Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hawaii with the Nielsons

Ryan, me, Nate, Ashley, Derek, Alli, Tanner, Cole
We had the best, most relaxing trip to Hawaii with Ryan's family!  His parents are so generous and treated us all to the trip.  It's been a long time since we've had a family vacation, and they had a lot to celebrate this year: their youngest, Tanner, graduated from high school; their next two, Ashley and Cole, graduated from BYU; their cutest, Ryan, graduated from dental school (and is on his way to becoming a dad!); and their oldest, Derek, got an awesome job as an engineer and is seriously dating an awesome girl named Ali (who came on the trip).  

Highlights of the trip included:

*a "gratitude" theme.  Sally told us about the theme the first day and shared some of her thoughts about the importance of gratitude.  She gave each of us a gratitude journal to record our blessings during the trip.  Each subsequent day, a different person gave a morning devotional about some aspect of gratitude, and in the evening, we all got together and shared something we were grateful for from the day.  This theme really added a special closeness to the trip.

*snorkeling and coming face-to-face with a gigantic sea turtle.  (It was cool but a little frightening.  I was afraid he would bite me.  I have a phobia of sea creatures.)

*listening to Rooster Country in the car.

*buying ice cream from the most intense/craziest ice cream man on the planet.  That guy took his job seriously

*lounging on the beach and reading books.  It has been so long since I've allowed myself to read for fun.  I read The Help and really enjoyed it.

*hiking to waterfalls, kayaking down a river, and other adventures.

I'm going to let the photos do the rest of the talking.  But first, a special appearance by Dr. Nielson, showing off his hack-y-sack and dancing skills.  (Be forewarned, I sound like an annoying mom interviewing my kid in this video.):

And now on to the photos.

My husband is a dare devil:

Black flip off a rope swing
Back flip off a waterfall
Though I am not pictured, I too jumped off this waterfall and also did the rope swing...but I did not do a back flip.
He's a sexy daredevil.  See for yourself:

Ow ow!
The Love Birds:


We climbed to new heights as a family (okay, that was just corny):

We saw beautiful scenery:

We went on adventures:

We had a ton of fun with Ryan's siblings whom we don't see enough:

The Tan Man
Brother Cole (and Sally)
Ashley and her husband Nate

Derek and his girlfriend Alli
"Glamour shots" after church
Are we cute or what?  (Yes, we are all adults.)  
 Mahalo, Sally and Gordon, for the trip of a lifetime!!  We love you!

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Could we have supposed?"

Today was a down day.  I cried actual real tears (a big deal for me) because I miss Buffalo so much.  We had a magical four years living there.  So many wonderful people and experiences.  I treasure the friendships that we made there, and I miss it with all of my heart.

Interestingly, when Ryan was interviewing for dental school, we almost took Buffalo off of the list.  He had several interviews around the country, and it was getting expensive to fly him to all of them, so we looked at the list and said, "Where is the least likely place that we will go?"  Buffalo seemed so far away--and so expensive for a plane ticket--and so cold in the winter.  We decided to take it off the list.  But then we got a call from Ryan's mom saying that she was going to use some of her credit card miles to buy his ticket to New York.  If it hadn't been for Sally's gift, we never would've ended up in Buffalo.

I have written before about the experience of driving into Buffalo for the first time, alone in a strange city so far from home.  Little did we know then the good things that were to come.

In the Book of Mormon, Ammon is reflecting back on his years as a missionary, and he says, "...behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?" (Alma 26:1)

This is how I feel.  Could we have supposed when we left our comfortable life in Provo, Utah that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?

Then "how great reason have [I] to rejoice."

But I didn't feel like rejoicing today.  I felt a deep ache inside, knowing that a season of my life that I loved is over, and I can't ever rewind time and relive it.

In spite of this ache in my heart, my mind is telling me that everything is going to be okay--that God has not forgotten us--and if He lead us to Buffalo, then He surely lead us to Denver as well.

