Friday, April 25, 2008

9 Months, 4 Days, 13 Hours and (about) 52 Minutes Later...

...I have finally finished reading "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"!!! I am so glad to finally know the ending to this epic tale and that I no longer have to live in fear that someone will accidentally (or purposely!) spoil it for me...its amazing I've gone this long without overhearing how it ends! As a whole the book was great and I was very satisfied with the ending. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to finishing it...I went to the midnight release at Barnes and Noble last July and was so excited to read it I was sure I'd do it in a matter of days! I think I got pretty far into it initially, but then I got distracted, put it down and only read it sporatically over the following weeks and months. This week I finally decided I couldn't stand being in the dark anymore, and I absorbed myself in the book every spare second I got!

After taking a creative writing class this semester (which I truly enjoyed but I am so happy to say is over! No more homework!), I have so much added respect and appreciation for J.K. Rowling and other successful authors. I have a new perspective on everything I read now, trying to look at the story from the writers' perspective. Crafting just a decent short story is hard...Crafting a great story, much less a very long, intricate one that fills 7 best-selling novels, is incredible! Miss Rowling is a wonderfully-talented writer and the depth of her imagination just amazes me. I am sad that there will be no more tales about Harry to read, but happy that I no longer have to worry about him. (Sounds dumb, but weren't we all worried?!)

Now on to my next read! I've really been wanting to start this new book I got for Christmas, but refused to allow myself to do it until I finished Harry Potter. I've heard an awful lot about this little series...something about some guy named Edward.... =)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Bit of a Bust for the First-Time Movie-Goer

I found out several weeks ago that the little movie theater here in Spanish Fork had started having "Mommy Matinees" every Wednesday at 10 am...basically kid-friendly movie showings where it was ok to bring your loud little kids who don't sit still, don't stay quiet, etc. I had read in a parenting magazine awhile back about some theaters starting to do this, and wondered why Utah County, the kid capital of the world, didn't have theaters doing this? So I was ecstatic when I found out someone actually was, and only 5 minutes away from where we're living right now!

I was busy the last couple of Wednesdays, but this morning I got all geared up to take Thomas to his first movie, "Horton Hears a Who." I was so excited just at the concept of going to a movie in a theater...I am such a movie-going nut and have had serious withdrawals since Thomas was born. Ryan and I used to go to the movies at least once a week! Now we're lucky if its once every month or two. So Thomas and I drove over to the theater, and lo and behold...there were NO cars in the parking lot! I wasn't even sure they were open! I almost turned right around to go home, but decided it might not be so bad to have a movie theater all to ourselves. I drove right up to the door and quickly ran inside to check, and there were a couple workers there...I asked them if they were still going to show a movie if only one person showed up. They said they would, so I decided to stay, but I felt kind of dumb being the absolute only person there!

So I went and parked and brought Thomas in. I went all out and bought popcorn, pop and candy...a little spendy, but I wanted to keep Thomas, I just had to get him treats for his first time at a movie theater! We went into the totally empty theater and it felt really weird, though one of the workers did come in and watch for awhile. She turned the lights up a little bit more than usual for us, and Thomas was interested in the movie and the treats for about...oh...20 minutes. Then he ran to the theater door and was begging to go out and play in the hallway! He eventually got distracted again and started running up and down the theater, trying out different seats, coming back for snacks, and watching the movie for a minute here and there. We got pretty far into the movie, and I realized he had done a #2. I took him out to the bathroom to change him, and when I tried to bring him back into the movie, he cried and did not want to stay! So I decided to just pack up and go.

So, it didn't go as well as I had expected and hoped, and I missed the ending, but I am just glad that I didn't have to worry about other people around me being annoyed! And watching Thomas goof around in a theater all to himself was kinda cute. I had originally thought about taking him to "Nim's Island" next week, but now I'm hesitant to take him to a movie again anytime soon...It would probably have been better if there had been other parents and kids there, I'm sure that would have kept Thomas more interested and distracted. If we do decide to go again we'll have to bring friends next time!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Once Freshmen, Now Mommies!

