Thursday, November 24, 2011

How NOT To Make An Advent Calender

Last Saturday Nate was sick in bed. I woke up wondering what I was going to do to entertain myself for the day. All of the sudden the most foreign thought hit me: I should make a craft today. What!?!?!? Did I hear my thought correctly. Did I really want to make a craft? I'm not sure I've ever had that desire, but it was there and I decided to follow through with it. I've been in the holiday mood lately and decided to make an advent calender. My mom has one that we hang on the wall every year that I used as an inspiration. I spent half the day on the phone with my mom making sure I was doing things right. Nonetheless, I managed to not do things right! Here are the four most important things I learned not to do:

1. Don't get lazy and not iron or pin the seam before sewing! I attempted to fold the top of the fabric over and sew it so there would be a place for the wooden dowel to go through. My laziness caused it to be so ridiculously crooked and bunched up that I finally just decided to cut the top off! Fortunately, I had left enough room that I could sew it again, correctly this time.
2. Don't buy a wooden dowel and then leave it at Hobby Lobby at the checkout stand! I know it only cost me $0.59 but I refuse to go back and buy another one.
3. Don't attempt to alternate red and green writing if you're going to get distracted and do two greens in a row!
4. Most importantly, don't make 32 pockets when there are only 24 days to count down to Christmas! I sewed 4 rows of pockets with the intention of making 6 pockets in each row but somehow got confused and made 8 pockets instead. I didn't discover my mistake until I was writing the numbers on the pockets. Good thing I have a great pair of fabric scissors! I ended up cutting off the bottom row of pockets. My calender ended up being several inches shorter than I originally intend due to my hack job on the top and bottom!

Despite my rookie mistakes, I think my advent calender actually turned out alright- especially for a craft from me. It was pretty simple too. I cut out a Christmas tree shape of green felt and sewed it on some white sparkly felt. Then I sewed the rows of pockets. Next, I poked some jingle bell brads in the tree to hang the ornaments on. My mom's calender has homemade felt ornaments with velco on the back but I knew I would never make 24 hand-cut ornaments so I figured out a way to hang some store-bought ornaments instead. Finally I used glitter glue to write the numbers on the pockets. Everything I bought was half off at Hobby Lobby, so I was pretty happy about that. Here is a picture of the semi-finished product. I need to get another dowel (ugh) and some ribbon to hang it. I also wanted to write Merry Christmas or Countdown to Christmas on it, but I'm not sure if I'll have enough room now that I've shortened it...

On a similar note I finally finished an apron that I started a year ago for Brianne's Christmas present. Just a little late.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A WICKED time in Nashville

For our anniversary this year in June, Nate bought me tickets to go see Wicked in Nashville, Tennessee. Ok, I actually got online and bought them myself but he told me I could :) Nashville is about a nine hour drive from Bentonville, so we decided to make a weekend out of it. After months of anticipation, our Nashville weekend finally arrived! We took Friday off from work and spent the majority of the day driving. We drove the back roads which took us a little longer but we wanted to do an experiment to see how good of gas mileage we could get with our new car. We averaged almost 50 mpg!!! We were very excited about that and actually ended up loving the drive because we were exploring the back woods of Arkansas and Tennessee. We saw probably 45 different "flea markets" along the way which generally consisted of two or three tables in someone's yard covered with junk from their homes. Basically, people just have year-round garage sales and paint a sign that says "Flea Market."

After seeing so many flea markets along the way, we found ourselves lucky enough to be in town for Tennessee's largest flea market of the year! What an exciting coincidence! When we found out it was only a couple miles from our hotel, we of course could not pass up the opportunity to attend. We scrapped our original plans for the day and hit the fairgrounds. When else would we have the chance to be a part of one of the Top 10 Flea Markets in the Nation?  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the flea market but let me tell you, this thing was huge! We walked around for a couple hours and didn't even come close to seeing everything. I was very excited about our purchase of 1400 count sheets for $25! We continued our treasure hunting for the day at Antique Archaeology, the store front for one of our favorite shows on the History Channel, American Pickers. We didn't buy anything but we went more to say we'd been there.

