Saturday, January 31, 2009

"The Best Is Yet To Come"

Our ward is such an awesome ward. The members are one of a kind. I never thought I would say this but I don't like it when we miss because I feel like I'm going to miss out on something I need in my life. We missed last Sunday because of a water issue and I felt that throughout my week. We'll be missing this Sunday because our nephew is being blessed. But I won't feel it as much as I did last week because of one relief society teacher's efforts to get make the sister's more involved in her lessons.

Michelle Trujillo is a wonderful relief society teacher. You can tell that each lesson she teaches has been prepared with a lot of praying and studying done on her part. When it's her turn to teach she sends out an email to all of the sisters in the relief society telling us what ensign talk the lesson will be on and shares a thought. Most of the time I will prepare myself. This week she sent out the email. Knowing I wasn't going to be there this Sunday I made that much more of an effort to read and study the talk. I just finished this morning. I know that Michelle and Bishop Prete are working with the Spirit because this talk was meant specifically for me.

"Let Him Do It with Simplicity" by Elder L. Tom Perry is the talk this weeks lesson is on. Michelle summarized the talk perfectly in her email. "Elder Perry talks about how simplifying our lives can help us obtain relief from the stresses of life. He talks about the four basic needs of life (that David Thoreau came up with), as well as the spiritual benefits of a simplified lifestyle."

Right now the economy is scary. In some way or another the economy effects you. Only recently am I feeling the effects. For the past few months Gordon's job has been on shaking ground. He's in sales. People aren't spending money quite as much as they use to. They have laid off 8 of their sales staff and currently only have 4 on the sales team. Fortunately enough Gordon is one of the four. He just graduated last month. Not more than 6 months ago we were talking about all of the different jobs that he could apply for once he was finished. Those jobs are not there anymore. Don't get me wrong, there are jobs out there that he can apply for and most likely get, but none of them are his 'out of school career' job he dreamed of. We're bummed and worried.

I work for the state. State budgets are being cut. I thought I wouldn't be effected by the economy so much because I worked for the state (I don't know why I thought this OK). Wrong. The programs I work for as a health educator are under legislature to be cut and if they get cut I could get cut too.

We just bought a house. Enough said about that.

Elder L. Tom Perry's talk helped ease my worries. Although a lot of what he said is hard to do, I know Gordon and I have to do it, more specifically I know I have to do it. I know that life gets crazy. I let the stress and anxiety get the best of me when instead I should "endure the varied seasons of life while remaining positive, even optimistic." I will be a person of faith and hope because like Elder Perry said I know "beyond the shadow of any doubt that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and the best is yet to come."

Some specifics of his talk that I will apply into my life are the ideas Elder Perry had from Henry David Thoreau. We have four basic needs of life: food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. I feel like I do pretty well in the food department. I eat foods that are nutritious, I exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. I also feel very blessed because of those decisions. His talk helped me remember the importance of those things.

Clothing is another need and an issue I have. I am modest. That's not my issue. I love fashion and I love shopping. I have cut way back since I've been married on the shopping. And now I know I have to pretty much eliminate it (not because of the talk but because of our situation). I know I will not lack...I have a lot of clothes. And I am really hoping that I don't have to eliminate it for the rest of my life. But I should not focus so much on what's in and what's out. Just buy what I need (need being the key word).

Our shelter is nothing fancy. When we bought our house we knew our budget and didn't go over it. I feel pretty good about that. The only debt we have is our home and cars. But Elder Perry said "We should practice and increase our habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality. Members of a well-managed family do not pay interest; they earn it." I can feel at ease practicing and increasing those habits. I'll start today when I go grocery shopping.

Spiritual fuel is something I can always work on. I struggle with one very major aspect and that is "surrendering our will to the will of the Lord." I love to be in control. My faith is being tested right now. This talk helped me remember to do my part and let the Lord do the rest. I'm working on it.

Once again Gordon is my rock. I had a break down a few days ago. I let the stress and anxiety have the best of me. He held me and told me that we are doing our part and we pay our tithing and everything is going to be ok. I know he's stressed but he has not once broke down. He has a lot of faith in the Lord. I am so blessed to have him as my husband. I'm sure I learn by his example more than he learns from mine.

I'm taking Elder Perry's talk and applying it in my life. I want to "experience the spiritual benefits of a simplified lifestyle."

