, possibly even twice a month. There were groups whose only purpose was to try the local cuisine. I had friends where the only thing we'd do together when we'd hang out was eat. I have brought in snacks at work and people think that's weird. I ask people who have lived here for years what's a good restaurant to try and they can't tell me. There's not even a dollar menu at McDonalds. (Shouldn't that be a crime?) I'm all for cooking dinner every night, but when that gets tiring let's go out!

The latest shock has been there really is such a thing as Southern Hospitality! One of the things I took for granted living in the South is that people acknowledge you exist. There have been so many times I've tried to start up conversations in the checkout line and any conversation falls flat. I even had an old man cut me off while going to the fast check out lane. Back in the South, people either waiting in line or checking you out will usually start up a conversation with you. I've had a lot of cashiers ask me how I like certain products, give me suggestions on products, tell me about their animals, and I remember one girl even told me her grandma had just been robbed and all her jewelry was stolen. If you ever say you had something bad happen, then next thing anyone will say is "I'll pray for you". Oh, and when you pass someone and make eye contact, you always say "Hi" or at least nod. I've looked people straight in the eye here and smiled and said "Hi" and they looked at me like "Do I know you?". Walking out of a convenience store once, someone pulled over and asked me directions. I don't mean to suggest everyone's friendly in the South, but if talked to, you talk back.

And when you talk back, it's rude unless you say "Yes ma'am" or "Yes sir". You would never get away with simply saying "Yes" to an adult and especially your mother.

I say all this to say Idaho is in the same country as North Carolina and Georgia, but still very different. Not good or bad, just different. So, which do you prefer?

Monday, March 28, 2011

For the Beauty of the Earth- Even if it's Frozen

When I was 11 or 12 my mom decided to move to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was born by the beach, went to the beach all during summer vacation or would ride my bike to the neighborhood pool. The mountains were where my mammow (southern for Grandmother) lived so I associated the mountains with old. I was terrified to move! All I knew was this little city. It was a hard adjustment. I went to an inner city school in the Outer Banks and moved to what I considered a "preppy" school. Things were spread far apart. It took 30 minutes to get to town and mountains blocked the view of the sky. But by the time I graduated High School I found an appreciation for these bulky mountains. I met some great people and chose to go to college nearby. I met PJ and eventually he wanted to bring me down to Georgia. I didn't want to leave the college I was attending and I look back and have no idea why. But at the time I cried a lot over the decision to go to Georgia. All I knew was North Carolina. We got to Georgia and got married and had a rocky 6 months in northern GA before we moved to ATL. I was terrified! What am I going to do in ATL? All I knew were small towns and now I'm going to the big city! How am I going to find my way around?

You see the pattern. The saying "you don't know what you have until it's gone" doesn't even begin to describe my moving woes. I didn't like the mountains. I didn't like how it took 30 minutes to go anywhere. I didn't like how people seemed to be stuck in their ways. I didn't like this, I didn't like that. Until I moved away and visit sometimes and realize there are "tender mercies" there. For example: the cool breeze that comes with the sunset of every summer day. I didn't like Atlanta because it was hot and there were "rush hours" and there weren't many people my age living like a 40 year old as I was once told that I was. So how excited was I when we decided to come to BYU-I and all around me would be people my age living the gospel, nay even loving the gospel and I would get to finish my degree. But now I'm here and it isn't perfect. I kind of miss the crazy drivers of ATL because we can perceivably get to places faster. Here in Rexburg there are cross walks and tons of stop signs and people wait until the road is clear before they make a left turn. Oh- and it's cold.

But it's not so cold. It has been staying above freezing for about 2 months now. I don't have to dress like a yeti to go to the grocery store. And the town is small enough where anything in town is only a 2-5 minute drive (depending on "traffic"). Granted, anything I'm used to (Cracker Barrel, Chick-Fil-A, New York and Company... in fact Malls in general) is at least 30 minutes away, more often 3 hrs away but I don't have money anyway to enjoy those things. I've come to realize with every place I've lived comes the expectations before you get there and then you're "view point" of the place until after you move and hindsight's always 20/20. I don't think there is a perfect geographical place for me. I want to be near things, but not in the middle of everything. I want it warm but also to snow for Christmas. But most importantly I want to be with PJ. It is very easy to see the bad in places (and people... but that's another post) but I've decided to start loving the good. Like the sunrises/sets are amazing here. I even really like the rocky mountains. Or like today it snowed all day but it's mostly all melted now. Also it wasn't windy today. And where else would I be able to live in the least expensive housing available and have a temple of the Lord in my front yard. More exciting yet is I have PJ here and we seem much happier and fulfilled here than we have any other place we've lived yet. I don't really want to end up in Rexburg, but then again the place doesn't make the person, the person makes the place. "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Ay-Men.

