Monday, December 24

Christmas Goals

Goal 1: Not ruin Christmas by sleeping on the couch all day long 
'Cause lately I haven't done much else. I've gotten approximately 16 hours of sleep each of the last few days. I've been so tired. Yes, it's been kind of nice but it also can be incredibly boring and tiresome when I can't accomplish the things that I would like to. But overexertion is dizzying. Still, I will try to sleep a little less. 

Goal 2: Finish the gifts for both sets of parents
...I'm making them, so we shall see how that goes. I seriously need to get moving though. (We are spending Christmas alone this year so I do have a few extra days). 

Goal 3: Eat normal food 
All I've had is tons of soup, juice, and water--none of which is very filling. Unfortunately, I do not have much of an appetite lately.

Goal 4: Do more for myself
I've been very needy this last week and I know it has not been very easy on Dalin. I have not felt my best, but still I need to get some of my energy back and try to function normally. 

Goal 5: Write my Christmas letter to Dalin
We are making it a tradition. Each year on Christmas Eve, we write a letter to one another describing our favorite moments from the year, sharing our testimony, and reminding one another of our love and gratitude for the other. Our first letters to each other had amazing similarities. It just reminded me how blessed I am to have found such a kind and thoughtful husband. As quoted from one of my favorite movies, "We're both so similar!" (Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice). 

Goal 6: Make this Christmas special
Somehow, I have to make this Christmas Eve and Christmas memorable. Very likely, it will be the last and only (as well as the first) Christmas we spend alone together. We unfortunately could not make it to New Hampshire for Christmas this year (I sure have been missing my family though) and we won't be able to head up to Boise until next weekend. I am so hoping I will be feeling better at that time. Until then, I need to make this one and only Christmas alone together extra special for my sweet husband. He deserves so much and I am so, so grateful I have him. I am so happy to have him by my side forever and ever.

Goal 7: Wish everyone a very merry Christmas!
I hope everyone has a very joyful Christmas and remembers with all their hearts the true meaning. Let us all be a little kinder and a little more giving this Christmas and throughout the new year (which is coming fast!). I know that my Savior lives. I am grateful for His immense love for all mankind. I am trying to be more like Him. 

Thank you to my family and friends who are such wonderful Christ-like examples to me. I notice your actions more than you may realize. 

In case I don't get to say it to you in the next day or two, 


Merry Christmas to everyone!

Wednesday, December 19

never say goodbye

My mom flew home to New Hampshire today. Lucky her. 

Last night, she, Dalin, and I stayed in a luxurious room at the Marriott Hotel in Salt Lake City. Mom originally had an early flight out (6am!) but she was luckily able to change it to 1:30pm. Still, we spent the majority of the day at Ikea and then City Creek Mall in SLC. We only looked at temple square from afar because the cold was BONE-chilling and none of us wanted to brave it for a few pictures. 



I wasn't feeling that well, so the shopping was somewhat short-lived but we got some fun things and saw Sister Elaine S. Dalton in one of the stores. We slightly stalked her for a little while (she was in the same store so it wasn't hard) but didn't end up saying anything to her. But it was cool to see her out and about doing her Christmas shopping. 

Back at the hotel, we all relaxed and watched The Voice finale (I had really been rooting for Terry...sigh). Then we took turns showering and I got to talk to my mom for a while as Dalin took his turn. I tried not to be sad knowing she was leaving but it was hard after she took such good care of me for the whole week. I told her not to worry--Dalin would take care of me after she left. Sometimes it is nice to get a break though. 


While here, we got so many awesome projects done around the house.

We completely painted and re-seated our kitchen chairs. 


We also sanded and stained our kitchen table and one of our side tables (thankfully, Mom did most of that). 

Plus, Mom filled our kitchen with food and did lots of laundry and cleaning. It was the best. It felt spectacular to have a spotless apartment...I just need to make it last! 

It really was the best little visit for me--I only wish we had more time together. Thankfully my job gave me some good opportunities to leave work early and take a day off to be with my mother longer. 

I already can NOT wait until she comes back to visit again...hopefully soon...

Thank you so much, Mom, for your absolute thoughtfulness. You do so much for Dalin and me. I love you. You are the best. 

<3

Monday, December 17

Endings and Beginnings

Sweet relief.

Fall semester is over! I am so incredibly relieved. Already I am somewhat dreading next semester, though I am looking forward to lots and lots of changes. I will be taking classes that focus on my English major and Dalin will be doing the same with Psychology. We both have just one religion course left.

This semester, my first at BYU, went well, though I cannot deny that I prefer BYU-Idaho immensely. There is just a very different Spirit on campus there. It is much less competitive and much more fun and interesting. Despite this, I did well for my first semester here in Provo. I received an "A" in English, Spanish, and Marriage & Family. I received an "A-" in my other English class (interestingly enough, the English class I greatly preferred), and a stinking B+ in my Doctrine & Covenants class which was probably my favorite class of the semester but graded very annoyingly. The class is based off of 6 grades:

3 quizzes ............ A+, A+, A
1 essay ............... 100
Midterm ............. B
Final ................... B

Somehow all that makes a B+ which seems kind of unfair considering I did so well on everything else in the class and attended every single class (and participated), though attendance and participation apparently play no role in determining the grade.

