Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh there's no place like home for the holidays!

Well, I did not get a white Christmas. But New Years is starting to look jam packed with fresh white powder! We sure are getting snowed in tonight. I'm glad we have these two weeks to share with our wonderful friends and families! We have been packing in the fun.
To start out, we surprised our families coming up early. The timing on that was awesome because it meant we had more time with them. We also were able to party with my roommates. (Yes, I am aware that I am married and have only one roommate now, but these ladies will always be called my roommates.)

Sorry not the best picture of Jason, but the point was about the girls and we're all smiling. Still love them!

We went to Zoo lights this year with Michael's fam. Our blood must be thinner because it was COLD! Thank heavens for two scarfs, a million shirts and a coat borrowed from Katie because Michael and I both didn't bring coats! Genius!

We met Dasher before his busy night.

I don't think antlers suit me.

I am a fan of Zoo lights. They did a good job with the blend of tree lights and lighted decorations. We saw some animals and they had hot chocolate and conveniently placed heaters. Highly recommended!

Our next adventures left Veronica looking like this:

I'm very impressed with the storing capabilities. You are looking at one bin of ski clothes, five pairs of skis and poles, two snowboards, two pairs of snowboarding boots, six pairs of ski boots, and a partridge in a pear tree. This car is definitely paying off.
We had an amazing day on the slopes. I have really missed my Wasatch mountains. Look how pretty!

There is more where that came from-
to be continued...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Activities

What CAN'T you do in AZ in the winter? Seriously we have been having some fun adventures that keep me thinking is it really December? We went to a drive in movie with friends one weekend. I love driven ins. It was the perfect weather to just sit outside and cozy up during a movie. I haven't done that in December before.

We also have been on a Co-ed softball team with a coworker of mine and his friends. We have had SO much fun. We've had two games every Friday night since the last week of October. Our first couple games were so hard because my legs felt like they were going to fall off- I swear they should not have been that sore. This past Friday was our league's championship game. Our win in the first game put us in the semi-finals and then we lost. We were super proud of ourselves for making it that far. I loved that we got to be on their team. I'm not used to softball being a winter sport!
Here's a picture of our team minus a few that couldn't make it. Team Yahtzee!

After our 8:30 game, we got on the road for Utah. We left our house at 10:00 PM. At about 2 AM Michael parked in a casino parking lot where we slept for about 3 hours and then we were back on the road. We told our parents we were not going to make it until next week so their faces were pretty priceless! So although I kind of miss the 70s temps we left, I'm glad I could possibly get my white Christmas afterall!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis the season... bake! I have to admit publicly that I really love the awesome goodies people can create over the holidays. My taste buds have not been disappointed this year. I wish I had some of the amazing creativity and patience and talent some folks have for their Christmas treats. But for now, I will stick to tradition.

These loaves take quite awhile to be finished. They aren't fancy schmancy and I don't wrap them in any adorable wrapping. But, I must admit I love the smell that fills up my house when those are in the oven. I love that I hand made them. And ultimately, I love that I got the recipe from the VERY worn 3x5 card of my mom's who got it from my grandma who got it from her mom. Talk about a family recipe!

Growing up, I was constantly walking over to my neighbors' houses to deliver my mom's freshly baked bread. This is my third year delivering my hot-out-of-the-oven-bread to our neighbors. I don't know why but this year's batches have not been the most gorgeous. I'm seriously having a fight with my yeast. Because of the ugly loaves that I've had to deliver, I called my mom in frustration. She reviewed my recipe gave me some tips. The second batch was better but still not out of control fluffy like I'm used to. She said call grandma. So I did. The whole conversation I kept thinking, man, I'm sure glad I have my grandma that I can call and ask her for advice. She sure is an amazing, sassy lady. I'm not going to lie, she and my grandpa are definitely one of our favorite couples to double with.

Moral of the story.... I love this time of year. I love traditions. And I love that I have so many amazing examples in my life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...well sort of...I'm not use to being able to enjoy old fashion ice cream while at a Christmas party in the backyard. Nor do I usually get in a swimming suit in December, but Arizona is changing lots of things!