Monday, January 31, 2011

What's That?

I can see the sun today! Not only the sun, but a blue sky, no clouds, and the mountains in the distance! I took some pictures of our scenery which you can access here. Hopefully for some who have already been to school here it will bring back some fond memories. Even though the sun is out, it is still around 10-15 degrees outside. You know though, I'll take it!

I'll also include a book review- I just finished it! The Book of Mormon and DNA Research was a pretty thick book. Not literally of course, it is comprised of 10 essays written by very smart people that is all very intellectually written. One essay could be anywhere from 10- 50 pages so that's why I say it is thick. The essays all provide very good information about migration patterns and about the technique of mtDNA research in general. I'm just going to write the explanation on the back of the book here but as far as if you should read it- of course! Just expect to spend good time reading it. "In the last few years, the topic of how DNA research fits in with this text and the people of the Book of Mormon has become increasingly diverse. Now for the first time in one volume, faithful and respected DNA scientists, geneticists and Book of Mormon scholars provide their views on DNA and the Book of Mormon."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exercising Faith...ish

My new hour by hour schedule insists I work out every day for on average an hour and a half (aka doing my P90X routine). I've tried to invite some women I've met to join me and when they hear I'm doing P90X they aren't so interested. I know the feeling. I feel it when I don't want to work out. Doing an hour of push ups is pretty intimidating at 7:00 in the morning! But once you get into it, you've done 3 sets of push ups at 15 reps each (25 if knees count..). Then you push through a little harder and realize you're on the last exercise of the work out and you can't just quit! And the more you go through this crazy regiment the more pumped and excited you get that you were able to do 5 yoga reps before you go to knees on during cobra.

Oddly enough, all this has made me think about the Gospel. From the outside, the Gospel sounds pretty intimidating! There's church and visiting teaching and institute and reading the scriptures and praying and going to the temple and rearing your children in a righteous way and trying to work and hold down a house and... that you find yourself skipping a "work out" here or there because it gets all too intimidating. You might find yourself looking at the woman next to you and thinking "I wish I had x, y, z, like her but I ...". I know my analogy is a little corny but stick with me. I've been on both sides. I have looked at skinny girls the past year of me trying to lose weight and be healthy and think "they must have just been born that way" or "they have probably been working out their whole life- they're more advanced than me" or whatever else. I've also seen wonderful examples within the church of women who are very learned in their scriptures, or conference talks, or very patient with their children and I think "they must have had something I didn't and that's why they are the way they are".

Our spiritual lives are just like exercising in that it is irrelevant to compare ourselves to others: "If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 1 Cor. 12: 15-18" How can you really compare the foot and the hand? Both are equally important and serve two completely different purposes. If the person beside us in the gym can run 3 miles without stopping and we're only on 1 mile (or less..) are we any less of a person? No! If Susie can read the whole New Testament in a week and we're still on Genesis is our faith any less strong? Absolutely not. Our progress is just that, ours individually. We do not know where others have been in order to get to where they are and it is not really relevant to our success or salvation. Work out buddies are always fun to have however. I guess in my analogy the gym could be like church... well, I'll work on that part.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter Blues, Books, and Micky Ears

Have you ever heard of Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder? It is a type of depression which occurs at the same time every year usually during the winter months. Some call it the "winter blues". I self diagnose myself with this! I don't mind so much that it's cold outside as long as the sun is shining or even it it's cloudy and snowing. But when it's just cloudy outside? I feel as though I can't do anything. And it has been cloudy all week so all week I have barely done anything. I decided yesterday I have to snap out of it because eventually I will be in school and I will HAVE to do things. So I decided to make an hour by hour day by day schedule for myself. I think PJ thinks it's a little excessive, but I needed to get it on paper to make it an official "plan". Today I woke up and my room seemed a little bright and I opened my eyes and there was yellow light shining through my blinds! I felt so grateful to Heavenly Father for this tender mercy.

