On Thursday night, the clock struck midnight, and it became Friday . . . our anniversary.
Chris says, "Its our anniversary. Do you want your present?".
But you see, we agreed not to do presents.
Given the fact that we live the poor student life, its pretty rare that we do do presents.
"You got me a present?" I ask.
Yes, he says.
"But I didn't get you a present," I say.
I know, he says.
Chris walks to his backpack and comes back, with the present hidden behind the couch. He tells me how grateful he is that I blog, how much he loves the blog, how it is our family journal. I'm trying to think of a present that has anything to do with blogging.
Not in my wildest dreams did I expect this:
[isn't she lovely?]
I've been wanting a big real super camera for quite a while now. Our camera got sand in it at the Oregon Coast and has occasional emotional breakdowns, so I joked with Chris that it was a sign it was time for me to move up to the big time. I wasn't serious. Because remember how we're poor? But my husband is sweet and awfully good at spoiling me, and this counts for all 5 years of anniversary presents, and the next five years, and my birthday and Christmas. Ha! I was so surprised and so so excited. I love her.
I do not, however, have any idea how to use her. I've been sticking to the manual setting, and even with that the pictures come out so beautiful. I'm excited (and scared) to play around with it. I love taking pictures.
A few practice/play shots:
[our friends' little Kennedy. isn't she a beauty?]
So despite being totally intimidated and afraid of my new prize, I'm very excited.
I even tucked away my fears and took her to a public place.
I heard from a friend about a hot air balloon festival about 30 minutes from where we live. Carly knows all about hot air balloons, because for some reason children's books refer to them as a practical mode of transportation. So we decided to head out and show her real "hot air boons!".
Now, I thought it would be a few hundred of our closest friends and a few cute balloons and maybe some fair games and food. No. Instead it was several thousand of our closest friends, a full out carnival, and tons of hot air balloons. I could not believe how many people were there. Cameron and Chris tried to score some elephant ears, but the line wasn't moving. Later we asked someone how long they waited for theirs: [drum roll please] one hour! For an elephant ear. Needless to say, we just enjoyed our sack lunches and waited for the balloons. It was fun, though, and when the balloons finally did take off, Carly was more interested then I expected . . . as long as she could take breaks from watching to do sprints.
We drove home after they all took off and I sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" about 800 times to keep Carly awake until we could put her to bed (she doesn't transfer from car to bed well). The girl loves her some "Itsy Bitsy Spider." I would get done and she would demand, "Again!".
That's a wrap for the weekend.
Summer appears to be in full swing, as Carly's knees and hands are constantly scraped and bleeding. She falls because she wants her body to move faster than her feet can take her. I'll pick her up and ask if she is ok and through her tears she says "Ya, ok! Swing slide!". Apparently the worst part about falling is that it slows our progress toward the ultimate dedestination.
She likes to hop like a frog and say "Riggit! Riggit!" (her version of ribbit . . . ). Then she will request that Chris and I "riggit" and we must be getting old, because riggiting is just not as easy as it used to be. Chris did it once and I'm pretty sure every joint in both his legs cracked. Hi-larious.
She has also learned to say "of course" when you ask her to do something and "here ya go" when she gives you something.
And she loves checking on how you're doing: "You ok, mama?".
But most of all, she likes doing things herself. She has entered Miss Independent phase just in time for Independence Day, and her favoritest phrase of all is "Carly do it!". This includes locking the car (she knows exactly the button to push; the other day she locked it and it honked twice and she hands me the keys and says "There ya go, mama"), unlocking the front door, getting in her carseat, opening the blinds . . . all the meaningless tasks you don't think twice about. It makes everything take twice as long, but it sure is cute. I did, however, draw the line when Carly said "Carly do it!" while I was chopping tomatoes.
Oh, and thanks for the kind words concerning my seminary calling.
I've moved past the anger and denial stages, and I'm approaching "acceptance".