At least our house looks like Christmas time. It sure felt different putting up Christmas decorations when the sun is shining, the grass is growing green, and it's a high of 76. Even though I don't have a fireplace to hang my stockings with care on, I still like having some.

It's been fun to find places in our house for our decorations this year. Even though we can't take weekend trips to see the lights at temple square, my parents sent a piece of Utah to us! The trees light up and everything! And I don't freeze my fanny off enjoying the splendor. Not a bad deal!

The first year Michael and I got married, I went to the wonderful Tai Pan and bought a ton of Christmas ornament balls. Michael thought I was crazy, but I sure love using them everywhere around our house.

What a wonderful time of year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Time flies when you're having fun?

Alright, I know that I am super guilty of always waiting for tomorrow and I count down to Friday starting Monday and sometimes Sunday night instead of enjoying the present. Weekends are just so good. I guess it is because of this that I have no idea what happened to November. Seriously, that went fast!

To be fair, I think the weather is still throwing me for a loop. It has been the coldest weather in Arizona for the past 75 years, but still, high of 60s and 70s is not December to me yet. So that might add to it.

Whatever the reason, Michael and I both have no idea where November went. We were trying to think of some of our "accomplishments" and things we did. The only big stuff we could think of was Thanksgiving and we were baffled about what happened to the previous 24 days of the month.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We were brave and had our first Thanksgiving without our families. Mine was in Vegas for a soccer tournament and Michael's went to California. Michael played his turkey bowl game and I thought how thankful I was that I didn't have to watch in 15 degree weather. Thankfully, we were not left without food. Friends from the ward invited us to their first Thanksgiving dinner without family.

It was wonderful and we sure are grateful that we have a good ward and good friends that include us. The Binghams did the big cooking and we brought some fixings. The food was so great and Amy had so many fun touches like our delicious place cards. Amazing holiday!

We had a big surprise on Saturday when the doorbell rang and we found Michael's family on the doorstep. I'm pretty sure that Phoenix is NOT a pit stop from anywhere so, boy, was it a great surprise! We played, shopped, and bbq-ed. (That's right, we're still bbq-ing down here.) After church on Sunday, they took off for Utah. It was short, but fantastic!

And now- December, here we come!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thank You x 365

I love that we have a holiday dedicated to being grateful. I read an article about a book that's coming out soon. The author was in the middle of a divorce, with a struggling business. Instead of dwelling on his misfortune, he decided to embrace an attitude of gratitude by writing one thank you note every day for a whole year. I'm kind of intrigued to read this book because I honestly feel that gratitude and humble service help to overcome any of life's challenges.

We really feel so blessed. We have so much to be grateful for. We have jobs, a house, a free nation, functioning cars, amazing friends and unbelievably supportive families. We are super thankful for the amazing food we get to eat on this holiday. We are also so grateful for the knowledge we have of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Our gratitude list goes on and on. And I'm really going to work on being aware of that list 365 days of the year and write a few more thank you notes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

did you know...?

FYI- It's not Thanksgiving yet. I've been holding strong to my belief that I won't put up Christmas before Thanksgiving. I don't know why, but this year I've been super tempted to pull it out.

Maybe it's the fact that it's a high of 71 this week that keeps throwing me off. If the Christmas decorations are up, maybe it will FEEL like Christmas time- even though the weather is far from the white Christmas time I'm used to.

Ok, I'll admit, I have started listening to some Christmas music on the radio even though it's not Thanksgiving, but I'm still staying strong on the decorations and the wonderful movies. The amazing Christmas movies are what get me the most. So... to fight the intense desire to watch the "Home Alones" and "It's a Wonderful Life," I have been watching movies that remind me of Christmas time even though they are not entirely Christmas movies.