But I (somewhat unwillingly) digress. Christmas will be here in one week and that means a LOT of things need to be done! Like actually getting gifts for my family for example...

My mom leaves Wednesday (which I can hardly bear to think about right now...I'm pretending it's not happening) and I need to hurry and prepare Christmas gifts and make plans with Dalin since we'll be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone (for the only time in our lives).

Work, school, and life are about to get significantly busier in the little Gunnell home.

But most of it, I am looking forward to ;)

Thursday, December 13

That Time My Mom Came to Utah

My Mom flew in from New Hampshire yesterday. I so wished we could have been flying out there instead, but I am just grateful she could come at all before Christmas!

I picked her up from the Salt Lake Airport around 1:30pm and we drove back to Provo.

Side note: That was the farthest our car had ever driven. 
It wasn't even that far. But our car hit 200 miles...it's getting so old!  ;)

I totally cried when I saw her. I was the only weirdo standing almost directly on the "Do not cross" line where everyone who comes into Salt Lake exits and I was hopping up and down excitedly, craning my neck to see her. Her dumb plane was twenty minutes delayed which I did not realize until later as I began to wonder where the heck she was...but I was just so happy to see her. We collected her luggage and drove home chatting. 

I dropped her off at the Wilkinson Center (the Wilk) so she could browse the bookstore for an hour or two while I returned to work. When Dalin and Mom and I were all back at the apartment (which was not as clean as I would have liked), we talked and visited, Shaina and Layton came over and then we had a wonderful conversation. It was a great night and I was just so excited to have her here. We were exhausted by midnight--Mom had had to get up at 4am in New Hampshire to make her early flight and Dalin and I had gotten up at 7am (not so bad, but we're tired college students) to take Christmas pictures--so we fell asleep instantly.

Then today was great, too. Dalin and I went to work and school and my mom got to sleep in a little. When she woke up, she got right to work. She did so much laundry (I felt so bad but she insisted), and washed our dishes (which has to be done by hand), then she vacuumed, tidied up everything, and made our bed. Coming home after work was a huge surprise--it looked so wonderful. It was such a huge burden that was lifted off of me. 

Even though she did NOT have to do those things for me, I am so grateful to have my mom here to take care of us for a few days. I wish it could be longer.
Plus, we went to the mall and had a ton of fun looking at shoes, clothes, and showing her stores that we don't have in the east. Dalin has a sweet new navy down jacket that he looks SO hott in, a light denim shirt (which I have been wanting to buy for him forever...), and two v-necks (one teal, one maroon). I got some sweet shoes that I LOVE, a cute jacket that was on sale at Forever 21 (it's pinkish-purple which is a color I am not overly fond of, but I had to admit that I really liked it on), and a sparkly mint scarf. 

We got some chocolate at See's (of course)...Dalin got key lime as always, and for my mom and I we bought my new favorite, dark chocolate California peanut brittle. It is so delicious and it's the best kind of peanut brittle because you can actually bite it.

After our shopping spree (Dalin had finally had enough), we stopped by Sarah's apartment to visit with her (except, we totally have to see her again before she leaves for New Hampshire and then for her mission to Ecuador). We had a nice time talking and laughing until it felt late and we returned to the apartment to wind down.

I am so glad my mom is here. It makes me just so happy!!!!!!!!!!! I love her so much. And I do not want her to leave.

Monday, December 10

Almost There

We are almost there...and by that I mean almost done with school for the semester, thank heavens. 

There are so many things I want to probably won't accomplish while on break, but I will be grateful for the free time and extra time to rest. I am exhausted. I feel like I am running on adrenaline basically all day at work. I end up being okay but I just can't wait to have time to sleep and read and paint!!!!

Plus, Dalin and I still need to do Christmas cards...we have some ideas in mind but they are top secret as of right now. Mainly because if you are reading this, chances are pretty good you will get one. 
Not the pictures we're using, just appropriately Christmasy

I just need to find a willing photographer and possibly some props for the shoot. 

Do you have any suggestions for cute Christmas pics for us? I am obsessed with some of the ones I have seen on Pinterest. And since we lamely did not send out cards last year, I think we are a little overdue. 

More later! Gotta study and ace a final real quick... ;)

Sunday, December 9

Good Things Are Happening

Life is wonderful right now. It is always wonderful, but particularly now.

Dalin and I both are just about done with school this semester to start--that is certainly a good thing. 

But there are many other reasons life is grand. 

My mom will be here this Wednesday! She will only be here for a week but it will be lovely to have her here before Christmas and know that she can help me with gifts and housework and I can't wait to do some of the crafts from Pinterest that we love (it's gonna be so great!!!!). 

I wish Dad, Payson, Donovan, and Butterscotch could come too, but it looks like that won't be happening this year. Thanks to my job, we won't be seeing any family for Christmas (which is a huge bummer because Dalin doesn't need to work during Christmas vacation) but we are planning on visiting Dalin's parents and sisters in Boise for New Years. 

We will be driving up there for once in our new Camry! We finally got a new car! It is a 2012 silver Toyota Camry and it had--get this--40 miles on it when we got it! 40 miles EVER. I couldn't believe it. Anyway it's gorgeous and sleek and it rides smooth. And my parents first car together--also a silver Toyota Camry--was the car that they brought me and then Payson home from the hospital in. When my mom told me that, it almost made me cry. 


