Monday, December 12, 2011

Tis the season for Christ

Reminiscing on last year I remember being so focused on our wedding that Christmas was pretty much overlooked. Wedding day was a thousand times bigger then Christmas day. It was such a relief when the semester ended and the Big Day went beautifully. We spent Christmas soaking up rays of sunshine on the beach in Mexico. For that reason it feels like it's been two years since Christmas. I'm in love with Christmas music! Yum hot chocolate! I helped Phil hang a string of lights on our little house even before Thanksgiving. It probably helps that I'm not in school so I have a lot more time to think about it.

Also, I work at Pier 1. They've had Christmas stuff up since before Halloween, which makes it a long time in coming. They have hundreds of ornaments, decorations, wreaths, and holiday candles. One thing that seems to be missing though is Christ. Like... where are the Nativity sets? They have Santa, Reindeer, and Snowmen galore, but nothing about Christ. I guess that works if you want to have a "Happy Holiday," but it doesn't fly with me. I'm an old fashioned believer in a "Merry Christmas."

What a beautiful sight. Lately I've been thinking about what kinds of traditions I want to start in my family for Christmas. Do you have any favorites? What do you do to help remember the true meaning of Christmas?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happiness is a grateful heart

Need help

I read this on a cardboard sign that was held by a man that on all counts was homeless. You know, tatered clothes, wrinkled face, a white beard. I usually look away and ignore people like him. I'm so ashamed to say that I often think negative thoughts like- "He just wants money for alcohol" without even thinking about what a hard life it must be. It was 10:30 at night and he was kneeling at the exit of a nearly deserted parking lot, on a night when many of us were getting ready for a big feast the next day- Thanksgiving. When I saw his sorry sign I was struck with sadness. I wished I had some food for him. It was hard to imagine how he lives with so little when many, including me, complain about trivial things.

So often I find myself getting caught up in wanting things without feeling grateful for what I already have. I hadn't been in a very "Thanksgiving" mood. Sometimes being surrounded by people that have so much just seems to highlight how little we have. We don't have a TV, or new cars, or a nice kitchen, or a big house... but that's okay.

Because we do have a LOT to be thankful for:

A warm house
Food to eat
Wonderful parents & family
Clean clothes
A beautiful quilt
An education in progress
A laptop
Kind neighbors
A hope chest built by my father
The gospel
A temple marriage
Love that will last forever
& much more
And that's plenty enough. Because happiness doesn't depend on how much you have.
Happiness is a grateful heart :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

My 22nd Birthday

This year my birthday was on a Friday! To make it even better, I'm not in school. WOO! Seemed like the perfect day for Six Flags Magic Mountain. We drove down to Valencia (Near L.A.) on my birthday and stayed in a hotel that normally costs $169 for $58 because we used Priceline. It felt like we had pulled a trick on someone, staying in such a nice hotel for a crappy motel price. The outdoor pool and hot tub were great and we were the only ones that even dared go close. Seriously people, the pool was HEATED. (But I was okay with keeping that a secret.) We ate at Olive Garden for dinner, and I even got a candle in my pumpkin cheesecake. I was feeling pretty spoiled :)

Saturday we got to the park just as they opened, and started a mad dash for the roller coasters. The first one we went on was called Goliath and had something like a 255 ft first drop. I thought my heart was going to stop beating it was so scary. Another of my favorites was Tatsu- which means dragon in Japanese. It is the world's tallest and fastest flying coaster (where you ride suspended underneath, and then the seats rotate 90 degrees so you are looking down at the ground.) It was just incredible, and it didn't make me feel nauseous at all. X2 was of course a blast- it's the first 4D coaster (?) All I know is the way my seat flipped independent of the coaster loops, as well as the flame throwers... well it just blew my mind.

