[thought this would be fun to do while I work up the energy to finish another post.]

I get weirdly excited about haircuts....I love having my hair cut, and the way healthy hair feels.
I feel overwhelmed with gratitude when TJ picks up the house even though he's super busy with school and I just work. He's amazing. Basically.
I can't stop thinking about everything that has to get done before little jellybean gets here. How on earth are you supposed to go from two people to three people (one of whom is completely dependent on the first two for survival) in less than 8 more months??
I just want to eat almost any kind of potato dish all day, every day. 
I am kinda a bad person and have really neglected cleaning our apartment. It's really bad.
I wish I could dye my hair back to my natural color....and add more subtle highlights (I like my new's just so different and it will take forever to grow out). I like change, and I'm too poor to pay for it.
I just don't understand the allure of drinking absurd amounts of alcohol. I've been thinking about it a lot lately (especially in light of TJ's new weekend job), and I just don't understand why you would willingly give up control of your actions. (No offense, I just don't get it.)
I can't believe how close I am to becoming a mother. I've dreamed of this my whole life, and now that it's here, I'm still processing it. 
I strongly consider spending a lot of money on a food processor/Kitchen Aid. I know both would be extremely useful, I just don't know which would be more so. Thoughts? (I'm also wanting to make homemade baby food in the future.)

Linking this post to: YPIL.

I find it difficult... doubt the existence of God when He paints a sunset like this.

[photos by me in Black Canyon, AZ]

"And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!"

lessons from the bus.

Since I work and live on campus, I frequent the school's free shuttle service. Our apartment is on the far south end of campus, and I work more towards the north end, so it's both more economical and time efficient. Anyways, I always try to say hello to the bus driver as I get on, and to thank them as I leave. However, yesterday I happened to be on the same bus twice: once on my way home for lunch, and again on my way back after lunch.

I'd ridden this particular bus driver's bus before, and I decided to be brave and go out of my way to talk to him. I sat right at the front of the bus. He's a middle-aged gentleman, with a kind smile. He even says a polite little "thank you" when anyone pulls the wire for a stop....even though they don't usually hear him. So I started a conversation. I asked him how long he'd been driving the bus, and we talked about school, how he wants to attend grad school in a year, how I'm not really ready for going back to school yet. How his wife and my husband both are took advantage of the excellent tuition benefits for having a spouse who is a full-time university employee. In short, my 10 minute bus ride gave me some insight into a kind man who most people just ignore.

I'm really happy I worked up my nerve (I'm usually kind of shy) to talk to him. I'm glad I took the time to get to know him as a person, and not just treat him as another inevitable interaction in my busy day. I feel like more and more, people go through their lives not really noticing one another....too wrapped up in themselves to share a smile with a stranger, or to make a little small talk that just might brighten someone's day.

I have to say, this isn't easy for me. And it's not something I'd come to just on my own. I'm trying to make this little habit part of my everyday life, and it's really because of TJ's example. TJ is so outgoing and friendly to nearly everyone he meets. He's always striking up one conversation or another, be it with the checkout clerk at the grocery store, or the teller at the bank. He's a people person....because he likes people. He takes those few moments when he's not really doing anything to get to know the people he interacts with, no matter how briefly.

I think that's the way life is intended to be...for us to know our fellow human beings, and to make each other's lives a little tiny bit better in any way we can. Working in the customer service industry, I know the difference it makes to help someone who is understanding, patient, and takes the time to make you smile. It makes me enjoy what I do a little bit more.

So that's my challenge to myself and anyone else who cares to take part: to take notice of and really see the people around me; to make my daily human interactions a little more human and a little less automatic.

I rode that man's bus again today.....and I asked him for my stop instead of pulling the wire as usual. I thanked him for the ride, and he bid me a good evening. And I smiled because I felt a little more human.

I think TJ is proud of me.

how we told the family.

We found out we were definitely pregnant the week before Christmas, and couldn't resist the opportunity to tell our immediate families on Christmas day. We'd already had some ideas from before we were pregnant, and came up with something pretty cute. I think.

We framed these pictures, and gave them to our moms along with some onesies. This is the one we gave to my family. Can I just say that it was like -5* with wind chill that day? And that we were walking on frozen Lake Mary? Yeah. Me and my crazy ideas. My sister (being the stinker that she is) figured out our secret while she was staying with us the week before Christmas. So she took the pictures for us. I guess it worked out ;)

 And this is the one we gave TJ's family. It's sort of an inside joke that happened a long time ago. Still funny though. To us.

Both families sorta freaked out. It was great :) We also told them on Christmas because that was when we'd be seeing both families in person close together. And so TJ could tell his brother, Skylar, who would be calling from his mission in Mexico.

