Tuesday, October 30

gunnell family home evening

Well, Dalin and I have decided that we need to make FHE (family home evening) a priority in our little home.  And so we have started the tradition of finding an article to share with one another on Monday night.

Yesterday, I started off and shared a portion of a talk given by President Hinckley. It came from my Marriage and Family homework but I had just loved it so much I wanted to share it. The talk is entitled, "Cornerstones of a Happy Home."

Here is our happy household ;)
Here are some of my favorite parts of it:

Equality in Marriage
To men within the sound of my voice, wherever you may be, I say, if you are guilty of demeaning behavior toward your wife, if you are prone to dictate and exercise authority over her, if you are selfish and brutal in your actions in the home, then stop it! Repent! Repent now while you have the opportunity to do so.
To you wives who are constantly complaining and see only the dark side of life, and feel that you are unloved and unwanted, look into your own hearts and minds. If there is something wrong, turn about. Put a smile on your faces. Make yourselves attractive. Brighten your outlook. You deny yourselves happiness and court misery if you constantly complain and do nothing to rectify your own faults. Rise above the shrill clamor over rights and prerogatives, and walk in the quiet dignity of a daughter of God.
The trick, my brethren and sisters is to enjoy the journey, traveling hand in hand, in sunshine and storm, as companions who love one another. Anyone can do it with a disciplined effort to live the gospel. Remember, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1).

Four Cornerstones
"...I have long felt that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. That involves a willingness to overlook weaknesses and mistakes."
1. Mutual Respect
The first of these I choose to call mutual respect. Each of us is an individual. Each of us is different. There must be respect for those differences, and while it is important and necessary that both the husband and the wife strive to ameliorate those differences, there must be some recognition that they exist and that they are not necessarily undesirable. There must be respect one for another, notwithstanding such differences. In fact, the differences may make the companionship more interesting.
"Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have the greater responsibility not only of bearing children but of caring for them through childhood, and should help them conserve their health and strength. Married couples should exercise self-control in all of their relationships. They should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel.”
Husbands, wives, respect one another. Live worthy of the respect of one another. Cultivate that kind of respect which expresses itself in kindness, forbearance, patience, forgiveness, true affection, without officiousness and without show of authority.
2. The Soft Answer
I pass now to the second cornerstone. For want of a better name I call it the soft answer.
The writer of Proverbs long ago declared, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
It seems to me that communication is essentially a matter of talking with one another. Let that talk be quiet for quiet talk is the language of love. It is the language of peace. It is the language of God. It is when we raise our voices that tiny mole hills of difference become mountains of conflict.
There is need for much discipline in marriage, not of one’s companion but of one’s self. Husbands, wives, remember, “He [or she] that is slow to anger is better than the mighty” (Proverbs 16:32). Cultivate the art of the soft answer. It will bless your homes, it will bless your lives, it will bless your companionships, it will bless your children.
3. Financial Honesty
Cornerstone number three is financial honesty. I am satisfied that money is the root of more trouble in marriage than all other causes combined. 
Those who live honestly with God are more likely to live honestly with one another and their associates. Further, as they budget for their tithes and offerings they will cultivate a discipline in the handling of their resources.
4. Family Prayer
The final cornerstone on which to build your home is family prayer. I know of no other practice that will have so salutary an effect upon your lives as will the practice of kneeling together in prayer. The very words, Our Father in Heaven, have a tremendous effect. You cannot speak them with sincerity and with recognition without having some feeling of accountability to God. The little storms that
seem to afflict every marriage become of small consequence while kneeling before the Lord and addressing him as a suppliant son and daughter.
Your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source. Your companionship will sweeten through the years. Your love will strengthen. Your appreciation one for another will grow.

Obviously I had a hard time cutting things out. 
After me, Dalin shared a talk he had chosen entitled, "Have I Ever Told You...?" by Mark E. Martinsen. 

It speaks of sharing stories with your children to instill in them a sense of heritage. I loved the portion that Dalin shared with me. I think this is a terrific tradition in the making. I know that I love hearing the stories that my family holds dear--particularly those that teach lessons and truth. 

If you want to read the article Dalin shared with me, you can find it here!

We read our chapter in the Book of Mormon afterward, and sang a song together. 
(I'll be the first to say that neither of us sing that well and so Dalin chose for us to sing "White Christmas" and we sang the entire thing). 

This is my favorite version of the song--I am in love with the classic Christmas songs:

Cute FHE job board--Dalin and I have one given to us from his mom--
this isn't it, but someday I will post a picture!
I loved the Spirit that brought to our home. It made me feel so happy. I thought, "We are doing this. We did it." We had our first Family Home Evening in a while and intend to make it a habit in our lives. 