I am so looking forward to the end of finals...just 3 left for me and 4 for Dalin. So exciting! Lots of exciting things coming up...more news later ;)

Hope everyone is having a lovely Sabbath day! We certainly are! 

Monday, December 3

Free Christmas Shoot Giveaway? I will take that...

If you are interested in entering for a free photo shoot (and if you live in the Utah valley area), you can click on this link below!
http://lavitaebella-elisabeth.blogspot.com/2012/12/christmas-photo-shoot-mine-and-free-one.html

I have only met K one time but I have stalked her work. She is a GREAT photographer. And a sweet person. Check out her website, here: http://kirstenandryanwiemer.blogspot.com/

I hope I win! If not, I might just book an appointment...still need pics!!!

<3  

Thursday, November 29

Christmas Gifts

I need help.

Not mental help, though that might be true, too.

What I need is help with gift ideas. I am stumped.

Every year, I start Christmas lists and start gathering gifts in November. This year, I haven't even been able to think of a single item for anyone...well except Dalin, but only because he keeps asking for one thing (another 25lb weight...).

I generally like to give thoughtful gifts, or ones that are needed and will actually be enjoyed. I think my disadvantage this year (though I tend to look at it as more of a tremendous blessing) is that I do not work at Dillard's like I did last winter. It was easy to be thinking about Christmas gifts all day while working in the Men's Department which already looked like Christmas in early November. Plus I got so many deals with my employee discount there...that was undeniably a great benefit of working in a department store around the holidays. I would not, however, want to trade back from the job I have now as office assistant manager at King Henry.

Anyhow, I would really appreciate some advice.

Dalin and I had said we were going small (though Dalin says he has already bought me four things.....) but I want to find something special and useful for him.

And then there are our many family members to think of.

Sigh. Well we will figure it out.

If you can think of some fun gift ideas or know of a site where I can get ideas for home-made gifts, I would LOVE to hear them.

How is your Christmas shopping going??

Wednesday, November 28

Excuses, Excuses

Well, I haven't posted in over a week and I feel kind of bad about it. Mostly because I was doing so well up until the Thanksgiving break.

Let me just give you a brief synopsis of why I am lacking in my blogging:

Número Uno, I have SO many papers to write!
I have to write:
  • A ten-page analysis of James Joyce's "The Dead"
  • A five-page theoretical analysis of a work I have not even read yet
  • A four-page essay on a specific section of the Doctrine and Covenants and its history (I chose section 49--revelation for the Shakers--if you're curious)
  • An essay on "La Dama del Alba" for Español
  • A delivery outline for a final presentation
  • A preparation outline for that very same presentation
#2, I need to study!!!!
I need to study for:
  • My Marriage and Family final exam
  • My D&C final exam
  • My Spanish oral exam
  • My Spanish final written exam
  • My English final on various literary theories (zzzz...)
#3, We are planning to get a new car!
In the next week are so, we are planning to buy or lease (whichever we end up being able to afford) a car with a warranty. We are considering:
  • A Honda Accord
  • A Honda CR-V
  • A Honda Pilot
  • A Toyota Camry
  • A Toyota Rav-4
  • A Hyundai Elantra
So many choices....

#4, Our apartment is an endless pigsty of doom.
I need ought to:
  • Do laundry
  • Put our tornado of clothes away
  • Unpack from Thanksgiving break (or just leave it for Christmas, ha ha not)
  • Pick up our living room which looks like an explosion of school papers, pillows, and jackets/sweatshirts
  • Clear our kitchen table (which has basically been unusable for months because of the mess on it)
  • Clean our bathroom (or beg Dalin to do it for me...)
  • Get rid of the tons of extra crap that we have...seriously, why do we have so much stuff
  • Simplify. This goes with the last point, but it needs re-emphasis.
Here are some lovely quotes on simplicity:


"Let us turn to the pure doctrinal waters of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us joyfully partake of them in their simplicity and plainness." ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

"Let us simplify our lives a little. Let us make the changes necessary to refocus our lives on the sublime beauty of the simple, humble path of Christian discipleship—the path that leads always toward a life of meaning, gladness, and peace." ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
It looks like I will need to do some mighty praying to accomplish all of these things. 
I'm also recovering from the most obnoxious cough which began (unfortunately) the day that we left for Boise for Thanksgiving break. I promise I will blog about our wonderful holiday as soon as possible. For now, wish me luck! 

Tuesday, November 20

Day 20: Thanksgiving Break!

I am so grateful for breaks from school!!!!!!!! I cannot wait to be in Boise with our family members! We are leaving this afternoon--Shaina, Layton, Dalin, and I and we are most likely picking up Marisa Johnson on the way.

I LOVE Thanksgiving! 

I love family and food and games and laughter!
Although I will most certainly miss my wonderful family in New Hampshire especially because we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, I always have fun with my brothers and sisters-in-law.

I hope that everyone has a terrific Thanksgiving! I am grateful for these few days off to get the heck out of Utah and be with some family.

And who knows, we might drive home in a new car... ;)
But more about that later...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!! <3

Let me know what you are doing for the break!

Day 19: Fifteen Months of Marriage

I am grateful for 15 blissful months of marriage!