For example, "Harry Potter." Why do I feel Christmas-y watching those movies? I do not know. But I have been watching a few of those- including HP7! I still love my Harry Potter!
Another Christmas-y movie but not a Christmas movie that I watched lately is the wonderful "Meet Me in St. Louis."

It's absolutely wonderful and a musical. The best part is it has all the seasons in it, so I kind of crave watching this movie all year long. Did you know that "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" came from this musical? Because it did. So if you are in need of a great movie that can go with the awesome Christmas Classics, I seriously suggest you add "Meet Me in St. Louis."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

...looking on the bright side...

Never fear we have a Cafe Rio here. (It's only 40 mins away instead of every 10, but hey- it's still good.)

I think eating there for dinner after going to the beautiful Mesa Temple was pretty darn good medicine for the crappy week I endured. How blessed we are to have a place as wonderful as the temple to go to to escape the world and be reminded of the things that really matter. I'm grateful I know these truths.

We had a great day yesterday with the Baers. We went to an Art Festival in Scottsdale. We had gone to one in Litchfield Park a few weeks ago and LOVED it but we hadn't been able to stay very long. So we were super excited to hear about another one. Scottsdale's was much bigger, but more on the pricey end. I still loved being able to sip my strawberry lemonade as we walked around enjoyed some booths, people watched, avoided some awkward booths, and were creeped out by some- huge paintings of dogs in human bodies?! Really? Of course, my favorite part of the festival was the food. We had these amazing chips after I watched a man take out two real potatoes and put them on this awesome screw machine thing that cut them up in the awesome curly shape. Definitely worth it.

I think the amazing food throughout the day definitely helped my mini-golf game later that evening. I totally won the first 18 holes. And I got a hole in one as well as a few 6 putt maximum scores on the last 18- not as hot. But, still a great weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Always look on the bright side of life."

I need to be honest. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I played school with my siblings and stuffed animals. I always said I was going to be a teacher. I took any class I could to be a teacher. And now...I am a teacher.
I love my job. I do. I do. But, boy oh boy, I sure do get sick of putting up with crap all day. I don't know if it's just one of those groups of kids or if I'm a burnt out teacher at the age of 24 (can that happen?!) or what. I swear I used to be able to not give reactions to my students, but this year, some of the students can really make my blood boil. I have had a few occasions where I get to the point where I feel like I'm either going to scream or break out crying. That's when our class has a heads down on our desk and think about the better choices we could have made time.

I promise I want to be a good teacher and I try to be a good teacher. I want my students to be able to make the decisions on their own without someone telling them exactly to do. Which is what most of my students this year are used to. I want to be able to help them. I have one student that is completely banned from saying, "I don't know." or shrugging his shoulders at me. He's done it so much that now if he does it, he has to say three nice things about himself. I have two other students who have officially and completely changed my perspective about medication and students with A.D.D. because they are totally different kids without their medicine. I have a student who calls out and argues with me about everything so much that they now have to take away a minute of recess for every call out and two minutes for every time they argue. (That adds up quite quickly) And for the ultimateness of crap I put up with each day, I have a student who will roll her eyes at me and have mini temper tantrums and get all huffy. Sometimes she's just great with no problem but then she'll start pouting about heaven knows what. I'll say in a very nice teacher voice, "student, (name omitted) you need to get on task." MANY times and she'll huff about something over and over and over again and say, "I can't". This happened so many times, that I finally had to say, "What can you do?! Problem solve. What CAN you do to figure it out?!" All the while trying not to scream or pull my hair out.

I feel like my lucky eternal companion gets the brunt end of my patience level. If he taps his toes or clicks his pen, I automatically ask in probably not the nicest tone, "CAN'T YOU JUST SIT STILL!?" Or he and I will be having a conversation in which he will politely say something and I will word vomit something like, "WHY ARE YOU TALKING BACK TO ME?!" Or he will ask me a perfectly harmless question and I will respond in teacher voice, "YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION!" I may or may not say a few other very teacher comments to my full-grown husband!