A Working Man

My brother has had his struggles but right now he's has started a new beginning (again). Let me give you a brief update. Before the holidays last year he found himself once again in jail. He was there for a reoccurring violation and was not up for bail. He was given the opportunity to go in front of a judge and plead his case. This trial was different that previous trials he had been apart of. The decision of jail or prison would be decided. My brother has been to jail many times. Prison never. He was scared. We were all scared. But he got a brake once again. The judge decided to sentence him with jail time. He would serve in a halfway house where he would pay rent, get work release, and answer to someone multiple times a day. His life is controlled by someone else rather than him. It's perfect. That's what he needs. I only wish it would last forever!
He's doing amazing right now. He's very charismatic and landed himself a job. Not very many employers want to hire someone that is currently in jail. There are many people that are looking for jobs these days. But he's a sweet talker. He works for a pizza place as a cashier, server, bus boy, and cook. He's amazing at it! He's one of the hardest workers I know. When he sets his mind to something he owns it! This job is not anything special by all means and I'm sure it's not hard to be great at, but he's more than great at it...he owns this job! So much that the owner wants to let go of some of the other staff and let him pick up their job and hours.
We went to visit last night and it was so great to see him succeeding. He's doing it! He doesn't have car so he bikes to work and gets there well before his shifts starts and stays well after his shift has ended. He makes tips on slow nights. My Mom and I watched him glow as the phones kept ringing and people kept coming in and he was working and doing it all.

I want him so bad to succeed. I hate that he struggles with addiction. I hate that he doesn't know what he could be. I hate that he doesn't remember the principles that he has been taught to know that he wouldn't be given this challenge if he couldn't overcome it. He can do this! And we'll be cheering him on all the way.

Move The Water Away From The House...What A Novel Idea!

I'm grateful for all the moisture we have been receiving. Gordon is especially grateful the rain turned to snow so he could hit the slopes with fresh snow. I understand the importance of the rain and snow for the future. I also understand the importance of having proper piping and rain gutters so that moisture stays where it's suppose to...OUTSIDE!
A week ago tomorrow (last Sunday) we had another lovely 'joys of owning a home' experience. I was getting ready to get ready for church (now that church starts at 1 o'clock I have time to be lazy in morning before getting cleaned up for the day) when I stepped in something wet in our downstairs living room. I immediately blamed the dogs for having an accident in the house. I started to soak up the mess when I noticed that it wasn't yellow and it wasn't soaking up completely. I looked at Gordon with a look of confusion and said "Um, this isn't soaking up..." I began to feel around the wet spot and noticed that there were other spots just like it. Gordon moved some of our furniture and after stepping in multiple soggy spots he decided to rip up the carpet.

One of the spouts to our rain gutter is in a spot where the water that comes down the spout is sent right into the corner of our porch that happens to slant a little which then falls into a crack that separates the porch from our house (new home, old foundation). That's where the water came in.

We've fixed the problem outside with one of those pipe/tube things that you attach to your spout and are now sending the water away from the house. Brilliant!

To fix the inside of the home Gordon ripped up the carpet, used a carpet cleaner vacuum to suck up all the water that had come in, let the carpet and carpet pad dry out for 3 days, and is now laying the carpet down with a tool that he thinks physical therapist created to ensure they will always have a job (it's called a carpet knee kicker, you knee the padded end as it stretches the carpet so you don't have lumps as you put it back. Gordon said it's painful and I agree. I tried it for about 5 seconds and I was done).

I love our home. I don't love these experiences. But this is what home ownership is all about (or at least that's what I keep hearing).

*Grateful part of the story. My step-dad is an amazing guy that has helped so many times I don't have the time or energy to name them all. He stepped in once again and helped us with our water problem. Thankfully my parents have church the same time we do so he home and able to bring all of the equipment we needed to fix our home . Helping others is what Tim is all about. I'm so grateful he's this way and that he has cared for me just like he cares for his own children. Thanks Tim and I love you!

And Many More...

We celebrated two birthdays this weekend, my sister Tanna and my Grandma 'J’. Their only years apart, or at least that’s what my Grandma kept telling everyone.

It was the regular lunch party for my Grandma. My Dad’s side of the family doesn’t get together that often so it was nice to see everyone. My Grandma loved all of her gifts. Someone even bought her flowers. She loved those!

