Our Thanksgiving Weekend

11.30.2009
Four days off from work was bliss.  Bron and I were actually quite social over the long weekend, despite being so far away from family.

We spent Thanksgiving Day at Pete and Rachel's home, a fellow Miner student.  Lindsey, a tech from Ireland, joined us with her friend, Rich.  We spent the early evening munching on appetizers and watching football.  Pete and Rachel put together a fabulous traditional turkey dinner.  (The advantage of not hosting dinner is no pressure.  The bad part is no leftovers.  Oh well.)  All I can say is that football + good food + friendly conversation = a very relaxing and enjoyable evening.  Of course, we helped with the dishes!


The scrumptious berry pie I made for dessert
(This is for you, Momma Nelson!)

Friday morning I ventured out to conquer the holiday shopping!  Though I didn't leave the house till after 10:00 AM, I still found everything I needed or wanted.  It feels awesome to have the majority of the Christmas shopping all done at once.  Plus, it doesn't hurt to know that I'm getting a good deal on almost everything!

This will be our 3rd Christmas together!  I love being married and starting our own Holiday traditions.  Bron and I spent Friday night setting up the Christmas tree and all the decorations.  He gets just as excited as I do!  This time of year is just so MAGICAL!  We opened the box to our brand new tree that we bought half off after the holiday last year.  It's not large or impressive, but perfect for a couple of college students.  This year I added to our tree decorations by purchasing strings of red wooden beads, gold ribbon, and my favorite: eight metal barn stars!  The tree looks jaw-dropping beautiful!  The lights and colors are mesmerizing!  Then it was time to add our ornaments.  Bron and I have a tradition that started on our honeymoon.  We buy an ornament to commemorate our various trips to everywhere.  Eventually, we'll have a "travel tree" full of memories!  These are just a few of my favorites:


The little bear means a lot to Bron.


The ornament that commemorates our trip to Maine.



My mom gave us these ornaments for our 1st Christmas together in 2007.  They mean a lot to me.


A bell sent to me all the way from Japan from my best friend, Laura Alice.


A sand dollar from our Honeymoon

We spent Saturday afternoon at Tim and Jen's house, another couple in our branch.  The boys went outside to do some much needed preventive maintenance on our Impala.  We girls hung out inside where it was warm.  Tim and Jen had us over for dinner as well.  After dinner, Tim entertained us with his amazing gun collection and crazy stories about those guns and his dirt bikes.  It was a lot of fun!

Thanks to our friends, we had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Thankful

11.23.2009
Thanksgiving is almost here!  I can't wait to devour all the traditional holiday foods...and then eat the leftovers too!  It's also a great time to express "thanks" and what we are thankful for.  I've actually felt very blessed these last few months and thought it appropriate to document and share for what I'm grateful.

My "Thankful" List:
(in no particular order)
  1. Always having enough: enough food, clothing, warmth, money, etc.  You name it, I've got it!  It might not be a heck of a lot, or the best there is, but I'm satisfied and happy.
  2. A thoughtful husband who tries so hard everyday to do his best in everything he does.  I couldn't ask for anyone better.  We have a great marriage.  I hope its sweetness lasts forever.
  3. Knowledge of the gospel and my testimony.  I'm grateful I know where I came from, who I am, and where I'm going.  It sure makes life a lot simpler.  Best of all, I know that my family can be together forever, and that's comforting.  I'm grateful for the temple and the blessings received there.  I'm grateful for my Savior and the chance he has given me to return to live with Him.
  4. Family.  I love my family.  I'm grateful for all they have taught me, for their unconditional support, and all of our fun memories!
  5. Friends.  I'm grateful for the friends that give me a smile or who like to engage in a casual conversation, have a little fun, and who read my blog!  But I'm most grateful for those few true friends that I know will be there for me for a lifetime.  You know who you are; that's a special bond.   
  6. A reliable vehicle.
  7. To be born an American.
  8. My talents and hobbies. 
  9. Heat included in our monthly rent.
  10. My health.  My husband's health.  My family's health. (Including the horrific accident my family was just in.  Thank goodness they are all okay!)
  11. My running shoes.  In fact, I'm grateful for all my cute shoes!  And the opportunity to buy more later!
  12. Food.  I love food.  All kinds.  Strawberries.  Chocolate.  Twiced baked potatoes.  Blintzes.  Thanksgiving comfort foods.  Cheeseballs and crakers.  I'm a firm believer that eating well = happier living.
  13. My education.  Bron's education and the opportunity we stumbled upon here in New York.
  14. Where I've been: my experiences which have shaped me into who I am today.  Okay, so those were a few tough times now and then, but I'd like to think that they were worth it and for my own good whether I liked it or not.
  15. Travel.  I've lived in quite a few places and have visited even more.
  16. The girls in my Young Women.
  17. Good books.  I love a good fiction novel.
  18. Going HOME for a week after Christmas to see family!  I'm sooo excited!!!  Definitely a blessing.  Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for providing the tickets. 
What are you thankful for this season?

Don't Get Too Comfortable

11.16.2009
Just when I was securely settled into a life of uneventful routine, fate decided to keep me on my toes and change things up.

It all started last Monday when news broke that Pfizer is exiting our Chazy facility.  Hundreds of people in the area will be looking for a new job within months, including me.  Bummer.

Wednesday I received a scary phone call from my mom that she and my two little brothers were involved in a head-on collision Tuesday afternoon.  The van flipped over and is totaled.  Thank goodness everyone is all right!  Everyone had their seat belts on.  The boys emerged unscathed; they just screamed and were really scared.  The driver's seat, however, took the big blow. The worst of my mom's injuries is her right foot. The brake petal basically went through her foot. The bones in her ankle and foot broke, the skin and ligaments tore, and her foot was facing backwards! It took 45 minutes, the jaws of life, and a team of emergency personnel to pull her out of the van. She had surgery on Tuesday night. Now she has lots of pins and metal holding everything together and is at home taking it easy.  She'll be a couch potato for at least 8 weeks. My sweet grandparents are there to help out for a little while. If her foot heals okay, she'll be walking again in a few months and will be back to normal mostly. So say a prayer that she'll heal up nice!  I was a little shook up after hearing the news.  I felt a lot better after the house got a good cleaning.  It's amazing how cleaning can be therapy.  I'm very, very thankful that my family is okay.  It could easily have been a lot worse.

Sunday morning my phone rang at 9:20AM.  It was the District President and he wanted to talk with Bron.  He asked Bron if he could speak with us before church.  It takes twenty minutes to get there and I was just getting out of the shower!  So we hurried like mad and made it there just five minutes shy of 10:00AM.  Whew.  The District President sat us down and explained that he was there to put in a new branch presidency during sacrament meeting.  He then extended Bron the invitation to be the new 2nd counselor in the branch presidency.  We were both shocked!  Tears welled up in my eyes; I had so many thoughts and emotions flying through my mind all at once!  As if Bron isn't busy enough already!  This new church responsibility would require so much more of his time.  In the same moment, I was proud of him too.  Accepting a big calling like this so suddenly says a lot about his character.  I'm so thankful for the man I chose to marry!

After church the District President and his counselor set the new branch presidency apart.  It was a really sweet blessing, one that both Bron and I needed to hear.

Following that, Bron got right to work learning what to do with all the tithing slips.  So I got to hang out for two more hours.  It's just the beginning.  We only have one vehicle and Bron will have a 7:30AM meeting every Sunday.  I guess I'll bring my piano books and teach myself how to play.

The shock of Bron's new church responsibility lasted all day.  No calling or job within the LDS Church is necessarily better than another because we switch it all up periodically and each take our turn.  Some callings just require more time and dedication, more thought, more leadership skills, more prayer.  However, I don't think we would be given these same opportunities to serve in the Church at home in Idaho.  There are simply many more able-bodied, older and wiser men capable of taking on leadership postitions.  This little New York branch of ours is definitely going to force us to stretch and grow.  Sometimes that hurts, ya know.  But I think we will learn things here that we otherwise would not learn until much later, if at all.  Maybe that's just one reason why we're here.

For example, my calling as the counselor in the Young Women's organization has forced me to take charge and get organized.  I don't have any experienced women around to lead me along and teach me "how it's done".  I'm learning the job on my own.  I started from scratch.  Thankfully, there are lots of resources for me to use to plan mutual activities and lessons: church manuals, the internet, and family that are only a call away.  I rely a lot on my own experiences as a teenager and try to emulate what my leaders did for me.  I'll admit, it took me a few weeks to step it up and get into the swing of things; I still struggle periodically.  However, as I have served, I have really come to love my calling in the Young Women!  I love my girls.  I dread that any one of them might graduate from high school and never come back to church.  I sincerely hope that they make the right choices in their lives to ensure true happiness.  I want them to have the same blessings I have.  Maybe that's the beginning of understanding just a pinch of Christ's love for us.

To put it mildly (haha), our branch is also a strange gathering place for an array of personalities and backgrounds.  Everyone has some weird quirk; some of them drive me bonkers!  I've noticed, however, that as I get to know certain individuals and anticipate their funny quirks, I'm not so bothered by them.  Instead, I'm able to look past and better understand the person.  The YW president and I had a rough start.  Now I think things will be okay because I need her as much as she needs me; if only she'd be more dependable!

Hopefully Bron and I will become better people because of our experiences here.  Hopefully.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Drama and Trauma

11.09.2009
The anxious wait is over.

It's official: Pfizer is indefinitely shutting down the Chazy research facility site. In fact, Pfizer is closing down the entire area, which includes sites in Rouses Point and Plattsburgh too. Some employees will be absorbed into other facilities across the United States, but nobody knows their individual fate just yet. What we do know, however, is that over 600 people in our rural New York area will be looking for a new job (unless a third party swoops in to buy the site).

