Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And this, our life, our Beginning

The above is a quote on my mother's wedding photo album that I never really understood...until now. :) 


So...better late than never, I shall tell about what happened with us AFTER the honeymoon. 

Steven didn't happen to mention that our honeymoon was prolonged by one day because of the lovely volcanic ash that was floating all over the northern hemisphere. Because of that delightful event, we ended up spending an extra night in Chicago on our way home. Fortunately, the airline paid for our hotel and two free meals, so that was pretty rockin' awesome. We ate the most amazing meals of our lives and paid nothing! mwah ha ha ha haaa!

When we finally got back to Utah, a whole day later than anticipated, my mom picked us up from the airport and drove us to her house for lunch. (More free food! Ai!) Then we stole her car and drove to Steven's parents house to load up all of the things he wanted to take with him to our new life. It took like 4 hours because it was just him and me. Plus, it already felt like about 10pm at night to our bodies because Ireland is what...7 or 8 hours ahead? We were exhausted. Fortunately, all my stuff had been dumped in our new apartment before we got married, so we didn't have to worry about that. We DID however have to go grocery shopping, so after we finished taking all of Steven's stuff from the van up two flights of stairs to our apartment (another couple hours) we went late night shopping at Walmart for food. Finally, we took the van back to Mom, and she drove us home at like 12:30 in the morning. 

This is what our apartment looked like once we'd gotten everything in that night. Oh wow.

While we were on our honeymoon we had been really excited to open our wedding gifts, and had promised each other that we would do it the first night back. So...true to our word we did. We were up until 2AM unwrapping presents. Thank you everyone for all the lovely gifts, we love them. Sadly though, by the end we were so tired and drained of all energy (imagine what time it felt like to our bodies...) that we were just tossing boxes and wrapping paper over our shoulder as we unwrapped things and left a HUGE mess in our office. Lol. 

Fortunately, neither of us had to go back to work right away, so we had the whole weekend to get organized. We spent most of Saturday putting things together, and I tried out our oven and made some cupcakes! 
Here I am eating one of the yummy cupcakes.
Later that night we had our first guests and they shared some cupcakes too!
Ethan, Eric and Austin (our groomsmen friends) dropped by late that next night to see our apartment. We showed them the pictures from our honeymoon,  and then the five of us played Hide and Seek in the apartment. You'd think with just two bedrooms and a small bathroom it would be ridiculously easy, but not so! We actually played for about a half hour, with people hiding beneath desks, in closets, between mattresses, under empty boxes in the office, behind shower curtains, and best of all--Ethan somehow managed to curl up under one of the bathroom sinks! It was a blast. 

Living with Steven is so fun, and so natural. Everyone who says marriage is a shock-or that they "never knew the 'real' them" before marriage obviously didn't know their fiance well enough. Of course, the advantage to having two bedrooms is that when we do get on each other's nerves we can just go into another room. Pretty 

At my request, Steven had grown a lovely beard on our honeymoon, but now that we were back in Happy Valley it was time for him to go clean shaven again. We took pictures of each stage of the transformation as he shaved it off. 

Our first Sunday home we went to our new married ward and we LOVE it! Unlike a singles ward where everyone hates you when you are with someone, in a married ward EVERYONE is 'with' someone, and we're all cuddly and backrubby, and nobody cares. Pure bliss! Plus there are adorable babies everywhere that are doing the most ridiculous and funny things to keep us entertained. 

After church Steven found a massive mutated strawberry in our box of strawberries. It was as big as 3 strawberries all at once! Bah!!! I cut it into slices and fed it to him secretly a few days later... eh heh heh. 

Our first Monday at home we had our very first Family Home Evening. Since we have no children, we filled the empty space with our stuffed animals. Fortunately for us they are very attentive, and we had a lovely lesson about the restoration presented by Daddy Steven. 

Mommy ReRe and the babies

Daddy Stevo and our lovely family

 Don't ask me how we managed to have a 4 monkeys, 2 turtles and a puppy... 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honeymoon: The Emerald Isle

All right, I know it's been over a month since our honeymoon, but that's the next important thing we need to update you all on!  Basically, IRELAND IS AMAZING, and our honeymoon was a blast!!!  It was such a great experience to be newly married, off in a beautiful, foreign country, away from everyone and everything else--just the two of us.  :)  It was truly a remarkable foundation for the beginning of our marriage and supplied oodles of gorgeous memories to fondly look back on.  :)
Anyway, here's how it went down:  Saturday morning, the first of May, we took a shuttle from our awesome hotel at Springhill Suites in SLC (with Rebekah's Marriott discount) to the airport and got checked in and ready to board for Chicago.  Upon arriving at the O'Hare airport, we realized that we had arrived too late to board the only plane leaving for Ireland that day through Aerlingus airlines.  So, we took our baggage and Rebekah called up Marriott and had them book a hotel near the airport in Chicago for us so we could take the flight the next day.  That turned out to be great; we didn't have to travel ALL day, and we ordered pizza in the hotel and watched movies. :)