Well, we have just been little party animals lately. After our Oregon recovery day, Carly and I met up to play with friends the following three days, and on Thursday night I went to the movies for GNO. Don't see Midnight in Paris. May be the worst movie ever in the history of forever. Right after Snow Dogs. Then on Friday Chris's parents and sister came into town . . . and Chris and I split town. You see, this coming Friday we will celebrate 5 years of wedded bliss, so we decided to steal a night away while his parents were here to watch Carly. It was a good idea.
We went to Grand Rapids, which is only an hour away and isn't particularly spectacular. Chris went there for a research project a few weeks ago and ate at a Bistro that catered to the gluten-free population. So we totally planned our little trip around me getting a large meal of gluten-free stuffed french toast. But I looked online for some other fun things to do in town, and lo and behold, the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum is there, since it is his hometown. That made this little history buff seriously excited, and I dragged my poor husband along on a romantic tour through a political museum for our anniversary. It was actually really cool and we learned a lot about President Ford. He seemed like a good man who didn't want to be president in the first place, as he was appointed vice-president and then became president when Nixon resigned. A quote we saw everywhere was: "I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, so I ask you to confirm me with your prayers." There was also a really touching photographic display of soldiers from the Civil War all the way through the current war in Iraq. They were heart-wrenching and beautiful pictures. The museum turned out to be a really great experience, and I only cried twice.
We ate dinner at 5 at a fancier place near the museum downtown. Four hours later, we were hungry again, so we headed out for dinner #2 at the IHOP next to our hotel. And of course, you have to top off two dinners with Coldstone . . . and a food coma.
The next morning we headed to the main event: gluten-free stuffed french toast. They accidentally got my order wrong, but he said I could have it anyway. So, yes, I got two breakfasts for the price of one. I didn't quite finish both, but I don't think I've ever eaten that much food in one sitting in my entire life. The gf bread was so so fluffy I couldn't help myself. I've never seen such fluffy bread. Mmmmmmm.
Then we headed to Thor and I promptly fell into a peaceful french-toast-induced sleep but woke up in time to see plenty of Chris Hemsworth. We both liked it a lot. Highly recommend it, if you like the superhero thing.
We came home to find Carly as happy as can be, with a brand new giant green ball and a bottle of bubbles. I'm not sure she noticed we were gone.
[Carly's firefly friend, who crawled on her fingers, and who she loved too much and ended up going night-night forever. Today she pointed to the bush we put him in and said "bug go nigh-nigh".]
Oh, and then there was today.
Today is Father's Day. I have a wonderful husband who is really the best, most selfless father in the world. Carly just adores him. I just adore him. I also happen to have a fantastic loving father, whom I love more than I think I've ever been able to express to him. I'm a lucky girl.
But something else happened today, too.
You see, I have been vocally expressing how much I love my calling. I've called it the best calling in the church even. I mean, really: teach once a month, teach the words of the living prophets, teach an always talkative group of wonderful Relief Society sisters. It can't be beat. I really should have just kept my mouth shut.
This morning I was called to be the early morning Seminary teacher in our ward.
If you're unaware of what that means, it means I'll be heading to our church around 5:30 am every school day and teaching teenagers about . . . the Old Testament. Panic time, people.
Here's the problem. I'm not a morning person. My current schedule involves going to bed around midnight or 1 and waking up around 9 or 10.
Here's the problem. I don't know anything about the Old Testament. Really, no one does. But I really really don't and I don't know how I am going to teach these teenagers anything that will make a difference to them.
Here's the problem. Seminary was such an important part of my high school years. It helped my testimony grow in leaps and bounds. I don't want to be the one that makes Seminary a lousy experience for these teenagers who need it so badly every day. Its not just me I'm worried about. Its them.
But there are bright spots. Like, I actually have a team teacher, so we'll be splitting the load. And . . . ok, I'm still working on more bright spots. But I've heard its an incredible calling and you somehow love it when all is said and done. And I've heard the Lord helps you more than you would ever expect. I'm betting on that, because I certainly cannot do it without Him. Every once in a while I feel excited. Every once in a while I feel like maybe I can actually do it. I'm clinging to those every-once-in-a-whiles.