Meanwhile PJ took me on a tour of the BYU library and the dork in me got so excited! I have always loved reading, but eventually I had to buy books and take the risk that they might not be that good and I judged books that much harder since I could have spent that money on something else. I also read pretty fast so I could be done with a book in a day or two and once again, was it worth whatever I spent on it? So being able to go into a three story library and look at rows and rows of books- too much fun. I checked out 4 books and have finished 1.5 of them so here's a review of one. Setting the Record Straight: Mormons & Masons was interesting, but I didn't learn a whole lot I didn't already know. This book was more of a date overview than a book that got into a whole lot of discussion. I found it interesting the Saints purchased land in Nauvoo that no one else wanted because it was a mosquito infested swamp land and if you've ever been to Nauvoo you know it is still pretty mosquito infested! There is certainly a very strong Spirit of the Saints in Nauvoo however so lather on your Off! and go. Oh, and we're seriously considering the Disney internship during next winter- you know because of my disorder and everything :).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week 1: True/False for Rexburg

We have survived our first week at BYU-I! Survived is being a little dramatic because things are going pretty well. We're still really out of our element, but taking one day at a time is always a good way to start. PJ got a job on campus the first day we were here and I got a part time job which started Thursday (Thank Heavenly Father!). We don't really have any furniture in our apartment and it's nice at times. At other times it's annoying/embarrassing because we know when we meet people we'll have to go to their house, unless they really want to sit on the floor. Also, sitting on the floor hurts your bum. I thought we would be able to go without a microwave, but we broke down and bought one today. Not only do people around here like to hold onto their stuff, they want close to the money they paid for the stuff when they get rid of it. Microwaves on craigslist were anywhere from $15-$700! And craigslist only shows things for "east idaho" which includes places which are an hour or further from here so if we found a microwave for $20 an hour away it's not really worth the trip. We'll get some furniture here and there, but we know we're moving in 4 years so only enough to be comfortable until then. PJ's talked about possibly doing his computer engineering internship at Disney so that is certainly something I'm looking forward to. We're looking at me starting school next semester but I'm not sure which major yet in that I've heard Psychology majors don't get as many perks as Sociology/Social Work majors, but I'm not so interested in what I've read about the Social Work major.

On orientation day I went with PJ to one of the lectures and a speaker asked how many in the audience were from the east coast and we among a good amount of others raised our hand. He then told a story about how when he was visiting the east coast a girl approached him and asked "can you buy make-up in Rexburg?" he jokingly answered "yes there's a truck that comes by once a week" and the girl got all excited as she ran and told her mom she could buy make-up. He then said apparently you from the east coast thinks Rexburg is pretty rural as though he thinks it's not. I have seen more rural cities, but especially compared to where we lived in metro atl, this place is rural! It took a week for Wal-Mart to start to re-stock their shelves after the back to school rush. There's only one thrift store here and the nearest mall or other shopping outside of Rexburg is 30 miles south. Not that I'm complaining- the last college town we were in only had a Hardees, Subway, CVS, and a grocery store in it but I'm letting Mr. Man know- this town is rural indeed.

Also the weather and such isn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be. It is very snowy- but that's because after each snow the snow doesn't melt. There are piles of snow in parking lots and on the sides of the street that look like tiny mountains where they dump it after they plow it. PJ found out there are actually semi-trucks which come and pick up the snow if it builds up to high and dumps it somewhere. They plow the roads and sidewalks and parking lots pretty well and pretty often so you're not actually walking through snow or driving through snow. I haven't seen a blizzard (and neither do I want to) but as long as it's not like this year round, I can deal. Lastly, we heard a lot that westerners don't have much of a sense of humor and we thought we saw that when we were driving through, but today we saw it first hand. Sarcasm is (on most people) lost on them, and even if your laughing they don't always join in. All in all though most everyone is very nice and after all, this is only week one!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On the Road-Day 4

We made it! We made it! We made it! I do not think I could have done another day of driving, especially through snow covered mountains (the snow had mostly cleared off the roads...mostly). I am thankful to be here and I'm so excited I can't stop talking to people. We asked for and got directions from the guy at the front desk, then found the neatest little place to eat "Da Pineapple Store" and talked our waiters head off and I'm sure had I not been embarressing PJ I would have rolled down the window and waved people down to talk to them. Today's drive was much easier- only about 300 miles or half as much as yesterday. We also drove through the mountains of very very western Wyoming (on the Wyoming/Idaho border) and it was beautiful! There was this lake all surrounded by mountains I wanted to stop and take so many pictures, but I was more excited to get off the road. Even a minute delay is too long! So tomorrow we really get to rest and enjoy Christmas (with me not being sick anymore)/New Year/being-married-without-anything-to-do. Some pictures I snapped in the car while going over the mountains: