Finding the Good.

This cute blogger has a great philosophy on life. She says that life should be a party and if you look for the good, you will find it.

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Today I went to work, which was a little boring. However, I got to talk with a coworker and hear a little about her life. I love getting to know people better, bit by bit.

When  I came home, I took a nap, which felt good. Then I went to the store to get a few groceries for dinner. The various ingredients turned into turkey cheeseburgers in pita bread with spinach and hummus. Sounds weird, but it was really good. Off dinner went in a brown paper sack to TJ's work, where we got to eat together. Our kiss goodbye was my favorite part. I never get tired of kissing that boy.

On my drive home, I stopped at the craft store and picked up some canvases and paint. It's that time again. I also dropped by Bookman's to trade in a book...and found some treasures for my future babies.

Speaking of babies, I also just found out that my good friend Janina welcomed her little man into the world today. That's the second one this started with Brooke on Sunday (during which time we got to babysit her firstborn). I am so happy for them, and even if I am a bit jealous, I know my time will come.

Today was a simple day, and there were some bad parts that I left out...but this is about finding the good! Today I found the good in the simple things.

[Here's another simple thing that makes me happy: a picture of a beautiful flower I saw yesterday on a walk.]

"Moments are the molecules that make up eternity."
-Elder Neal A. Maxwell

sometimes I take pictures.

Sometimes, random people ask me to take pictures for them.
Because they know I have a "nice camera."
And when they do, I freak out (because that's a lot of pressure!).
But I do it anyways, because I like to think I'm a nice person.
And they're people I love.

Photography is a hobby that I truly enjoy.
I've loved it since I was a kid using a disposable camera.
I got my first camera when I was nine or ten. It was film.
I got my first digital camera when I was fourteen or something.
I got a nicer digital camera with money from high school graduation.
And, I got my baby dSLR only a few months ago.
[The point is, I've loved taking pictures my whole life. I get it from my dad.]

I don't claim to be a photographer.
I'm just a girl with a camera, who likes to take pictures.
I've taken a class, and read a lot online.
I get tips from photographer friends.
I read photography blogs like there's no tomorrow.

So, here's a taste of what I've done for others with my camera.

The Corbiere's Sealing:

And B's Newborn Portraits:

I do it because I love it. And that's fine with me.

Dear Ol' Dad.

As we were driving to Lake Powell, we drove through Monument Valley Utah.
While driving, this is the conversation that took place: 

Me: Hey! This is where they filmed Cars!
Dad: Really?! No way!
Me: No, Dad, not really. Cars was animated.
Dad: Oh yeah.

I love my dad.

hello Lake Powell.

Hello Lake Powell. We were so excited to see our family!

Hello Monument Valley and big fluffy clouds.

Hello teeny tiny LDS church in Mexican Hat, Utah.

Hello valley that we drove across.

Hello crazy switchbacks that we also drove up. In a rather large truck.

Hello lovely family photo taken on the self-timer.

Hello man and man's best friend.

Hello gorgeous sunset.

 Hello campsite. Hello second use ever of our tent.

 Hello sky.

Hello beautiful cousin Brianna. Hello Kyndra's super cute hat.

Hello parents and Aunt Tanya making breakfast. Hello yummy quinoa pancakes.

 Hello handsome. You be lookin' mighty fine.

 Hello crazies. Hello us. Hello cute hat borrowed from Kyndra.

 Hello me holding beautiful Brianna. Hello the fact that I look great holding a baby, if I do say so myself.

Hello deliciously stormy sky. You make pretty pictchurrz.

Hello beautiful clouds. Hello red rocks.

Hello cousins and Uncle Bryan. Hello "cliff jumping": aka jumping off the big rock.

 Hello spaz-boy. Or Sheldon. Whichever.

 Hello cute photo-op.

 Hello Uncle Michael. Hello guitar-time.

Hello cutie cousin Annie listening to your song.

Hello family listening and visiting.

Hello beautiful Aunt Tanya. Thank you for all you did to pull this off!

Hello family, stormy sky, and kids playing in the water from dawn till dusk.

Hello beautiful sunset, we meet again.

Hello wonderful family. Hello sweet memories.

We really enjoyed our "unofficial" family reunion with my Dad's side of the family. We all camped it out, with a gas powered generator and a portable camping toilet at our disposal. Uncle David and Uncle Michael/Aunt Betty both had boats. We got to go wakeboarding twice. On our second time out, I finally got up and stayed up for a long time! It was very exciting. It was flippin' hot, so we did everything we could to keep cool. One of my favorite ways was floating on one of the mesh rafts that Aunt Betty brought with a big floppy hat and sunglasses on. We loved seeing our family and spending time at the beautiful lake. 

(On a side note, all of the pictures from the one of TJ & the dog on down are straight out of camera. No post processing whatsoever. Not too shabby!)

Sacramento, Part 5.

After getting home from the temple, we still had a few families we needed to see. We said goodbye to the Eichstaedt's first. As we drove away, we both had knots in our throats and were a little misty-eyed. I said, "It's amazing how close you can get to people in just a few days."

Julie Orube is another of TJ's converts. She and Stephanie were baptized. Then, not too long ago, Julie's mother and one of her sisters were also baptized. She has also been through the temple. It's amazing the influence one person can have on hundreds of others around them. I love this testimony that the Gospel is true. Such a good family!

Then we went to the Mangelson's. Pam is Scot Benton's sister. This family was also really close to TJ. They fed him, made him brownies when he hurt his shoulder, and attacked him with silly string when they found out he wasn't leaving their area. They are a funny family!

And this is Donna Eichstaedt. She is an amazing young woman!

We were scheduled to fly out on Wednesday evening, but we left Rescue on Wednesday morning to head to Sacramento. Sharon was the only one there when we said goodbye. We love the Benton family so much and were so grateful for their amazing hospitality and making us feel like family! 

(Don't mind my lack of makeup and messy hair.)

After leaving Rescue, we headed to the outlet malls in Folsom. We got some great deals. I got new jeans at Gap for 1/2 price, and we each got a shirt at Pac Sun for a total of $11. We also shared a yummy shaved ice. Then, we drove to the rental car place in Sacramento to drop our car off (around 2). TJ's friend Dustin Bankston came to pick us up and take us to the airport. First though, we went to Chipotle (love me some burrito bowl) and Leatherby's for dessert. Once at the airport, we had a two hour wait, but it went by quickly.
We got this little treat to share (even though we were still full from lunch....the smell got to us). It wasn't as good as it smelled/looked, but that's okay. Can't win them all! Once we landed in Phoenix (around 9), my brother picked us up in our car and we drove straight to Flagstaff. The next morning, we headed to Lake Powell with my family (another post for another day).

Overall, we had a wonderful time in Sacramento. I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to go. We are already looking forward to going back someday soon!

Sacramento, Part 4.

Back through Sacramento we drove, and stopped at the Turley's. They are such a fun family, but we didn't get a picture! Bro. Turley actually picked us up from the airport (which we're so grateful for). TJ helped their daughter Mindi while he was in the singles ward in their area. We had a great visit with them (lots of laughs!) and they fed us really good homemade ice cream (another great way to cool off!). Then they kindly let us change into our Sunday best before we left for the Sacramento Temple.

As are all of the temples, this one was so beautiful. I absolutely loved the gorgeous Celestial Room. There is nothing I love more than sitting on a couch in the Celestial Room with TJ's arm around me, talking quietly about the things that matter most, and feeling his lips as they press against my forehead. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world. We were so lucky to meet another special man that TJ knew on his mission, Bro. Leafty, who was working at the front desk. As soon as he recognized TJ, he clasped both of our hands, and raised mine to his lips to give it a kiss. He stole my heart immediately with his humility and beautiful spirit. He told me to let him know if TJ ever treats me wrong. I laughed quietly and assured him I would, although I doubt I'll see him again in this life. TJ said that he has such a bad back, he has to sleep vertically, strapped into a bed on the wall.

TJ and I have been blessed to have many special experiences in the Temple. It has truly strengthened our marriage and made me a better person. I always tell TJ that I love him for many reasons, but mostly because he took me to the temple, and he continues to take me back. I'm grateful we had the opportunity to attend a temple that holds so much significance to TJ and his life. It now holds a special place and both of our hearts.

