Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grand Prize Winner!

Ever since school ended I've really been lacking gusto for my blogging. I've logged in so many times to write something and then decided it was nothing worth hearing and shut my computer off.

About a week ago I auditioned for Aida and thought that would be something fun and new to do. I've been waiting to hear back from them to blog about it, but apparently in Utah County when you don't get cast in a show you just don't hear back from them. I won't go on about how rude I think that is on so many levels, and just say that I started to feel pretty discouraged this week considering that the New Testament Casting STILL hasn't finished casting speaking roles so I haven't heard from them either. Of course, I wrote on my Aida audition form that I was only interested in the Amneris role, and they called back 10 Amneris' which felt like pretty stiff competition. I felt good about the audition I gave though, and it was my first one in almost four years so I'm pretty proud that I at least made the callback.

When I started my blog I loved it so much and I felt like I was constantly getting new ideas to talk about, but lately, inspiration has been lacking.... until YESTERDAY!

About a month ago I entered the Taste of Cedar Hills Festival Baking Competition. I decided to make two dishes to enter:

My Turtle Graham Bars

and My Blueberry Almond Tart

Here are some photos of the other competitor's entries although a few more dishes arrived after I snapped these pictures:

Entries were judged on Appearance, Taste, and Texture and while I thought they would announce a winner in each category (i.e. pies, cakes, cookies, other) they simply judged them all together awarding a People's Choice, Grand Prize, 2nd prize, and 3rd prize.

According to Casey's judgment he said that the Blueberry Almond Tart was a much more impressive dish, but it's subtlety would probably cause it to be over-looked, meanwhile the Turtle Graham Bars have a big WOW factor when you first bite into them. The Tart definitely took a lot more effort to make and I certainly hoped the judges would appreciate the subtle textures, flavors and effort that I put into it!

People's Choice was announced first and it was the Mint Brownies you can see in the second picture on the left side of the red & white box, in between the cake and the dish in the glass pan. Everyone was kind of surprised to see a boy, around 11-years old stepped forward to claim his prize- a girly looking package with paper place-mats and something else I couldn't really see. Then, without any build up or further ado, they jumped right to the Grand Prize winner.

Announcer: OK! And the Grand Prize Winner is..... The Turtle!

::cricket cricket::

I kind of started to step forward because maybe they meant Turtle Graham Bars and I hadn't seen anyone bring a cake in the form of a turtle, but Casey said, "Wait, wait a minute and see if anyone else goes forward."

::cricket cricket::

Audience member: "Is it a valid win if they aren't here to claim the prize?? Maybe someone else can win!"

Um, YEAH. I wasn't going to stand there and let someone else claim my prize!

Me: Do you mean Turtle Graham Bars?

(Announcer looks at her sheet)

Announcer: Yes.

Me: OK. THAT was me. :D


For my efforts I got a gift from Lizzy's- a really expensive kitchy boutique/bakery nearby. $25 gift card, a small recipe book packed with delicious chocolate recipes complete with a specially designed CD of self-described "sensual bossa nova music." Plus, I get 50 paper place-mats which, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with, but I guess I'll always know which side of the dinner plate I'm supposed to place the fork on now.

Oh, and afterwards I asked one of the judges if my blueberry tart made anyone's list and she replied, "Not mine, but the macadamia cookies were good."

..... Thanks. Really, thanks for that.

Turtle Graham Bar Recipe


  • Approximately 14 graham crackers (if each graham cracker is 5" x 2.5")
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped & a few ounces white chocolate for decorating


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

I use a stoneware pan from Pampered Chef which makes the Graham Crackers nice and crunchy, but if you don't have one, you can line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat, or just spray a pan with some canola. Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer on the lined baking sheet.

Put the butter, brown sugar, pecans, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the butter mixture evenly over the graham crackers and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate by microwaving it in a bowl for 30 seconds and then stir. Repeat until chocolate is almost melted and stir until completely melted. This process will help temper the chocolate and keep it looking shiny. Also melt your white chocolate using this same method. Pour the chocolate over the toffee-covered graham crackers and spread evenly. Using a spoon, drizzle white chocolate in horizontal stripes across the bars leave 1/2 inch - 1 inch in between stripes. Drag a toothpick vertically through the chocolate, alternating up and down directions to create a beautiful pattern. Chill completely in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cut or break into bars. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My niece's opinion on hunting deer

Yesterday we had all of Casey's family over for a Zaugg SausageFest (yeah, I know how it sounds) which is basically a BBQ of bratwurst, sausages, hotdogs and lots of other DELICIOUS side foods like corn, fruit, corn salsa, potato salad etc. Over dinner we had a funny little conversation with my niece that I thought I would share.

I was complaining about how the deer DEMOLISHED my tomato plants that I had JUST bought AND stepped all over my new box garden.

Now, my Dad is a big hunter so I've grown up loving venison, but I've never been a hunter myself; HOWEVER, this is personal. It is now my main goal to hunt and shoot a deer. Only then will my vengeance be satisfied. So, my NRA brother-in-law, Brady, offered to take me hunting with him. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I'm serious about this!

Brady: I'll take you hunting sometime.

Me: Do you have a gun I can borrow?

Brady: Oh yeah, it shoots a buckshot that will make an absolute mess out of the deer.

Me: If we actually bag a deer I'll go half-sies with you to get it processed.

Brady: Sounds great.

Cassandra (Brady's 6 year old daughter): Don't shoot the deer! That is not very nice!

Me: Well, it wasn't very nice of the deer to eat my plants either.

Cassandra: But the deer were just hungry!

Me: (with a wicked grin) So am I.

Cassandra: (looks down at her lap and mutters) the deer never eat our garden....

Me: That's because you don't live in the mountains AND you have a fence around your whole yard.

Brady: (shaking his head) Dang Bambi's socialist agenda...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Officially Sick

As a kid, being sick really isn't that bad!

Sure, you feel miserable, but you get to sit around all day watching video games and TV, you don't have to go to school, Mom makes you jell-o, pudding, and chicken soup, you get to sleep all day-- dude, that is posh!

Now, I'm experiencing my first time as a sick parent and the whole experience has definitely degraded. No matter how bad you feel, you still have to go to school, still have homework to do, still have to change diapers, still have to make food to feed hungry little tummies (including your spouses), still have to do the laundry (cause everyone WILL eventually run out of clean underwear), still need to vacuum and do dishes.

Pretty much, life continues as normal except for the fact that your operating system is running at 40% instead of 110%.

I don't know how mom's do it. I never remember my mom being really sick, but then again, she was kind of an Iron Woman.

My strategy- take Vitamin C, drink plenty of OJ and water, order take-out, take a hot bath while baby plays in his entertainment saucer, sleep while baby does and PRAY PRAY PRAY that I feel better by finals next week.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Delicious Chewy Caramel

Caramel- such a heavenly invention! First of all, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Do I pronounce it "ka-ra-mel" and "car-mul?" I actually use both so you can't judge me for one or the other- my opinion is, I'm sure there is a correct one, but whatever floats your boat is fine with me!

I got this recipe from a girlfriend of mine and made some caramel apples during Christmas. With holiday hallabaloo and school madness I just never got around to posting.

This recipe is easy and extremely versatile. It can be used for individually wrapped caramels, dipped pretzel sticks, dipped marshmallows, and caramel apples. Unfortunately, I only have pictures of the individually wrapped caramels. I will update the post when I do caramel apples again (They are definitely a repeat- Casey's family devoured them!).

2 c. sugar
1 c. butter (2 sticks)
2 c. cream
1 3/4 dark corn syrup (some people use light corn syrup but the dark has better color and flavor in my opinion)

1) In a large pot add butter, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup cream.
2) Stir constantly on high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

3) Slowly incorporate the remaining cup of cream while retaining the rolling boil.
4) Reduce heat until the mixture comes to a simmer.
5) Let simmer for 30-40 minutes, scraping the bottom every 15 minutes.
6) Once it starts to thicken you can begin to test the caramel using the *cold water test (I have instructions on this below if you've never done this before).

Once the caramel has reached the softball stage it is ready! It is really important to not let it cook past the softball stage- otherwise it will be too hard to eat! Take the caramel immediately off the heat and either poor into a greased pan or begin your dipping!