Finally, on Sunday, our day had come.  We were flying to Ireland!  We got awesome seats by the window and the Shamrock-decorated Aerlingus plane also had sweet video screens behind each seat--you could listen to the radio, watch movies, television shows, and even play games, or just monitor where the plane was currently flying.  It was a looooong flight, but eventually we came to be flying over Ireland!  Finally the plane spiraled down into Dublin, and we could see that everything that wasn't part of the city was absolutely GREEN!  We waddled out of the plane to find our luggage, and to my joy I found that also Ireland has drinking fountains (Germany, for example, does not)!  Then we called the Marriott hotel in Ashbourne (pronounced by the Irish "Ashburn") to tell them to pick us up from the airport, and they directed us to the pick-up spot outside and past a little church.  Being driven to the hotel 20 minutes away, I was thankful we actually couldn't rent a car, because I would have had a difficult time trying to navigate in a foreign country driving on the left side of the road!  The buses we used throughout our trip proved to be an excellent choice.  :)
That Monday I believe we just took it easy in our amazing hotel and ate out that evening at a restaurant on the main lobby.
Tuesday was an incredible day!  Early in the morning we ordered a full Irish breakfast with Irish sausages, ham, pudding (not american kind), and a grilled tomato, along with some pastries.  Yum!  :)  Then we took the bus to Dublin and just started walking around seeing anything there was to do.  The city is very quaint and cute, and yet still impressive.  A giant spike marks the center of the city, and the large O'Connel street was lined with hundreds of little shops.  We crossed the river and headed south-west, until we came to a sign that said there was a wax-museum!  Spontaneously we decided to visit it, which turned out to be quite a treat!  Each room had great figures that depicted Ireland's mythological and political history, plus some other treats later on, like Fairy-tales and Movie Stars.  

After that, we wondered around in Dublin further until we came across Dublin Castle, the Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and took many pictures.  Then we headed back for Ashbourne that evening.

 On Wednesday we took a trip from Dublin to the city of Trim!  In Trim lies the largest Anglo-Norman Castle in Europe, which was built by Hugh de Lacy around the 12th century A.D.  This castle is huge!  And the whole town of Trim and surrounding area was beautiful.  We got there in time for the last tour of the day, and took several pictures of the castle before being able to enter inside.  Much of the castle has deteriorated or been destroyed over time, including an entire section on the exterior that had crumbled down.  All the interior floors were no longer there (at least the originals) and some archways had also fallen down.  Despite this, the castle is still in relatively good condition, and we were able to go all the way up to the roof and look out at the countryside below (which is, of course, vibrantly green).  Our tour guide was excellent and explained many things about castles of the day and where certain phrases come from that we use today.  After the exceptional experience at Trim Castle, we meandered over to the Yellow Steeple, or the ruins of it, just across the field.  There we ate our packed lunch in the grassy fields amidst the dandelions, before heading off home to Ashbourne through Dublin.

Thursday was spent making our way across the entire Island to the western city of Galway.  We took an express bus from Dublin which we miraculously found and which had barely enough seats available.  Then we wandered around Galway until we were lead to the Courtyard by Marriott where we stayed for the night.  The next morning, we again by luck of the irish found an amazing tour for amazingly cheap that lead us down the county of Clare to ancient tombs and castles until we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher!  This was the main attraction, and we spent a good hour gazing at these breathtaking cliffs and down to the ocean below--700 ft. below.  It was very windy, but very worth it!  Then we made our way back up the coastline to Galway, and took another bus across the green country to Dublin, and from there returned to Ashbourne.  Another awesome day!

Saturday was our "veg-out" day, and we mostly stayed in-doors after our long trip the day before.  We also utilized the fitness room the hotel had and had a great work-out.  :)
On Sunday we woke up early enough to head for church in Dublin, and had located a ward on Finglas Road.  As we were half-way to the bus stop down town, we realized we hadn't written down the address of the church!  We decided that we could try to ask the bus driver if he knew where it was.  So Rebekah wrote down "Finglas Road" on a piece of paper and when we boarded the bus she held it up and said, "We're trying to go here."  The bus driver replied, "Do you know where on that road?"  I said, "A church."  He said, "Which one?"  to which Rebekah added, "Latter-day Saints!"  And the bus driver said he thought he knew where that was and could take us there.  Turns out Finglas Road must be on the bus route anyway, and when we got to the place where the driver thought the church was, he let us out.  We walked over to the church and immediately recognized it as LDS!  The sign out front said "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in Gaelic first, then english.  

