Sunday, December 27, 2009

Joyeux Noël

For us, December has been the most bustling month of the whole year. We both finished up busy semesters. This was my last one at BYU! The day after finals ended, Russ and I moved into my Nana's basement. That was a hectic and exhausting experience. Russell did all the moving and I did all the cleaning.
This is the Allenbach Christmas party that was held in the basement three days after we moved in. Russ and I helped Nana put up Christmas decorations and set up tables and chairs. She says we are a blessing to her. I think she is a blessing to us. Living with her is so great. She's so easy to be around and kind and accommodating and Russ and I are happy and comfortable there.

Since school got out, we've both been working full-time. We're exhausted and don't sleep in very much, but we're grateful for the extra money.

We went sledding with my best friend Melissa and her family up at Tibble Fork. She has a really sweet niece and a hilarious nephew that were so fun to sled down the hill with.

Let's talk about the Navidad! We had a beautiful Christmas with the Lee family in Logan.
Brian and Mary-Jane came home from Texas and joined us for a formal dinner on Christmas Eve, complete with Christmas crackers and crowns and prizes and what-have-you.
Auntie Carol also came up and made us all chuckle with her crown-turned-Batman mask.
We braved the bleak Logan winter night and went out caroling. We delivered these adorable Santa Pants filled with peppermint popcorn.
We had a shepherds' meal late Christmas Eve. This is a Lee tradition that I was excited to be a part of this year. It was so fun! We dressed like shepherds and watched a Nativity movie while eating unleavened bread and drinking sparkling cider out of wooden flasks.
Diane made us all matching jammies to wear on the special night. She's awesome.
Christmas morning was so fun. Russ and I unknowingly bought each other the same jacket.

The day after Christmas, we drove down to see my family and their favorite Christmas gift...a puppy named Sammy.
He's the cutest thing I have ever seen. I am not a dog person in the slightest and yet I find myself baby-talking him and cooing when he hops around and pounces on stuffed animals. See how close I am holding him to my face? What am I doing? Who have I become? How can you resist a face like that? Do you think I can complete this paragraph in questions? Do you dispute that I have just accomplished that feat?
Everybody is obsessed with this dog. He even received a green and blue argyle sweater for Christmas. Can we say favorite child?

We had a wonderful Christmas and we're now enjoying the rest of our winter break before Russell goes back to school and I start molding 15-year-old skulls of mush into sculptures of the Eiffel Tower. Or die trying.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Too Good To Be True

I promised myself I'd be on a social networking hiatus during this busy time of final papers and tests, but I absolutely can't resist posting this jewel from the Best of Police Beat:

"November 25, 2005: An unknown person used a washable wipe marker to write obscenities such as 'poo-poo' and 'poo' on a black Denali parked in Heritage Halls."

This is the funniest thing that I have read. Ever. Ever.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Thoughts Right Now

Yesterday, a girl sitting by me in class asked to borrow a pencil. I searched through my bag and found my one and only mechanical pencil that I keep when I need to take a test. At the end of the period, I turned back to her and she had all her stuff packed up and was about to leave when I asked her for my pencil back. Awkward, but it is my only one. She reluctantly handed it back to me and I stuffed it in my bag, mad that I felt stupid about asking for my own pencil back. I pulled it out again today to use it on a test for my flexibility class. No matter how many times I clicked and clicked, no lead would come out. I took a closer look and discovered that the entire top of my precious mechanical pencil had been chewed and was now mangled and busted. Definitely not ideal.

Know what else is not ideal? Walking outside to find that your car, which has up to this point been nothing but a total lemon and a thorn in your side and needing expensive replacements far too often, has rolled down the driveway and crashed into the neighbor's tree.

Sometimes, while I'm walking around campus, I'll remember something funny and I'll start smiling uncontrollably. Today I thought about an apple that I saw at my family's house. It was on the counter and it had three tiny chipmunk bites taken out of it. Katie looked at it and said, "Mom, this is what happens when you give Emma a whole apple to eat."

Why hasn't it snowed? What is going on? I can't even listen to Christmas music because it feels like September. It's definitely cold enough in the mornings, but then the afternoons are just sunny. It's the first week of December and Timp is bare and still conquerable. I feel weird.