These are the individual caramels that I wrapped for my Christmas plates.

This picture turned out a little fuzzy, but I wanted to show how chewy the caramel is!

This caramel recipe gets 5 stars from me!

*Cold Water Test

Fill a cup with cold water and pour a small amount of caramel into the cup. Dump out the water and catch the caramel in your hand.

If you can form a ball with the caramel and it holds its shape the caramel has reached the softball stage.

If the caramel forms a firm ball that holds its shape even when pinched slightly, it has reached the hardball stage which is more desirable for brittle.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Going Bald

I know what you are thinking- and no, this is not a post about my handsome husband. ;) (Sorry hunny, those are the facts of life!)

I am talking about myself. For the past 2 months I have been losing hair in DROVES! My shower wall is covered with the stuff, I can't stick my hand under my pillow at night without getting it caught in my fingers, and it even strangled the belt on my vacuum cleaner so it wouldn't turn anymore (the fact that I was vacuuming at all is an oddity in itself since the sound of it kind of scares me ever since I was pregnant with Sander- yeah, I know I'm weird).

At the rate of my hair loss, I should be completely bald in another two months, I would say. Luckily, as I was perusing, I noticed a tab about hair loss. It turns out that I AM losing hair at an abnormal pace-- in comparison to the last 13 months.

Turns out, the hair on our heads grows for a certain amount of time and has a "rest phase" where the hair just hangs around before it moves onto the next phase- falling out. When a woman gets pregnant the "resting phase" for hair follicles gets longer. This is why pregnant women have such thick, lustrous hair, and around four months after baby arrives the husband gets to tease her about how she must be going bald with the amount of hair she is losing. The hair has resumed its normal resting phase time and hair starts falling out much more quickly than a woman has been used to for the past year+.

To make matter worse, my hair is very long due to my husband urging me to fight the "mom's cut their hair short" stereotype and (here's a teaser), I'm growing my hair out due to a possible film opportunity . . . . more on that later. ;)

So, with the masses of my hair around the house, in all of the garbage cans and vacuum cleaner bins, it is quite possible that there is enough of it to have the hair clumps take on a life of their own, forming a life-sized mass to terrorize me and make my house into a modern day horror story.

I'll keep you updated on the details of that situation- meanwhile, what an awesome idea for a children's book. "MOM'S HAIR MONSTER" . . . catchy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Absurd Things My Husband Says Sometimes...

First of all, sorry for the lack of blogging lately. My life has been a little more than I can handle with my student, mother, wife, and athlete roles all vying for my time everyday. There have been so many times when I think, "Oh! I should blog about this!" and then never manage to put it high up enough on my priority list. BUT, something happened yesterday that I really wanted to document.

Second, a little prologue to my tale:

Last Wednesday, February 23, my son got his first sickness. Just a runny nose and a cough- no big deal- he was still happy and eating and sleeping.
Then, on Friday, February 25, my husband gets sick and hence, completely incapacitated.
Then, on Saturday, Sander gets a little more fussy and starts eating and sleeping less
... oh no... I can feel the trouble coming on...
Then, on Sunday, Sander starts running a fever. He stops eating and sleeping altogether. He is SO tired and SO cranky and the only way he can sleep at all is if I hold him against my chest and try to comfort him back to sleep immediately after he wakes up for no apparent reason to cry and scream. Needless to say, I'm in the doctor's office first thing Monday morning to find out that pobre Sander-boy has a double ear infection. Casey (who has been a trooper all weekend by taking care of himself since I was COMPLETELY consumed with Sander) takes Sander to get his prescription filled, and then watches him at home for a couple of hours while I run to campus to get to the two classes I really couldn't miss before coming home again.

Now, this experience was hectic and draining in and of itself, but the pressure is tripled when I factor in the fact that I usually use every spare moment I have to do homework so I don't get crushed under the burden of reading/papers/exams/etc. and this weekend, I had no spare moments to spare. This has left me frantically doing homework to make up for lost time while also trying to finish my online religion course before midterms hit again in two weeks.

