Monday, December 22, 2008

Reason #9 - Hanging out with the Family is twice as fun with my nieces around

So tonight we made gingerbread houses, which is a Randall family tradition. It was some serious fun. My friend Erika came along and she and Nick created some sort of fancy castle, while I stuck to a more rustic theme. I had grand ambitions of creating my own pretzel lincoln logs, which quickly dissolved... but it was still a good time and I was pleased with the result.

As fun as gingerbread houses can be, nothing was more fun than watching the constant entertainment my niece provided. I fed Libby sour watermelons, pretzels, and marshmallows,and made her say my name and make the "fish" face 100 times. There's just something absolutely endearing about hearing a little tiny curly haired girl say "Ray Ray." We've been working on that since she was about 8 months old, so I'm glad to know that it paid off. I think she might have said my name before any other aunt or uncle. I'm not going to say that makes me her favorite, but...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Reason #8 - I am determined to love Christmas again

So last year I realized that Christmas suddenly wasn't as special as it had always been. Although I loved the sweet presents I got (how can you not love a set of leopard print mixing bowls), there was a deep emptiness when the present were opened and we all made our way into the family room to plop down and spend a day watching mindless movies and possibly play a few rounds of guitar hero. That was it. All that stress and craziness all for a few minutes of enjoyment and then it's back to real life.

So this year I've decided that no matter how crazy my life has become, I am determined to make the most of this season. I am going to do my best every day to find ways to bring the Christmas spirit into others lives every day, and I am going to find every way possible to bring it into my own as well.

One of the things I'm most excited about this year is to have my whole family together again. There really isn't an occasion quite like those when the entire Randall family is together.

Here are just a few pictures from our most recent family adventure.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reason #7 - I stopped to smell the roses

I have always been stuck in "move on" mindset. That's not always a bad thing. I think I deal with change because I accept that people can't be in my life forever, and goodbye isn't necessarily about rejection. But sometimes I miss experiencing all life has to offer because I don't take the time to appreciate the things that are right in front of me; I'm too busy looking ahead to what is next.

For the last two months I said yes to a relationship that wasn't going to last forever. I met a man who didn't share my same beliefs, but he loved and respected me. I knew all along somewhere in me, that our lives could never connect on a permanent level, because I know that I need certain things in my life he wouldn't be able to give me. But somehow, I decided it was worth a chance.

I want to say that knowing something precious is temporary makes it valuable, because recognizing that it may leave my life tomorrow helps me appreciate what it means today. I loved every minute that I spent with him, and I treasured every memory we made. In fact, every minute was a memory because I wanted it to be.

I served him more than any other man, because I wanted him to see our time together as beautiful. We said goodbye without fighting, without regret, and without hiding our pain or our feelings. We were honest through everything.

I don't know all the reasons we needed to spend a few short months together. But I know that I remember what it feels like to really love again, and I remember how deeply I have a testimony of God. I know that I have no regrets. And I know that I want to treat everyone in my life as if they will be gone tomorrow. Because wouldn't all our relationships be more precious if we recognized that we might not see each other again?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reason #6 – I have a lot of things to be thankful for

I’m not intensely connected to Thanksgiving as a holiday. To be honest, turkey is far from my favorite food, although I enjoy it. And I’m just about to eat a Thanksgiving meal for the second time in one week. But no one feels sorry for me, and I truly can’t feel sorry for myself. It will be great. So, in the spirit of all of this gluttonous feasting, I want to recognize the abundance that has been poured out upon me from the Lord over this past year. So here are the things I am most thankful for:

I am thankful for God’s hand in my life. I would be lost without the guidance He gives me daily, even when I least deserve it.

I am thankful for family.

I am thankful for friendships; especially for best friends that live right around the corner and can show up my most desperate moments whether I ask them to or not.

I am thankful for the bond that we build with others, sometimes complete strangers, that show we are all one as a human race, just facing the fierce storms of life side by side.

I am thankful for my own special someone, regardless of our circumstances.

I am thankful for a place to call my own; I love my little sanctuary where I can close the door on the rest of the crazy world and just be me.

I am thankful for those that have shown me what it means to love someone else, and have opened up and allowed me to love them.

I am thankful for a good job, and an amazing boss who takes good care of me.

I am thankful to be healthy.

I’m thankful for lessons learned the hard way, because I don’t have to learn them twice.

I’m thankful that I have only had to scrape snow off my car twice so far this year (even if others aren’t so excited about the lack of snow).

I’m thankful that I got an A- in my stats class, even if I didn’t deserve it.

Most of all, I am thankful for my Savior and the Gospel, without which I can’t imagine where I would be.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reason #5 - I can accept change

I should have been in bed at least an hour ago as I've finally finished all my homework, but I felt I needed the cathartic release of letting my thoughts find a home outside of myself. Besides, my good friend Maren just gave me a hard time because I am TERRIBLE at posting. I made a promise to her that I would start updating regularly.