And then, in the sacrament room, we met a missionary serving there who graduated from Springville High our year!  He recognized us and we laughed about the coincident.  After a nice time at church, we caught another bus back to Ashbourne and relaxed for the rest of the day.  
On Monday we took our last tour from Dublin, this time to see the monolithic tomb of Newgrange, a 5,000 year old tomb that is the oldest known man-made structure on the planet--older than Stonehenge and the pyramids!  Along the way, our very entertaining and talkative tour guide showed us plenty of great things, including the preserved severed head of Oliver Plunkett, and an ancient Monastery.  When we finally arrived at Bru na Boinne we ate at the visitor's center and then headed out to see the tomb.  Newgrange is one of several known tombs and is the most known of the them.  We were able to go inside and the tour guide demonstrated artifically how the light of dawn on the Winter Solstice would light up the entire inner chamber.  

After that fascinating trip, we headed home for the last time.  Tuesday we just packed up all of our stuff and ate out at the restaurant, and Wednesday morning headed for the airport.  We arrived in Chicago that day, but had to stay overnight again and so didn't arrive in SLC until Thursday.  We were tired but ready to go home to our NEW home, our very own apartment and we opened up all our gifts that night and spent the next day setting up our place.  We now live here comfortably and love it and love each other and love being married!  Our honeymoon to Ireland was our dream come true and the most amazing trip ever!  May the luck of the irish ever protect us all.      

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"I'm trying to be like Jesus"

Once in a while someone will walk into my life that changes it forever. I had one such experience tonight, and I doubt I will forget it.
I work the Night shift at a hotel on the South End of Provo. Consequently, we get some 'rough' traffic sometimes. This evening around 11:45pm the door opens and in walked a little old one-armed man. His clothes were obviously second hand, and he looked more worn out than a man his age should look. He'd seen hard times and my heart immediately went out to him. He was so sweet and respectful as he politely asked if I could dial the non-emergency Police number for him. When I handed him the phone I guess it had gone to an answering machine because he left a short message explaining that he and his dog were stranded and he was hoping for some transportation assistance. He thanked me and went back outside to sit with his dog.
I don't understand why anyone would ever belittle homeless people. My heart aches every time I see one. I am always reminded of the Savior and think that they are just the kind of people he would have sought out.
I decided there must be something else I could do; at LEAST get a hold of something more than an answering machine! I looked up the number and dialed again and punched through the menu until I finally got an officer. After explaining the situation the person on the other line said that unless the man could get himself down to their department by midnight there was nothing they could do for them. It was now 11:50.
I hurried outside where I found the man sitting with his sweet dog beside our hotel. Crouching down I explained to him what they had said over the phone. I was at a complete loss of what to do next. There was no way he could walk that far in the next ten minutes, and I ride a bike to work so I couldn't drive him!
Just then two cars pulled up with my arriving guests. I hurried inside to check them in and explained the situation. One man averted his eyes, took his room keys and left the lobby. The other man asked for driving directions to the police station. I could have wept for the kindness of this person. However, it was now five to the hour and the clock was ticking. The computer screen was still trying to load the address to the police department, and I knew they wouldn't make it in time. I quickly called the dispatch again and asked them to hold the doors but they refused. "No exceptions" they said, he would have to try again in the morning.
I was devastated. The kind Guest and I stood at the desk in despair trying to find a solution. I was grateful that it wasn't a cold night, but it still felt inhuman to leave the guy outside. I returned to him and told him he was welcome to come sit in the lobby, but he opted to stay with his dog. (We don't allow pets...)
I went back to the desk and there was the Guest again. He asked if I knew any hotels near us that allowed pets and I told him the Sleep Inn just two hotels down did. With a smile he walked outside and I watched as he offered to buy the homeless man a room. I watched as the two men and the dog walked across the parking lot together to the Sleep Inn where the selfless Guest bought a room for this tattered stranger.
I'm standing at the desk now, forcing tears from my eyes as I think again on the kindness of this Guest. He truly knows the meaning of Christlike love. I don't know how many times in my life I've passed by a beggar without being selfless enough to even drop a dollar or even a QUARTER into their bucket...and this man, who was already paying for his own room, bought a hotel room for a complete stranger. I know I will not soon forget the kindness I witnesses this evening. I cannot describe my desire to pass on this action to someone in need. I hope we can all be more selfless and act as the Savior would in seeing people as He does. I know that Jesus doesn't use stereotypes. He doesn't categorize, criticize or make judgements. He knows we are ALL children of God. I hope that I can be a better example of His love as I go throughout my life, blessing others in the way I saw two strangers do tonight.