ALSO, today is Thursday and I will be missing school again tomorrow so that we can go down to St. George this weekend so that Casey can participate in a mountain bike race down there. I'm super excited for the warm weather (it is going to be cold and rainy up here- Suck it Provo!) but, this trip means that I need to clean my house today (I am OCD about leaving a clean house when I go on a trip- it feels so much better to come home to!), pack up our car, take Sander to the doctor's again for his six month check-up and to get shots, and go to a preparation meeting for a Relief Society event that I am participating in later this month - and please don't forget the ever present need to do homework, make dinner, and fulfill the daily tasks of taking care of Sander.

Now, here comes the funny part...

Yesterday, we had tacos for dinner and at the end of the meal we had finished the tortillas but still had plenty of leftover meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Looking at the leftovers I commented, "Oh, good! Looks like we will have enough for leftovers tomorrow! I'll just need to swing by the store to pick up some more tortillas." Then, Casey turns to me with his big, hopeful, blue eyes and says, "Or you could make some!"


I know he loves my homemade tortillas and everything and I'm glad, but, no.

Ah, the absurd things my husband says sometimes...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Have You Ever Noticed....

Disclaimer: All of the below is said Tongue In Cheek so please read it as such. Otherwise it is going to come off as really High-In-Mighty and all scoldy which is really not me. So please, people. Tongue In Cheek.

Have you ever noticed that when you see a woman do something in the kitchen, or with her child that you don't agree with, you just keep your mouth shut and think, "I don't agree with that, but, it's her kitchen/child and that is how she is choosing to handle that."

But, if we see a man do something we don't like we automatically have license to correct him because he's just a stupid man that doesn't know how to do anything when he's out of his domain AKA work.

That is something that I have just recently realized that many women, including myself, do subconsciously and, for men, annoyingly often. I know that I think I am helping to correct my wayward Husband or Father or Brother when I correct them so quickly but really I am cutting their confidence in half and driving them away from participating in the kitchen or with child care or any number of domestic tasks that women ALWAYS wish their husbands were more involved in.

I'm pretty possessive about my kitchen and I would always tell Casey what he was doing wrong while he was cooking or loading the dishwasher etc. because I can be pretty particular. One day Casey just walked out of the kitchen and I thought exasperatedly, "Ugh. Now his ego is hurt and I have to go pet it and make it better when all I'm trying to do is help him be better! Can't he see that?!?"

Then Casey made a point that has changed our marriage forever. He told me, "I can be right in the kitchen." And I thought, "That's true." He can be right in the kitchen. Just because he is not doing something exactly how I would do it, doesn't mean that he isn't valid in his approach. Ever since I have taken that stance in our marriage and I go to nit-pick him, I first think, "Casey can be right in the kitchen." It has taken time for me to let go, but it has increased Casey's confidence and made him WANT to participate more in domestic tasks which gives both of us a lot of joy.

We LOVE working together to cook a meal, do the dishes or clean the house. It is very gratifying and fun because he feels confident in his abilities around the house and I love being with him. He is also a wonderful and involved father who is confident in taking care of our son. My friends are always amazed when I would leave the house right after I had the baby- they would always say, "Where is your baby?!" I would tell them my husband was taking care of him and they were always shocked.

Granted, some men don't feel comfortable with being left with an infant and that is fine. Babies are definitely a learning experience, but Casey felt confident and I feel confident in him so I entrust him with all the tasks that I normally do to take care of our child.

This blends over into all areas of our relationship. Men can be right. And since I have let go of my superior, let-me-teach-you-how-to-do-things-around-the-house-correctly attitude, I have become a better cook and housekeeper because Casey has taught ME how to do things better than the way I used to do them.

I'm SO grateful for a wonderful husband who is willing to find the joy in housework and tell me what he thinks of my curtains instead of using the stupid excuse, "Why should I care about the curtains? I'm a man." UUGGHHHH! Definitely something that won't fly in our house- using your gender as an excuse for apathy or laziness. But gender is also not an excuse to assume that one point of view is constantly right and one is constantly wrong....although I am usually right. :)

So women, let your men be right. If you want your man to help out in the house, don't nag him! Make it fun, boost his confidence so that he enjoys being home more than being at work because he feels loved and supported. That is the way to snag your man.


