Forsaken Thanks

Shocking- I found a few scraps of spare time this last week.  So I used them to organize our apartment a little better.

What?  We've only been living here for like six months, were we supposed to have our boxes unpacked already? 

And then I found them: a small dusty pile of forsaken thank you cards from our wedding.  Personalized, sealed and everything.  All they're missing are stamps.

Somehow in the move these little buggers were shoved out of sight and apparently out of mind.  I'm a horrible person.

So what do I do?  At this point is it too late?  They're already sealed, so it's not like I can include a sorry note with our thank you card.  Would anyone still appreciate them seven months late?

Maybe it's not a big deal and these six people never noticed that they didn't get a thank you card.  Or maybe I've broken some etiquette that will result in me being shunned from polite society forever

Babymoon and a Graveyard

Whoa whoa whoa!  We're not expecting!  Don't rush off to call and congratulate my mother!  I can see that getting out of hand real fast.

Actually, we went with our friends {Carson and Shellena} on their babymoon.  They are expecting a little girl on or around March 15th.  We're so excited for them!  We've been having baby showers, researching cloth diapers, and I've been saving all of the Babies R Us coupons that we always get in the mail.  Yay for baby Tietjen!
 As you can see, we are all quite in love with her already.
 And trust me, Shellena is much bigger now.  These pictures are a little old.  BUT- she makes for a really cute little pregnant woman.

Although we're all excited for baby's arrival, her birth will also close a chapter in Carson and Shellena's lives.  No more spontaneous vacations, or Roy and I randomly showing up on their doorstep with a movie.  Things will be different.  Good, but different.

SO- Carson and Shellena have a relative who owns a cabin near St. George.  Kenny, Andrea, and Roy and I were all invited on the trip. 
 Woohoo!  We're going to close this chapter with a BANG!  It's so much warmer down there.  I know you see snow- but it was warm enough to shed our jackets.  In fact, I'm just going to jump right to my favorite part of the trip.  No chronological order this time guys!


Oh wow!  Every morning after breakfast Andrea and I would camp out on the back porch with our sweats rolled up, soaking in every ray!  The rest of the crew finally experienced the glory on the last day.  We were out there the whole morning, playing cards etc.  

But we didn't just sit on our butts the whole trip.  {Although, sitting on your butt in the warm sunshine in the middle of winter is hEaVeN!}  We went on some hikes, took out the quad {or as they say in Utah, the "four-wheeler"} and hit up a few different parks.  As long as it was outside, we were happy.
  Oops, we're on our butts again. 
 Frisbee golf!
Don't let my incredibly intense action shot fool you.  I actually found out that I'm very very bad at Frisbee.  And Roy was worried that I was going to cost him the championship.
 So we changed it up and made up a game where you take a running start, jump, and then as you're in the air the three Frisbees are held up (or thrown) and you have to knock them down.  Pretty funny.
 But I didn't get a very good one of Roy.  And mine is just dumb- haha! 

Obviously Shellena wasn't doing a lot of jumping.  And when the guys started playing games a little too intense for even us non-pregnant girls, we made up our own game.  It's called, "Walk Up to Random Strangers At the Park, Point Out Your Husbands, and Ask Them To Guess Which Girl Is With Which Guy, Based Solely On Looks"

We really only asked teenagers that were hanging out at some picnic tables.  They made a competition out of it.  Apparently I look like I belong with Carson, Shellena looks like she belongs with Kenny, and Andrea looks like she belongs with Roy.  They were fun kids.  Wow- am I calling high schoolers kids now?  Weird.

One day, while Carson and Shellena took out the "four-wheeler", the rest of us piled into a car to see if we could find the lake that was supposed to be nearby.  There wasn't any cell reception, so we couldn't look it up.  We had to search the old fashioned way.