I am grateful to have a supportive husband who can be so insightful. I love him lots! 

What do you do for FHE?  Do you have any fun ideas?

Monday, October 29

Busy, busy, as a bee

How am I supposed to do everything?

This week--and really this month--is just ridiculous.  I don't really care for November other than Thanksgiving and the increased Christmas music in our home.  When I think of November, I mostly think of the increased cold, the color ice blue, and wind.  Not altogether pleasant thoughts.  If it wasn't for Thanksgiving, this month would be hopeless.

As you may or may not know, I work for King Henry Apartments.  I am the office assistant manager and I mostly handle the cash, checks, and planning big monthly activities for the complex.  While planning and attending the activities can be fun, the setting up and preparation can be a challenge and a hassle.  Especially mixed with attending school full-time...

But somehow I manage (thank you, Michael Scott) and it always works itself out somehow.

Tomorrow King Henry and UVU are hosting a Halloween activity!  We have 648 residents here at King Henry (give or take since we have a few spots still open) but we are assuming (and well, hoping) that only about 200 come to carve and paint pumpkins, decorate cookies, and make caramel apples.  It is going to be sweet though (literally, ha ha), and I am excited to participate myself.

Then, the very next day on Halloween, we are hosting a Roller Skating Costume Party at the Classic Skating and Fun Center.  There will be many more people at this activity--there always are.  It will be fun to see everyone in their costumes and showing off their skating skills, but let me just announce now that I will definitely be sitting this one out.  For lots of reasons, but mostly because roller skating is dangerous...maybe not to everyone, but for me, with my terrible lack of balance, it is definitely not happening.  Also, dressing up is questionable, too as I've already dressed up twice this year.

For Trunk or Treat on Saturday, we wore Harry Potter costumes (always a favorite ;). I was a Ravenclaw student, and Dalin was Dumbledore. He wore a wig, a beard, his real glasses and his real bathrobe.  It was hilarious and so awesome.  I made our wands using an idea I got on Pinterest.  Success! Other than the fact that I seared my wrist with a hot-glue gun.  I am definitely going to have a scar. (Hey! Like Harry Potter!)

After the business of Halloween, rent will be due at King Henry which means tons of money and tons of annoying late payments.  Hopefully it will go smoothly...(it never does).

Let's just say, I am anxious for Thanksgiving, the end of this semester, my mom coming to visit, and Christmas.  Can't we just skip all this stuff in between?

Hope everyone is having a great week and that everyone (especially my family in friends in New Hampshire and the east) is safe and protected!  I've been saying lots of prayers for all of you!


Sunday, October 28


Well, as you can quite clearly see for yourself, I have made a few changes to our blog. Do you like them?? I felt that our blog needed something a little more unique and original to help it stand out. I like the rustic feel. It makes me feel like Christmas, camping, and New England all at the same time.

Today was a great day. I wasn't feeling so well this morning and ended up missing Church. I felt well enough to go visiting teaching for a short while with my lovely companion, Emily. We visited with and shared a brief message with both of our girls and left with each of them a cute little handout (a gift tag with a quote from our message and a little button and feather--I should have taken a pic after I made them).

Shaina and Layton came over for a dinner of porkchops, summer squash, cucumbers with homemade vinaigrette and sparking red grape juice (my favorite!). It came out surprisingly well, but naturally I forgot to take a picture this time around. After, Shaina made delicious fudge brownies and served it with chocolate oreo ice cream. Can you say YUM?

We played Yahtzee and enjoyed the Denver-New Orlean's game as well as the World Series (Giants won...spoiler alert). Now I'm working on a lovely paper about the writings of James Joyce. It really would be more interesting to write about if I didn't have to do a decent draft of it by tomorrow...

Anyway, all I am thinking about now is how anxious I am for Thanksgiving, what Dalin and I want to do for Christmas, how much I miss my parents (and Dalin's!), and how I'm somewhat dreading class at 8am tomorrow...

Also, in other news, Dalin has officially changed his major! We are both very excited because we think it will be much more enjoyable for him. He will be studying....(drumroll)...


But more specifically, neuro-psychology is where he hopes to go with it. It has a lot to do with his interest in studying and helping those diagnosed with depression. I know he will be wonderful at it--he is great at everything--especially at being a kind and thoughtful husband. 