I guess Viper is also one worth mentioning. It's the tallest multilooper in the world and has 7 to be exact. (Made me feel sick.) It especially made me feel sick when we realized that our keys had disappeared into it's jaws. This could have ruined the rest of our day, but we tried to stay calm thinking through our options. After several tries a few security guys were able to slim jim their way into our car. Alas, no spare keys. Our next option was to have someone make a new key, but that was pretty expensive. We decided to wait until the park closed and they searched under the coaster for us. But before that was necessary our keys were returned to the lost and found! So we dashed around and made it on a few more roller coasters- to the point where I could hardly walk straight. We didn't even have time to ride anything but roller coasters. Magic mountain is tied with Cedar Point in Ohio for most roller coaster in a park- 17, and we made it to about 9 or 10 of the biggest and best. No bad at all.

It was a good birthday :)

 A big thanks to my mom for sewing this quilt. It is absolutely beautiful. She started it for our wedding, but due to a crazy year I got it for my birthday. Definitely worth the wait. Thanks Mom! Also, thanks to Phil I got some sweet new boots.
 Hanging out at the outdoor fireplace by the pool at our hotel

And making candy apples! A gift from my sister. Thanks Karen! We had fun making them.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

"Thriller" by Micheal Jackson

I miss being a kid when it comes to Halloween. Nothing quite beats dressing up and trick or treating. Not to mention all the candy. But here is a video that is sure to get you in the Halloween spirit, whether you're wearing a costume or not. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

The little gem of Exeter, CA

The charming town of Exeter is only a short drive away from us. We spent an almost perfect Saturday afternoon enjoying the place. It may be small in size, but certainly not in personality. This place takes pride in their 29 murals. After lunch at the Wildflower cafe we were off to see them! (Sadly, I'm only posting a few.) I love that I was able to learn so much about the history of the area just from seeing and learning about these beautiful murals. I wonder how much time was spent painting each one. 

"Orange Harvest." This mural was the first one painted. This looks like it could be a
part of the scenery- when you get out of town this is what you see 
"In Our Backyard"
"Hometown News." To Phillip's delight he found a real wrench attached to this one
"Yokohl Brand"
"Golden Harvest"
"Passport to Paradise"
"The People Behind the Label"
"Our Town, Circa 1925"
Dedicated to the veterans- "Freedom Fighters" 
We had fun seeing them all from our bike despite the 90 degree weather. Ice cream was necessary!
Rocky Hill Ice Cream Parlor. This place made a fun trip SUPER
This older gentlemen retired and thought he'd try the ice cream business. He made us the best milkshakes we have ever tasted! They were made with local ice cream and milk (Tulare is actually the top dairy producing county in the country, 2nd in agricultural production after Fresno.) I never thought a lemon milkshake and a banana milkshake could be better then anything with chocolate, but they were. We must go back for more!

Monday, October 24, 2011

What the ultimate* camping trip has going for it

A great location
A campfire and marshmellows 
Mountains and a lake
Yummy food
Especially tin foil dinners!
Perhaps a waterfall
And a hike to an old wildfire lookout
Elevation 8502

But most importantly- your favorite person!

This ultimate camping trip happened at Hume Lake two weeks ago. There was even some snow up there so apparently they weren't lying- it does snow in CA. Yay for camping! What does your ultimate camping trip have going for it?

*Although fun camping experiences have been known to occur in unsuspecting places such as the back yard, sagebrush infested Nevada, and beneath the Christmas tree.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Breakfast dinner gone wrong

Oh the glorious breakfast dinner. Can't think of anything to make? Hungry for an omelet? Breakfast dinner to the rescue! This is awesome because 1. Breakfast foods rock. 2. It's easy to decide between say breakfast burritos or pancakes and skip the debate and 3. Breakfast breakfast is turning into too much cereal and as we all know, breakfast foods ROCK.

So the other day I got home from work and I was really hungry. If you know me well, you know that when I get hungry I can get pretty grouchy. So to combat that I made some waffles, cracked some eggs in the frying pan, and pretty pretty please asked Phil to sit in his seat NOW. Phil knew what to do. He sat right down and offered to say the prayer too. (I have the best husband.) Somewhere in the middle of the prayer there was a clatter. This was the clatter of my frying pan falling off the hot plate and my still raw eggs being catapulted into the carpet. And there they sat until I had eaten my waffles.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My husband doesn't read this blog

Sometimes when I ask him to he might skim through a post. But most of the time he has no idea what's on here. But here is a post he will not want to miss. These pictures were taken BY HIM or OF HIM, and today I'm talking ABOUT HIM.      
                                                                                        Here's a harbor at Monterrey. Which is an absolutely beautiful place. It's a shame that we didn't have our new camera yet so we only took a couple of pics on Phil's phone. We watched a friend compete in a triathlon, and enjoyed the day at the wharf and the beach. I love vacations with Phillip Montour :)

(By the way our friend is the bishop from this post. He's in his 50's and did an awesome job on his first Tri ever- Olympic distance!)


We rode our banana bike around by the beach and got asked where we'd rented such a sweet bike. We OWN this bad boy. We picked it up about a week after we got to Visalia. Phil saw the FOR SALE sign as we were driving by someone's house. He turned the car around and said "If that's less then $150 I'm buying it." And I'm all like WHAT?!  Best $30 we've ever spent.

Phil planted these carrots and beet in a flower pot back in April. He was on a gardening kick. (I think he just wanted me to make him Russian Borscht .) We got nervous at the CA border, but luckily they didn't confiscate them. WHEW haha.                            

And this is me painting the walls he built on our trailer. Phil loves it when I help him with projects. I swear it's one of his love languages. He's always like want to help me on the car? Want to help me drill some holes? Sometimes I grumble... but I'm trying.

And then I saw this good looking picture of Phil the cowboy and it was too cute to not include. These two are old- from last fall when Phil was working his mechanical bull job. He would travel to fairs or private parties and set this thing up and then buck people off. Whenever I would ride I would beg him not to dump me. Good times.

Think he'll want to read this post?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pool House Bungalow

We live here. 

We're completely surrounded by a pecan orchard so it's pretty quiet. We feel like we're in a forest. It's nice.

We also don't mind the pool and golf either :) The biggest downside is the kitchen- it's not really a kitchen at all. We cook on hot plates and a two burner camp stove. But I'm getting creative! 

Hey family, if you come visit we can camp right there on the golf green :) 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sequoia National Park

Phil and I took a weekend trip to Sequoia National Park. It's pretty near where we live, however, we're in the valley (331 ft.) and the park is up in the mountains. These huge trees grow at the specific elevation of 5000 to 7500 ft. They're incredible! Driving up the roads were so windy I thought I was going to be sick. I was glad when we finally found a nice little camp site. The warm temperature and the surprising lack of mosquitoes was nice. The pictures don't capture the feeling you get when you stand beneath these huge Sequoias, but they're still cool. The tree on the top right had a cave and I was reminded of the torture chamber in Princess Bride. The General Sherman tree is the largest tree in there world. There are taller trees, and fatter trees, but by total trunk volume this one takes the cake. I couldn't get the whole tree in the picture until we walked about a 1/4 a mile away. (Picture on the right, tree to the right of us.)



We also did a hike out on "Morro Rock" that we fell in love with.The hike isn't long, just steep and cut out in the rock. The views of the valley and the mountains were spectacular. All in all in was a fun and worthwhile trip. There are so many great things to see here in California. Maybe Yosemite, the Winchester Mansion, and Magic Mountain next? 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The GRANDEST proposal story


Phil and I started dating officially in February of 2010. We had met the previous month at the pool. If you didn't read that amusing story you can find it here. After a few ups and downs, such as meeting each other's families and me being gone for a month on Spring Summit, we started talking about marriage a little more seriously. Because the thought of marriage made me nervous I insisted that it was in terms like, "So if we did get married then....". We talked about all sorts of things from who would vacuum to which temple we would get married in (by the way I remember him saying he didn't mind vacuuming and he does it most of the time! His willingness to clean house was one of the things that helped me know he'd be a good husband :)) One day around the beginning of August I asked him "So if we did get married WHEN would we get married?" His answer was next spring or summer. I had always wanted to get married in the summer (what girl wouldn't after growing up watching this), but I thought that sounded like a long time away. I said "I was thinking more like December." Phil told me later that the wheels immediately started turning in his head. 