After practically disemboweling their poor little car on the treacherous dirt roads, we discovered a different sort of treasure.  Okay- it's a treasure to me.  I'm sure the rest really would have preferred a lake.  But you know how I am with graveyards.
We immediately started a contest of who could find the oldest headstone.  Kenny meandered to the back of the cemetery and soon started shouting out numbers from the 1800s!  That's really early for American standards!  We rushed back quickly to find a whole stretch of the cemetery with little gold plaques on the stone, signifying that they were early Mormon pioneers.
Most of them had arrived in the early 1850s, escaping persecution in the east.  And many of them died before the turn of the century.  This part of the cemetery was so weather beaten, we were picking up knocked over headstones and trying to put some together that were completely in pieces. 
It was fascinating.  Roy told me that the oldest Mormon chapel still in use was in Pineview just a few streets away from where we were.  I resolved right then and there to go for part of the Sunday meetings, just to be in the same place as these pioneers were.  Just because I'm a history nerd like that.

It was starting to get dark and so I was leaning in close to a headstone, studying the inscription, when a dark, bulky something came galloping toward me.  I almost screamed, but realized just in time that it was a dog.  Not so scary, but still not welcome.  You have to realize... dogs and I don't always get along.  I like them better from a distance.  And I prefer that they don't sneak up on me in a dark, enclosed graveyard.

But even I have to say, this was a cool dog.  It was well-groomed, friendly, just hanging out with us.  Andrea wondered how it got in and I made a random {and maybe dramatic} guess that maybe he was the gravekeeper's dog.  You know, made sure that nobody dug up the old pioneer bodies and stuff.  Andrea asked, "Well what does he eat?"

"Probably just chews on the bones from the coffins," Kenny joked.  And at that exact moment, the dog reached behind a little headstone and picked up...


Can you see it there, wedged between her front paws? 

WHAT is creepier than a mysterious dog in a graveyard chewing on a bone?  Yikes! 

Before we left, all feeling the creeps, I made sure to take a picture of the Snow family grave.  The headstone said that William Snow was a personal friend of Joseph Smith, and was the first Bishop of the Pineview chapel that was down the street.  Cool!  But you know what's really interesting?  He was also a polygamist. 
The guy had six wives and I count 26 kids?  Six of which had the same name as another.  How confusing would that be?
"William, can you come here please?  No, the other William!"
Though the Mormon church no longer practices polygamy {and anyone who does practice polygamy is excommunicated from the church} it was definitely once practiced.  It was also a common practice a in the Bible etc., but how often do you come across the headstone of someone from the Bible?  Never!  Seeing the familial relationship all listed out on a headstone like this was so crazy interesting.

After Roy finally dragged me out of the cemetery, the dog thought he was going with us.  He jumped into the car and we had to shoo him out.  I was almost sad to leave him behind.


We went to this chapel, which was constructed in 1868 by a ship builder.  I guess he did a pretty good job since it's not only still standing, but it's being used!  As we sat in the wooden pew I thought back to all the people back at the cemetery.  Had any of them sat in the same pew?  Probably.  I kept an eye out for any initials or anything carved into the wood, but it was kept spotless.

Most of the people in this ward were elderly.  After all, this cabin area is where the retirees go.  All week the six of us had been picking out cabins for ourselves when we all reach that stage.  Then we can come back and have these spontaneous vacations together whenever we want! 

Of course we were all sad to leave the warmth and go back to the cold, the classes, and the work.  But I only have seven weeks of my undergraduate career ahead of me.  Only SEVEN!  I'm going to find every way possible to enjoy them. 

Starting with studying for my Enlightenment Era exam... yay.

Thank You St. V!

Wow, I just realized I have been posting on this blog for a year.  Last year my post was "Confessions of a Valentine Hater."  How precious, watching me develop a heart.

I'm completely over the loathing.  In fact, I'd really like to personally thank St. Valentine and anyone else who got this holiday going.  This celebration couldn't get too commercial.  It's promoting love!  How awesome!  We should have more of these, don't you think?

Well, as my boss (Rick Walton) says, "In the first year of your marriage, every day is Valentine's Day."  :-)

He was trying to make me feel better as I told him that I didn't have any time to do anything for V-day this year.  I'm juggling too many things.  Roy told me not to worry about it.  We could celebrate V-day on Saturday.