I know this is a super vent-age post, but it's just a bit frustrating. I guess weekends and Thanksgiving break can be added to my list of things I'm thankful for this month.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Like ants to a picnic...

I'll tell you what- lately the streets around here have really looked a lot like this:

Because of the races that are going here this weekend:

And it's really starting to remind me of this movie:

Apparently to get to the Phoenix International Raceway, you have to drive down the main roads around my area.

People in our ward have warned us that sometimes traffic gets so bad on Sundays that we might not be able to just get across the main road to get to church...Really? We'll see how that goes.

All I have to say is I hope I don't see any of this:

Thursday, November 11, 2010


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I saw this today and I think it really hits the spot on this special holiday. I'm very glad that my school recognizes the holiday so I can have the day off and because I honestly feel it makes me appreciate it more. It's definitely a holiday that can easily slip by without the recognition it deserves.

Thank you veterans for defending the freedom that I enjoy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's going to be legen-wait for it-dary!

We may or may not have just booked a little trippy poo to here:


And other places in this region:

It's going to be pretty unbelievable... Thank you tax benefit.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Out-of-towner

Last weekend, we had our first official out-of-towner house guest- my mom! I LOVED having her down here. Some coworkers started making fun of me because all week I kept saying my mom's coming to town! My mom's coming to town! Well, I don't care what they say because I love my mommy and I don't care who knows it!

She flew in Thursday. Michael was able to pick her up from the airport.
His work is 5 mins away- so convenient. I raced home from my work to meet them at home. We were able to show her our house. She and my dad had a 2 hour lay over in Phoenix in July so they were able to see the starting of our house, but it was fun to show her our projects and our rooms without boxes everywhere. She spoiled us to dinner here:

It was delicious! What a great way to start out her visit! We then ran some errands- including an infamous jaunt to Wal-Mart as previously mentioned.

The next day, she came to school with me. My class was amazed that my mom was there and that she had a different name than me. (Mrs. Ostler vs. Mrs. Shields) I loved having her there because she can now fully understand when I talk to her about having a rough day. She was a big help with our Halloween party. She took on the hardest task of the donuts on a string. It was awesome.

Friday night she came and watched our first co-ed softball games. I felt bad because going and watching sports games is very much part of her daily routines, but I loved having her. And I don't want to talk about how sore I was the next day just from two softball games- yikes!

Saturday we dragged her to the nursery to help us pick out some plants for our backyard. She knows her stuff! We got all that we needed. She even spoiled us and got us some of these beautiful plants:

They are Gardenias and they are going to look beautiful! We then enjoyed the afternoon in Mesa with my uncle and my mom's college roommate. We finished up the evening with the Baers and the perfect scary movie for Halloween:

Sunday, she got to enjoy my Nursery class with me and all that that entails. Bless her for being there. Monday, I took work off and we went out shopping. Then the time came when we had to drop her off at the airport. Saying goodbye is definitely not my favorite thing to do, but it had been such a good weekend. I loved having her here. I loved being able to talk to her about anything and everything. She is one amazing lady. When I grow up, I want to be just like my mom!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

money, money, money

Let me tell you a little lesson about American currency. The twenty dollar bill looks like this:

A few years ago, my family went to the US Mint in Washington D.C. It was so fun and interesting to see how these valuable pieces of paper are made. The security features and everything. The other night, I learned a new security feature. Let me tell you about it...

I had a class party the next day so I needed to go get some donuts. My mom's in town -Hooray! More on that later- and she didn't want to go into the store with me. Michael didn't want to go into the store with me either. So they sent me alone. Michael gave me a twenty and I headed into the store.

24 donuts later and a few long lines later, I was in the express checkout line. I get up to the front, give the cashier my donuts and my twenty ready to go. She then takes the twenty Michael gave me and says, "I'm sorry. I cannot accept this. This is counterfeit money."

Seriously. What do you do when someone says that to you? All I could say was, "Are you serious?" The reason why I asked that was because when I was in line forever, I had the cash out and noticed this weird corner that kind of looked like someone had cut it weird. I thought to myself that would be weird if this was counterfeit... Nah that doesn't happen in real life.