My Grandma ‘J’ is an amazing woman. She is one of the most active seniors I know. She doesn’t have her license, not because it was taken away, but because she has never wanted to get it. Once you get her laughing, she can’t stop! She also thinks almost everything is funny. That’s a trait know I get from her. She is one of the best cooks I know! I have never had a better breakfast (oh how I miss Saturday mornings at Grandma’s…I use to go with my Dad almost every Saturday when I was little). She has a kind heart. She’ll do whatever she can for you.

We celebrated my sister’s birthday at Sunday dinner. This isn’t just any Sunday dinner though. For your birthday Sunday dinner you get to choose the menu and my mom cooks it for you. This includes dessert which usually is your favorite cake and homemade ice cream. Birthday Sunday dinners are my favorite!
Jason was in charge of the cake this year...
needless to say he did a great job and she loved it!

My sister turned ‘32’ this birthday. It’s weird to think she’s that “old.” The older I get the more I see us as the same age. We have so much in common now. We get along a lot better than we use to when we were growing up. We never really fought. I contribute that to being so far apart in age. There is one fight I remember…I think that’s because it was the only real fight we have ever been in. The short version of the fight: Tanna called me the 'b' word for some reason I don't even remember, so I took the root beer that I was drinking and spilled it down the front of her. That's when my Mom stepped in and the 'fight' was over. Neither of us were grounded (I have never been grounded although I'm sure I should have been more than a handful of times in my life). We laugh about that now. Heck, we laughed about it then.
Growing up I always wanted to be just like my sister. I thought she was so popular. She had a ton of friends, she was beautiful, and she was a great dancer. She always wore the latest fashions and her hair was always in style. On the weekends my Mom would let her comb my bangs for me (back when BIG bangs were in). She would make them as poofy as hers. Only on the weekends though...I was too young for that style for school or church. Every phase she went through I copied. We shared a bedroom until she graduated (very sucky for her, awesome for me). There were many times when she was gone that I would get in our closest and wear her clothes. They did not fit me at all but I still wanted to wear them. I never left the house in fear she might see me in them (and because I looked ridiculous).

When she became a mom I looked up to her that much more. Her life changed dramatically. She was a young single mom. She could have very easily let my Mom do most of the work but she took responsibility and grew up real fast: graduated, got a job, her driver's license (if it wasn't for Skyler I don't think she would have her driver's license today...that's where she takes after my Grandma), and eventually her own place. Watching her make life altering decisions has helped me in my life. I know I want to be the kind of mom she is has been for Skyler.
Her friendship has meant more to me than she probably knows. So many times in my life I have leaned on her. She has helped me get through some very trying times. She has been there for most of my life altering experiences, the good and the bad: parent's divorce, my 18th and 21st birthdays, dating, my wedding, and the list goes on and on.

I'm grateful for my family. My Grandma and my sister mean so much to me. I love them both very much.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You May Be Able To Bench Double My Body Weight...

...But when it comes to flexibility, endurance, and coordination I’ve got you beat.

I’ve added something new to my exercise routine…PiYo. PiYo is a mixture of pilates and yoga. You do a little pilates moves and a little yoga moves. I have never done either of these types of exercises faithfully so I was a bit nervous to try this class at my gym. But I surprised myself. I did pretty well (although I sure am feeling it today). There were two football players in the class. At the beginning they did not take the class serious. They were giggling and make jokes about the breathing techniques and the names of the moves. I think they thought this class would be a waste of an hour...they found out in the first 5 minutes that they were mistaken. I have never heard two men, let alone ‘big tough’ football players, whine as much as they did. The longer we held a pose, the louder they whined. It was hilarious! Don’t get me wrong, I was whining too only I was doing it silently in my mind. At the end of the class they both told the instructors that it was much harder than they had anticipated and they would both be back next week. Maybe they’ll tell their friends and I’ll get this kind of entertainment each week! I loved it! Props to them for sticking it out and wanting to come again (although it does go against my hatred of new resolutions to want them to come back).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We'll Remember More Than They Will

I have yet to attend one of my friend’s wedding. I have been to a few of Gordon’s friend’s weddings and I enjoy going to the temple sealing. This past Friday another one of Gordon’s friends got married. I consider him my friend too since I’ve known him just about as long as I’ve known Gordon and we had plans to travel the world together (Gordon wasn’t that interested at the time).