I asked myself about a thousand times today how I got to be so lucky as to have Dalin for eternity. He treats me with so much respect and is very aware of my needs and my comfort. Thank you, Marisa Johnson, for choosing to serve a mission, meeting Dalin, and then being inspired by the Spirit to set us up. Best idea ever.

We are very, very blessed. 

Saturday, October 27


I love my dad. 
His birthday was yesterday and the entire day I wished I could have been in New Hampshire to spend it with him. My dad is so hardworking. He is extremely good at what he does and has a truly generous heart. I love that about him. He and my mom both are excellent examples of service. They are always willing to give for the happiness of others. I hope I acquired that attribute from them. 
I am a lot like my dad. We have similar personalities and interests. We laugh a lot and enjoy good books. My dad encouraged me in my love for art and reading. He would read "Nancy Drew" and "The Hardy Boys" with Payson and me. He always makes me feel good about my artistic ability and pushes me to do my best in school. It makes me happy that he is proud of me and helps me to be my best self. 
Look how handsome my dad looks here...I love that suit and tie on him, as well as the boutonniere. And his smile :) 
My dad is a wonderful example to me. He tries very hard to do what is best for our family. I am impressed by him because he did not have great examples in his life growing up and still is very active and involved at Church. I am very thankful he had enough faith to choose for himself. 
My dad is the best
Growing up, my dad and I had lots of jokes. He would always carry me on his shoulders when I wanted him to. I remember him carrying me around Disney World on his shoulders. He would come on the rides with Payson and me and always was happy to play with us. He was very protective of me. I remember one time a neighborhood boy shot an acorn at my arm and made me cry. My dad went outside and told the boy that he needed to apologize to me and then go home. I always remembered him protecting me. 
Dad prepared me for this moment 
I am thankful that my dad prepared me to be worthy to marry Dalin in the temple. I am so glad that Dalin is someone my dad can not only be proud of, but someone he can talk to about sports, school, careers, and life. I love my dad. I hope he had the best birthday. I also hope that I get to see him sometime soon.


Friday, October 26

Did we even have October??

What. Just. Happened. 

October, how are you already over? There are 5 days left of the month! And I love October...so very much. I love every connotation associated with October--especially the burst of color that takes place around us in nature. This is true in most places, but no place more apparently than in New England. The maple trees there just ooze colors that seem unnatural. Driving through my neighborhood in New Hampshire during the fall is like being in Candy Land. There are pink trees! It is gorgeous. 

I get oh-so-excited for Fall clothes. I love wearing jeans and boots and scarves and sweaters and hats and leg warmers and clogs and tights and everything else.

I also love Halloween! My family was never extremely into it, but we did trick-or-treat and carve pumpkins, and my brothers and I dressed up. Dalin's family on the other hand, hosts an annual adult Halloween party and the two times I have gone have been a blast. 

Last year, we owned everyone with our creative and somewhat creepy costumes as entertainer stick people. Can you imagine these stick people creepily walking toward you down the street?? By the way, those are axes in our hands. Also, I wish we had a picture of our bums because we attached two circles to them haha. We won a soft orange blanket with little ghosts on it, and a black ghost throw pillow. Cute right? 
Guess which one is me, hahah....
This year, the theme for the Halloween party was nursery rhymes or fairy tales. Dalin and I chose an obscure fairy tale and dressed as an ogre and his maiden daughter. We literally put this costume together twenty minutes before the party. Pretty decent for such poor planning. 
This weekend, we had planned to go up to Boise for a quick trip with Shaina and Layton, but what with our crazy schedules tomorrow and Sunday, it just wasn't going to work out.  Dalin is Sunday School President and had to teach on Sunday, I'm the Primary President and need to help out with practicing for the Primary Presentation coming up in November, we have planned a walk to the temple to take pictures with the children's families, we both need to be present at Ward Counsel on Sunday morning, and we both need to do our home/visiting teaching.  Not only this, but we have a Trunk-or-Treat activity tomorrow night!  Clearly, the timing was just unfortunate. 

Still, October is just magical.  And let's just say, there will be even more magic over the next two months...


Monday, October 22

Our beautiful, stupendous Idaho family

Last weekend, we took a long-anticipated (and very much needed) trip up to Caldwell to visit with Dalin's family for the weekend. The drive is long, but I am starting to get used to the six-hour car-ride. Being from New Hampshire, where you can drive to any of the three surrounding states within an hour, this is kind of a big deal. That used to be a long drive for me. Now, it's nothing. 

I will say, though, that it is a much easier drive on the way up--heading home is another story because we usually dread returning to Provo and (essentially) "real life".

