Thursday, 23 January 2014

TBT: Oxford Gate

I have never done the Throwback Thursday thing, but I find myself nostalgic this particular Thursday and thought I'd go with it. Here we go:

I find myself a bit out of sorts today: Mr. Mitchell is attending his Fire Academy Boot Camp, and so I'm without my man. I've watched too many movies/shows taking place in London, and so I'm homesick for my favorite big city. I found 5 gray hairs on my head, and so I'm feeling betrayed by my body even though I know I have a whole lot of youth left in me. I miss the days where I took the time and effort to get ready and felt that it was productive. There's something about this picture that seems to wrap all of those things up in to one.

I was 20. I was living the dream during my semester abroad in England. My biggest concerns were about seeing everything I could see, somehow getting those darn term papers typed up and turned in while out exploring, and wondering how things would stand with Mr. Mitchell when I returned. I was so fulfilled and (mostly) worry-free that as soon as my head hit the pillow each night I was sound asleep and did not awake until my alarm went off.

I look at this picture and wonder why I didn't better appreciate the results of my efforts in front of the mirror (because even I will say that I look good in this picture). I find myself feeling lucky that I had such a wonderful opportunity to live in London and explore the United Kingdom. I find myself hoping that I can take Mr. Mitchell there before we're too old to run around from dawn to dusk. I cannot wait to share those special places with him.

There's really not anything in particular I'm trying to say here. Just letting my brain run rampant and trying to get myself back 'into sorts.'

Monday, 6 January 2014

Following the Lemmings

Updated End of January
Updated End of February
Updated End of March
Updated End of April

Apparently you're supposed to publicly post your New Year Resolutions or you're a loser. Not really, but it has kind of felt like it this past week. I do, however, understand that if you publicly post what you hope to accomplish you're more likely to keep it up, and you can inspire other people. I was torn on whether or not I wanted to come up with a list of resolutions this year, especially since I was reminded in Sunday School that a resolution is something you are resolute about and so you had better accomplish it or you're worthless. Again, not really, but it's a lot of pressure people!

As of this morning I have decided that I am not going to come up with resolutions, but instead will come up with goals. Goals that will have little baby steps that will help me see that I am progressing and not a failure in life. I am posting publicly in the hopes that I will have some cyber cheerleaders cheering me on. Consider this a rough draft since I just decided it this morning and will probably add/delete/change things on this list in the coming week.

1) Write in my journal at least once a month.

I used to be a rockstar about writing in my journal. Then I got married and it dwindled a bit, and then I had a baby and it almost came to a complete standstill. It kills me because these are the most priceless moments of my life, and I'm not recording them. At least once a month this year! At least!!

January - check!
February - check!
March - fail. Somehow I totally missed it.
April - check!

2) Go on a couple's retreat that Mr. Mitchell plans.

Something that my mom has always said: Parents need a break from their kids, and kids need a break from their parents. Every year growing up my mom and dad would go on a little trip somewhere, and I can definitely see the value in that. Our 'babymoon' was to the Oregon Coast, and Mr. Mitchell planned it. Our getaway last year was Las Vegas, and I planned it. I kind of like that pattern. The goal is to tuck away a little money each month so that at the end of the fire season Mr. Mitchell and I can go on our retreat, but Mr. Mitchell has to do the actual planning.

3) Have Family Home Evening.
I believe in the power of Family Home Evening. We haven't been great about it because as a married couple every night was basically Family Home Evening, and with a baby it was kind of the same thing. We do have a set-apart Family Home Evening every great once in awhile, but I feel it is very important we start doing it regularly. I am hoping for every Monday night, but I will be very happy if it's only a couple of times a month since that's more than we're doing now.

January - check!
    1) Watched and discussed a conference talk.
    2) Read about Joseph Fielding Smith.
February - horrible fail.
March - half check?
    1) Watched a convert's video and learned how praying and missionaries brought him the gospel.
April - check!
    1) Reviewed nursery lesson 11
    2) Reviewed nursery lesson 13

4) Stay physically active.
This one's going to be a challenge for me as I now appear to be having some major back issues. I have a pinched nerve in my lower back that appears to really like being pinched. I went to a chiropractor who was able to readjust me so it was no longer pinching, but that only lasted for about a month. It has been really hard because if I do too much in a day my back starts to seize up and I cannot move. I hate what it is doing to my body. Maybe all I'll be able to do for awhile is go on walks, but I want to try and do something physically active about three times a week - the length of time will depend on my back that day.

January - check!
    1) I only walked this month with a little bit of running mixed in when my back felt good.
February - check!
    1) Five days a week of either pilates or a yoga/pilates mix. Only for 15-20 minutes a time though. Hopefully I'll be able to increase that soon.
March - check!
    1) A few days each of yoga/pilates mix or an aerobics workout. 20 minutes each.
April - fail
    I did alright the first couple of weeks. I used workouts I cut out of Women's Health. Then I got an infected tonsil that put me out for about a week, and then I was out of town.

5) Get a 6-Month Emergency Fund. 
I won't go into how much we currently have, or how much we'll have to put away monthly to get this fund, but I will feel much more comfortable and very proud once we have a 6-month emergency fund.

6) Time out for me.
I often feel run-down because I spend my day taking care of the house, running errands, taking care of my baby, and working. I'm not sure how often I want to try and do this, but I guess once a week is a good starting point. The most important part really is what I will do during this time out for me. Hopefully it will be something to help me relax and feel better about myself and not just me watching What Not To Wear wishing I could be nominated for the show.

January - check! Kind of. I think I could do a better job of making my 'time out' much more about something relaxing for me rather than mingling it with chores, projects, errands, etc. Next month!
February - check! I still really mingled my 'time out' with projects, but I also got some reading in and some window shopping.
March - check! Mostly giving myself manicures this month.
April - I have no idea. I don't feel super relaxed right now, so I guess I'll say 'no.'

7) Send out birthday and anniversary cards.
This is one that I always mean to do, but with the size of our family it gets overwhelming. I just counted in my planner and between our parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews I will be sending out 44 birthday cards and 10 anniversary cards throughout the year. I would love to include money in all of those, too, but even at $2 in each card we're looking at over $100 in cards this year. So, maybe you'll get $2, maybe you won't. You'll just have to wait and see. 

January - check!
    1) 1 anniversary card.
    2) 2 birthday cards.
February - check!
    1) 1 anniversary card.
    2) 6 birthday cards.
March - check!
    1) 1 anniversary card.
    2) 3 birthday cards.
April - check!
    1) 2 birthday cards

8) Have more faith in the Lord's timing.
There is no way to quantify this one, but it is something I need to work on. (Getting personal here, folks.) There are some things that have or have not happened that don't make sense to me, or that I don't like, but I have to believe that I'm doing the best I can, and that the Lord's timing is always right. I don't like relying on other people, and so it can be very difficult, and humbling, for me to remember that I should lean on the Lord and trust in his timing.

Any other goals I have are far too personal or not my business to share, but hopefully I can feel pretty darn accomplished by the end of this year. Thanks for taking the time to read!

December 2013

Time for our monthly wrap-up!

We started the month with getting ready for Christmas.
On our way to get our Christmas tree.

His favorite toy until we had to take it
back this week to put the tree ornaments in .
We did lots of baking. Sprout's job was to crush graham crackers.

I tried making our own Christmas cards. I think next year I'll just pay someone else to do them. I just don't have the eye and/or endless resources to make them look complete.
Suggestions on what I could have done?
As explained in an earlier post we opted to spend Christmas in our own home with our own little family. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner prepared by yours truly, we went out to see Christmas lights, and we watched White Christmas.
We had roast, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, peach crisp, and sparkling cider.

Loading up for the lights.
Sprout usually wakes up around 8am, but it was almost as though he knew he was supposed to wake up early on Christmas because he had us out of bed at 6:45am. It took him awhile to realize we were for reals when he finally had permission to rip off the wrapping paper. After he decided it really was okay he had a wonderful time opening his presents. We had a yummy breakfast and then spent the day enjoying our presents, Skyping family, napping, and hanging out.
This picture is for my mom. All three of them
 were once beautiful. And then Sprout happened.
Christmas morning!
The rest of December passed by very quietly. I had to work New Year's Eve, and Mr. Mitchell had to take his fire academy final. He did stop long enough for a midnight kiss, and then he was back to the study grind and I was in bed. We party hard these days. 