Moving is not a fun experience, but it is a good opportunity to get rid of some crap you've been holding onto for years. I am a very sentimental person and I have kept every birthday card anyone has ever given me. I just can't throw them away. It was only when I moved to BYU as a freshman that I finally found the wherewithal to chuck all my old notes from junior high that were folded in crazy ways and had "For Your Eyes Only!!" written on the front in pink glitter pen. Russell can't believe all the weird things I have kept and stashed away - little horse keychains, my old retainer, twelve best friend necklaces that Melissa has the other half to (as if just one necklace wouldn't have made a clear enough statement), magazine cutouts of Heath Ledger that I taped to my locker in tenth grade, a stack of burned CDs with songs from cool artists like Jewel and Matchbox 20, old bookmarks that I made in Young Womens...making this list is making me feel quite lame. It's also, however, filling me with some wonderful memories.

I got to ride my uncle's horse when we went to his house for Thanksgiving. It made me remember how much I want to have a horse of my own someday. I think Russell is okay with this dream. I think he will also be okay with being the official pooper scooper.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Life Is So Good Right Now

I saw New Moon on Thursday night at 12:45 A.M. What a joy. I did not go with Russell. If you read the post below, you'll know why. When I throw all my scruples and judgment and intellect to the wind, I actually enjoy these movies quite a bit. This one did not disappoint. My favorite part was driving to the theater with Ellen and seeing all the obsessed Twilight teens wearing cheap vampire makeup and eating Cheetos while wrapped up like burritos in their down comforters and laying in the parking lot. Some had been there for HOURS. Come on, people.

I think all my raving about shirtless Native Americans this weekend was starting to perturb Russell. He went to the gym on Saturday and worked out so hard he threw out his back. What is he, 65? Okay, actually he just pulled a muscle. He spent the whole morning yesterday lying flat on his back while I nursed him back to health with Ibuoprofen and hot water bottles. Luckily he is back to his spry and chipper self. And don't worry, I'd take him over any werewolf, any day.

This past weekend we played with both the Logan Lees and the American Fork Allenbachs. We went to Audrey's high school play. She had a solo and was fabulous. We ate yummy food and braved a snowstorm. I don't know if I'm ready for snow, but it's definitely beautiful. We went to my cousin Wade's wedding reception. Mazel tov. I watched Groundhog Day for the first time. We played Balderdash, that dictionary game. My favorite made-up definition: "Muntjac: a rare condition which causes the feet to corrode into a fine powder" (written by Daniel). Or maybe "Lekvar: A springboard mink trap used by fur traders" (written by my dad). Or maybe "Serry: A disease leading to the rapid yellowing and pickling of the liver" (written by Katie). Hilarious.

It's official. We're moving. It all happened so fast. We listed it online and within a day or two, an engaged couple came to see our apartment and then bought the contract. We're leaving right before Christmas and moving in with my Nana who has generously offered her basement to us. Along with a bedroom and tons of storage space, there's a piano and a fireplace and a huge plasma screen TV and a pool table. How could we refuse?

We're spending Thanksgiving at my uncle's house in Midway. It's nestled in the mountains and definitely has that "over the river and through the woods" feel to it. I can't wait to visit with my extended family and play games and eat myself into a food coma.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Sometimes, Russell will go to the gym at night. I don't like being left alone, especially when it's dark out. I don't like the quiet and stillness that sets in. It makes me nervous. So I turn on the television for company while I do homework or pilates.
A few nights ago I watched "The Chronicles of Narnia" while Russell was gone. I love this movie. I have crushes on both Peter and Edmund (never mind that neither of them is older than 15 probably) and I love Aslan the lion and the whole Christian allegory. I try to forget that that creepy goat man with weird patches of hair all over his bare back is James McAvoy.
Russell came home right in the intense battle scene and started making all sorts of comments like, "I bet the guy in the yak suit thinks doing this movie was a huge mistake...I bet he never admits to his friends that he's in this movie" and "Wow...James McAvoy...really?" and "Is that beaver seriously wearing chain mail?" Of course I refused to answer him. But yes, if you must know, that beaver was wearing chain mail. It's a battle after all. And then Lucy started going around and healing people with her little bottle of medicine and Russell was like, "Where did she even get that?" And I said, "Santa Claus came to Narnia and gave it to her, remember?" And he just stared at me.
Moral of the story: If your husband is realistic and practical like mine, and what you are watching might be mocked relentlessly, wait by the window to see when he gets home so you can quickly change it to something age-appropriate.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pen Pal