Anyway, it was a terrific short weekend trip. We left Friday, immediately following my Spanish class. We picked up Shaina's boyfriend Layton (Shaina had flown up to Boise earlier in the week, lucky duck) as a surprise for her, then the three of us got on our way. The traffic in Salt Lake was horrendous. Who knew there would be so many people leaving work at 4pm on a Friday night? (I did.) We made our traditional stop in Burley for gas and some treats--I always get treats--then we made our way up to Boise in the dark. I hate the signs that read: 230 miles to Boise. That just sounds like such a long ways...but it tends to go by alright. It was very dark in the valley as we continued up to Caldwell but I love being in town there and seeing all of the familiar landmarks (including the Boise temple which looks much, much better on the outside). 

After reuniting with all of our family members and giving lots of hugs, we went to bed fairly early (considering our past visits) because we knew we'd be getting up around 7 or 8am to begin preparing to leave for pictures at 9am. 

Well, fail on that front because I slept through my STUPID alarm (set for 7am) for an hour. I thought I was doomed. If you have ever experienced my hair in person, you know it is completely impossible to curl it all in an hour. But somehow--somehow--I got by and made it satisfactory for photos. I think it was because of Dalin. As I was panicking upon waking up at 8am, he cheered me on, saying, "You can do it, lovie." Let's just say, it's a miracle that I do not look exhausted or totally ruffled in these pictures. In fact, I was pleasantly shocked to find I liked almost all of them. 

Here are some of my favorites! Which do you like?

The cropping here was an accident but then I kind of liked it

LOVE the suitcases and LOVE the four men standing behind us four attractive women and baby.
The family: Jensen, Shaina, Olivia, Dalin, JeNeale (Mom), Brent (Dad), Shay, Cassie, and Maddox
Our additional family member, Layton ;)
Staring deeply into each other's eyes...trying not to laugh ;)
One of my most favorite pictures of us :) Plus I love that antique chair!
Hold me tight
How did I get so lucky?! :)
How attractive is my husband and his family??

Saturday, October 20

My Sisters

I have to admit--
One of the best things about getting married is getting a bigger family.

I love my in-laws. So. Much. I am not even sure how I got so lucky. I always prayed as a youth that I would marry into a great family, and guess what? Prayer works. Not only did I get the sweetest, most handsome husband, but I also got his three gorgeous sisters and wonderful parents.

Now let me just take a moment to gush about my sisters.

Cassandra Joan Gunnell Frazee

Cassie is basically a model. She married my brother-in-law, Shay, just a little over a year ago and they have the cutest son (my nephew), named Maddox.  Cassie is talented at so many things--amongst them are singing, drawing, doing amazing reverse french braids, being the most gorgeous mom, and having impeccable taste in fashion. Seriously, she always looks so good, it's a disgusting comparison when I stand next to her.  I love Cassie because she is always good for a laugh.  She sounds serious, but she has a great sense of humor.  She is very tender with her little son, and seeing this makes me want to have a relationship like theirs.  Cassie is also brave.  She does not worry about what other people think of her.  She is motivated and hardworking.  If I could look half as good as she did pregnant and after having Maddox, I would feel pretty great about myself.  Cassie is just a really beautiful human being, inside and out. 

Shaina ReNae Gunnell*
*Subject to change...maybe very soon

Shaina is one of the coolest people I know.  She is super pretty, super athletic (super fit...), and very, very kind.  Shaina is so much fun to hang out with because she laughs at the same things I do and is very confident about her life.  She is good at basically everything she tries, and makes delicious Pazukis.  Shaina has amazing fashion sense.  She, like Cassie, always looks perfect.  Clearly, it runs in the family.  Shaina is really positive and I really admire her attitude and outlook on life.  She has an indistinguishable light about her that draws people to her.  Shaina is going to make the best mom someday because she is good at taking charge and handling situations without getting angry or stressed.  To me, Shaina is a leader--not only because of her happy attitude but because she is an example to her family of doing the right thing.  She is not afraid to be honest.  I cannot wait until Shaina is married.  That is going to be the most fun wedding, I know it.  Shaina (sorry to use this cliche but it's so applicable) truly has a heart of gold.

Jensen Kay Gunnell

And then there is Jensen.  I love my little sister so much.  She is nine years old and is a complete doll.  Jensen is a very good mix of all her siblings.  She looks a lot like Dalin, has a similar, spunky personality like Shaina, and she has similar talents to Cassie.  For example, Jensen has a beautiful little singing voice.  She is so cute when she sings Radio Disney songs in the car.  I think she is going to get even better as she ages.  She also is a fabulous artist.  I love so much that she wants to be able to draw and paint in the same way that I like to.  She is definitely well on her way--I wish I could share some of her artwork.  Jensen is very kindhearted.  She is so good with our little nephew, Maddox.  She also does some very good impressions of movie and TV characters.  Like most younger siblings, I think that Jensen is a combination of all the good things in her siblings.  She is a total sweetheart and I love spending time with her.

Gosh, I just cannot even describe how grateful I am for my sisters.  Words are not enough.  I just hope that if I have daughters of my own, they are just like my sisters.

All of them together with their big brother :)

Sunday, October 7

General Conference

Today was the most wonderful day.

Dalin and I awoke at 9:57 and turned on our TV to watch the first session of General Conference.
For those of you who may not know, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a General Conference twice a year (October and April) and broadcasts it across the world so that all members of the Church can view and participate. During Conference, we have the most special opportunity to listen to an inspired modern-day prophet who is led by the voice of the Lord. We also listen to his wonderful councilors, who advise us on things that we can do in our lives to find more happiness.

Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, addressed the Saints first yesterday. He told us that he has seen that maturity of the missionaries from other countries where the serving age is 18 years old. He went on to announce that he would like to give all worthy, mature, and ready young men the same opportunity to serve at the age of 18. He went on to address the sisters in the Church, and added that all worthy, prepared young women may now serve a mission at the age of 19.

This is remarkable revelation for us as members of the Church. All young men are strongly encouraged to serve a two-year LDS mission. Since the Church was restored, the age for men has been 19, and 21 has been the age for women who desired to serve a mission. This revelation is therefore life changing. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, more missionaries going into the world to teach the gospel of Christ as a result. I also think that there will be many more marriages at a younger age in the Church. This will result in a tremendous burst of growing LDS families.

So after watching the first session from home, we hurriedly got dressed up for the second session. We met up with Dalin's sister, Shaina, and with her boyfriend, Layton. Together (and with Shaina and Layton's friend, Kyle) we all drove to Salt Lake and got in the unfathomably long line at the Conference Center. Shaina and I retrieved tickets from our gorgeous cousin, Taylor Moore, and rejoined the men in line. The second session of Conference was wonderful as always. Here are a few things that stood out to me:

Elder Lee Tom Perry spoke about families, parenthood, and marriage. He said that five things we can do to strengthen our families now is to:

1. Pray together as a family
2. Hold FHE (Family Home Evening) and eat family dinners together
3. Communicate with children's leaders (learn each child's needs and work to strengthen them)
4. Share testimony often
5. Set clear, simple family rules; give an allowance for performing chores as a way to teach budgeting and paying tithing at a young age

Elder Melvin Russell Ballard (whom I have met!) related the members of the Church to bees. Our small acts of compassion may seem insignificant, yet our efforts combined can result in a tremendous change. Each bee only contributes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire life. How small this effort seems, and yet we know that this bee is crucial in its role in the hive. Elder Ballard suggests that each day in our personal morning prayer, we ask Heavenly Father to find an opportunity to serve others. Then, we should go about our day with our hearts open, seeking opportunities to serve. We can be an answer to someone else's prayer. We should be able to answer in the affirmative when we ask, "Have I done any good in the world today?"

Elder Dallin Harris Oaks spoke mostly of children and marriage. He encouraged us to guard marriage and hold it sacred in our hearts. He stated that the very prevalent and far too frequent immediate separation of marriages--without attempted resolution--is an evil in the world. He conveyed the importance of having children and raising them well mentally, spiritually, and physically. He also shared some startling statistics about how many children live in today's world. The facts are astounding.

Right after Saturday's conference :)
Such a funny picture--that couple was great.
Dalin, Shaina & Layton, Kyle, and me (Olivia)
As the second session of conference concluded, Dalin and I made our way back to Shaina, Layton, and Kyle and hurried through temple square (where I was forced to take all action shots, not having time to stop) and back to the car. We drove to Lehi, where we met one of the most wonderful families (Layton's). They invited us into their home (they have ten wonderful children and four grandchildren) and fed us. While Dalin went to the Priesthood session of conference with Layton and his brothers, Shaina and I talked to Layton's mother and met his sisters. I really had a great time and it was so nice to be in a home again.

They sent us away with some DELICIOUS honey dew melon and rhubarb from their garden. They truly blessed our lives last night.

The most adorable family...and a good example of the reason I want lots of boys and a big family.
I love General Conference! So excited for Sunday!

If you do not know what General Conference is, and are curious, feel free to ask me!