So I was completely surprised all day long on February 14th, thinking that we weren't going to be celebrating.  I woke up to a big heart stuffed animal.  Later I found roses.  When I went to leave for school and work, my car was decorated and there was a balloon and chocolates inside.  Just one thing after another.  Every time I was surprised- and I absolutely love being surprised.  On one of the busiest days of my semester, I had a permanent smile on my face.  But I vowed to get my revenge the following weekend.

And I did.  On Saturday.  And check it out: it was my most ambitious cooking yet!

 Here's the set-up.  This is with the lights on, but I had floating candles.  As part of my gift I finally ordered some wedding pictures and put them in some awesome frames we got as wedding gifts.  They will go up in the hallway.

And here is his seat- smothered in love! 

Ta-Da!  Avocado-Crab Appetizer! 

Yes, I crossed into the world of seafood.  It's really not so bad.  I guess it helps that I bought the crab already chunked- I don't think I would have enjoyed ripping it's flesh out of its hard outer shell.  But there is also shrimp in there, cucumber, all mixed together with mayonnaise and cilantro.  Topped it off with paprika.

Roy LOVED it!  But I got a little scolding for making something that I won't eat.  The guy's practically turning himself into a vegetarian because he almost never lets me make meaty foods for him.  But I don't mind making that stuff.  You know, as long as I'm not plucking the chicken or tearing open crab.

My main course was veg, though.  A really really yummy pasta: asparagus, peas, whipping cream, mozzarella cheese, and all kinds of playing with seasonings.  

And my final gift?

A new wedding band.  *Sigh*

A Frozen Wedding Band

Roy and I hit the slopes for the first time this winter a few weeks ago. I've been really into snowboardjng for most of my life. I love it! I'm so happy that my hubby is quickly falling in love with it too.

After snowboarding throughout most of the night, we arrived back at our car famished and ready to find a Denny's. Pancakes 24 hours a day! Woo hoo!

We got in the car and drove away as new snow began to fall, covering the asphalt in a layer of sticky fluff. And also covering up Roy's wedding band that we didn't realize had fallen out of the safety of his pocket.

The disappearance wasn't noticed until a few hours later when we were full, warm, and getting ready for bed. Roy went to retrieve his ring from out of his pocket and found nothing but lint.

I panicked.

That was the ring we picked out together. The ring he forgot to bring into the temple for the ceremony and his dad had to run out to his car to retrieve. The ring that I put on his finger when we got married. I was ready to don my parka and go digginng through the snow that was piling up outside. Roy was willing if I was.

But I figured that most likely the roads up to the mountain would be less than favorable. It probably wasn't a good idea to try to drive up there at 2 in the morning. We decided to sleep on it.
In the morning the snow was thick.  I was sure some teenagers had probably already plowed the parking lot at the resort, not even knowing that they were burying such a precious object.

Short story long, Roy is ringless. For now, until we decide what to do. I don't like it. When we were out at a restaurant for our sixth month anniversary I told him, "Everyone who sees us probably thinks we're engaged." You know, because we are so passed that stage.  Roy sweetly assured me that no one even noticed.

A while later a couple came and sat down at a table next to us. It was one of those places where you're practically sharing a table with everyone around you. I got up and went to the bathroom. Apparently while I was gone the couple beside us asked Roy, "So when's the date?"
We're married, I promise! We're practically veterans--it's been six months! Our wedding band is just frozen in some giant snow mound. And I love that ring too much to get another one. Call me sentimental.

If I can stand the wait, at the first sign of spring I'm going up to that resort and hunting down our little treasure. Anyone have a metal detector?

Honeymoon - Part Two

 When we decided we wanted to go to Kaua'i for our honeymoon, we got some wary looks.  Some people told us to prepare for it to rain every day.  So we did our research and found a place to stay on the "dry side" of the island.  It also helped that July gets the least amount of rainfall of the year.  And you know what?  It only rained once the whole 8 days we were there.
 Our bed and breakfast was located in Waimea.  We drove along the coast through several little towns until we reached it.  I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the place- it was amazing.  Classic Hawaiian house.  It was blue with white posts, and a long porch that overlooked the beach.  There was even an outdoor kitchen- perfect for watching the sun set over the watery horizon.  As soon as we parked our hostess came out and greeted us the Hawaiian way- leis and all!
We loved where we stayed.  One good thing about bed and breakfasts is that you can get advice and tips from your hosts to find the real treasures.  They told us what the best hikes are, the best places to eat, etc.  They were great!  But Roy's style of vacation is to just go until you stumble across something.  Using a combination of these methods, we're convinced we experienced the best of Kaua'i.