Nate was thrilled to touch an actual Picker van!
 Because our temple is about four hours from us, we generally try to include a session at the temple anytime we are on a trip to a city where there is a temple nearby. There is a temple in Franklin which is just outside of Nashville. I remembered my church clothes, temple clothes and recommend. Sounds like I was prepared and good to go right? Wrong! I forgot my dress shoes! I was ready to throw in the towel and cancel our temple trip but Nate was insisted that we were going so I better find something to wear. This is a picture of the result.

I thought the bright purple tennis shoes weren't conspicuous at all........
It's fair to say I was grateful and surprised they let me in the door!

The night of the show, we decided to make it a real date night with dinner and show. We found this little hole in the wall type Italian restaurant that was actually sooooooo good! There was no parking lot so we had to park at the gas station next door, and the restaurant building looked pretty shady but Nate and I agreed that it was the best Italian food either of us had ever had. After dinner came the main event: WICKED! It was my second time seeing it and Nate's first time. We both loved it! I would jump at the chance to go again someday.
Yes I'm wearing my bright purple tennis shoes with this outfit as well. I can always be counted on for classiness!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Airplane Encounters

It seems I can never have an airplane ride without encountering some rather interesting characters. Whether it be the large man who fell asleep on me or the smelly man who released noxious gas throughout the plane ride, I somehow attract the least desirable seat companions. And so it was with our latest trip home for Brianne's wedding.

Our first flight required us to wake up at 3:00 AM (or in Nate's case, simply not go to bed at all) in order to make the 6:00 AM flight out of Tulsa. We nearly missed it and barely ran aboard as they were closing the door! Needless to say, it was a very stressful and tiring morning, but we anticipated being able to at least get a couple hours of sleep on the airplane. The flight attendant dimmed the cabin lights and we were ready to slip away into dreamland when Mr. Obnoxious behind us apparently missed the memo that every other passenger on the flight was sleeping! He proceeded to talk (or rather shout) to his seat companion (whom he didn't know, poor girl) for the entire flight. He was one of those big, jovial guys with a booming voice and an endless supply of absurd stories. It was all I could do to keep from turning around and saying. "Listen up buddy; Nobody cares about how free you felt running naked on the beach, how beautiful the Elton John concert in Vegas was, or how huge your wife has become since gaining 30 pounds! Now zip it so I can sleep!"

We had a short layover in Denver and then boarded the plane to Salt Lake City with high hopes once again that surely we would get some rest on this flight. But alas, rest was not in the cards that day. A sweet looking grandmother sat down beside me and immediately introduced herself and asked how I was doing. Normally, when someone responds to that question by saying, "Tired. I've been up since 3:00 AM" that is a hint that they plan on sleeping for the duration of the flight. However, sweet Ruth took that opportunity to tell me how tired she was as well and continue talking until we reached Salt Lake. She was on her way there to teach the Mormons about Christianity. Much to her delight, she was able to practice her skills right there on the plane when I revealed that I was in fact a Mormon! In all seriousness, it ended up being a great experience for me. There has been so much hype in the media lately concerning whether Mormons are Christians or not, and obviously this woman was of the belief that we are not. I took the opportunity to debunk that myth for her. I am a Mormon- a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I believe in Jesus Christ. He is my Savior and King. I believe in his Atonement and that He suffered and died for me. I testify that He lives and because of Him I can live again. I am a Mormon and I am a Christian!

2007 Honda Civic Hybrid (No we haven't gone green, we just like to save greens on gas!)
We chose to buy a car in Utah, cancel our flights, and drive 1338 miles home to Arkansas rather than risk another plane ride!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Did You Know????