Last Tuesday afternoon I ventured up to Woods Cross (North Salt Lake City area) to visit my good friend Brooke at her house, along with my good friend Catherine who came down from South Weber (Ogden area). Brooke was my roommate in the dorms our freshman year of college at BYU (2000-2001) and Catherine was our next door neighbor. I love that we have stayed friends all these years, even as we have gotten married, moved further away, had babies and developed busy lives. Our freshman year was the funnest, craziest year, and one of the best of my life! I loved being a college girl and was lucky to make so many awesome friends...we all had a great time and made so many fun memories together. We missed our other freshman group pals: Kathy, who lives in Provo but works during the day, and Afton, who lives in California now. We missed you girls! =)

One of the reasons I really wanted to visit Brooke was because I had never met her little girl, Lily, who is 9 months old. When I finally met her she was SO cute, just the chubbiest, smiliest, most giggly, darling little girl! She is just about a year younger than Thomas. I had so much fun holding her and imagining having my own little princess! (I am so baby hungry for a girl lately!) Catherine brought her little boy Samuel, who is only 2 1/2 months younger than Thomas...we love that they are so close in age! Its been awhile since they've seen each other, and they were so funny together at Brooke's house--kind of wrestling and pushing and making each other upset, then hugging and making up, then starting the cycle over! Its really interesting because Catherine and I got married exactly 3 weeks apart, both waited four years before getting pregnant, and then both had boys really close together. Brooke and Afton had little girls very close together, and I like to joke that me and Catherine's boys are going to marry Brooke and Afton's girls! =)

So it was a fun little reunion...we just had pizza and talked while letting the kids play. We had hoped it would be nice enough to go over to a nearby park, but the weather was icky that day. I am so mad at myself because I brought my camera to take photos of us together and then I totally spaced it! Hate it when I do that. Anywho, It was a fun time, I definitely need to get together with my old girlfriends more often!

Friday, April 18, 2008

General Conference Weekend

(Once again I have fallen way behind on writing....this is starting to drive me nuts! Its very hard to find the time lately...Thomas never lets me get on the computer when he's awake, without, you know, pounding on the keyboard, opening the CD drive over and over, or turning the computer off completely! So that leaves me with naptime or nighttime, during which I always seem to have a million other things to do! *Sigh* Anywho...)

General Conference weekend was two older brothers and their families both came into town, so we had all 5 siblings together for the weekend, which was fabulous! This is a very rare thing since Josh lives 5 hours away and Zane lives 10 hours away. It was so great that they were all able to come. It was definitely a crazy household at my parents' for those few days, with 9 adults and 7 children under one roof, but it was so wonderful to be all together. As each of our families continue to grow I know getting everyone together will become harder and harder, so I love it when we are able to make it happen!

Just for fun, here's a breakdown of me and my brothers and our ages:

Josh: 31 (almost) - has 3 kids

Zane: 29 - has 2 kids

Darci: 25 - has 1 kid

Travis: 23 - lookin' for a wife

Jared: 12 - just enjoying life!

A big highlight of the weekend was that me and my three oldest brothers and our spouses (and a date for Travis) were able to attend the Sunday Afternoon session of conference. Zane brought some tickets from Montana and my parents had several as well. My parents and Jared were wonderful and stayed home with the 6 little kids so we could go. I have been to the Conference Center for General Conference sessions and other events in the past, but it has been a couple of years, so I was very excited to go! The feeling in that building and on Temple Square during Conference is amazing. So many people are gathered in one place for one special purpose: to hear the inspired words of the leaders of the Church. The excitement and eagerness of the occasion combined with the reverence and respect everyone shows for our leaders is such a wonderful thing to experience.