I have a pen pal named Tiffani Hengen. We made friends when we worked in the same office two summers ago. She has graduated and moved to Arizona, but I love keeping in touch with her. Why? Because the things we write to each other are pure hilarity. Here are a few gems that I have found on a particularly slow afternoon at work (these are in no particular order and are not necessarily part of the same conversation):

Tiffani: You know how there are ads on the side for Gmail and Facebook that are supposed to be "highly targeted?" One of mine says: "Provo Blasting: Provo Explosives, the demolition experts." Wow.

Me: I hate paying for food. I am deliberately ignoring all these stupid hopeful BYUSA candidates trying to hand out stupid stickers. I refuse to pay attention to them or acknowledge their presence, much less promise to vote for them, unless they start promising me free food! Honestly...does anyone care about having more places to plug in their laptops or more Latin Dance clubs? No. We just want free food. Give it to us or we aren't voting for you. This is what I'd like to say to them, but I am too busy ignoring them by pretending to be on my cell phone so I don't have to take a yellow flyer.

Tiffani: Did you hear about Facebook reserving the rights to everything you write/upload on their site, even after you close your account? I was scared to think about that. I still am scared, actually. They're creepy. What are they planning to do with all that information besides sell it to the highest bidder?

Me: We're basically eating raw onions and boxed soup for every meal.

Tiffani: We need to find a good movie to watch since the International Cinema has insisted on playing nothing but gong shows this week.

Me:I guess I could try to putter Russell's car to my house. I have a bad feeling about driving that car on snowy roads. What I really need is a one-horse open sleigh.

Tiffani: I would die to have some chic outfits. My collection of BYU shirts and sweat pants never worked for me (or anyone except Bronco Mendenhall).

Me: I got 100% on my Religion Midterm! Never mind that most of the questions were like this:
In his conference address, which one of the following is NOT one of the solutions Robert D. Hales listed to solve a marital argument? A) Apologize B) Repent C) Improve D) Divorce.

Tiffani: So you're getting Russell a big canvas for his birthday? I didn't know he was an aspiring artist! It goes along perfectly with his passion for wild animals.

Me: Friday night was our ward's chili cookoff. People brought chili, cornbread, and cobbler. I just brought myself and snuck up to the food and loaded up a plate.

Tiffani: So Gabe is coming for the weekend and you have to entertain him while Russell is at work? Does he like to watch movies? "One Man's Treasure" is showing at the Varsity Theatre. Does he like girls? Take him to Heritage Halls/Creamery on Ninth and let him have a go at the freshman girls while you practice the piano in one of the basements. Are none of those ideas working? Just keep all the blinds closed and it'll stay dark in the house and he'll sleep in really late and by the time he wakes up, he'll see a note on the table from you that reads: "HELP YOURSELF TO WHATEVER FOOD YOU FIND. I'LL BE BACK AT 5:00."

Tiffani is a perfect pen pal to have and her emails always brighten my day. We are on the exact same humor wavelength. I have been silently shaking with laughter at my desk while rereading these. And besides writing funny things back and forth, we catch up on each other's lives, which is so much fun. Tiffani, I miss you, but I love you as a pen pal. I hope you're not offended that I put these up. Thanks for your friendship, and for all the laughs. I hope there's lots more.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Good News

I taught my first French class today. At American Fork Junior High, my alma mater. It was a 30-minute lesson on French Cuisine. It turned out better than I expected (I think I expected to cry or wet my pants or run out of the room). The 9th graders were pretty nice to me and I tried not to take all their hormonal rambunctiousness too personally. They're just teenagers, after all. I brought some French baguettes for them to try in order to bribe them into complacency. They liked that (the bread, not being bribed into complacency).

The weather is beautiful today. The first bite of winter is in the air but while it's cold and crisp, it's also sunny. I work in an office with a huge window and when I look out it, I can see Rock Canyon looming in the distance, bright with the sun but enveloped in fog. It's beautiful.