So, that's how we announced it. A little cliche with the Christmas present picture, but maybe the pictures were a little bit creative? Maybe. Our families were thrilled, either way. This baby is going to be ridiculously spoiled....seeing as it's the first grandbaby for both of our parents. Eesh.

paper heart pouch garland. thing. (a tutorial)

I'm not great at making tutorials, but I love making things. Like I said in my previous post, I don't like a lot of pink and red. If you do, awesome. I just had a thought that this would also be cute with any kind of scrapbook paper. Or colored cardstock. Endless possibilities, my friends. Anyways, I also explained in my previous post that I had a special purpose in mind for this: little pouches to hold little love notes. Like a stocking. Sorta. it goes.

1. Gather some supplies: Scissors, brown postal paper (mine is Scotch brand, from the Target office supplies section). Not pictured: a pencil, a piece of printer paper or cardstock, scotch tape, utility knife or hole punch, and a sewing machine.

2. Cut out two sizes of hearts from the plain white paper (or cardstock). I free-handed mine on a fold, then cut another smaller one from the center.

3. Turn on some Pandora. And change the station 5 times if you're like me.

4. Trace two hearts for each pouch onto the brown paper.

5. Cut out all of your hearts.

6. Now that you have two hearts for each pouch, pair up the hearts. I did two larger heart pockets, and one smaller heart pocket. Cut the top inch or so off one heart for each pair. So you should have one whole heart and one partial heart for each pocket.

7. Match the hearts together, and sew all the way around. You could glue them, but I wanted the stitching as part of the overall look. I used a zigzag stitch. After much trial and error, this worked the best and looked the best.

8. See how I didn't sew only where they matched up? That's so there's stitching all the way around the heart for looks. That's also why the back piece is cut down. Trust me, this took a lot of trial and error to figure that one out.

9. Oh cute, a pocket.

10. Mine obviously weren't perfect. You can see where I first tried a straight stitch and then changed my mind. I say it adds character.

11. On one or two of them, I didn't cut the back part low enough and it got caught in the stitching. So, I just cute a little v and freed it from bondage.

12. Once all of the pockets are sewn, Place two little pieces of scotch tap on the back of each. This is to reinforce the holes for stringing.

13. Place them about an inch or so apart. I centered mine in the arches of the heart.

14. The next couple of steps can be skipped all together if you have a hole punch. If you're cool like that, then just punch a hole in the middle of each piece of tape. If you're like me and you don't have one, and you're too lazy to go buy one at the moment, read on. Take a thick business card or piece of cardstock.

15. Slip it inside the pocket.

16. It might also be helpful to put your pocket on a hard surface, but I'm not always that bright. So, CAREFULLY take the utility knife and cut a little triangle in the middle of each piece of tape.

17. Like this. I did a triangle instead of a slit so there wouldn't be as much friction to wear it down. Or something.

18. String your pockets on a piece of string. Or yarn. Or ribbon. Or a shoelace....or not.

19. Oh cute! They shouldn't slide around much at all, but still be adjustable.

20. Hang it up and enjoy your efforts.

Can i just say this was kind of a lot of work? Mostly because I was figuring out how to do it as I went along. Hopefully if anybody tries this, it won't be as hard since I've learned from my own mistakes. Also, pretty much one of the big reasons I made this was for the announcement. Haha! I may be a tad ridiculous. Let me know if you have any questions, or if something is unclear. And let me know if you make one too!

an early valentine.

I made this cute little heart banner pouch thing (tutorial to follow). I don't mind Valentine's day, but I'm really not that into the pink and red color combo. So this simple brown paper garland is more my taste.

I made them into pouches so they could hold little love notes. It didn't work as well as I'd planned (this little heart kept flipping with the weight inside). But here's a cute little love note anyway.

It's pretty small.

Oh look, a math problem.

In this case, one plus one really does make three.

Our little jellybean will be arriving in August. We are so happy and excited and nervous and anxious to welcome a sweet baby into our home.

out of the norm.

We had some grand adventures this weekend, and while I didn't take any pictures, I want to write down the memories.

On Friday, we decided to be spontaneous. It was date night, and as we headed out to find somewhere to eat, we passed by the new Five Guys diner. It just opened, and in true Flagstaff fashion whenever anything new opens, it was packed. So we drove on, nothing sounding very good. TJ said he wanted In-n-Out (similar to Five Guys from what I hear) (I've had In-n-Out, not Five Guys). Problem: the closest one is in Prescott....a bit over an hour away. So, I suggested we drive to Prescott. We decided though, that if we were going all the way to Prescott just for dinner, we might as well go to Red Robin and partake of their deliciousness instead (read: bottomless fries for this potato-lover). So we called up our friends the Fry's and headed to Prescott around 6:45. We got there a little after 8, had our burgers, wraps, shakes, and several baskets of fries (with campfire sauce please), and headed back up the mountain to be home by 11. How's that for spontaneity? Was it worth it? Totally. It was fun to do something different.