It sounds really scary. Many tears have been shed (which were akward for me to witness). I don't think anyone had much of an appetite during lunch. It's a real loss and should be grieved as one. However, it's not the end of the world. The exiting of our Chazy facility signals a time of dramatic change. The people who work here will no doubt rise to the challenge and turn over a new leaf in their careers. Some families will be forced to move. I'm sure I'll see others at odd jobs around town. Not everyone will emerge unscathed over the coming months, but they will move on and adjust. So say a prayer for those who need it most. I already did.

The Patriot Game

Our weekend began with a social get together on Friday evening with the folks at Miner. It was great! We had fantastic food and fantastic conversation. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. Bron and I even tried our hand at homemade root beer since nobody here had ever heard of making it with dry ice. (Don't ask if it turned out right or not!) It was a fun night!

On Sunday Bron and I got to see the NFL Patriots play in person! Our friend, Roxanne, had extra tickets and invited us and another Miner employee, Katie, to keep her company. It was definitely an opportunity we weren't going to pass up!

Our trek to see the New England Patriots challenge the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts started really early Sunday morning. We left the house at 5:30AM. It was quite the drive. We crossed over three state lines (Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts) twice in one day! But I think it was totally worth it.

When we arrived at the stadium we found parking a block away next to a hundred other crazies and their vehicles. Tail-gating was my favorite part of the day. It was exhilerating to see the fans in such a good mood; everyone grilling, drinking, and playing games. The parking lot smelled like one giant fire pit. We ate hot chili in Fritos bags by Katie who ingeniously plugged her crock pot into the outlet in the car. To top the afternoon off, the sky was calm and clear and the temperature over sixty degrees! That's amazing.


View From Our Seats


The Patriots Kicking Some Trash

The stadium was new and HUGE! We had fairly good seats; could have been better, could have been a lot worse. But what mattered was that we were there. In person. Our cheers echoing with the rest of the crowd and onto t.v. screens across the country. It was pretty cool. And the best part was that our team won!


Roxanne after the Big Game


Happy After the Game


Scoping Out the Field: Katie, Roxanne, Jessie

Poor Bron. I don't think I have the appropriate appreciation for football. He was always answering my questions about various flags and calls. Football rules are many.

We had a long but good return trip. Katie is an awesome conversationalist. We arrived home just after 11:00PM last night. If you ask us if we'd do it again, we'd reply, "Definitely."

A Nasty Surprise

11.05.2009
This morning I found that a mouse had left me little gifts in my kitchen drawers again. Gross! Just the thought of the little creature climbing over all of my stuff gives me the heebeejeebees.

But I work with mice and rats everyday. What's the big deal, you ask? The rodents at work are white and guaranteed to be disease free. Plus, they're in a controlled environment and live in individual cages. The mouse roaming my kitchen is exactly the opposite. Anyhow, I wouldn't appreciate any animal's feet, germs, and feces on my silverware.

So I'm on the defense. We already have little packets of poison throughout the garage, basement, and kitchen from our mouse incident this summer. If our little intruder hasn't found it already, the trap we set this morning probably will. The little animal's days are numbered!

P.S. We ended up trapping TWO little critters! And there has been nothing for days. I think we conquered, but I will be sure to keep the traps set until it totally freezes outside.

It's the Holiday Season

11.03.2009
Halloween is my favorite holiday next to Christmas. I get so excited! I'm not sure why, but I absolutely LOVE it! Maybe because it's all the real scary stuff all rolled into one faux event; you know the slimy eyeballs are fake, but can't help feeling a little squeamish. I love haunted houses: the lights, the sounds, and the screams all done in good fun. I love the colors of Autumn. I love the leaves. I love the season's crisp cool air and the need for comfy over-sized sweaters. I love pumpkins and the flickering lights from jack-o-lanterns. I love corn mazes. Halloween is the one time of the year where all ages are encouraged to dress up and let loose! Sometimes I'd love to be somebody or something I'm not, to pretend even for just a few minutes. Halloween is also the one cultural phenomenon when every door is waiting to be knocked upon, opened, and candy spilled into eager buckets held by pudgy little fingers. It's the one night when anything can happen! If all that combined isn't amazing, then what is?

Bron and I actually spent a fairly uneventful Halloween at home. I made mini mummy dogs (lil' smokies) for dinner. They were so cute and fun to make!

I used dabs of mustard for eyes!
We bought a bag of Bron's favorite Reese's candy just in case the few neighbor kids that we actually do have stopped by. Plus, Bron knew he'd get to eat the "leftovers". haha

Look at what my sweet husband put together for me on Monday evening! My treadmill! The weather will soon be turning to ice and snow here. When I leave work around 4:30 the sun is already halfway set. There's no more daylight available for playing outside in the evenings no thanks to "day light savings" time!
I think I'm addicted to running. It's a hobby, and I love it. My treadmill is a beast, but I don't care. This machine is going to help keep my rear in gear all winter long!

Now that Halloween is over, it's time to start preparing for Thanksgiving and concentrating on Christmas gifts! This year all the bells and whistles on our Thanksgiving table will be done by yours truly, with a little help from my husband, of course. I've never put together an entire Thanksgiving meal together. I've got a lot of recipes to learn!