Then I get to the cashier and that's what she says to me! Well, that was only money I had, so I had to call Michael to come in and use a credit card. She then informs us that she was able to "classify" our cash as counterfeit because Mr. Jackson didn't have any ridges on his jacket. Who knew?

The cashier then informs us that it's store policy to confiscate the "counterfeit" money. Michael is now a bit grouchy because my donuts were now $34. It was quite the disappointment. I was really worried because the only time we get cash is either from the ATM or money people give us because we sold something to them. Recently, Michael sold a cell phone on craig's list so he was worried that he had over $100 in counterfeit. However, he then realized that this particular twenty came from a birthday card sent to him by relatives!

Michael was worried that his relatives might have a bunch of counterfeit so he called them to tell them about the situation. He had to keep telling them, "No, you don't need to send me more... That's not why I'm calling...I just don't want you to have more counterfeit."

What a lesson! Now that you learned so much about the US currency, go check your twenties today! And I'll keep you posted on whether or not the secret service starts investigating us counterfeiters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fabulous Fall Break part 2

The rest of Fall break was not disappointing. It was NOT easy to leave those beautiful FALL colors. I'm sorry, but AZ does not have seasons. Unless you count hot, hotter and hottest. It's currently hot season so if anyone wants to visit 80 temps, I have a place you can stay...
During the rest of the week we watched her:

(yes, that's my sister. and no, I don't know why she got the long, skinny legs, and yes, I do love their way cute jerseys)

Wednesday I was able to go to the elementary school I went to and talk to my amazing 4th,5th, & 6th grade teacher who is still there. Seriously, I still want to be her when I grow up. I got to spend the day with my mom. She is the best librarian ever. She really knows her stuff and I love all her book recommendations. (I know, mom, I still need to read, "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.") While I was there I also got to visit with one of second graders! He is now a 5th grader and goes to my elementary school! What a small world and it's starting
to make me feel old.

We were able to see some friends. I wish we could have seen everyone that we miss so much in Utah. Boy, do those few days fly by.

After 5 years, a marriage, a mission, a few graduations, lots of loving conversations about our outfits, we finally took some new family pictures. This is the only one I have so far. Michael took the picture though so it's not the complete family.

We also got to celebrate Michael's birthday here:

I wish I could have gotten a picture of my dad's face. He loved the go-carts a little too much. He did not love waiting for the workers to come and get him unstuck and he did not like his score in lazer tag. I guess we'll have to practice that later. It was great. And boy, did Camille not like being spun out! She's just not as great a driver as others. : ) Grandma had fun though...

I do love that our tokens were able to purchase these beauties:

It was a fabulous fall break and it nearly broke my heart to leave. I'm
sure glad the holiday season is right around the corner...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fabulous Fall Break part 1

After Chicago, my picture taking skills seriously deteriorated. But we had a great rest of the week nonetheless.
Monday we flew into SLC! It was great. We were coming in from our layover in Denver and the plane crossed into Utah Valley right over my dear Mapleton. It turned North and continued right over beautiful Hobble Creek Canyon, the Y on the mountain, our little Provo house (I swear I saw it.) We then continued flying along above I-15 where Michael and I counted the temples as we saw them. It was the perfect way to be bring me home. So thank you Southwest Pilot.
That night we had a great birthday dinner for Michael with his family. The next morning- DEMOLITION. Michael enjoyed ripping out A LOT of walls inside because the kitchen is getting updated.
My HGTV self loves watching the unbelievable project the Shields are undergoing. I wish I had before pictures, but their house used to have a flat roof. It was custom made in the 70s and all that that implies. They added the slant roof, cornices and a big family room/ master suite addition to the back. And they are going to put windows in the front and update the facade. It looks awesome.
Everyday we were there included drastic changes!
It was so much fun to be there and help. (Michael obviously was more crucial than I.) It was a great addition to our Fall Break.