You know what they say, time flies when you're having fun ;)

What we've done right:
Telling each other we love each other...many times every day
Kisses, hugs, and snuggling daily
Smiling always
Laughing a lot
Saying sorry often
Forgiving constantly
Dates weekly
Couples' prayer night and day
Spontaneity...spontaneously!
Respecting the wishes of one another
Random acts of kindness
Giving gifts once in a while
Sharing chores
Playing games often
Having Family Home Evening weekly
Reading a chapter in the scriptures nightly
Planning our family...constantly ;)
Trying new things daily
Spending time together (for us, constantly)
Putting aside disagreements that can wait--just about always
Attending the temple together as much as possible
Making decisions together always
Being completely honest with one another
Always trying to be the spouse we want to have

We have lots to work on (mostly me) but we are doing our best.
And I am so happy with how things are going :)

What are some things you do to increase the love between you and your spouse?

Sunday, November 18

Day 18: SUCCESS

I am grateful when our many efforts were a success!  The primary presentation for the BYU Married 4th Ward was wonderful. I was so worried about it all day but evidently it was not necessary. We did run out of time and had to cut back a little bit, but it still went great. My favorite parts were when the children came up on stage. David was very funny when he said his lines he had memorized. I loved when the kids sang "Sunbeam" together with their little Easter egg "shakers." I also loved listening to each of the nursery parents speak about their child. We seriously have the cutest primary....

We received so many compliments and I just felt so reassured that we did a great job. Although it went so well, I am kind of hoping I won't have to do it again for a while. Now that I've said that, I probably am in for it next year...

I am thankful for everyone who helped me out with the presentation! You are all so wonderful! Pizza party for primary presidency tomorrow at 7:30pm!

<3

In other news, Madagascar was on tbs today, and I realized that the Mormon Tabernacle choir is singing the opening song when Marty is running in his dream field in the wild. I even checked. It is them! The song they were singing is called "Born Free." So cool.

Saturday, November 17

Day 17: Getting Dressed Up


Sometimes, it is fun to dress up for parties.

Dalin and I dressed up for our ward Christmas party tonight. It was lovely. We had it at the Wilk on campus in one of the ballrooms. We listened to Christmas music on the piano and ate elegant food with elegant table settings and decorations. I should have taken some pictures of that part.

We had cordon bleu, yummy potatoes, vegetables, great rolls, and the most perfect square of cake. It was delicious--I ate every bite on my plate.

Dalin and I forgot White Elephant gifts because we had just come straight from the movie theater where we had watched Skyfall with Shaina (it was very, very cool by the way). It was okay though because we met up with Marisa Johnson and Sister Lee (from Dalin's mission) during the middle of it and missed that part anyway.

Then there was dancing!  We were distracted for most of it, though we did get some dancing in which I was so happy about. We need to go dancing more often...

It was a lovely night.
I am thankful for fun little nights to dress up and feel fancy once in a while.
They make me feel special. And I love when my husband wears sweaters ;)


Friday, November 16

Day 16: Friday Night Dates & Laughter

 
We had a great, great date last night (Friday).  I cannot even begin to express how much I enjoy spending time with my husband (obviously a good thing...).  He really is my best friend and we always laugh so much when we're together.  Dalin always thinks of the funniest things to say and I try my best to keep him laughing, too.  We certainly are far from perfect and sometimes argue like we've been married fifty years, but we are quick to apologize and quick to forgive. I think that is the best way to have a happy marriage. That, and loads of laughter.

Anyway, we went to see "Let There Be Light" on campus. Both our lovely cousin Paige Petersen, and our good friend Anthony Miller are in the BYU Concert Choir. The performances were beautiful and the Spirit was very strong particularly during the hymns about Christ (which the majority of them were!).  I think my personal favorite performance was when the Concert Choir and BYU Singers sang "Morning Has Broken" together.  I absolutely love that song.

After the concert, we met four other couples at Red Robin for dinner.  Anthony and Mallory came, Jason and Eva, Derek and his date (who was from Boston!), and Andrew (new friend) and Allyson. We had a blast playing hang man and trying to name various countries. We told lots of stories and shared lots of laughs.

Then we stopped at the Creamery to pick up some ice cream and headed to Jason, Anth, and Derek's apartment to play some games. We started with "Reverse Charades." Most hilarious game ever. We laughed until our throats were sore. Then we played my game--which I took from my favorite Aunt Molly and Uncle Andy--"Bea Arthur." We laughed some more and finally had some ice cream and hurried out to our car at 1:30am so we wouldn't get towed.  It was a wonderful night.

I am thankful for Friday night dates and for laughter!

Things you might not have know about laughter:

Those who laugh frequently tend to live YEARS longer than those who rarely laugh!

"Statistics show that little kids laugh 400 times a day. One study showed that grownups laugh only eleven.  Proverbs tells us, “Laughter is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”  Now there is medical evidence to corroborate that theory.  Volumes are written today on the therapeutic benefits of laughter.  
Dr. William Fry of Stanford University Medical School likened laughter to a form of physical exercise.  It’s like jogging on the inside.  It lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, improves lung capacity, massages internal organs, increases memory and alertness, reduces pain, improves digestion, and lowers the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenalin.  It’s good for the muscles involved in laughter, your chest and abdomen, and it exercises those muscles not involved.  Dr. Fry said that laughing 100-200 times per day is the cardiovascular equivalent of rowing for 10 minutes.  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather laugh than row.   
Besides physical benefits, laughter also has psychological gains.  It teaches us to be out of control, brings us into the moment, helps us transcend our problems, brings us closer to people and helps us think more clearly."