One thing our hosts told us about was Snorkel Bob's.  There are two of them on the island.  You can rent snorkel gear for days and use them whenever you want.  It ended up being one of our favorite things to do on the island.
 For some reason the under-water camera doesn't really show colors very well, but the reefs around Kaua'i were definitely colorful.  On our random explorations we sometimes snorkeled in bays with nothing but sand and little toothpick sized fish.  But sometimes we discovered the most amazing things!  Even if we weren't specifically on the lookout for places to snorkel, we always kept our gear in the trunk just in case.

There were fish that kind of glowed in the dark, fish that swam backwards, and fish that I wasn't even sure were fish.  We also found an octopus and creepy moray eels that watched us with their mouths open.  The funniest moment was when I chased a cool looking fish under a rock.  I looked up through the water to get Roy's attention-I wanted him to see the fish too-but Roy was thrashing his arms through the water, pointing beneath me.  When I looked, an impossibly long sea snake was swimming around my ankles.  I got out of there fast!

Another favorite was going to Kamokila Village.  This was one of our random finds.  It's a recreated Hawaiian village just above the large bend in the Wailua River.  Some of it is original, though.  They have ruins from what they think was probably a kind of temple.  It was cool to learn some history of the island.  This village was the place where Kaumaualii, a King of Kaua'i, assembled his war canoes. 
So we tried out our own war canoe.  Kind of.  It was a rented kayak and we weren't really going to fight anybody.   This was the one time it rained.  So ignore my hair please.
  There was a place along the river that we stopped to cliff jump.  Nearby there was a family using a rope swing.  It looked fun, but I've never used a rope swing and they were jumping out of a tree with it.  Roy got the family to pressure me into trying it- haha!  I did, but I basically just belly flopped.  I tried a few more times after that and... I think I better start lifting weights...
Next we followed signs to the fern grotto.  It's a place where the Native Hawaiians used to honor their god of harvest. 
This was as close as we could get.  It's sacred ground for the Hawaiians.  Sorry that it's kind of hard to see in this picture, but it was gorgeous.  It was a shallow cave, about thirty feet in length, with water dripping down, keeping the face of the cliff constantly moist.  That's where the name "Fern Grotto" comes from I'm assuming.  Ferns were simply oozing down and dangling into the mouth of the cave.  Way cool.

Our last stop on the river was a two mile-long hike to a hidden waterfall.  By this time I was getting that arm workout that I was thinking I needed.  Kayaking is kinda difficult when you're pushing against the wind.  We knew this was a popular stop as soon as we got there.  Kayaks galore.
The hike was fun.  Aw, we are so cute!  Heart-shaped leaves.
 These were my favorite plants on the island.  We walked through them on the hike.  They're like tents!  Completely hallow on the inside! 
 Big roots!
 Notice the sign.  It says: Warning, falling rocks can be fatal.  Do not go beyond this point at all times.
SO- we didn't feel too guilty passing up the sign and swimming in the fresh water.  Even though it was freezing cold!!!  We swam right under the falls.  Then we hiked out and Roy kayaked us back to the village because... my arms had given out.