As we were driving and then walking to the Conference Center, we of course saw several people or groups gathered nearby with signs to protest against the church. To be honest, these protestors provide more humor than anything! What I love is that so many LDS members stand up for the church by standing right alongside these protestors, sharing a positive message--they sing hymns in groups or wave inspiring or humorous signs of their own. One girl with a huge grin held a sign that said "Mormons Love Jesus," and there was even a man fully decked out in a kilt, playing hymns on a bagpipe. Probably one of my favorites were the people standing all around the Conference Center wearing signs that read "Free Hugs!" (and people were taking them!). I love to see this kind of spirit at Conference time--that we can brush off what negative things others may say about our beliefs, and respond with positivity and lightheartedness.

Of course the most wonderful spirit I felt during Conference was inside the Conference Center. I don't think I'll ever get over the enormity of that room and the massive number of people that can congregate there. We found our seats quite early, and the room was abuzz with conversation...but the moment that the First Presidency entered, the hush that fell over the congregation was instant and amazing. You can feel the love and respect that everyone has for those men, and for the many other leaders present, who have come to give counsel and support to the members. Of course one of the highlights was to listen to Thomas S. Monson in his new role as the Prophet and President of the Church. It was wonderful to see how the prophetic mantle had truly settled on him...this was mentioned in talks all throughout conference, and I could really feel it as we listened to his words. President Monson is a wonderful man and leader, and I have always had a great admiration of him. I couldn't help feeling a little sad, thinking again of our dear President Gordon B. Hinckley and his passing, knowing that never again would he address the church from that pulpit. But I am so grateful for the wisdom and laughter he gave us for so many years, and I am glad he is home with his loved ones. I will always miss his wonderful spirit. He was the prophet of my youth, and I will have fond memories of him my whole life.

One of my favorite talks given during the session we attended was by M. Russell Ballard, titled "Daughters of God." When he said he wanted to focus his talk "primarily on mothers, particularly on young mothers," I felt so excited and eager to hear his words. As he spoke, I felt he could have written his talk just for me. Like every other young mother out there, I have many struggles and challenges, and his words were encouraging and uplifting and exactly what I needed to hear. I felt such gratitude for Elder Ballard and for the inspiration he had to speak on this subject. To have a General Authority speak so specifically about the challenges in my life strengthens my testimony of and faith in the church even helps me to know that Heavenly Father is aware of me, that the leaders of the Church are aware of me, and that they care about and support me. It seems every General Conference carries at least one message that feels especially tailored to me, and I love Conference for that reason...even if that's the only talk I remember, it makes me feel recognized, re-energized and ready to work harder. You can read Elder Ballard's awesome talk here.

So, it was a good n' busy weekend! Another fun thing during the weekend was watching all the little kids together...I love watching Thomas play with his cousins and imagining them growing up together. I really hope they all grow up to be good buddies! Right before Josh and Jenise got ready to leave on Sunday night, I asked if we could try to get all the kids together for a photo...they were all kind of grumpy and it probably wasn't the best time, but they've never been all together for a picture! So, we snapped a few shots of them together on the couch...most of the kids are pouty and crying and trying to get away, so its not a great photo, but at least we'll all have a good laugh when we look back at it someday!

From Left to Right: Josh's kids (Aiden, Zander, Anika), Zane's kids (Ciara & Dalin), Tommy and Uncle Jared.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So Close!

I haven't posted photos of our new house for awhile, so I thought I would give a little update (especially for you, Mom and Dad Laidlaw!). Our home is getting so close to being done, I am suffering severe bouts of anticipation! This is what the outside looks like right now, but my most recent photos of the inside are from a couple of weeks ago...a lot has happened since then! The inside has been painted, the wood trim has all been stained, and this week the cabinets are going in...I am so excited! Over the next few weeks the countertops, interior stone, lighting, appliances, window coverings and carpet will go in and the hardwood floors will be stained. We will probably be completely finished around the end of this month and move in the beginning of May...I really hope, anyway! Our "estimated completion" date has been pushed forward so many times, it could definitely happen again. But I am just happy that we will be moving in during warmer weather and that we'll get to enjoy spring and summer in our brand new home!

Here's a few shots of the inside...some of them didn't turn out that well but you can still see okay. Hopefully a month from now I will be posting photos of the totally finished product!