LAUGH!

Thursday, November 15

Day 15: Days like today

Today was great. It really was. 
I felt like this kid today
I got a 100 on my last Doctrine & Covenant's quiz (which is a miracle considering how little time I had to study last night).

Then I had a great time in my LDS Marriage & Family class where we talked about children and how to raise them (Note to self: Say no kids! They need to hear "no" more often. It means you love them!). 

After that, I headed home to pick Dalin up to bring him to work and to make lots and lots of stuffing for the King Henry Thanksgiving party today. It was incredibly easy. I chopped up some celery to add to it. I never was a huge fan of stuffing, but I decided I like it now...it was delicious! 

At work, we did not have much going on other than preparation for the Thanksgiving lunch, which started at one. We went around the table (there were like 18 of us) and shared what we were grateful for. I shared that I was grateful for eternal families because family is my number one priority. I also said that I was grateful I can be with my family for eternity and that even though my great grandmother passed away last week, I was comforted to know that I can see her again.

After eating (the food was magnificent--I wish I had pictures), we settled back in the office. The King Henry owner's wife was so sweet--she complimented my outfit and what I said at the table. That put me in a really good mood. I asked my wonderful manager about getting next Wednesday off so we could head to Boise early (she said I could!!!!!!!!!!) and in addition, I got informed that I was receiving a raise! YES. It was so exciting. I almost died waiting until after Spanish to tell Dalin but I had really wanted to tell him in person. 

Overall, it was a wonderful day. And I am grateful for those random days that mean so much! 

Day 14: Spontaneous Fun

I am grateful for making time to have fun. 

Confession: In all honesty, I was not sure that I wanted to go to the King Henry activity last night, but it ended up being a blast.

We went to Hang Time in Orem with several residents from King Henry and it ended up being a blast. We jumped on the trampolines and played PIG on the basketball court and tried to dunk (fail--it's really hard for me to dunk even with the advantage of a trampoline). I got really tired and sweaty--it was great. Embarrassingly enough, that was probably the most exercise I've gotten in like three months. 

But we had a great time and I would definitely go back. Hint, if you get the chance to go to Hang Time in Orem, I would take it! 

Therefore I am grateful for spontaneous nights for fun. Sometimes, you just need it.


As you can see, this place is big and cool. 
I hope we can go back sometime soon!!!!

Tuesday, November 13

Day 13: A Warm Home

Old picture of the living room. I'd show a more recent one but...it's a disaster
 I am grateful for a warm apartment and our friendly neighbors.

I am thankful that we can afford to live so close to BYU campus, and for the ward we are in. The BYU Married 4th Ward is terrific. We have so many great couples who are always willing to serve one another. If nothing else, being with such a great ward gives me hope for the future of the Church. It is amazing how quick everyone is to fill a need for someone else. 

Thank you for wonderful neighbors and ward friends. I am so blessed to be so close to so many saints.
Add caption
Ward friends (last year). Now the couple on the left have a baby girl :) and the couple in the middle has moved away :(

Monday, November 12

Day 12: Christmas Music

I am grateful for Christmas and Holiday music. 

Yes, I am kind of crazy and like to listen to it year round, but that is just because it makes me so happy! It always puts me in a good mood. My favorite holiday songs are the classics by Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Gene Autry, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, etc. They just have the classiest voices. I wish all music was still like that...

When I listen to Christmas music, I feel warm and cozy. I imagine my home at Christmas and feel so much joy. I love when we have a cheerful fire burning and our fresh-smelling Christmas tree lit, and our stockings on the mantle, with lots of cute elfish decorations scattered around the house. I love getting Christmas cards with family pictures to hang. I always look forward to watching holiday specials on the Hallmark channel--as corny as they often are. I like that hymns and carols can be heard almost constantly. I love the smells of Christmas--pine, oranges, cinnamon, wrapping paper, wood, and balsam fir all mixed together. I love setting up the creche and imagining how the characters in the nativity would have looked and felt upon seeing their newborn Savior. 

Christmas music reminds me of all these things and more. So next time you hear some cheerful holiday music, try to remember what it represents and the emotions and memories associated with it. You might just realize that you love what it represents, too.

Thank you for Christmas music!!!!

Here is a link to a terrific holiday playlist!

Here is a link to MoTab Christmas carols and hymns!

Sunday, November 11

Day 11: Little Children

Cute kids
I have a confession.

I was really, really freaked out when I got called as Primary President of the BYU Married 4th Ward. When I got called to Bishop Schroeder's office, I knew I was getting a calling. Dalin had just been called as Sunday School President, and I had just been released as Ward Bulletin Specialist. Still, getting called as Primary President had not even occurred to me. I happily accepted the calling. It wasn't until later that it sunk in that I would be teaching the children every week and additionally would be in charge of the primary program in the fall. I called some great women to lead with me and they have been a huge blessing for me in this calling. They know their responsibilities and do them well. But it is the primary children who have had the most significant effect on me.