One time, early in our marriage, Casey was sitting on the couch playing on his computer while I was in the kitchen making spaghetti. I was annoyed that he was choosing laziness over helpfulness but instead of complaining about it I tried a little experiment. I said, "Casey, how do you always get the hamburger to break up into such even little chunks when you cook it? Mine always look so lumpy..." Lo and behold, that brought him right into the kitchen to show off his skillz! Not too long after that when he realized that he was making the sauce while I prepared the salad, bread and pasta he looked at me slyly and said, "You said that because you knew that would get me in here to help make dinner didn't you? You don't really admire my even little chunks!" Lol- he knows me too well. But he does make more even chunks when browning hamburger than I do and it was a better way to get him in the kitchen than giving him a guilt trip.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baby Superpowers

For the longest time I have felt that babies have superpowers.

They are capable of the most amazing things:

They can make a mother hear their cry from miles away.

They can transform a dead-beat dude into a terrific and dedicated father.

They can melt the heart of the most hardened grandfather who meta-morphs into a babbling over-the-top, clown.

I have known all these things but today I discovered the most amazing and baffling baby power of all that I really have no explanation for.

And that is baby's ability to defy gravity- especially when it comes to their poop.

Sander kindly showed me this phenomenon today. And, truth be told, I was amazed.

Sander was sitting in his Bumbo happily playing with a toy while I was sweeping the kitchen. I leaned over to plant a kiss on his squishy forehead when I sensed the stench.

"Woop! We better go change ya buddy!"

So I carried him into the nursery and set him on the changing table. I pulled off his little pants to inspect the damage. I saw a little leakage down the left leg onto the onesie so he would have to be changed but, still not too bad. I unbuttoned the snaps on his onesie, lifted his legs and slid the onesie up his back with my hand . . . big mistake. This I realized as I pulled my now poopy hand back out from under him.


Alright, a routine diaper change has just turned into a Situation. I knew the cloth diaper I had under him was finished- it was definitely going to have to be washed so I proceeded to implement the emergency procedures.

First, clean off my hand so the poop is contained.

Second, lift the front of the onesie up as high as I can and extract the baby arms from the sleeves.

Third, unbutton the snaps at the neck and carefully lift the front of the onesie up and over his head while trying to keep the back of the onesie as far down as possible so the poop doesn't slide up all over his back.

Usually this 1-2-3 procedure works pretty well and after a lot of wipes he's pretty clean, but this was not a normal poop. I realized that it is up to his neck, all over his back and even on the back of his arms. I'm thinking:

"Dang Sander! That had to have been one heck of a poop for it to spread all the way up here!"

At this point, it is a lost battle. I fill up the tub and put Sander in it to clean him off. After he is cleaned, diapered, and dressed I go to clean up the changing table so it won't stink up the nursery too badly. My first item of business is to satisfy my morbid curiosity and look in his diaper to see what a huge explosion he must have had-- here is where the amazing part is:

There was almost NO poop in his diaper. There was a little on the side where it leaked out of the bottom and then it was all over the top where it squished out, but the bottom of the diaper was white and pristine. Somehow, Sander defied gravity and instead of letting his poop drop down into his diaper, he sent it shooting straight up the back.

Like I said, Superpowers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tricky Gurl

Yeah, I'm a tricky gurl (sic).

Tonight after I put the baby to bed I was teasing Casey and getting him all riled up while he was loading the dishwasher. He eventually reached the cracking point and warned me, "I am so coming to tackle you in 10 seconds when I finish doing these dishes."

I'm not stupid- at that point I fled the room and went to the bedroom so that if I was going to get tackled it would at least be on a soft surface like the bed. Then, inspiration struck!

I hadn't turned on the lights in the room yet, so I left them off and ran to the bed. I quickly threw back the covers and stuffed my pillow down towards the foot of the bed and Casey's pillow right beside it so it looked like a body under the covers. I drew the covers up and put the book that I had been holding while I was taunting him on the corner of the bed. Just for good measure.

I heard Casey coming down the hall, using the light from his open laptop to guide his way. I quickly sequestered myself behind the bathroom door just opposite from our bed.

I quieted my breathing and just listened.

. . .

. . . . .

. . . . . . . . .

I heard him come into the bedroom and call, "Tukataa?" (This is his Thai name for me meaning "little doll.")