Oh, and Carly? She is beyond fabulous. She is talking like nobody's business. She says stuff all the time where I just start laughing. Today we were blowing bubbles outside and I blew and no bubbles came out. "Try again," she said patiently. Then later she realized she didn't have a towel and said, "Oh, towel! Be right back!" and ran to the front door to get one. Today when she was supposed to be napping I heard her talking, most likely to the plethora of stuffed animals she sleeps with. Then I heard her saying "tickle tickle tickle!". Apparently there was a tickle fight going on. People, her cuteness is more than I can stand.
Without a doubt, the best part of our trip to Oregon was spending a whole week with my family squished in one little beach house. After three years away from the west, I still have a hard time being so far from my family, so I really cherish opportunities like this to be together.
Carly learned everyone's names pretty quick and liked when we were all together. If anyone lagged behind on a beach walk, she would yell at them to catch up. She's bossy like that.
It also took her about 35 seconds to latch on to her Gramma, and I don't think my mom got 5 minutes of peace all week. My mom probably got a decent workout lugging her around the beach.
Carly also loves her aunts and uncles. I think we could have been at home in Idaho and Carly would have been just as happy, as long as everyone was there to play with.
A personal favorite part of the trip was getting to see a lot of my niece Shayla. She is the most outrageously adorable thing ever. It took her a bit to warm up to everyone, but we were buddies by the middle of the week. The girl has the most incredible head of thick dark curls and this cute little cough-laugh that she does when she is being funny. It was fun to get to be around her since we don't get to see her very often. I think in general Carly liked her. She would say "hi, baby Shay!" and wave. But every time Shay would grab Carly's arm or shirt Carly would cry "No! Carly's arm!" or "No! Carly's shirt!". She'll have to get over that.
Once or twice, we were able to steal Carly away from her Gramma or aunts and uncles and get some family of three time. I took Carly out to look at the ocean once and she gave me big hugs and kisses and we pointed at the birds and the ocean and the big rock. She is the sweetest thing.
Well, despite appearances, our trip wasn't all leisurely walks on the beach.
We got down to the business of having fun, too.
We went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
We saw sharks and seals (can I please have one for a pet?) and a sleeping octopus that didn't reveal his eight legs and a pregnant anaconda and the biggest creepiest crabs I've ever seen (we're talking 6 feet across). Carly became moderately obsessed with this giant goldfish-looking fish. It was the only gold one in the tank and she would point and yell to it "fish! fish!" like she expected it to listen to her. I'm pretty sure my mom stood there holding her for like 20 minutes while Carly yelled at her best friend. My current plan is to get Carly a few goldfish for her birthday. Though, they won't be giant, so she might not care for them.
[those sharks did us a favor and swam right above us for the picture]
We also went to nearby Tillamook, OR and went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We watched 40-lb blocks of cheese get cut and packaged, ate free cheese samples, had lunch (have your sandwich on GF bread for only 50 cents extra!), and had massive servings of some of the best ice cream the world has to offer. Tillamook Mudslide will make you a better person.
Closer to home, we found an assortment of activities to have fun and keep busy. We had a campfire on the beach one night, where we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and made Reese's S'mores. It was Carly's first campfire, and she seemed the most interested in eating cold marshmallows out of the bag. The next day we headed to the beach, past where we had the campfire, and she said "hotdog! hotdog!", so I guess it was memorable for her. It was actually a beautiful evening, and my first-ever beach campfire. I think I liked it, despite a slightly gritty hotdog (how does sand get everywhere?).
I think one of Carly's favorite things was flying the kite. She squealed "kite! kite!". She flew it with Gramma and Uncle Jason, and even got to control it all by herself. She was a pro.
I mentioned the tidepools and the sand hill earlier. Its fun to explore the tidepools and touch mushy things and watch crabs fight and tiny fish swim. The ocean is beautiful.
The sand hill is a large hill/mountain completely covered by sand on one side. We climbed all the way to the top only once, as it is quiet the workout to get up there. But the view is breathtaking when you do (of course, I didn't bring my camera that day). But no matter how old you are, running down the sandhill is still fun. It just hurts a little more when you get to the bottom if you are 24 rather than 9. Carly got to run down the sandhill a few times as well, and giggled the whole time down. We would get to the bottom and she would immediately say, "again!".