Ryan felt that his residency interview in Denver was one of his worst.  He didn't think there was a chance under heaven that he would get accepted here, and I was okay with that because I wasn't quite ready to move back to my hometown--I wanted another "adventure" in a totally different part of the country.  Consequently, Ryan did not rank the program in Denver very high on his "match list."

And yet here we are.

Just as we didn't intend to go to Buffalo for dental school, we didn't intend to come to Denver for residency.  So I am hoping that the parallel experiences will continue, and, in two years, I will reflect back on this time and say "could we have supposed"when we left our home in Buffalo that God would grant unto us such great blessings in our home in Denver?

I know that there are good things to come.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not your Typical Night at the Gym

Ryan and I don't have internet access in our apartment yet, so we occasionally go to the club house of our apartment complex to use the free wi-fi.  At night, the club house is locked, so we have to sit in the small (and crappy) gym to use the internet.  I am currently sitting on the floor of the dirty gym, while Ryan sits on one of the weight machines, both of us with our laptops.

Outside, a raucous Latino party is going on.  This is a full family affair, and every once in a while, one of the children comes wandering into the gym.  I asked one of the kids what the party is for, and she told me it's a baby shower.  I've never seen a baby shower so boisterous or with so many men--or so much beer.  (My older sister is throwing me a baby shower next week, and I doubt it will be this interesting.)

Now, eight kids have wandered in here.
A little boy about eight years old is running on the treadmill, going about 5 mph, wearing pointy cowboy boots.
A chubby girl holding her purse is trying out the elliptical.
A crowd of kids is now gathered around Cowboy on the treadmill, and he is increasing his speed to impress them.
I just spoke up and said, "Please don't go any faster.  I don't want you to trip.  I have fallen off a treadmill before, and it hurt."
I am now laughing.  The kids aren't.
A kid is now on every machine, Cowboy has stripped off his shirt, and he is sweating profusely.  His jeans are hiked up above his belly button, to keep them up as he runs.
Several parents have now entered the room and are watching this spectacle like it's the most normal thing in the world.

I have never seen anything like this ever.

I just thought I would share.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I am alive.

Hello, Friends.

I just want you all to know that I am alive and well.  I have become a super lame blogger.  Blogging is something that I usually really enjoy, but I have so much to blog about right now that I am overwhelmed and avoiding it.  It doesn't help that our "home study" visit for the adoption is on Monday, so I have been going crazy this week getting our apartment all set up, organized, and decorated while Ryan has been at the hospital (he started his program on Monday and is really liking it).  A case worker will be visiting us at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning to approve our home and make sure we will be fit parents.  This will be our last "in person" visit with her before she can send our final adoption application to the state for approval.  The only thing still pending is our fingerprint clearance.  We got our fingerprints taken about two months ago--I can't believe how long it takes the state to process these things.  I am quite certain that, if they got good images, our fingerprints will pass because neither Ryan nor I is a dangerous criminal...but what if the images aren't good and they make use redo them???   Oh heavens--that just can't happen because the baby is due in less than two months--so everyone pray for our fingerprints!!

In other news, Ryan bought a globe that plugs into the wall and glows to use as the baby's nightlight.  It was $1 at a garage sale, and Ryan says it is the best $1 he has ever spent.  I quite agree with him--it is a darn cute globe.  I am trying to make the baby's room and the rest of our apartment look cute.  It's a little difficult, as I am somewhat decorationally challenged.  I will put up a few photos when all of this mayhem is over.  And I will of course blog about Hawaii sometime soon...been meaning to do that for two weeks now.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Big Move

The cross-country move ended up being quite a production!!  I don’t know how people do this with an entire family and a house full of stuff.  Just moving the two of us and our one-bedroom apartment was enough stress to last me for several years!

Moving preparations began in earnest on May 7th, when my good friend Nelda flew in from Utah just to visit and help me (seriously, could there be a better friend?).  She packed box after box and even photographed our furniture and wrote our Craigslist advertisements for us.