He took a few more steps towards the bed and again called, "Tukataa? Where are you?" (Sometimes we play hide-and-seek like children and pretend we can't see the obvious lump under the blankets where our spouse is hiding so that we can look around a little bit before attacking the hidden person. It builds the suspense.)

I peeked out from behind the door and saw Casey firmly position himself at the bottom of the bed, trying to determine the best strategy for attack.

I saw him tip-toe up to the bed and prep for the grab at "me" AKA the pillows, when I rushed out of the bathroom with a "ha!" (quietly, because Sander is sleeping in the next room), and tackled him!

Yeah, we had a good time playin'. I'm a tricky gurl!

Besides, who says that just because you are married with a house and a baby you have to act like an adult all the time? ;)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Day of School

So, it has begun! School!

I have worked out my schedule so that I am on campus Monday, Wednesday, Friday with 4 classes between 12 pm- 4 pm.

Dramatic Literature (TMA 396) where we read plays and analyze them according to complicated literary theories such as structuralism, historicism, and post colonialism. Complicated, abstract, and it makes my brain hurt (kinda in a good way though) but I have to take it for my Theatre minor.

American Heritage (A HTG 100) a class that most people take in their freshman year. I heard so many horror stories about how hard the exams are that I have put it off my entire college career. However, it has finally caught up to me in my final semester- I can avoid it no longer! Drat!

Proclamation Principles and Scholarship (SFL 100). An entire class devoted to expounding on the principles in "The Family: A Proclamation to the World." I'm really excited for this one- even though I have to memorize The Proclamation (609 words!) I'm really interested to learn about the social science that supports many of the principles in that document.

Parenting and Child Guidance (SFL 240). This is the class that I am taking to fulfill my last Major requirement. I wanted to take an Advanced Food Preparation course but, if you read my blog about Class Schedule Madness, you'll understand why I'm taking this one. Still, I really enjoyed the first two classes and am looking forward to learning more about a subject that will be so applicable in my life.

Then, outside of class I have a REL C 325 class, which is Doctrine and Covenants, part 2. I'm taking this online which is nice because is one less hour that I have to be on campus and Sander has to be baby-sat. I'm just going to have to be super diligent about keeping up with it.

All totaled, my classes equal 14.0 credits- a full-time schedule. To be honest, this past week was brutal. Balancing being a full-time student with being a full-time mom was enough to give me a headache and fill every spare moment that I had with homework. Hopefully, it will get better as I get in the routine and start trying to knock my assignments out.

Down time to blog, exercise or zone = sanity.

Casey has reminded me that this semester is going to be a marathon, not a sprint like spring and summer semesters, and I need to take things one day at a time. He's even helping out more at home with grocery shopping, folding laundry, and taking care of the baby so I can do homework. And he does all this without me having to ask him even once. :) Best Husband Ever. Especially because that is the only way I will survive this semester.

3 months, 1 week, and 6 days until I graduate. Boo-yah baby.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 Reflections

WARNING: This post contains religious overtones. I respect that some people may not feel about religion as I do, but it's my blog so I'm going to talk about how I feel on the subject. I would just ask any commenters to follow your mother's advice: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." :)

As I went through my meetings in church today, several people made comments about their reflections of the year 2010. That made me realize that I haven't really reflected on my year at all.

Thinking back over the year 2010, it was definitely the most difficult year of my life. Most people have maybe one or two life altering events a year. I can think of at least four that happened to me in 2010.

I moved to Utah, got in a pretty bad car accident that totaled our car, my husband left the church, and I had a baby. I also started school again, taking an 18 credit hour semester which was a humdinger! (I wanted to get in as many credits as possible before baby came, and with the looming prospect of being a full time mom and student this coming Winter semester, I am SO GLAD I did!) However, for the purposes of this post, I am going to focus mainly on the first four events that I shared with you.

As often happens in life, sometimes some of the sweetest blessings come when we are enduring bitter circumstances.