We also headed to the nearby outlet stores, where I made it out with some cheap Under Armor gear to support my growing gym addiction, and Carly made out like a bandit since Gramma had a credit card in her pocket.
The activities were the perfect offset to the beach walks and watching the NBA finals and Stanley Cup finals every other night.
Way back when, when I was a kid, we used to go to the Oregon Coast on vacation. There was a beach house there that is rented only on referral. My grandparents go every year, and they referred us. We went a few times when I was young and it has always been my most favorite vacation spot. There are memories of finding sand dollars, rolling down the sand hill until my cousin laughed so hard he peed his pants, spotting whales spout, and finding fish and crabs in tide pools. It wasn't a hot, sunny beach. It was the kind of beach where you rolled your sweatpants up and wore a jacket, and the water was so cold that you could barely go past your ankles. But we loved it. And that house that we rented was right there. The Pacific and the beautiful Haystack Rock could be seen right out of the four giant windows in the living room.
Then we all became teenagers, and with sports and friends and camps and schedules, we stopped going. We did many fun family vacations over the years, like Nauvoo, Island Park, and Sun Valley. But this year everything fell into place, my dad was able to reserve a week at the beach house, and every member of my family was able to come . . . everyone, that is, except Brady, who is serving a mission. Its a twist of irony that we finally managed to go when he was gone. Isn't that the way it always goes? He can come next summer though :).
Returning to Pacific City was a serious blast from the past for me. I was thrown back to my childhood, but this time I got to share that joy and make new memories with the man I love most and the girl I love mostest. It was a sweet experience for me to walk on that beach with my husband and run down that sand hill with my daughter. I finally got the chance to share something that has always been so special to me.
The Oregon Coast is beautiful. Its chilly, yes, so if you're planning on wearing your bikini and getting a tan and splashing in the waves, you're out of luck. But we took multiple walks on the beach a day. Honestly I could take two walks on the beach every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of it.
The beach we go to is called Cape Kiwanda. Haystack Rock is the landmark there. Pictures really don't do it justice. It is just an anomaly. When I look at it I can't help but wonder how it got there. And of course, I think for the millionth time that God sure knows how to make beauty in unexpected ways. Carly would point to it regularly and declare "big rock!". She's right; its a very big rock.
Those of you who are regular readers may recall that Carly has a fear of sand and new textures against her skin in general. This problem was remedied by Gramma bringing ocean shoes for her. They are water proof, but kept the sand out, and Carly was just about invincible in them. Aunt Kasee got her to take her magic shoes off once during the whole week. Other than the sand, Carly seemed to like the beach well enough. By the last day, she even managed to end up with soaking wet clothes from splashing near the tidepools.
All in all, I think Oregon's greatest virtue is that it is not crowded. I've been to a California beach, where you can hardly find a spot to lay down a towel. In Oregon, especially because the bulk of our stay there was during the work week, you could walk down the beach and look as far as the eye could see and not see another person. One morning I went for a jog and stopped for a second. I looked all the way down the beach; my footprints were the only ones there.
I have long been wanting to get a picture of the temple to put in Carly's room. She has all sorts of other cute gizmos and gadgets in there, why didn't she have a picture of the House of the Lord?
But I was waiting. Waiting for a super cute picture. Waiting for a super cute frame.
It could wait.
Then in April I was watching General Conference.
“It would be a fine thing if parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so their children from the time they are infants could look at the picture every day until it becomes a part of their life. When they reach the age that they need to make the very important decision concerning going to the temple, it will have already been made.”
Pres. Monson quoting Pres. Kimball in April 2011 General Conference
I got the strongest feeling not only that it couldn't wait, but that it shouldn't wait.
I found a basic wood frame at a thrift store for $1.
I got a Distribution Center picture of the Bountiful Temple, where Chris and I were married, for $1.50 when I was in Idaho.
I painted the frame the same purple I've used throughout Carly's room.
I can't decide exactly where to put it, so I propped it up on her little table.
Carly walked over to it and touched it softly, then said in a soft yet excited voice: