Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day celebrations!!

  Christmas Day was wonderful!!  I spent Christmas Eve at my Aunt Charlotte's house.  We slept in and then went to Deann's house for brunch and then off to Uncle David's and Aunt Cheri's!!  The day was full of fun, food and family!!  Doesn't get much better than that!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adoption/Foster care plug

Tonight I watched the annual Christmas special "Home for Christmas".  It's sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation.  It's a special that has been on the air for 10 years now promoting adoption.  They highlight families who have adopted and children who need homes.  I pretty much cried through the whole thing.  Especially since it all hits so close to home now with the field I am currently employed in.  These kids need us!!  One of these days I plan on opening my home to foster kids and possibly work towards adoption.  It's such a wonderful thing!!!  We are so blessed to have family nearby for the holidays!

Weddings, Pottery Painting Places and Adoption

Since moving to AZ, I've been attending a few "Meetup" groups.  On this website you can find groups in your city that gather together to attend local events, dinner, or movies.  It's very popular for people who are new to any given area.  It's been so much fun getting to know various people who have attended the get-togethers.  There is a small group of girls who have been pretty regular in attending several of the recent meetups.  We have all hit it off!  SO, the four of us will meet monthly to have dinner and some of the great places around town to talk and catch up.  It's a blast!  This past Thursday we met at a local pottery painting place.  One girl did a candle holder, another a candy dish.  I decided on a bowl.  I'm simple.  I don't do knick-knacks.  I also don't do stuffed animals.  (that was for you Cara, Roselia and Shan)  I think the skull and cross bones I picked out as a little ornamentation works rather nicely to compliment the bottom of the bowl, don't you?

Side note: **My secret santa, Mike (as pictured to the right, sporting the Christmas vest), has excellent taste, I must say.  For my final gift he picked out a beautiful, snowman covered, Christmas Cardigan.  I'm already for next year's party!!
Last weekend I was privileged enough to attend a sealing at the Portland Temple.  It was wonderful.  Short and sweet.  Jared and Emily were married on Saturday, December 20, 2008.  They were both so calm and collected.  I guess that's how things go when it's in the right place, with the right person.  I'm so happy for them!!!  Now she can get freaky... finally, after waiting so patiently for so long!!!!  CONGRATS!!!  Yee-haw!
(Come on, it's me, did you honestly NOT expect that?????)

The weekend was quite an adventure.  In fact, I think today people are finally returning home to their respective cities and states.  The weather in Portland this weekend was a bit out of the ordinary for the area.  They got about 9 inches of snow and after that they were blessed with freezing rain.  Then, more snow.  And it was Southwest and Alaskan who couldn't get people where they needed to go.  Alaskan, HA!  That's irony for ya!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The two beautiful women are Kristen and Tamara, the owners of Family Partners.  Then we have Brenda and her sweet little Chloe, she works at the front desk and is fabulous!  At the bar we have Stephenie and her husband, Mark.  She's in charge of the Early Intervention program.  Cedric is in the background of that photo and Kristen's husband, Scott.  Then we have Chino and others just chatting!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Party!

Tis that season!  Time to break out the Borden's Egg Nog, the mint M & M's and the red sweaters.  This year I have decided to steal a tradition I know many people have been practicing for some time now.  "The Ugly Christmas Sweater" has brought laughter and smiles to so many for so long.  I told my supervisor that for our Christmas party at work I was going to find the ugliest, gaudiest sweater I could find and wear it.  She begged me not to, but following orders has never been one of my strengths, especially when it comes to ugly sweaters.  I can count on one hand how many people actually appreciated the chosen combo.  I think others just thought I needed help with my wardrobe or simply thought I REALLY liked Christmas.
It was a great evening!  Macaroni Grill catered, prizes were handed out, kids received gifts and, after everyone left, a few of the staff had shots!  
I am so lucky!  I love the people I work with, Tamara and Kristen are very generous with the fringe benefits we all enjoy.  Best of all, everyone cares deeply for the people with disabilities and the foster families who care for them.  I am so inspired each and every time I talk with these compassionate families.

New Cars, Pedicures and Christmas.

So about 2 weeks ago I bought a new car!!  I got an '09 Honda Civic, she is so pretty!  I did it to save money and I'm glad I did.  The parentals have the Sexy Suby and are really enjoying it.  It all worked out very nicely.  
I also had a pedicure done a few weeks ago.  I've never had them do a flower or anything before.  I thought it was fun and so very cute, you should all look at my feet and enjoy it like I do.
So, we're doing a Secret Santa thing at work.  I love that!  My Secret Santa kind of sucks at this game.  He asks me almost daily what I want and finally came into my office the other day and rehearsed to me the whole story behind how he got my name and why and that he's bad at these kinds of things.  Kind of takes the fun out of it.  He's funny.  He keeps leaving me things on my desk like chapstick that they've made in the Day Program to sell, or candles they've made.  I told him he owes me big time for all these cheap gifts AND because he's totally cheating!!  He has promised he will get me something good...  we'll see, I'll keep you posted!!
I just love this holiday season!!  I love you all and wish I could celebrate with ALL of you, in one state, one city and one place!  Enjoy it!!  
Last Monday for FHE we went to see the lights at the Mesa Temple.  I just love that place!!  And the lights are beautiful.  My favorite part were the decorated Palm trees, weird. (you can kind of see them in the background in the picture with the girls.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Palm reading

So, I had my palm read this past weekend.  One of my most favorite mission companions was in town for a conference and one of the ladies she came with has a gift.  One of the neatest ladies I have ever met!  She happens to have terminal cancer and I haven't laughed like that in a while!  She's so happy and FUNNY!  All of these women work at a summer camp for kids with cancer.  Such an amazing experience!  Throughout the year they attend plays, games and funerals for their dear campers.  

Anyway, I know you are all curious as to what my future holds.  Well, I will have a marriage late in life... surprise, surprise.  I will have 4 kids.  I will have one or two really close friends for my whole life, although along the way I will have many meaningful friendships.  My family has a very close relationship.  I fight dirty and hard.  I will have a very deep and happy marriage and even though there will be disagreements, they will NOT affect our marriage.  I am very stable and reliable.  
There you go!  I have always wondered what would be said in a palm reading, now I know.  My reading happened to be very similar to my Kasia (my mission comp).  We were meant to be friends.

On Friday night we all went out to dinner after their meetings were over.  It was so great!  We laughed so hard!  A waiter was totally hitting on my friend and the women (all married and more mature than we) we were with were loving it!  They kept looking for reasons for him to come to the table, asking him to meet up with us later.  It was awesome!  Then on Saturday night, I crashed their conference and we did a little Square Dancing and then had a sleepover in their hotel room.
It was a great weekend!!!!  I am exhausted... still!  But couldn't be happier!
Kasia, I just love your guts and your breasts!! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"It makes me feel big and strong."

I love Election Day (the good ED).  On the radio this morning a listener called in and said his mom told him to "go vote, it will make you feel big and strong."  I had that feeling as I walked away from the Church of Christ this morning.

I love going into the gas station or the office or returning home and talking with a neighbor, all wearing a sticker with those three simple words "I voted today".  It's a unifying day in these, the United States.  It's suddenly so easy to relate to strangers.

Ya know, I thought all polls were electronic by now.  This is why I was surprised when I arrived at my place to poll and found I would use the tried and true pen and paper to make my voice heard.  Even with these simple instruments, there were still hold ups and snaffus.  I guess it's just like death, change and taxes, one of the guarantees in life!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I love memories

Aren't memories fun?  Don't you love taking trips down memory lane?  I was looking at these pictures my good friends so kindly sent me to remind me of all our laughs together AND to remind me of how truly photogenic I really am!  

Last night I went out to dinner with some family members.  My parents were in town and we gathered to feed our faces at Golden Corral.  I realized last night why I am the way I am.  Genetics.  I'm not sure if an appreciation for the cruder things in life is actually genetic, but after hearing the stories I did last night and sharing the stories I did last night I have come to the knowledge that it is.  I am so grateful I have an excuse and people to blame when I say things that are shocking and inappropriate.  I relish the smiles, the looks of awe and the laughter from those who know me well when things leap from my mouth.

I think this is what life is all about!  Making memories, laughing, building relationships with those we love and will come to love!  It's the people in our lives that give it meaning!
I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life!  I am more grateful for their forgiveness and love in spite of my "immature" sense of humor (as I learned from my aunt and uncle, the educators). 
Enjoy the pics!  Please, will you still be my friend?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bath and Body Works

There is a Bath and Body Works OUTLET in the mall by my house...  Yeah, buddy!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


On Thursday night I attended an Interfaith dinner at Heritage Park, downtown Phoenix.  Hosted by the Arizona Interfaith Movement.   I heard about it at church and thought it sounded interesting.  Dinner was provided, to be followed by "stimulating conversation".  A few people from the Sikh community provided the meal, known as a "Langar", a three-course, vegetarian meal.  We ate on the floor and left our shoes at the door.  It was fabulous!!  There was a garbanzo bean dish that was to die for!  The meal started with four different prayers from four different religions; one Buddhist (chanting a prayer that took me back to the temples in Tibet), one LDS, one Christian, and one Muslim.  SO cool!
After we ate, we formed groups consisting of 5-7 people in each.  In my group, there were 3 LDS (which I bummed about...boring!  I know about them!  I was hoping for someone from one of the Eastern religions, oh well.), one Unitarian, one Community of Christ, one self-proclaimed Atheist, but turned out to be Agnostic, and one Church of Divine Love.  We were given 4 questions to answer; 1- list the two most important teachings of your faith, 2- pick one practice that means the most to you, 3- tell about your journey to the beliefs and practices you now participate in, and 4- to be done in 10 mins, solve the problem of world peace through one idea/practice.
As we discussed these issues, practices, beliefs and experiences I came to the realization that everyone had the same basic, underlying ideas and beliefs, but called them by different names.  Some used "energy", others "spirit", some felt as if their ancestors were with them, while others said it was God, while someone else said angels.  The bottom line was this, all of us are in this together, we each have the opportunity to have a positive impact on those around us.  There is something or someone out there bigger than each of us.  We must channel the energy we feel from that source and use it for good.  We must stop judging, we must serve others and love our fellow man, regardless of age, race, status or nation.
It was wonderful to be a part of something so open and welcoming to differences.  Something that really celebrated differences and saw that as a positive rather than a negative.  It was a way to enhance and expand one's mind, a way to widen one's perspective.  An evening I will not soon forget.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Puerto Penasco

Hola, mis amigos!
We just returned from a quick trip south of the border!  Janelle came down from Reno on Thursday to attend her high school friend's (Shawn) wedding in Puerto Penasco, aka Rocky Point.  Carly acted as the translator, I was the tag-a-long and Dave was the new guy (a friend of Shawn's and Phoenix resident) and bodyguard.  We left at 5 am yesterday morning and weren't even there for 24 hrs!  But what a blast!  The wedding was held in the "backyard" of vacation rental home on the beach.  The backdrop was sand and water!  After the kiss and "I do" they walked off into the sunset and down the beach.  There was a pinata for the kids and kegs for the adults.  The ceremony took all of 10 mins and then the party started!  It was beautiful and very low-key, fabulous!  We watched the sunset and then listened to a guy and his guitar long into the night!  We ended the evening with a little night swim in very warm sea water!  It was such a great weekend!
This morning we attended church and were lucky enough to catch the Primary Program!  Those little ones are so funny!  After that we went to pick Dave up and headed off for our 2 hr wait to pass through Border Patrol.  IT TOOK FOREVER!  We waived off probably 15 people selling tamales, 5 window washers, 3 people selling big vases, 2 purse salesmen and 2 slingshot/turtle salesmen.  Gotta love Mexico!
Of course, I bought a blanket.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

AZ license plate

So, last week I traded in the good 'ol NV plates for the ONE AZ plate.  While I was at the MVD (aka DMV), I had the greatest clerk!  I know what you are all thinking, "A nice clerk! At the DMV!!?"  She was so much fun!  When I got to the window, she asked me to find her a good man, I said, "Honey, I can't even find one for me, let alone someone else!"  We got to talking about men, and she told me about how she moved here from California with a guy who pretty much cheated on her, was engaged to someone else before they were even done.  Then there was another guy who just up and left one day.  ALL we ask for is ONE decent guy, just ONE!!  Is that really such a tall order??
On the counter was a little box where you could make a donation for the "Make a Wish Foundation", so I stuck in a buck.  Then she handed me a star and told me to make a wish.  I wrote something cheesy about everyone having health and happiness.  After we talked a little longer, I changed my mind about my wish so I asked her for a new star, she gave me a funny look.  On the second star, I wrote "I wish for Brenda to find a GOOD man!"  She laughed and said, "You just made my day!!"  It was probably one of the best times I've ever had at the DMV!  So, my wish to all of you is to make someone's day at the DMV the next time you get the pleasure of gracing them with your presence!! Have fun!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In the beginning...

I'm finally here!  Where to start?  I've now lived in AZ for 5.5 days.  I've spent a total of, what feels like, 9.9 days just commuting to/from work or clients homes.  Because I am now a seasoned Phoenix driver I feel it's appropriate for me to share a few observations about driving in Phoenix for those of you who have never had the pleasure.  (for more great insights on driving, please refer to the China series at
1- Drivers here do NOT understand what purpose the "fast lane" serves.  I'll tell you one thing it apparently is, it's a place for the slowest drivers on the freeway to sit and stay.
2- Blinkers are OFF limits!
3- NEVER go the posted speed limit, go 20 mph over!  NOW...MOVE!!!
4- NEVER let mergers...well, merge.  They do NOT belong here, after all, I was here first.
These are just a few lessons I have learned as I've traveled "the 10", "the 17", "the 101", "the 60" and "the 101".  I hope this wisdom I have imparted will help you each in some way.

Now, can I just say that some of the most beautiful skies/sunsets I have ever seen have been in the Southwest!?  Incredible!!  I will post a picture soon, but it won't do it justice.
My job is wonderful!  People who provide care for those with Disabilities are some of the best people I have ever met!  Talk about a snap back into reality and the important things in life!  I can't even express how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to work in this field with the people I do!  I am so blessed and so pumped!
I also have some incredible family here.  I've never lived close enough to extended to really get to know them and I am really excited about the chance I have to do this now!  I have 3 aunts here who have been so amazing!  They call to check in and see how things are going and if there is anything they can do, it means the world to me!!!  I love them for it!

The other day I was thinking about an experience Emily and I had in Oregon.  We were on our morning walk/jog....okay, we were wandering.  We walked down on the beach and then walked up to this cliff to get a look, we decided to walk further in to this forested area and see what we'd find.  It was a rocky point that jutted out into the ocean and we knew we'd reach the other side eventually and there were paths, at least for a little while.  The further we got into what became jungle-like, we saw fewer and fewer "paths".  (I kept thinking about that movie "Ferngully", that's exactly what it looked like.)  But, being the mountain-women we are, we trudged along, happy to have a new adventure.  When we came out on the other side we received a precious little gift.  Out on this point there was a Native American gravesite and just off the point, on an island-rock there stood a beautiful old lighthouse.  The island-rock was connected by a rickety old bridge, which was closed to the public, thank you state of Oregon for keeping us alive.  It was so picturesque!  We sat and just enjoyed the view and our thoughts.  Upon arrival to this quaint little spot, we noticed an older man walking around as well.  He also took notice of us and we exchanged a few words about the path to/from this location.  He shared with us the easiest way back to where we had come from.  He informed us he'd marked the trailhead so we could find our way back through less tick-infested forest.  We thanked him, wished him well and he went on his way.  Once our hunger got the better of us, we decided to head back.  We walked down the road we'd come across after our jaunt through the jungle and when we reached the end we realized we had not seen the trailhead he'd assured us was there.  We backtracked and upon closer examination found the marker he told us he'd leave.  He had formed an arrow out of sticks to guide us to the trail.  I am so grateful for people, who I often stumble upon, that help me stay on track or help me correct my course.  Each of you, in varied ways, have done this for me at one time or another.  I thank you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Big Move!

Hello!  Ni Hao!  Hola!  Ya' at' eeh!  
I finally moved!  Yeah for me!  Well, technically, I move tomorrow, but by the time you all read this I will be in my new home!  I hope you all appreciate my multiculturalism...I'm so cultured, aaah!  There really isn't too much to share currently, so check back in a few weeks and you can find out what new things, people and places I have discovered!  Oh, the anticipation!

Jang and I

Jang and I
One of my teaching associates in China. He taught Korean. We ate at a Pizza buffet to thank our Chinese teacher!

His name is Jesse Williams.

His name is Jesse Williams.
God does good work!!

Em loves me!

Em loves me!

Do you remember this, Roselia???

Do you remember this, Roselia???
my girls! man we are funny!

Pretty princesses... I love you girlies!!

Pretty princesses...  I love you girlies!!
I kept it for the photo shoot, then returned the netting. It was fun for a day!

Fresh shrimp tacos!!!

Fresh shrimp tacos!!!
Carly and Janelle

My front door

My front door

The arrow

The arrow
Yeah, like you have sticks just lying around your apartment at 11:30 at night!

mirror, mirror

mirror, mirror
My favorite corner. Don't you think feather boas just add a little something to any room?