Moving to Utah!
Upon moving to Utah I have had the opportunity to meet some of the most wonderful people and friends that I have ever had in my life. In the short 8 months that we have lived here I have discovered more of a community in my little neighborhood than I have ever encountered in any of the five places I have lived since I moved away from my home Ward, where I had known most of the people since my childhood, to go to college. What first seemed like a sheltered, closed, cold community opened up into an outpouring of love and support from so many wonderful people in my neighborhood. All it took was a little bit of an effort on my part to get involved and to get to know people.

I am so grateful for the people that I have met that have unhesitatingly opened their arms and unstintingly poured out their love to me. I don't think they will ever know how much I needed that this year and how much it has saved me.

Car Accident!
Earlier this year we got in a car accident that totaled our poor Subaru and most of the possessions that we had packed in an effort to clean out our Texas apartment for the big move. A car going 30-40 mph broadsided our car on my passenger side, perfectly plowing into our car in the exact middle of our tires. I was 14 weeks pregnant at the time. Miraculously, I walked away with only three staples to close the gash in my head caused by the glass from my window, a bruise on my right calf and a sore body for a couple of days. The baby was totally fine and probably had a good time sloshing around in the amniotic fluid ("fun mom! can we do that again?!"). Later that day, when we went to salvage what we could from our car, the guy who towed our car was amazed to see that I had escaped with so little injury.

I attribute my protection to guardian angels and thank the Lord that my husband had us say a prayer of safety before we left the IHOP where we had eaten breakfast, just 3 minutes before our accident.

Not long after the accident, a huge surprise came my way. My husband left the church. Many of you may be thinking, "So what? What's the big deal?" But you have to understand, that I have tried to live my entire life in such a manner that I could marry a man in the temple and raise my children in the gospel. I have worked my entire life to be able to have a home that radiates joy, love and service as we worship Christ and try to emulate his example. Having a husband who also wants to have a happy home, but no longer agrees with the projected path to get there, was a huge adjustment to my life perspective. I share the selfish reasons why my husband's change of attitude was hard for me, but there are also monumental spiritual and eternal consequences for his welfare that were just as difficult for me to come to terms with (but, he doesn't want to read about that. (; ). There were several stages of transition as I tried to deal with this new reality, all of which were just as hard as the previous ones.

His disbelief made me really question my belief in the Church and I had to seriously and honestly reevaluate my testimony. While this has been one of the hardest things that I have ever had to go through, I can look back and truly see that "all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord." D&C 98:3.

My husbands decision made me realize that I needed to make a hard decision about whether I believed in the church or not. I could no longer sit on the fence with certain issues. I either believed or I didn't. And, after a lot of prayer and study, I knew that I did believe. I knew that I could not walk away from the knowledge and experiences I have been given. "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation" Joseph Smith-- History 1: 25.

It would have been a lot easier to not push the issue with my husband and just go along with his decision for the sake of saving contention in our marriage, for the sake of staying on the same page, for the sake of not losing my best friend. I have never been so in tune with anyone more than I am in tune with my husband. We know and understand each other so well and we are honestly each other's best friend. Holding to my faith was going to put a big gap in between us that could only be crossed by me giving up my faith or him, by returning to the church. I knew that, and that made my decision even harder because I knew that my husband would not be interested in returning to the church for a long time, if ever. But I could not turn my back on my faith.

So, I redoubled my efforts and started striving to live even the smallest of commandments. I know that if I get lackadaisical in the practice of my faith, it will be almost impossible to resist taking the easy path and letting all of this go by the wayside. But I believe in my religion and I have come to see and feel that, the more I strive to keep even the smallest of commandments, the more blessings I receive and the more joy I feel. So, even in this seeming catastrophic trial, I have felt great blessings in my life.

The fourth life changing event was having a baby. I don't think this needs much explanation since many of my blogs are dedicated to the trials and joys of motherhood, but I will say this: I love my baby boy. I love being a mom. Even when days are hard, I can't wait to see what sports he will like, if he is good in school, if he likes blocks or legos better, what college he decides to attend etc. etc. etc. And I plan to have more kids to add to the chaos and the joy.

2010 was definitely one of the hardest of my life and, to be honest, I really don't know what 2011 has in store for me. But I am determined to go forward in faith, doing my best to find the blessings amidst the trials and rejoicing in my God who loves me and has blessed me so abundantly.

God is good. God is great.