They are so humble and pure of heart in all they do. They are joyful and love to laugh and share the things they know about the gospel. Children are great teachers. They teach me more about being like Christ than I could ever teach them. As I have taught primary (alongside my counselors) for the last seven or so months, I have learned that it is my duty to reinforce the principles of the gospel being taught in the children's homes. We are helping them to build a foundation of faith in the gospel. We are not forcing them to believe in what we are teaching, but rather encouraging them to make good choices and exercise their agency.

I love the primary children. They bring me happiness when I do not feel like being cheerful. They have taught me to strive to maintain purity in heart and have humility and meekness. The children have increased my desire to be a mother. They have the pure love--and light--of Christ within them.
President Gordon B. Hinckley with some children
President Spencer W. Kimball said: 
"I should like . . . to pay special tribute to the divinely inspired Primary organization of the Church. It is just a hundred years ago that Bishop Hess, with the approval of the First Presidency, called Aurelia Spencer Rogers to organize the first Primary in Farmington, Utah. From that humble beginning has grown a worldwide organization that has touched the lives of millions of people. I am confident there is not one within the sound of my voice who has not had his or her life influenced for good by the teachings of the devoted officers and teachers of this Primary organization."
Jesus loves the little children
 President Boyd K. Packer gave a great talk on children. 

“Children are an heritage of the Lord: and … happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”
The creation of life is a great responsibility for a married couple. It is the challenge of mortality to be a worthy and responsible parent. Neither man nor woman can bear children alone. It was meant that children have two parents—both a father and a mother. No other pattern or process can replace this one.

The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children.

One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents. We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah’s prophecy that “a little child shall lead them.” In Jerusalem, “Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” “Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. “And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”

We read in the Book of Mormon of the visit of Jesus Christ to the New World. He healed and blessed the people and commanded that the little children should be brought to Him.
Mormon records, “They brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.” He then commanded the people to kneel. With the children around Him, the Savior knelt and offered a prayer to our Father in Heaven. After the prayer the Savior wept, “and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. “And when he had done this he wept again.”

I can understand the feelings expressed by the Savior toward children. There is much to be learned from following His example in seeking to pray for, bless, and teach “those little ones.”

I cannot wait to have little children to light up my life and serve as a constant reminder of who am trying to emulate.


I am grateful for primary and little children.

Day 10: Temple Marriage & Eternity

The Lord's House, where inside, I have a better sense of my individual worth
 
I am so thankful for the gift of eternal marriage. When I think that my great grandmother, Nana Kane was away from her husband for 20+ years, I cannot imagine how she did it. And then I think of my grandmother, Grammy Hill, and how she has been apart from her beloved husband for 30+ years and I cannot fathom how she managed either.  Though I cannot even stand to think of being away from Dalin for so long, I am comforted by our belief in eternal families.

The reason I chose to be married to Dalin in a holy temple of the Lord was because I knew that only through the temple would there be the right authority to seal my husband to me--and me to him--for time and all eternity. No other authority can truly marry you beyond this life for all eternity.
I know that as a daughter of God, I am royalty. Dalin is a son of God, and therefore is also royalty. Sometimes, I do not feel like royalty. Sometimes I realize that I have not been trying my hardest and that I have the potential to do and be more. When this happens, I turn to the temple. In the temple, there is safety and peace. To me, it is like a castle and when I am inside, I feel like royalty.
There is NO place, I would rather be on this earth. I am grateful for temples and for the powerful spirit which is so strong within them. I hope someday that my children will be married here and have the opportunity to know of the most sincere and truest form of happiness that can be felt on this earth.
My eternal sweetheart ;) So handsome
Families are forever! If you do not believe this, find out for yourself!

Friday, November 9

Day 9: The Beauty of the Earth

Today has been simply beautiful.

It was raining as I walked to my English class this morning. I walked with the hood of my coat on and my hands in my pockets, but I was loving the rain. I wish it would rain more here.
What I do in the rain when it's warm
I love rain so much! My backyard in New Hampshire
After class, it was raining harder. I brought Dalin to campus then headed to work. It wasn't long before it began to snow outside. The flakes were big and beautiful. Several hours later, as it continued to snow, the ground finally began to turn white.

We listened to cheerful Christmas music at work. Christmas music always puts me in a good mood. It looked like a Winter Wonderland outside by the time I left for my Spanish class.

When I finally got to see Dalin after a long day of missing him, it was dark outside and still snowing. The snow looked beautiful in the dim lighting. We stopped at the BYU Creamery and got some things for dinner and a few cans of food to add to our pretty meager food storage. We are dedicated to working on it. At home, Dalin made me some soup and then we used our new hot chocolate maker and shared the most perfect cups of french vanilla hot chocolate. We played more Christmas music and enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of our untidy home.

All in all, it was a wonderful, peaceful evening. I feel so blessed that I get to spend an eternity of them with my dear, dear husband. 

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."  ~George Washington Carver



"Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars... and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful." ~Osho
"I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite." ~e.e. cummings

 

Day 8: Messy Houses

I cannot believe I'm saying this, but I am grateful for messy houses.
If I never had one, I would never appreciate when it is clean. 
Guess which state mine is in now?
Not the latter...
I am working on it.
This weekend, I intend to spend a good two or three hours folding clothes, 
washing dishes,
wiping down surfaces, 
and picking up socks and shoes that always manage to get strewn across our living room.
A clean house gives me peace of mind.
So in reality, I guess I am thankful for the perspective that a messy house gives me.
Wish me luck this weekend! ;)

"I get strangely obsessed about the cleanliness of my house." 
~Utada Hikaru

"Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door." 
~Marcelene Cox

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."  (In reality, this applies to more than just children)
~Phyllis Diller 

How it will NOT look...

