The Circus, A Calling, and Africa

We've had a busy weekend!

Saturday I got to attend a baby shower for my very dear friend Devri, which was so much fun! I realized you can find a friend in the person you least expect. Thanks, Ruth, for making me feel less socially inept. :)

Saturday afternoon we took Kyle to his first (and my first, actually) circus downtown. We went with two of Cole's brothers and their families. It was SO much fun! I think we're going to make it a new family tradition. Tickets were actually cheaper than I thought it would be, too (turns out they don't need to charge lots of money for tickets--they get you on the food, souvenirs, etc. that you just HAVE to buy for your kids). Kyle was so funny--the first half he just sat on either Cole's or my lap just watching. I think it was all a little overwhelming for him because there was so much going on. The second half, though, we let him sit by his 5-year-old cousin Ana (whom he ADORES), which seemed to perk him up. He danced and clapped and cheered and waved at the animals and had a grand old time. He really enjoyed riding TRAX, too, so the night was a hit for Kyle.

The only depressing thing about the circus? Realizing the animals they use most likely live a hundred times better than we do when they're not performing.

Sunday morning at church, we achieved a milestone: Kyle stayed in nursery by himself for all of the second hour with minimal crying! He probably would have stayed through the third hour too, but when we stopped by to check on him through the window, some other parents were checking on their own children and they opened the door (WHY WHY WHY?!?) and, amidst all the other children trying to escape, Kyle saw us and broke down. Still, we're making progress. It's a good thing that Kyle will stay during the second hour, because...

Cole and I finally got a calling after being in the ward for 6 months. We have been asked to teach Marriage and Family Relations. We were both surprised and humbled by the assignment, but I think we're pretty excited, too. I decided we got this calling because our marriage needs some shaping up, since it can't be because we're the resident experts on marriage and family relationships after only 3 years. :) It'll definitely be a good experience for us. Hopefully we don't scare the single people in our ward away from marriage.

On Sunday afternoon we had the opportunity to visit with a lovely woman from Sierra Leone (where my brother Nathan will soon be serving his mission). It was an absolutely amazing experience. She lived through a civil war in the late 1990s and saw horrendous things happen to her family members, she found the gospel in Freetown, and, through a series of miracles, served a mission in Temple Square. She lives in Utah now and travels all over the country sharing her story with members of the church, especially those with missionaries serving in or going to Sierra Leone. It was a powerful witness to me of the effects of the humanitarian and missionary efforts of the members of the church.

And that's our weekend recap. Can anyone else believe it's OCTOBER on Thursday?!? Where has the year gone?


Ten Reasons Why I Love Camping

10. Snuggling is so much more fun when you do it for warmth.
9. Nobody showers, nobody does their hair, nobody wears makeup, and NOBODY CARES!
8. No TV, no video games, no cell phone service—where else can you completely escape the modern world?
7. Every night is spent sitting around the camp fire, talking about everything and nothing at the same time with the people you love the most.
6. You get to eat lots and lots of s’mores—the best ones are made with toasted coconut marshmallows.
5. You can go to bed WAY after dark, wake up with the sun, and still feel refreshed and energized.
4. The night sky is speckled with millions upon millions of stars not visible under city lights.
3. Food tastes better with a dash of “camping pepper.”
2. Time moves more slowly when you don’t have to worry about a million little things.
1. I feel closer to God when I’m among His creations than I do almost anywhere else.

We got to spend all last weekend up Payson Canyon with my family. I grew up camping, but it always surprises me just how much I love it. We even managed to get all of my brothers and sisters together on Saturday night (quite a rare feat these days). We sat around the campfire all evening and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. I got completely addicted to s'mores made with toasted coconut marshmallows. Yum.

Kyle had the time of his life! He played in the dirt, threw rocks in Payson Lake, fed some ducks, and got absolutely filthy. He also slept better and ate better than he has in quite a while. There must be something about the mountain air...

I'm so grateful I got to have the chance to spend quiet time in nature. I am continually amazed at the beautiful world Heavenly Father created for us. The reverence and peace I feel when I'm in the mountains are surpassed only by the feelings I experience in the temple. It makes perfect sense why the Lord appeared to the prophets of the scriptures in the tops of the mountains.