Halloween is in two days. I hate Halloween because of the masks and gore and pranks and creepiness and death-related themes, but I am excited to have fun with friends and family. Russ and I have almost narrowed down what we are going to be. It's between two giant pumpkins (harmless and sweet, my idea) and Hitler and Stalin (weird and creepy, his idea).

And the best news of all...I drove myself to the school. Yes, people, I have finally conquered the stick shift. And I've only been with a guy who drives one for two years. Baby steps.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Family Pictures

Family pictures are always an adventure. One minute you're frantically running around the house like a lunatic, trying to put on earrings and makeup and do your hair in a flash while yelling at your family members for putting on ill-fitting or unmatching shirts; the next minute you're shivering to keep warm and cursing under your breath; the next minute you're smiling pleasantly as if absolutely nothing has gone wrong.

We had a good time though. I love my family.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Triumph In The Face Of Tragedy

Just three days after woodwind instructor Heather Christensen was killed in a tragic bus accident, the American Fork High School Marching Band took the field at the Lavell Edwards Stadium. They dedicated their performance, entitled "The Greatest Generation," to Christensen and fallen World War II heroes.

American Fork was the last band of 25 to compete in the Rocky Mountain Regional Band Competition. They received a standing ovation from an unprecedented audience of nearly 8,000 people and the first-place prize in every category.

But that day wasn't about winning, for the band members or for anyone else. It was about coming together as a band and as a community to celebrate the life of this wonderful person who had sacrificed so much for her students.

The performance was a so fitting. For the final movement, the colorguard members changed quickly out of their blue jumpsuit uniforms and into all-white outfits. They then arranged themselves across the field and stood with their arms extended, tiny white crosses spread across the wide green field. It was truly a moving sight and a perfect tribute for Heather and for the WWII soldiers.

My brother Daniel is in the percussion pit. He plays the marimba. He has loved his experience as part of the marching band. I used to think marching band did not embody more than B.O., braces, and nerdiness. I have come to realize that it is a place where diverse kids can come together and make friends and play music and develop an identity. It is a place where they learn teamwork, discipline, leadership, and technical skill. This tragedy has given the students an opportunity to draw even closer together. I could see that in their show. Tuesday night was a performance unlike any I have ever seen, and one I will not soon forget.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


It's time for another picture overload.

Russell and I went to a really fun study abroad reunion...

Katie, Mom, Emma and I went to World of Dance...

We celebrated Russell's birthday with friends at the Bohemian restaurant...

We enjoyed a comfy Conference weekend at my house...

Katie, Daniel, Emma and I visited our old elementary school...

And of course, we're enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


A recent Princeton study proved that people taller than average lead better, happier lives than short people. Tall people report more enjoyment, less pain, and significantly less sadness.
The study also suggests that tall people have more chance of success and wealth.
The average man is 5'10". The average woman is 5'4". Russell is 6'4'' and I am 5'9''. Although this means that we will have giant yeti children, it also obviously means that we are going to be rich, happy and successful. Yesssss. I wonder if this study was done just to boost our egos.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Love Birthday Dinners

I also love blogging when I am supposed to be writing a 10-page concept analysis.
Who comes up with assignment names like that anyway?

Happy Birthday Russell

Today is Russell's 24th birthday.
Russell is good-natured. He is so easy to be around, and his sense of humor couldn't be better.
Russell is an incredible story teller. He gets really into it and I love hearing him laugh and watching his eyes light up.
Russell is a good student. He is diligent in studying and doing his homework. A few days ago I found his binder with all his notes in it. Along with all the class notes, he had written hilarious things in the margins like, "Okay, why do people think it's okay to wear pajamas to class?" or "Wet braids = sick."
Russell always does the dishes without being asked or reminded. He just does them so I won't have to.
Russell will go out and buy me ginger ale and Curly Noodle soup when I'm sick. He takes care of me.
Russell is an inspiration for me. He wakes up early every morning to go to the gym while I stay in bed an extra hour. He loves being healthy.
Russell always does his home teaching. He loves the gospel.
Russell is patient. He taught me to drive a stick shift, even though it was a near impossible task, and I screamed at him quite a bit.
Russell is nice to my friends. He cheerfully comes on all the double dates that I plan for us.
Russell can always make me laugh. When I am having a crummy day he'll pick me up from school and sing to me and tell me funny things and make me feel happy again.
Russell listens to me. He cares about my goals and aspirations and wants me to succeed.
For all these reasons and a million more, I love this boy. He means the world to me.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Let me tell you about one of the most unpleasant things in the world, which I experienced last night. I was peacefully sleeping, dreaming about having a conversation with one of my co-workers. In the dream, I started to feel my throat tighten and my breath contract and suddenly, I woke up and sat straight up in bed, choking and coughing. Russell started mumbling so I ran out into the hallway and coughed and coughed and coughed it out, into a pillow, until I finally calmed down and caught my breath again. Then I lay awake for several hours, afraid of falling asleep again and choking to death.