I sat with a good friend last night and held her while we cried together and talked about growing pains. I was remembering tonight the first time I made my way home from my student/waitress life in Provo for just a night of respite and some comfort found at home, only to discover that my parents house was torn apart for remodeling, and everyone was moving 100 mph at their own pace doing their own thing. Not only was home not feeling so "homey", but no one seemed to have time to sit down and listen to all of my stress and frustrations. I left that night feeling empty, and lost. The one place I thought I could find comfort temporarily didn't exist.

I also remember clearly the night I prepared for my one and only hospital stay, and how my mother sat on my floor with her knees tucked under her nightgown trembling in despair because life seemed to be falling apart and she wasn't sure she could handle it. I found myself calmly reassuring her that I would be fine, and that the rest of her concerns would all be resolved in time. I was the epitomy of calm and collected despite my predicament, while she could only stand helplessly by and hope things would all turn out okay.

I also remember sitting in the temple watching my cousin Wes sit across the altar from his new bride and commit to her for eternity. And a little piece of my youth died, because the last of the days on the ranch were fading away. Even though we are both far from those days of riding around the mountains for hours in a day, creating mischief because no one else was there to be the troublemakers, and talking until 4am about life and our dreams and fears... I knew the last of those that shared those days with me are married or gone to the next life.

As I look at the black and white of my thoughts the perception of them could be sadness and loss. But as I listened to my dear friend talk of her struggle with change last night I realized that I treasure all of these experiences no matter the emotions that came with them as deeply as I treasure the comforts and joys of my life. It is through the changes I've endured that I've grown and I've become. Our lives are beautiful no matter the occasion, and our experience is invaluable.

I am learning how to treasure every moment I have with those I love regardless of my expectation in the outcome. I know that tomorrow may not bring my heart's desires, but with its sometimes demanding expectations, I know I learn new truth and deeper fulfillment as I accept the will of God in my life, and love the life I have, not hurt from the loss of the life I thought I wanted.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Reason #4 - Fun Work Trips

A few times a year I have the opportunity to go to a Walk 4 Hearing through my work (a walk set up on a weekend morning that supports the hard of hearing community) at various locations in the country. Last year and this year there was a walk held in Washington DC that we participated in as sponsors. This year I decided to take advantage of a free plane ticket and come out a few days early to hang out with my friends in the area. It's been a great week, although I've managed to spend all the money I saved on a free plane ticket at H&M, among other various locations. However, I console myself with the reminder that I did in fact, get a free plane ticket, so at least I didn't spend all of my money on clothing AND a plane ticket.

The week started with sleeping until 2pm EST on Tuesday, after which it was time for some serious shopping. I decided to pick up some make up at the MAC counter while I was out, and ended up spending an hour getting my make up done. You gotta love having time to burn with which there is no reason to say no to a free makeover. When do I take time to do things like that while I'm at home?

Through the rest of the week I took it pretty easy. I managed to visit one or two museums or landmarks each day, and made sure I slept in as late as I felt like it as well. I also indulged myself in things like a Tastee Freeze with fries for dinner, and a night of acknowledging the unbelievable enjoyment DVR can bring to my TV experience.

I have now been to DC 3 times. This time around I went with my friend Winn and her mom to Monticello (the home of Thomas Jefferson), and then followed it up the next day with a visit to Mount Vernon (George Washington's home). Although Monticello was definitely a fascinating place, Mount Vernon absolutely tops my list of things I've seen in DC. I have slowly been making my way through David McCullough's 1776, and my respect and love for George Washington continues to grow the more I learn of the incredible man he was. I have always respected him, but I truly admire his humility, his honor, his honesty, and his willingness to lead a righteous cause, even when it took him away from those things he loved most.

I felt like I was walking on sacred ground as I stepped onto the land of Mount Vernon, and although it's been over two centuries since Washington personally cared for his home, his influence over the grounds can still be felt. I found it interesting as well to see the difference between Jefferson's home which was very much influenced by his experience in France, and Washington's home which is a manor that could have been plucked right off the English countryside and deposited in colonial America. I know that our history is so infantile compared to the European continent, but it is rich with the influence of good men who recognized the power of history and have passed that on to those of us who are still willing to listen and learn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reason #3: I have learned to appreciate all my hometown has to offer

Not many people can experience every kind of outdoor fun we have in Utah by merely driving one to four hours in every direction. Last weekend I decided to get in at least one more outdoor adventure before the winter steals the warmth away for a season.

Since my hiking boots purchased ten years ago are still far from being broken in, I figured it was time for a quality hike that was long enough to put some wear and tear into my shoes and give me a good workout. Needless to say, my calves are still being reminded of the joyous adventure 4 days later. But... we took our time on the trail so we could enjoy the day, and had some lunch at the top, which allowed enough time to prepare for the trek back down.

We hiked up to Lake Blanche. Blanche was the name on the birth certificate for my favorite cabbage patch doll I got for Christmas 20 years ago, and it didn't seem to do the lake justice either. Nonetheless it was a beautiful hike. It was just long enough to take up a good chunk of my Saturday and give me a great workout, but not so long I was regretting it halfway up the mountain.

I truly had forgotten what treasures lay just up the canyon from my apartment. By the time we got to the top of the trail we could see the Salt Lake Valley on one side of us, look down at three beautiful lakes in a charming little valley, and still look up to the jagged snow-capped ridges above us. It was a little windy, but in the calm moments there was a beautiful reflection of the trees and snowy ridges on the lake surface. Perfect. I could spend every Saturday just like this.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reason #2 - I get to take "Girl Trips" with my Mom

Just a couple of weeks ago my mom and I attended Time Out for Women, an event put on by Deseret Book. My dear friend Chrislyn is the Event Coordinator, and she wanted me to come and experience a huge piece of her life. We drove up to Logan on Friday afternoon and had a short visit with my sweet grandparents, then checked in to Chrislyn's hotel and walked on over to the event. It was fabulous! We had front row seats, just behind all of the presenters, and were able to hear some incredible speakers and musical guests. Jenny Oaks Baker and Kenneth Cope were the musical entertainment, and they were phenomenal. And then we heard from James Ferrell (the writer of The Peacegiver which is a fantastic book about the atonement), Mary Ellen Edmonds, Amanda Dickson, Camille Fronk Olsen, Merrilee Boyack, and Sharon Larsen. We also got to eat lunch with the presenters Saturday afternoon before the second portion of the day started. So the perks of knowing someone in charge were great, but really, just being there in an auditorium filled with thousands of women all seeking the spirit was amazing. And being able to share that with my mom and one of my best friends made it even better.

I had been fasting and praying for weeks about a decision I have been struggling with, and Thursday night before we left, I got on my knees and acknowledged my acceptance of the Lord's will, but asked for confirmation to make sure I was making the right decision. I received an overwhelming confirmation on Friday afternoon, and as I sat and listened to Jenny Oaks Baker play beautiful, sweet, pure music that night, I wept realizing the amazing love God has for me, and how mindful he is of me. After such a longing for guidance, it was incredible to spend a weekend so filled with the spirit.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I love 30 Reason #1

It is pretty obvious that I'm new to this blogging thing. I didn't think it would be hard to find time to jot down a few lines, so all I can say is, thanks to the University of Phoenix for providing just enough boredom in my life for me to create and update my blog. Really, I get a little more out of school occasionally, but some weeks, at 9:15pm, I just can't think intellectually anymore.

So, on to my first reason why my 30th year here in the world is going to be the best year ever. It turns out I've been given a great opportunity to help me overcome one of my fears. Since birth I have been TERRIFIED of bees. I have never been stung, but there is something about knowing that if I attempt to kill a bee, I might miss and that little sucker could turn kamakazi and come at me with missile like force. And where would I go? He has the advantage of flight. I am just one little girl and wherever I run... he might follow.

A few weeks ago, I happened to be in Price, UT with one of my employees who has recently taken on beekeeping. He suggested that we go see his bees before I headed back toward home after our day's work. I wasn't such a fan of the idea, but I thought I should be supportive and he promised I was safe. So I donned my netted helmet, and gloves that reached my armpits and headed out to the beehives, dress, heels and all.

I can't say I touched any bees, but I can say I stood within 5 feet of thousands of bees. And as I watched him pulling out shelves, and holding handfuls of bees, I started to think maybe he was right; maybe bees are not such mean creatures after all. I mean really, I guess I must have to really irritate the poor creatures if they are willing to kill themselves over making their point (no pun intended). And watching Paul hold this little bee by its legs for a good 2 minutes while he tried to show me the wax it was making, I realized they are pretty mellow, as long as you send them love as I learned in The Secret Life of Bees.

While I'm not in a hurry to get back to the beehives, I do now feel a little tenderness toward the bees, and I also am a big fan of honey straight from the hive. Yum!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What does it Feel like to be Thirty?

One could guess that thirty feels much like 29, 28, 27... you get the picture. It's true, I did not feel any different waking up to 30 than I felt waking up the day before.

I did wake up to 30 with an epiphany... as much as I love fashion, I have not given the proper attention to my home attire. And after a surprise morning visit from my dearest girlfriends, I realized I officially must have a new bathrobe, because I woke up thirty, flirty, and wearing a frumpy housewife bathrobe. That just had to change. So I now have a sweet little hot pink one with polka dots inside. Much better.

I also managed to go out of my twenties in style. My girls threw me a fantastic party in which they did their best to make sure I received 30 kisses for my big day. I have some new rules about kissing... but I did allow several kisses on the cheek. And then, right at 11:30, I got one suprise kiss from my new friend Derek. Derek and I are now friends, because I have to give props to a boy who isn't afraid to reach right over and kiss a girl who very well could reject him. Good work Derek. I'm impressed.

Since I can remember, my birthday has been at least a week long affair. I don't know if it's just a summer thing, or if I'm just really so self-centered that I have to "let" everyone play a part in my celebration . But in typical fashion, I topped off the birthday week with a perfect home cooked meal and birthday presents with the family. My mom, the most fun and creative woman I know, decided to make a special birthday treat. So here is my birthday "sushi". (It's really twinkies, wrapped in fruit roll-ups with sour patch kids on top. They were awesome!)