Sacramento, Part 3.

On the Fourth o' July, we put those unlimited miles to use, and drove two hours to San Fransisco. We had my laptop on so that the iPod could charge, and played music through the iPod which was connected to the radio. Complicated much? Plus also, TJ is hott with two t's. Especially wearing my sunglasses. And that blue plaid shirt. (I love that shirt.)

The purpose of our trip was to visit my dear Aunt Kathy. She wasn't able to come to our wedding, so TJ and not yet met her, and it had been over two years since I last saw her. I can't remember its name, but the cat was hilarious. As Aunt K said, "It's part cat, part Jack Russell Terrier." It did act more like a dog than a cat, begging for attention and performing for us. TJ teased it with a laser pen for most of our visit. It was so good to talk with Aunt Kathy and for her to meet TJ. We talked for about two hours (hardly long enough) before we had to go. I was also glad to hear that she had a good impression of TJ. Not that I would love him any less, but it's nice to know that one of your favorite aunts likes your husband.

Unfortunately, although we really wanted to, we didn't make it to Pier 39 or for much sight seeing. We did take the Golden Gate Bridge drive over the Bay. It was TJ's first time seeing it (and we didn't have time to get out of the car!). We actually drove over three bridges. I can't remember their names, but TJ was enthralled with it. He became a little boy, pointing out the big barges and little tug boats along the way. We'll have to go back some day so he can get a real taste for one of my favorite cities to visit. (Although we both agreed we could never live there.)

From San Francisco, we drove to Stockton. Stockton just happens to be one of the top 5 most dangerous cities in the nation. When we told people we were going there, they would usually say something along the lines of "Well, it was nice knowing you." Comforting, really. And to think TJ served almost a year of his mission there without major incident. Our first order of business was food. We were starving. There is a large Asian population in Stockton (mostly Hmong and Cambodian), so we had to get some authentic Pho (pronounced fuh). It's basically rice noodles, meat, vegetables, and sauces you add in yourself. It was a spicy, interesting experience. Good, but not something I would get on a regular basis. 

This man was No. 1 on TJ's "People to See in Stockton" list. This is Bro. Black. Bro. Black's wife, Sis. Black, passed away shortly after TJ and I had gotten engaged. The amazing story is that TJ had helped her to quit smoking and become active in the Church again. A few months after TJ got home (and a few months before her passing) Bro. and Sis. Black were able to be sealed in the Temple. Such an awesome story. Bro. Black is one of the neatest men I've ever met. He has such a great spirit about him. He laughed and smiled the whole time we were there, and had such a huge heart. TJ tells me that there were numerous times when the Blacks bought groceries for the missionaries, and he was always willing to drive them anywhere. He teared up a bit when we had to say goodbye. 

Sis. Wilson always let TJ email his family on his P-Days. She's a sweet lady, and a teacher herself! It was neat to visit with her and her son.

We decided to get a hotel in Lodi, just outside of Stockton. We were also introduced to the amazingness that is Priceline, and got a great deal on our room. After checking in, we drove around the small town looking for fireworks. It was a long process, but we watched some from a park. And then got stuck in traffic for about thirty minutes because it was so crazy trying to get out of there. Apparently the fireworks in Lodi are popular. Then we got a Carl's Jr. Shake and fries, and two Taco Bell burritos. Taco Bell was OUT OF CHICKEN AND BEANS. Tell me, HOW is this possible?? Nevertheless, our stomachs were satiated. 

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel, then packed up and headed back into Stockton. We drove through some of the roughest neighborhoods and TJ told me stories about shootings and being chased by gangsters on his bike. Then, we went to the two places TJ had been raving about. One being GK Mongolian Barbeque. It was tasty! Even though we were stuffed, we couldn't leave without going to Lolli Cup. Lolli Cup is a tea and coffee shop, but they also sell what's called "Snow"...which was kinda like a milkshake and shaved ice combined. The twist was the Boba! Boba are tapioca balls that come in two sizes, regular and mini. We got the mini, because they are a weird texture and the regular can be a bit much. It was interesting and really yummy. A perfect treat to help us cool off!