Forget five-star resorts; I'll take roughing it in a tent ANY DAY!


You've Got a Friend In Me

I now have an interesting view on friendship.

I remember sitting with one of my best girlfriends in high school, talking about what our lives would be like in the future. We saw ourselves as cranky old women, rocking on a porch and yelling at the little kids who ran across our lawns. We imagined we'd be friends forever. It wasn't until later in my life that I realized that I don't think I'm capable of being friends with someone forever.

That sounds terribly negative; I know. It's not a conclusion I was excited to arrive at, but after years of self-analysis and several friendships that I thought "failed," I was forced to conclude that I'm not a serial friendshipper.

There are some people who still have all of their friends from school: elementary, middle school, high school, or college, it doesn't matter. They have met and forged bonds with others that can stand the test of time. Their relationships can weather the storms of change that blow through our lives. No matter where they are in life, they can still touch base with these friends and revert right back into the affinity they had in school. I used to admire these people. I used to be jealous because I don't really have friends like this. Yes, I still have friends from my school days, and yes, we still get along wonderfully, but there's always an element of awkwardness when I get back together with them...awkwardness that comes from time apart and lives going in different directions. Whenever I met up with old school buddies I always left feeling like a failure because I didn't instantly rekindle the closeness I once felt with these friends. I couldn't figure out what my problem was.

Finally, it came to me: what if the close friendships I developed in high school/college were only meant to stay close in those contexts? Most, if not all, of my friendships have been founded on codependence. There existed specific needs on both sides of the relationship that the other person filled. Outside of high school or college, those needs disappeared, and so did our reliance on one another. That doesn't necessarily mean that the friendships died; the function of them simply changed. We didn't need to be so emotionally close to one another anymore. Sometimes, we simply found someone else to fill our needs. For example, the friend I generally regard as my best friend from my college days and I both got married. Our marital relationships are fulfilling, so the need for our emotional connection became obsolete. We are still friends, but the nature of our friendship has changed.

At the same time I came to this understanding, I made a (somewhat) contradictory discovery: I AM capable of maintaining lifelong friendships. As I've gotten older, gotten married, and acquired more siblings, I realized that I have a built-in network of friends who will always be a part of my life. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that my family relationships will last forever. No matter what paths our lives take, we have an ironclad connection that always keeps our relationship in context: family ties. I know it's cliche to say, but my husband, my parents, my siblings, my in-laws, MY FAMILY are my best friends, and they will stay my best friends for eternity.

It's like a weight has been lifted from off my shoulders. I no longer feel bad about not "keeping in touch" better with high school friends or college friends. Yes, they had a significant effect on my life at one time, I still love them for it, and they're still my friends, but they're not my "best" friends anymore. We don't need each other anymore, and it would be ludicrous to try and regain the closeness we had in school, akin to forcing two non-connecting puzzle pieces to fit together. Instead of wishing for the past, I'm looking toward the future, anticipating the variety of friends I will make and cherishing my forever friends: my family.

To all of my friends in all stages of my life so far, no matter how close or distant of friends we were: THANK YOU. You have changed me for the better, and I hope I've done some good in your lives as well.

Good News!

Cole got promoted!
He will soon be employed at the Dakota Mountain Lodge & Golden Door Spa (part of the Waldorf Astoria collection) in Park City! He has been offered the position of Reservations Supervisor there.
We're really excited. Our hotels are experiencing the consequences of the bad economy, so it's been tough the last few months (one downside to both of us working in the same industry). Since the Dakota Mountain Lodge is a resort, and we're quickly approaching ski season, Cole is guaranteed to be extremely busy. Oh, and there's also a pay raise. :)
Plus, once Sundance time rolls around, he's sure to meet someone spectacular...the Dakota Mountain Lodge is THE premier Park City hotel, and I'm sure all of the diva movie stars will be frequenting the spa (which happens to be the ORIGINAL destination spa and a leader in the industry for 50 years).
Seriously though, I'm very proud of Cole. He is moving forward in his dream career and is doing his best to become an indispensable asset to his company. He works so hard and contributes so much, and I'm so happy that he's finally being recognized. I know he'll do a spectacular job in Park City.
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