Why does this happen? There is nothing worse than being jolted awake in the middle of the night by a coughing fit. I would feel comforted to know that this happened to other people. Russell seems to think it's a figment of my imagination, which it definitely is not.

While we're talking about unpleasant matters, let's talk about the idiot Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat representative from New York. He is one of the many Democrats in Congress who are challenging a bill passed in 1996 called the Defense of Marriage Act. This is what Nadler said about the Act, which defines marriage as between a man and woman and instructs states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages:

"Today, we celebrate the first step toward overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, and sending that ugly law back to the history books where it belongs."

Excuse me, Nadler. That ugly law is what keeps society stable. Only a man and a woman together have the natural biological capacity to conceive children, which also is the only way to keep society running. Strong families are where children learn moral strenths, traditions, and values. While governments did not invent marriage, throughout the ages governments of all kinds have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself. I am scared to think about living in a society in which my own government refuses to recognize that.

My testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and the apostles who lead it is stronger now than ever before. The Family Proclamation was given in 1995. President Hinckley gave this reason for its issue: "The family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart." That was almost fifteen years ago, and think of how much more the importance of marriage and family is being undermined in our society. It's sickening. I guess the most that any of us can do is hold fast to what we know to be true and live the best we can, despite the fact that the world really is going down the crapper.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So Far This School Year

So far, I like my classes. My favorite is flexibility, where we take a 15-minute power nap every day. Russell likes his classes too. His favorite is international relations. We are thankful for financial aid that helps us go to school.

In the spirit of all the warm weather lately, I wore a short-sleeved shirt and shorts yesterday and got drenched in the rain. So today, I wore a turtleneck and a cardigan and jeans and it's actually quite sweaty and hot outside. Blast.

Russell and I recently saw Julie and Julia and it was delightful. I'd recommend it to everyone.

I took the PRAXIS exam for French content knowledge last Saturday. It was expensive. This test measures my understanding of French and makes sure that I know enough to teach it. My favorite question was:
In which of the following countries do the natives NOT speak French?
A. Cameroon
B. Haiti
C. Ivory Coast
D. Vietnam

Unfortunately, not all the questions were this easy. Most of them were really difficult. I hope I passed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


August was a really fun and busy month. Here's what we did.
We had a fun time when Gabe came to stay for a weekend.
We went to Aspen, Colorado with the Lee family to visit
Brian and Mary-Jane.
We love them.

We celebrated our anniversary by going back to where we were married a year ago and doing an endowment session.
Then we went horseback riding.
We hiked Stewart Falls.
We also hiked Timp with my dad.
I am incredibly sore from that experience and proud of myself for not succumbing and renting a wheelchair to get around campus on the first day of school.
Russ and I are sad to see the summer end, but glad to be students again! It's only the second day of school and I'm already busy. I love all my classes. This is my last semester here before I start student teaching for a French class in January. Weird. I remember thinking student teachers were really old (and boring) when I was in junior high and high school. I can't believe I am going to be one. Russ is still pursuing a Political Science degree and he loves it. We are working hard and keeping busy and happy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Life's Full Of Hilarious Contradictions

In the summer, I can't wait for fall and winter. But in the winter, I long for spring and summer.

I never run into the people I really want to see, and I always run into the people I do not wish to see at the most inopportune moments.

I gripe about homework and can't wait for school to be over, but I am terrified to graduate and enter the real world.

I look forward to payday, but then as soon as it comes, my money disappears - spent on dumb necessary things faster than I know where it's gone.

When I read a really good book, I can't wait to finish it, but at the same time I want it to last forever.

I do not like exercising and I try to get out of it whenever possible, but I love the feeling of shaky legs after a really long run and sore abs after pilates.