Wednesday, November 7

Day 7: Things to Look Forward To

I am looking to the future.
I am trying to be positive.
But I am grateful for things to look forward to.
Such as:
Watching Survivor
Thanksgiving in Boise
Finishing the semester
My mom coming out west to visit!
Christmas!
Beginning our family
Seeing my lovely cousin who just returned from her mission
and whom I have missed very much
 Trying new things
Painting more and more
My friends getting married!
Going home to New Hampshire
Being with family as much as possible
Graduating (can't come soon enough)
Moving out of Utah
Christ's Second Coming
Becoming a Mom
I hope that I am on the earth when Christ comes again.
I hope my children will be able to come into a world where marriage is honored and families are forever. I hope that my ancestors will accept the gospel. I hope I spend the rest of my life serving others and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with as many people as I can.
I know it's true.
It is one of the only things that keeps me looking ahead with hope.
I will begin to pray for our president. I will hope he can help to preserve at least some of the values our country has held dear since its beginning.
Whether you like him or not, pray for our president.
Your prayers have a significantly greater effect than any vote ever could.
Do your part and work a little harder to be a little better.

Tuesday, November 6

FHE with the Gunnells

We are trying really hard to have fun and fitting (and consistent) Family Home Evening for us as a young married couple. Soon we will have children to incorporate into the lessons and teach, so while it's just the two of us, we need to make it specialized to us.
So here is what we did:

Opening Prayer: Me (Dalin always picks me... ;)

Opening Song, chosen by Dalin: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (how cute is he??)
Here, you can listen, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbdvo019mgM

For his portion, Dalin shared this article
His favorite quote of them all that he suggested we put on the wall in our home is this one:

“May our families and homes be filled with love: 
love of each other, love of the gospel, love of our fellowman, and love of our Savior
As a result, heaven will be a little closer here on earth.
May we make of our homes sanctuaries to which our family members will ever want to return." ~President Thomas S. Monson

I love it!

I shared bits and pieces of this talk by Quentin L. Cook.
I was reading it for homework for LDS Marriage & Family, so I thought I might as well share it with Dalin. I thought that this quote was very interesting (and very telling):

"We recognize that there are enormous forces arrayed against women and families. Recent studies find there is deterioration in devotion to marriage, with a decrease in the number of adults being married. For some, marriage and family are becoming 'a menu choice rather than the central organizing principle of our society.'"

For our closing song, we sang along to this version of "Love At Home." It was so great ;)

 We are currently reading Jacob in the Book of Mormon. We read chapter 7 for scripture study, and our "treat" was having Olive Garden take-out...which we basically do every other week because we both have our favorite meals (Dalin's is the Venetian Apricot Chicken, mine is the Chicken Scampi). We are probably poor because of our slight obsession with "Italian food," but it makes our lives easier with less dishes to wash, and yummy food that always lasts two days. 

As for an activity, well, I consider watching football as Dalin's activity, and doing homework mine. Plus we played Yahtzee with Shaina and Layton on Sunday...close enough ;)


Love this old picture of us :) So, so happy!
What do you do for FHE?
Do you have fun or interesting ideas for us?

Day Six: Our Founding Fathers

I am thankful for the faithful men who developed the Constitution of the United States.
I am thankful for their belief that, under God, all men are created equal.
I am grateful for the freedoms that have been given to us and defended over the past two hundred plus years.
I am grateful for their wisdom and dedication to developing principles by which we ought to govern ourselves.
I am glad that they had morals and values and that the majority of them (52 out of 55) were men of faith.

Benjamin Franklin had a very impressive system of values, which you can read about right here.

If you would like to take a moment and read about our Founding Fathers, I would highly suggest reading this.

Here is a segment of it: 

"There is a distortion of history frequently heard that our nation does not have biblical or Christian roots and that our Founding Fathers were mostly deists and not Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth."

President George Washington said: "It is impossible to rightly govern … without God and the Bible," and also "To the distinguished Character of a Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the most distinguished Character of Christian." 

Our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, said it best: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity."

Benjamin Franklin said very profoundly: “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”

Thank you, for giving us this free nation to live in.

Monday, November 5

Day Five: My Great Grandmother

My lovely great grandmother turned 97 today. 
I love her so incredibly much. 
She is a wonderful woman who still has a sense of humor even in the frailty of old age.
Although she is physically weak, she is mentally and spiritually strong. 
She is not yet a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, but I am certain that one day she will accept the gospel and become a Latter-day Saint. 
My Nana, Claudine Kane, has been apart from her husband for twenty-one years. 
If you ask me, that is far, far too long to be separated from one's beloved spouse. I cannot even fathom being away from Dalin for that long a time. For this reason, and as I see her suffering from bodily pain and weakness, I hope that she will soon pass from this life so she can be reunited with her loving husband--my great grandfather--and with her Savior.
I cannot wait to see her in the prime of her life--I know that I will see her again and I know she will be full of joy and life. 
I know that families are forever.
I am so comforted by this knowledge and wish that all could know the potential we have to spend an eternity of happiness with our loved ones.
The next time I see my great grandmother, I know she will have a smile on her face and be firmly holding the hand of her husband. I so look forward to seeing her at peace and in the prime of her life.
I am grateful to know that I can be with my family again and for all eternity.