On one of our drives we found a place called Spouting Horn.  Each time the waves crashed against the rocks, water jetted out of a hole further up on the shore- spewing water 40, sometimes 50 feet into the air!  I spent a lot of time trying to catch the perfect picture.  Roy was ready to go after not too long.  I couldn't understand why he wasn't as impressed as I was.  Turns out there is a "spouting horn" in Newport too.  COOL!  I made sure to see it when we went to Newport for Thanksgiving.  :-) 
 But there was a sea turtle hanging out by this spouting horn.  In fact, I think I mentioned, these waters were infested!  Sea turtles were everywhere!  You couldn't get into the water without running into one.  Seriously, when Roy was boogie boarding he accidentally kicked one.  Don't worry, we're pretty sure it was fine.  Roy had a nice gash on his foot from his shell.
Boogie boarding was one of Roy's favorite things to do, as you can tell from his very excited expression.
 I liked it too, but not in the same way.  Roy wanted to be like the locals, who were way out in the ocean with the biggest, scariest waves.  They knew exactly how to catch the crest, and then they knew how to roll into the wave before they slammed into the rocks or got washed into the shallow parts (where I was floating around with two sea lions).  Roy wasn't a pro, but for him it was go big or go home.  For me it was go home alive.  Although I might have been in just as much danger with those sea lions popping up from beneath the sandy water.  They never stayed in the same place.  I REALLY didn't want to kick a sea lion. 
 Without a doubt the coolest part of the trip was when we took a tour of the Na Pali cliffs!  They cannot be reached by road- only by the sea and a few difficult hiking trails.  Although kayaking would have been fun (haha, maybe I'll try that after a few years of weight training) we took a zodiac raft.
 We saw, of course, lots of sea turtles.  Seriously- who says those things are endangered anyway?  But we also saw two different pods of dolphins.  The babies would jump and spin out of the water.
 Our guide was very skilled.  He backed us into several caves and tight spaces. 
 This is called "Lover's Cave" because far in the back, in thick darkness, there is a bank of sand. 
 How gorgeous are those cliffs?
 Tons of movies have been filmed here, including the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
 Someday we hope we can come back and go camping here.  Anyone want to come?
There are a few difficult trails you can hike to get to these cliffs too!  I think I'd pick that over kayaking.
 We parked the raft and took a lunch break.
 And after eating sandwiches (which of course were filled with ham, so I actually had two slices of bread for lunch) we went on a little hike to some ancient Hawaiian ruins.  One section was actually a graveyard for royalty.  If I had been a Native Hawaiian, I would have totally lived here, nestled between the steep Na Pali cliffs. 
 On Sunday we decided we wanted to go to church.  It was close enough to our bed and breakfast to walk.  The moment we walked into the door we felt welcome.  The members were so friendly- almost everyone told us "Aloha!"  There was such a strong spirit of love and you could tell everyone was truly like family.  At the end of the meeting the Bishop announced that one of their members was getting ready to leave for college at BYU-Hawaii which, if you'll remember, is on the island of Oahu.  So they closed the meeting singing "Aloha Oe."  Thank goodness they had the lyrics because even though I've heard that song so many times, I don't know the Hawaiian words.  But we thought it was so cool that we got to experience that farewell song.  Good experience.
Funny thing about Kauai...
There are chickens everywhere!!!!  Whether you are on an expensive resort or you are inland at some McDonalds... these chickens are the only "wild animal" on land!  I laughed every time we saw them.

We thought this little old town was awesome and stopped for some pictures and shopping.
 It has a rich of history, being a sugar plantation town- the first in Hawaii. 
 We didn't need to pay for ukulele lessons because we already got some for free at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  But this sign was cute :-)

From the town we followed signs to this church.  It was constructed in 1856, making it the oldest church on the Hawaiian islands.  Roman Catholic, I think.  It was completely deserted, but the doors were open and we took a look.
 And of course I insisted we check out the graveyard. 
See the little black-and-white pictures on the headstones?  Fascinating. 
 And there was this cool grotto.
 I could go on forever about Kauai.  We went to a festival in the town that inspired Lilo & Stitch, we went to the the United States' most western bookstore (of course), we went to the farmer's market and bought fresh pineapple, we hiked what Mark Twain called "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific", we found a secret waterfall, we had picnics on deserted beaches- we had the time of our lives!

 Look at that local kid up there in the branches.  Yeah he fell.  But miraculously he was laughing when he surfaced.
 And that's me after jumping off the waterfall.  That moldy, creaky ladder was the scariest part.

 Kaua'i has all the vegetation you can imagine.
 Some Buddhist place, I'm not sure, but we passed it a few times.

And then the airport.  As we shuffled onto the plane along with the rest of the passengers, I noticed that no one was talking.  Or even smiling!  It was like a funeral procession.  Who can blame us?  No one wants to leave Hawaii.