I love the lazy feeling of having nothing I need to do, but I hate the bored feeling of having nothing to do. That's much as I have enjoyed the drowsy leisureliness of summer...I am really looking forward to the bustling industriousness of being a student again. I love school. I thrive on structure, challenge, accomplishment, and deadlines. I love new notebooks and binders and gluesticks and markers and mechanical pencils (even though the only new thing I really need is a notebook). I love the excitement in the air on the first day of school. I love the vitality brought to the campus by those eager and overzealous freshmen students who honestly have no idea what they're in for. I love the fact that the first day of school is when we all get excited and try to break out our fall wardrobes, even though it's still 95 degrees outside. I love it all. I can't wait for August 31st.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Been A Year

August 21, 2008 was a perfect day. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
This past year has been more challenging, more rewarding, more difficult, more hilarious, and more wonderful than I ever thought possible.
I'm so glad Russell came into my life. He is my truest friend. What a joy it is to know I'll have him as my companion forever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blackberry Pie

My dad went to Seattle this weekend. He picked blackberries and then brought them back and my mom made a delicious blackberry pie. The hand-shucked berries couldn't have tasted better. I am eating the leftover pie at work today. It's a good day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Russell Gets A Gold Star

My husband is adorable.

The other night, my mom and sisters Katie and Emma came to visit our apartment. They brought tidings of joy in the form of fresh garden produce! Emma brought her new toy with her: a little white teddy bear dressed in a tiny denim dress and headband that my mom had made. They left and four minutes later, we heard a pounding on our door and it was Emma again, close to tears, asking us if we had seen the little jean headband. It had fallen off her bear. Mom and Katie had their cell phones out and were combing the grass and bushes. I couldn't find it in our house, but I promised Emma that we would look for it outside the next day. Katie told me later that Emma cried all the way home.

The next morning, I came into the kitchen and found Russell sitting at the table, writing a letter. He told me excitedly, "I found the headband! It was under the couch!" He was writing Emma a little note. Then he put the note, the headband, and a stick of gym in an envelope, addressed it to EMMA GRACE ALLENBACH in huge block letters, and asked me to mail it. He said, "Do you remember being nine years old, and getting mail with your name on it was the best feeling in the world? I think she'll just love this."

I just gawked at him. I mean, it was beyond the call of duty. Most guys probably would have flung the headband in my direction and said, "Hey, I found that thing your sister was looking for." He totally went out of his way and took the time to put this letter together and make it a special surprise that will mean the world to my little sister. Of course, Emma is already obsessed with Russell as it is, because he plays soccer with her when we visit on Sunday afternoons and everyone else just wants to take a nap. He is always so sweet to her.

I love Russell for being so kind and thoughtful. I know he'll make a great dad someday.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Target
2. Shade Clothing
3. BYU Games Center
4. BYU Division of Continuing Education
(How convenient that I've only had four jobs in my life.)

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. Amélie
3. Glory Road
4. The Princess Bride

Four places I have lived:
1. Seattle, Washington
2. Logan, Utah
3. Paris, France
4. American Fork, Utah

Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. America's Next Top Model
2. Snapped
3. American Idol
4. Seinfeld

Four places I have traveled to:
1. Calgary, Alberta
2. London, England
3. Maui, Hawaii
4. Washington D.C.

Four people who email me regularly:
1. Tiffani
2. Katie
3. Melissa
4. People Magazine

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pudding cake
2. Grilled pineapple
3. Fettucine Alfredo
4. Waffles

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Paris with Russell
2. American Fork with Katie and Daniel
3. A beach in California
4. Florence

Four things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Hiking Timp at the end of the month
2. My last semester at BYU
3. Thanksgiving with my family
4. Shepherds' Meal on Christmas Eve with the Lees

I have to admit, this was pretty fun.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Big Plans For August

Summer is far from over. We have a month left before school starts, and we are going to jam-pack it with fun things! Our plans include hanging out with Russell's best buddy Gabe this weekend, going to Colorado to visit Bri and Mary-Jane, celebrating our first wedding anniversary in some fun and creative way, playing with family, attending some wedding receptions of our study abroad friends, ransacking all the farmers markets and yard sales we can get to, enjoying fun nights out in Salt Lake City, and hiking to the top of Mt. Timpanogos with my family. Well, with everybody except Katie. Anyone who knows my younger sister knows that she would rather get her gums scraped than climb a mountain.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Appreciate Good Writing

I am currently reading Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone. Katie gave it to me for my birthday. It's taking me some time to get through because each sentence is heavy with brilliant literary devices, beyond vivid imagery and incredibly expressed ideas. I am relishing every line and trying to take it all in.