This was Gordon’s first time being apart of a wedding that wasn’t his own. He was a groomsman. He had to wear a special tie and flower. So important! He was less than thrilled to be apart of all the pictures. He wasn’t alone in his torture. His best friend Chris was also a groomsman and was just as excited as Gordon was for all he had to participate in.

It was fun to hang out with Gordon’s20friends. All of his good friends have moved away so we don’t get to see them as often as we would like. Especially Chris. Chris and his wife, Kit, are so much fun! We had a lot of time to kill between wedding, luncheon, and reception but the time went by fast because of them. Chris is hilarious! I had a headache by the end of the night because I was laughing so hard at all the ridiculous comments he made about everything. We were excited to have them over after the long wedding day to relax and watch Flight of the Conchords. When they left I told Gordon how much I miss having them live close (although they are only 4-6 hours away in St. George, it feels like they are states away sometimes).

The wedding was really nice. Rick and Sarah were married in the Salt Lake Temple in the same sealing room as Gordon and me. The memories from our wedding day filled my mind and heart. I don’t know about others, but I don’t really remember all that was said on our day. I remember what I took to be the most important but talking to others a lot more was said that I don’t really remember. I think that Rick and Sarah will probably be the same way.

I also feel like I get more out of the sealing that the new married couple does. There was a lot said that applied directly to Gordon and me. Their sealer talked about angels as witnesses to their sealing. He said that he believes, along with Elder M. Russell Ballard, that these angels are family and friends that have past. That was really neat to hear. We have both lost family members and it was comforting to hear those words. He also mentioned family and the sealing o rdinance that comes from kids born into the covenant and those that are adopted. He spoke about the love that was felt from Rick and Sarah. I could feel their love as well as my own love for my eternal companion. Listening to the covenants that they made with each other and the Lord helped me remember more clearly my covenants. The spirit was so strong. I left their sealing feeling very uplifted. It was almost like the feeling I had on my wedding day, only stronger.

Each day my feelings grow deeper and stronger for Gordon. Each minute we spend quality time together is a blessing. I love him so much and I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to be his eternal companion.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Have You Given Up Yet?

I hate New Year's Resolutions. My reason: too many people at the gym. I'm a regular at the gym. I go most days out of the week. I hate the month of January because nine out of ten people have a goal to lose weight in the new year. From experiences in the past I know that the crowds at the gym die down in a month or so, but right now my gym is packed with a bunch of strangers mixed in with us die hards. I can't wait for next month when I don't have to circle the parking lot a dozen times to find a parking spot!

Side note: Tonight at the gym was pretty awesome! Even with the crowd, I was the only person in my turbokick class. I had a private session with just me and the instructor! It's like having a personal trainer without paying for one! Pretty awesome! (the instructor was my good friend Katherine, which made the situation that much better) Great Workout!

Something That Will Never Change

Change is inevitable. It’s the only thing that’s constant. But something that will never change is how much fun I have with my good friends from college.

We don’t talk or see each other half as often as we use to but when we do get to the opportunity to do these things we take full advantage and have a whole lot of fun in the process.

Last night we went to dinner to catch up on all aspects of our lives: love, careers, school (for the only eager beaver in our group to go on to get her masters), family life, etc. Like usual, Shelli took up most of the conversation filling our ears with the drama that is her love life. She’s not the only one in our group that’s single, but you would think she was.

Not a lot has changed with us. No one had big news to announce. But it was still a fun, loud, crazy night…and we only had dinner together! I love those girls!

Shelli, Katherine, Me, and Keri

Never Too Cool To Hang Out With Aunt Jessie

I hope my nephew always feels this way. He is quickly approaching thirteen and I’m worried I’m not going to be ‘cool’ to him anymore. We’ve been super tight since he was born. It’s a combination of things that makes us this way. First, I lived with him for the first few of years of his life. He was like the little sibling I never had (yep, I’m the baby…surprising, I think not). When he took his first step it was to me. I heard him say his first word. I was there for a lot of his firsts. I’m his only aunt which makes me that much more special to him. The older he got, the cooler I became to him. He wanted20to come with me everywhere especially when I went to hang out with my friends. I would bring him along any chance I could…he’s the cutest little boy in the world and all my friends agreed with me.

He’s still the cutest little boy in the world although he is definitely not so little anymore. He is a few inches taller than me (which isn’t hard) and may even be a little stronger than me (he’s a football player). One thing that will never change is how cute he is. The older he gets the more handsome he becomes. He was a lady killer at the age of one and it’s just getting worse. He has these big brown eyes with eyelashes so long that girls envy him. His skin is a beautiful olive color and his hair a soft brown. He’s a looker. He started junior high this year which means he went to his first dance with girls. It was not only hard for his mother to l et him go, but my mom and I cried a little when she called to tell us where he was going that night. He was asked by a few ninth graders if he would dance with them…ninth graders!! He was too shy at the time to dance with them, but that has changed and the girls are crazy for him. We are all nervous.
Although I wanted to, I didn't stand on my tip-toes for this picture.
He's really that much taller than me!

He’s a sweetheart. He’s not afraid to tell you he loves you, even when his entire football team or friends are around. He still gives me hugs every time I see him, both coming and going (kisses not so much…maybe on the cheek but it’s rare). That’s another thing I hope never changes.

When my sister and him got their own place we would have sleepovers all the time. I would sleep there, or he would come to my mom’s house. When I got married and had my own place one of the first questions he asked me was “So when can I sleepover?” Lucky for me Gordon didn’t, and doesn’t, mind that he likes to have sleepovers with us. When we bought our house he noticed the extra rooms and picked out which one was his. I love having him sleepover. We have a good time with lots of laughs (he’s not only handsome, but he’s hilarious too. Must be the Fraga blood in him…).

This weekend was the first sleepover in our house. Although his room wasn’t ready for him quite yet, he still wanted to come. The older he gets the harder it is to entertain him. He brought over his X-box and taught us how to play some of the new hip games. I felt super old as I whined because I couldn’t figure out how to maneuver my guy with the controller. Technology is becoming so advanced while I stay behind the times. Gordon went to bed early (he was going snowboarding the next day early) but the two of us stayed up a little later watching The Office Season 2. It was just the two of us…laughing and filling our bellies with snacks and soda pop (I was very sick). We went shopping the next day (he doesn’t mind going shopping with all of us girls…I think he actually enjoys shopping. He has pretty much been raised by all girls so it’s not too shocking). I had a good time hanging out with him…I think he did too.

I love each chance I get to spend with him. Watching him grow and change into the young man he is becoming has been such a blessing in my life. I love him so much.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ringing In The New Year

We didn't have any plans for New Year's Eve until Tuesday night when we decided that maybe some of our other friends didn't have anything going and maybe they would like to get together. A little texting and phone calls and wa-la! we had plans.
We rang in the New Year with the Kilgore's, Ivie's, and Cantwell's. We ate so much junk food (I actually got sick from it all before we even rang in the New Year...but that didn't get me down!), and played a round of Cranium, then Rock Band pretty much consumed the rest of our evening and early morning. Nothing too crazy, just another hang out night with our good friends (except usually we end before midnight and not 2am but there's no concept of time on New Year's except for when the ball is dropping).

The Cantwell's got this sweet outdoor heater for their deck...
sure makes for some warm winter nights
(so much so that none of us had shoes on in the middle of winter!)
Gordon and I had never played Rock Band before so we didn't know what we were missing out on. I found out that I went into the wrong profession...I should have been a rock band singer! I was a bit shy at first to sing in front of some people I didn't know (some of Sally's family was at her house) but once I got the first song out of the way they couldn't get me to let anyone else have a turn. I know I can't sing, but that doesn't matter when you're playing this game. I did pretty well in spite of my tone deafness scoring in the nineties each song. Gordon was the guitar and bass man which is fitting for him because he plays the guitar. Jess was our drummer. She was hilarious to watch! While Jess and I were hogging the microphone and drums the others acted like adults and shared the other instruments. What a fun video game!

I'm grateful for such awesome friends. This New Year's was one of our best because of them.
New Year's Kisses...

What's a New Year's celebration without fireworks!

2008 was a great year for us. We both graduated from Weber State, inherited the cutest dogs in the world, I got an awesome new job using my degree, and we bought a house in an area we have always wanted to live in! Given that, I'm excited for 2009...I feel like a lot is going to change for us this year and I'm excited for what's to come.