On Saturday, one of TJ's really close friends from high school got married. I didn't make it to the wedding because I had to work, but TJ said the ceremony was beautiful and I would've loved the church. I did get to go to the reception with him, and it was so beautiful. They had it at the Flagstaff Ranch Clubhouse, which is a gorgeous, lodge-style venue. Their reception was very different from what we're used to. (Being LDS, we've attended many receptions, most of which are the receiving line, buffet-style, backyard/church gym type our own. Beautiful in their own respect, but not like many people do it.) We found our seating assignments, and sat down for a bit. There were servers walking around with platters of appetizers, and there was an open bar. We don't drink, but I partook of a delicious pineapple-cranberry juice. After the cocktail hour, the wedding party arrived. Amy and her brand-new husband, Rick, were so happy and giddy and looked amazing.

Soon after, the food was blessed and served. A pear, feta, candied walnut and spinach salad met my eager fork , with some sort of divine berry dressing. Then, the main course. I'd ordered filet mingon, and TJ the chicken cordon bleu. Both were delicious, and the mashed potatoes were some of the best I've had. Following dinner, toasts were made by the father of the bride, matron of honor (Amy's sister), and best man. The first two made me tear up, and the best man was just hilarious. (We enjoyed toasting with the groom's younger siblings and sparkling cider.) After the cake was cut, and the bride and groom visited their guests. It was so good to see them both so happy and deserving of such happiness. Their first dance was so sweet, and I might have gotten teary-eyed again watching the father-daughter dance. We stayed for a bit longer, gathered a few sweets from the candy bar, and said goodbye. It was a beautiful night and the love in the room was palpable. I love weddings.

Sunday was spent preparing for and speaking in church. My topic was "What is virtue?" and TJ spoke on patience. I think both went well, and I felt good about my talk. TJ was also called to be in the Young Men's presidency (organization for boys age 12-18), and to be a scout leader. He'll be helping with the boys age 14-16. He's excited to be going on campouts and hikes and working with the boys.

Today, we're spending the day relaxing, hopefully selling our second car, and cleaning a little. It snowed overnight, so I mostly want to just cuddle up with a book inside. How was your weekend?

Also, my camera was feeling neglected, so I took her on a 5 minute date to capture the new snow.

a word.

1 year,
4 seasons,
12 months,
52 weeks,
365 days,
8,760 hours,
525,600 minutes,
31, 536, 000 seconds.

I want to make the [moments] count.

Since last year, I have decided to choose one little word to base my year on. A word to motivate, inspire, and encourage me throughout the year. A simple word that I can reflect on and apply to my life. This year, my word is moments.

I feel like sometimes my life just goes on auto-pilot. But there are other times, times when I find meaning. Times when I notice the way the moon is rising yellow and big, the way the sun shines through the trees, or the warmth of his hand in mine. It's truly the little moments that make life meaningful, and I want to recognize them.

I was partially inspired by this talk, in which the speaker mentions stopping to notice the "forget-me-nots" and not just admiring the roses. I want to notice and recognize those little wild flowers and not focus only on the big bouquets of life. I want my blog to reflect that. I think it does, in a way, but I want it to even more. I want it to be a journal of my little moments.

Hotel Monte Vista

After much too long, we finally had a legit date night with just the two of us last weekend.
We found a new (to us) restaurant to try (it had really good cheese dip).
Then, we walked around downtown and ended up at the Hotel Monte Vista.
Supposedly it's haunted. Whatever.
There's a bar downstairs, but upstairs it's still a functioning hotel.
Needless to say, we snuck upstairs to explore. 
The hallways were pretty small and cramped compared to modern hotel standards.

It had beautiful chandeliers lining the hallways.

Most of the rooms are named after a famous man or woman (or band) that has stayed there.

There were four floors. On the fourth floor, there's a set of uncarpeted stairs that leads to nowhere. Or maybe the roof. We didn't test that theory though. As you reach each level, they all look the same. Same mirrors and light fixtures. I guess that's how most hotels are, but it just seemed a little weird in such a small hotel.

It was a great date night that didn't cost much at all (we even shared our meal). We sorta pretended to be guests when we heard people coming. Because I know I would be freaked out if random people were wandering the hotel I was staying in.

recent favorites.

I'm still learning a ton, but it's images like these that make me want to keep going, keep improving.
It's capturing the little moments.
I love this.

i'm in love.

Last night, I lay awake.
Trying to sleep, but not succeeding.
The light was on for TJ to read by,
and I couldn't help but stare at our picture wall in our bedroom.
I love that wall....even in its unfinished state.
It represents our relationship.
I plan to add to it as we go along.
(When I get it to a better state, I'll post a picture. Promise.)

Anyway, as anyone who's been reading for a while knows,
I'm a huge photography nerd.
I love it.
I love the way images can be captured and moments frozen in time.
And I realized something....
I love our engagement pictures.
I love them for the style of our photographer,
but even more for the love and emotions he captured 
at one of the most special times of our life together.
At our beginning.
I've never shared a whole grouping of those images,
so here are some of my favorites.

[all images courtesy of Joseph Blech Photography]

I think it's nearly time for some new pictures of just us soon.