Here are some gems I've found, so you can get a small taste of what the entire book is like:

As the good abbess watched the two waving figures on the ship's rail recede to white dots, she felt a twinge of apprehension. Whaf if by their blind obedience to her grand scheme they were being condemned to a horrible fate? "The English missionaries have the almighty Empire behind them...but what of my girls?" She wrote that the seagull's shrill quarreling and the splatter of bird excreta had marred the grand send-off she had envisioned. She was distracted by the overpowering scent of rotten fish, and rotted wood, and by the bare-chested stevedores whose betel-nut-stained mouths drooled lechery at the sight of her brood of virgins.

She sat sideways looking out. She saw a gray dart below - the shadow cast by the plane on the ocean. A giant fish she imagined was swimming just below the surface of the sea, keeping pace with her. The water looked cool and inviting, unlike the interior of the plane, which had grown less steamy but was still thick with the mingled scents of the human freight. The Arabs had the dry, musty smell of a grain cellar; the Asians contributed the ginger and garlic; and from the whites came the odor of a milk-soaked bib.

Good writing, eh? (Yes, just because I went to Canada I think I can start talking like them.) I love authors that aren't afraid to push grammar principles to unexplored areas. I love the spice and flavor provided by varied sentence structure, appositives, and delayed adjectives. I love sentences rich with detailed descriptions. This spring, I took ENG 329, Teaching Grammar in High School, and it was surprisingly one of the most enjoyable classes of my BYU experience. I began to realize the value of grammar instruction in school. I learned ways to teach grammar to students in fun, interesting mini-lessons. I discovered that grammar, when mastered, has the potential to greatly enhance writing, not only in its correct usage, but also in the very breaking of its rules.

Now, any time I read anything, I read it more closely and delight more fully in the creative construction of mind-blowing writing-which, I won't ever forget, first and foremost comes from applying correct grammar principles.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh Canada!

Russ and I just got back from a trip to British Columbia and Alberta with his family! Despite cold and rainy weather, we had a blast! I guess that's America's way of slapping us for leaving her soil on her birthday.

Here's Konrad and Russ securing our luggage on the top of the car. They did this often.
Our first stop was Spokane, Washington, where we enjoyed 4th of July booths, outdoor music, and plenty of carnival food. Nothing not to like about this city!

The first difference I noticed in Canada - their Golden Arch has a cute little maple leaf in it!

We had fun swimming in our aunt and uncle's pool. Pay no attention to all the black make-up under my eyes.

Alison and I at Glacier National Park - the mountains were breathtaking!

Russ and I went for a walk in Golden. I was really afraid of being attacked by a bear, but the scenery was gorgeous!

Takakkaw Falls - the second-highest waterfall in western Canada. I looked it up and Takakkaw is derived from the Cree word for "it is wonderful". Yes, it is.

Beautiful Lake Louise! The water is green because of rock flour that is carried into the lake by melted water from the glaciers. Very cool.

How convenient that this official-looking Mountee was waiting for us to take a picture with him!

Downtown Calgary has a much more impressive skyline than Salt Lake City.

We went to the world-famous Rocky's Burger Bus. Russell the carnivore finally met his match at the self-proclaimed "home of the meat orgy." He ate himself sick!

We ate lunch with some of the Lee cousins that live close to Calgary. It was fun to meet new family and visit.

We went to our cousins' house and they live by a manmade community lake. It was beautiful!

Audrey and I got a rowboat ride. It was really fun.

The most hilarious road sign we saw on our drive home. For 5,000 years, Indians used this cliff to drive buffalo off and kill them.

We stopped at the Cardston temple on the way home. The temple was gorgeous and very unique. I'm happy that families are forever.

Konrad and Diane, thank you so much for the trip! I'm so happy we had the chance to go. I loved Canada and I hope to visit again soon!