I just love her so much

Who are you grateful for?
Do you believe that families are forever?

Who in your family do you look forward to seeing again someday?

Sunday, November 4

Day Four: Good Literature

I am grateful for good books. I cannot possibly describe how deep my love for books goes. But in third grade, it was my goal to read every book in my English teacher's classroom. (That included all of the "easy" books, which I still enjoyed reading for the gorgeous art in them, as well as all of the chapter books for advanced students). By the end of the year, I had succeeded.
I love reading so much, that I decided on my major because of it.  Nothing is more important to me than being a mother and raising a family...but I would still like to support my family in some way. Then I considered my primary interests and talents: reading, writing, editing, drawing, painting. I then thought, is there some job out there where I could get paid to read? Yes, I thought. There is. Editing and publishing books was my solution. If I could work for a company that publishes children's or young adult books, I could read things like "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games" all the time. And so, for those of you who are curious, that is why I chose to be an English major with a minor in Editing. I love to read. So much.
Thank you, for giving me good books to read. 

"There is no surer foundation than a mutual taste in literature."
~P.G. Wodehouse

“I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”
~C.S. Lewis

"There is something wonderful about a book. We can pick it up. We can heft it. We can read it. We can set it down. We can think of what we have read. It does something for us. We can share great minds, great actions, and great undertakings in the pages of a book."

~Gordon B. Hinckley

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."
~C.S. Lewis

"Good books are as friends, willing to give to us if we are willing to make a little effort."
~Gordon B. Hinckley

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it."
~J.D. Salinger

"If we could follow the slogan that says, 'Turn off the TV and open a good book' we would do something of substance for a future generation."
~Gordon B. Hinckley

"The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it."
~James Bryce

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
~Anna Quindlen

Just a few books that I love:
The Book of Mormon
Pride & Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
To Kill a Mockingbird
Harry Potter (1-7)
The Hunger Games (1-3)
Divergent
Insurgent
The Maze Runner (1-3)
Twilight series (fine, I admit it)
The Host
The Great Gatsby
Warriors Don't Cry
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Three Cups of Tea
Ethan Frome
The Awakening
The Westing Game
A Christmas Carol
This Side of Paradise
House of the Scorpion
Roald Dahl books (too many to name!)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (1-13)
Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites (series)
The Lion, The Witch, And the Wardrobe
Julie of the Wolves (1-3)
Walk Two Moons
Ruby Holler
& many, many more. 

My dream library: 
Cozy and rustic and warm and clean
Or...
This wouldn't be so bad...Beauty and the Beast library (this is from Bachelorette by the way ;)

I like this one, too
Beautiful--love the colors 
If you love to read as much as I do and have a suggestion for a great book, I want to hear about it!
Please, by all means, give me a list of things I need to read...I am craving another series to fall in love with. 

Saturday, November 3

Day Three: Dear Friends

 I am blessed with the most marvelous and most beautiful (inside and out) friends. 
I could not ask for better. And though I feel that I have true friends far and wide, there is nothing like having a small group of intimate best friends whom you know you can absolutely rely on.
Here are some of my favorite quotes on friendship:

"A friend is more concerned about helping people than getting credit. 
A friend cares. A friend loves. A friend listens. And a friend reaches out." 
~President Thomas S. Monson

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”
~C.S. Lewis

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided...We can fight [enmity] only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open." 
~Albus Dumbledore

Just before leaving for the summer--everyone going back to school :(
Completely gorgeous & adorable
Gonna be an AMAZING/very hott mama
The very best of the best friends :D
From our old bff Christmas photos
I love her!
How gorgeous is this girl?? And her hair?
She is so adorable!
This about sums her up: being hott, reading, and cats ;)
That time we went to see Harry Potter in the middle of the day and were the only ones dressed up ;)
After a Church dance :]
Visiting Sarah at BYU! Best buds reunited!
One of my best birthdays with my dearest friends at Fort Stark!
Eating lobster at my house this past summer!

And here are some pics with our other wonderful friends. We are so blessed to have such terrific relationships with these people!

Two of my best friends ;)

Jason and Derek are awesome friends of Dalin (and me too!)

Anthony and Lauren -- we love doubling with them!
Wesley (friends since we became teenagers) and Payson (our wonderful brother)
Fun over Thanksgiving with out friends and cousins in Arizona!
Our awesome Boise friends :)
With my boys at Canobe Lake Park! My brothers are some of my best friends--love them all.
Thank you for giving me great friends with great morals. I am thankful for friends I can rely on and who lift me up. They bring me so much joy, happiness, laughter, and peace to my life. 

"No friendship is an accident." 
~O. Henry

“A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.”  
~Louisa May Alcott

“It is important to know when you feel down that many others do also and that their circumstances are generally much worse than yours. And it’s important to know that when one of us is down it becomes the obligation of his friends to give him a lift. I hope that each of us will cultivate a sensitivity toward the feelings of others and when encouragement is needed make an effort to extend it. 
Be a friend and you will have a friend. God be thanked for wonderful friends.” 
~Gordon B. Hinckley