Our friends will all agree that the ugliest piece of furniture that we own is a ghetto-plastic-grandma lamp that we purchased four years ago when we moved to Buffalo.  I really don’t know what we were thinking when we bought it, as it is truly one of the most heinous lamps I’ve ever seen, but the price was right, and it spread a lot of light in our dark living room.

Anyway, here is a photo of Nelda with our beloved lamp:

And here is the Craigslist posting that she wrote about it:

“Truly unique plastic floor lamp for sale. Features a tall tube of frosted white plastic, edged with gold plastic trim, attached to a plastic base. The flared top piece spreads light rather elegantly, for a lamp made entirely of plastic.”

I giggled when I read it.

Sadly, there were no takers on the “elegant” plastic lamp, and so we moved it with us to Colorado, and it just might make an appearance in our new apartment!

A few days after Nelda left Buffalo, our family arrived for Ryan’s graduation.  In addition to partying with us all weekend, they rolled up their sleeves and packed and cleaned.  It was sooo nice to have so many willing helpers.  (Although I am quite humiliated that my mother-in-law deep cleaned our bathroom, including scrubbing our bathtub, toilet, and floor!  MILs are not supposed to see that their sons live in such filth.  Luckily, my MIL is a saint, and she didn't care.)

You are probably thinking that, with that many helpers, we should’ve been about done, but there was still so much work to be done.  I was planning to just stay up all night on the night before I left Buffalo, but two of my favorite friends came to the rescue.  They texted around 10:00 p.m., and when they found out I was still working with hours left to go, they came over to help.  Thanks, Laney and Natalie!

When we were all finished at 1 a.m., we decided to set off a few fireworks to celebrate so many good years in Buffalo.  I was a little nervous about disturbing the neighbors, but I figured that they had disturbed us enough times that it was probably fine.  We set off a couple of illegal fireworks we got in Canada last summer (I am a rebel), and we did some sparklers and shared memories.

Ryan sets up the illegals...

The next morning, I left on a flight to Seattle for one of my best friend’s weddings (more on that in a later post), and Ryan stayed behind to finish the cleaning and complete the first “leg” of the cross-country journey by himself.  He is a trooper.

After loading up the moving truck with the help of only one friend (thanks, Taylor), he got on the road and started the long trek to St. Louis by himself.

Mid-day, I texted and asked, “How are you doing?”

He responded, “Just riding along with a smile on my face!” and sent this photo:

I forwarded it to my dad, who responded, “Ryan is the ROAD WARRIOR!”

But even Road Warriors get tired.  When I texted Ry at 1 a.m., as he was just arriving in St. Louis after 13 hours, and said, “I love you,”  he responded, “Even when I am grumpy, ornery, and irritable?”

Poor Ry.

Luckily for him, after the wedding, I flew to St. Louis and met him for the second half of the trip.  We also picked up my older sister, Sarah, her husband, Logan, and their son, Callum.  (Logan is completing his residency in General Surgery in Denver, as well.  Funnest!)  We loaded all of their stuff into our moving truck, and together, we caravanned across the mid-west (through several frightening storms that we were afraid would become tornadoes) until we finally reached Denver at 3 a.m., after 14 hours of driving, with a screaming two year old in the backseat.  I have never been so relieved to arrive home in my life!

Here is a video of Ryan and Callum, telling a little bit about the trip:

These two are big buddies
After our arrival in Colorado three weeks ago, we helped my sister and her husband unload and move into their new place (they will be living with my dad), we went apartment hunting and checked out way more places than I wanted to (Ryan likes to consider all of his options), we found a good apartment and went through all of the paperwork and rigmarole (this part is seriously annoying), we moved all of our boxes into our new place and unpacked most of them (thanks, Sarah and Logan), we met with our adoption caseworker twice (she is really nice, and everything is going swimmingly), we planted my dad's gardens and cleaned out his crawl space (Dad loves having his "Slave Girls" in town), and we boarded a plane and spent seventeen hours traveling to...are you ready for this?...HAWAII for a reunion with Ryan's family (yes, Hawaii...are we lucky or what?).

More photos and stories to come!