Funny story: 
Sprout loves pulling out my shoes. It's just a thing. When we came back from our Thanksgiving voyage we brought back piles, and piles of books that belong to Mr. Mitchell that had been hanging out in Oregon. They are now piled up on Mr. Mitchell's side of the room. Sprout very much enjoys swapping our shoes and books, and it is always even. (i.e. 4 books will have replaced 4 shoes and vice versa). It's very orderly and very funny.

Perhaps we should get another bookshelf.

Salt Lake Trip

Mr. Mitchell and I had the opportunity to go down to Salt Lake City for a few days mid-December. The trip plan originated when we heard that one of my roommates was going to be back in the states visiting her in-laws in Utah. Then we discovered that that same weekend my family was going to be in Salt Lake for the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert. Party!!

We started the trip at Kneaders with my good friend Talyn and her husband Colby. Talyn and I were besties in London, and it all started with a quote from Cold Comfort Farm. If you know anything about that movie it probably helps you understand our friendship a smidge. I miss her quite a bit, but she sends me terrific emails to help with the pain.

Isn't she a babe?

They're just a little bit taller than us.
After that very brief reunion we were able to spend some time with another bestie of mine, Heather.

We were assigned in the same dorm freshman year at BYU, and we became pretty quick friends. Our first conversation went something like this:

S: Have you cried yet?
H: Yes.
S: Cool. Me, too.

We were roommates from then until I got married three and a half years later.

After that very brief visit we went back into town to dinner with the family. Unfortunately, we have no pictures. We ate at Olive Garden with my mom and dad, Garrison and his girlfriend, and the Smiths. While it was very nice talking with everyone it was probably our least favorite visit to Olive Garden ever. We were a rather large group, but it was two hours before we had our food. We had about 5 minutes to eat before the group had to jet to get the Christmas concert, and the food didn't even taste that good. It was like they ran out of salt or something. My niece ended up feeling pretty sick so she went back to the hotel with Sprout and me, and Mr. Mitchell took her ticket. He was incredibly psyched about that because one of the guests for the concert was John Rhys-Davies. (For those of you that don't know: He's Sallah in Indiana Jones. If Mr. Mitchell could be Indiana Jones he would be in a heartbeat.)

In the morning, my parents watched Sprout while Mr. Mitchell and I went to Music & the Spoken Word. The morning after the Christmas concert they do a mini-concert, and so I was able to see most of the concert anyway. We had amazing seats, and the concert was fantastic, as always. We had taken a picture of ourselves in the Conference Center (which I can't find for some reason) and the flash had been off. I assumed the flash would still be off when I tried to snag a picture of John Rhys-Davies on stage. Silly, silly, silly me. The flash went off. The flash went off about 30 times. The flash went off and I was frozen in fear and humiliation. Just look at the stink eye I got from the guy holding the poster.

And to add insult to injury, the most obvious thing in the picture is random dude's ear. (In case you can't find him, John Rhys-Davies is next to the opera lady in red.) So, there's my confession. Come and arrest me Conference Center police. I am still mortified, and I accept my fate.

After the mini-concert we said goodbye to family and went to our little roommate reunion. We had lunch, watched A Christmas Carol, drank hot chocolate, talked, and watched the babies play.

You've already met Heather, but I need to introduce you to the rest. We were all roommates our sophomore and junior years at BYU in Raintree. Oh, the times we had!

Liahona showed up a few days later than the rest of us, and I totally missed when she arrived. I just realized one day that there was stuff in her room, and I totally went in and snooped with Heather. All I remember specifically right now are measuring cups and a beautiful picture of her. She's from New Zealand and is half Maori.

She met her husband, Mark, at BYU working in the same office together. They were married a couple of weeks before Mr. Mitchell and me.

They had their adorable little boy in the spring of 2013. He was born far away in New Zealand so this was the first time we got to meet him.

The first time we met Kristina she was moving her stuff in with her little sister's help. She was very quiet, and went home almost every night until the school year started. After a while she warmed up to us and showed us how silly she can actually be.

She met her husband, James, through a good friend of hers. They were married after they both returned from their missions. Unfortunately, James wasn't able to make it.

Click here and scroll towards the bottom of the post if you would like some insight into our friendships. Good, good stuff.

Enjoy the photo bombardment:

I have no idea what is happening in this picture.
I swear I was never this sad during our trip.

It was super awesome to see everyone again. I wish we could have spent more time together, but everybody was in a bit of a time crunch with work and/or travelling. Destination reunion next time? Hawaii, maybe? Start saving!!
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