A few weeks later Phil saw that a grand opportunity was coming up (hehe.) Phil and I had both gotten the highest award for volunteering in the Outdoor Activities program which meant we were given the chance to go on any trip (rafting, climbing etc.) with the OA advisers as our guides. We picked climbing the Grand Teton with Scott Hurst. We drove to the trail head and set out with two other guys at 10 pm for the long hike up to the mountain. I won't go into details (partly because I was deliriously tired and have forgotten,) but lets just say hiking all night long was very difficult for me. There were multiple times that I think I would have just laid down and given up if it hadn't been for Phil encouraging me, giving me snacks for energy, and basically taking my hand and leading me up the mountain. It was dark and I was hot and exhausted. Looking down the mountain in the wee hours of the morning you could see the tiny headlights of other climbers. I remember thinking, We must be crazy.Why are we all doing this? The real challenge came though when we actually harnessed up and started climbing around dawn. The sun allowed me to see the thousands of miles down the mountain I could fall if something went seriously wrong. I broke down and basically started sobbing out of fear and exhaustion at the "belly roll" (see video below.) It was only the first of many terrifying moments to come, and only one of many times I thought I don't think I'm gong to make it. Each time I had to muster up just enough strength and courage to keep climbing. This video shows the section on the Owen Spaulding route that was most terrifying to me. It helps explains what I just can't describe in words.

Throughout the climb Phil did his best to make sure I was going to make it to the summit. When I cried because I was stuck on a pitch he consoled me and told me he knew it was scary but he knew I could make it. The higher we went, the colder and winder it got, and ice made some of the rock difficult to climb. At one point we saw dark clouds coming and had to make the decision whether to turn back or not. We continued, and luckily they blew over quickly.

It seemed surreal to me when we actually reached the top. It was now about 8:45 am on August 18th and I felt like I was on top of the world. We had been climbing on the shady side all morning, but now I was closer to the sun then I had ever been! The view was incredible. The Middle Teton looked awesome from above. I was so overwhelmed. And hungry. But Phil said we needed a picture on top of the highest boulder. So we got up on it. I smiled at the camera. I went to put my arm around him, but he was getting down on one knee. I turned to him, more surprised then I've ever been, and he said without preamble, "Lydia, will you marry me?"

I honestly had no idea he was going to propose. I was thinking he would in about 2 weeks, I'm not sure why. He hadn't given me any hints. In the moment he also hadn't led into it with a speech. Looking back though I guess he didn't need to. To me, the process of what we had just accomplished had showed me he loved me and would do everything he could to make me happy, that we could make it through hard things, and that we would have a life full of adventure. I remember thinking before we left when he packed the climbing gear while I bought food, We make a good team. We really do. Now not only was I thinking Yikes! I'm on top of a mountain, but Wow! I'm getting married! It was a big day to say the least. Repelling off the steepest part of the mountain was much easier then climbing it had been, despite the strong chilly wind. However, what the descent lacked in scariness it made up for in painfulness. Hiking downhill that far quickly turned our legs to jello. Burning Jello. My feet felt like lead. I remember talking to Phil about our wedding. It was so strange saying "When we get married..." instead of "If we get married..." Everyone hiked ahead of us but Phil and I stayed together and I felt a  new sense of togetherness. The last couple of miles I kept thinking I saw cars back at the trail head, only to find more trees around each bend. In the end we all made it safely home.

Something I hadn't anticipated was how happy and proud I would feel afterwards every time I see the Grand. I've been on top of that mountain. It's not just that I've been there though, it's that I pushed through every hard experience on the way up. I also didn't anticipate coming back with a fiance, but I guess that goes to show that some of the best moments in life are unexpected. It's been a year since the day that I said "Yes" and my life changed forever. The best part though is having that day and every day on to share with the person that means everything to me.