I'm a big believer in lifelong learning and education. My quest for knowledge has led me to ten interesting discoveries lately.
1. Did you know Chuck Norris writes adult Christian fiction books? It's true: I saw them in the library the other day. You may ask, what does he write about? Naturally, God fearing Texas rangers from the 1800s. 
2. Did you know there is such a thing as golden raisins? This discovery was more of a duh moment for me. A couple of weeks ago we went for a strenuous eight mile hike, and as I was sitting on a rock munching away on my trail mix, I was startled to realize my raisins were golden! And then it hit me, of course they make raisins out of green grapes and not just the purple ones. 
3. Did you know that when you buy a house and the fridge comes with it, there is probably a reason it was left behind and that reason wasn't to be nice? When we bought our house we were thrilled that we could save some money by not having to buy a fridge. This thrill soon turned to bitter disappointment whenever I would attempt to crack an egg or pour a glass of milk only to discover they were frozen! Adjusting the temperature only resulted in melted ice cream in the freezer which is quite frankly unacceptable in my book. The good news is after combining several offers we saved 25% on our brand new fridge from Lowes! 
4. Did you know that after a year of marriage, you're considered a menace to society if you have not multiplied and replenished the earth? 
5. Did you know that they make shower handles that require you to be large, green, and named the Hulk to turn on? Yes, that's right; our shower handle demands brute strength to operate. At first, I feared I would be doomed to sponge bathing in the sink until we could buy a new handle. Upon checking the prices of such a project, I decide to lift some weights instead. I can now successfully turn on the shower. I tell you this because I don't want anyone to feel pathetic when they stay at my house and are unable to operate the shower. 
6. Did you know that when you try to buy a car with cash from a dealership, they will look at you like you are stupid and proceed to tell you about their "awesome finance plan"? What has our society come to when you are considered the dumb one for trying to stay out of debt? We haven't found the right car yet so keep your eyes open for us!
7. Did you know that the crowd will let out a cry of disappointment if you sprint to the finish line of a race and pass a 12 year old boy in the last second? Nate does. 
8. Did you know that football season can actually be a wonderful time in your marriage? I didn't last year but have discovered the secret this year: compromise! We now spend four hours on Saturday morning doing whatever I want and then, Nate spends four hours watching his game while I spend four hours still doing whatever I want! Win-win!
9. Did you know that you're mother was right? At least mine was when she told me all those years to practice the piano because someday I'd have to do it in church. Well, I guess she was only partially right because I'll be playing the organ. I really should have listened to her. I wonder what else I'll discover she was right about? 
10. Did you know that they call men to be nursery leaders at church? Yep, Nate will be in the nursery starting next Sunday as will I. I know what you're all thinking: how cute! A couple's calling in the nursery! But will this serve as encouragement to have kids or as a good form of birth control? Only time will tell..... 

Doing a little fist pumping on the morning of our Labor Day 5k. Nate was pretty proud of his victory over the child.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Protect the sick people!

You know your night at the county fair is going to be great when it starts off like this:

Activist with his clipboard in hand on his soap box, "Are you registered Arkansas voters? Will you help us legalize medical marijuana?"
Us, "No."
As we walked away cries of "You must protect the sick people!" followed after us.

As I said, fantastic way to start the evening!I haven't been to a county fair since my "glorious" pig showing days in Nebraska so we decided to check it out on Thursday with Bryson and Alyssa. Even though we ate dinner before we went, something about the disgustingly greasy, overpriced, fair food was tantalizing enough to convince us we had to eat a hand dipped, foot long corn dog and fresh squeezed lemonade that really just consisted of one lemon squeezed into a cup of ice. Not the best eight bucks we've ever spent. However, I was much more pleased with my next purchase: 15 Taste of Home magazines from the 90s! Many of the recipes actually look familiar as I'm sure my mom and grandma have the same magazines. They were five for a dollar and the proceeds benefited the local 4H chapter; who could say no to that? Not Nathan!

Since it was a weeknight, there weren't very many people there. It felt a little eerie walking around what felt like a deserted carnival. (Other than the scary carni people.) I felt like I was walking through a horror movie. But then we walked around the animal pens. Lambs aren't scary, just stinky.

As you can see, there weren't a lot of people there.
The one disappointment from the evening resulted from Nate crushing my lifelong, cliche dream of making out on the ferris wheel! He said it was too expensive! I guess he traded my dream for a piece of processed meat on a stick.

The crowning moment of the evening came as we were about to leave when Nate stepped in a pile of "green mud" wearing only his flip flops. Yuck for him, entertainment for Bryson and I watching him!

On a side note: I woke up with pink eye the next morning. It looks like Mr. Marijuana Activist didn't protect the sick people after all. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Italian with a Southern Accent

What happens when Little Italy is smack dab in the middle of the South? The Tontitown Grape Festival of course! Tontitown was settled by Italians, but over the years the Southern influence has crept in resulting in an annual feast of homemade spaghetti noodles and sauce served with none other than your traditional Southern fried chicken. Who knew they could pair so well together?

Nate loved the fried chicken while I preferred the spaghetti. What a perfect marriage of flavors and two people!

The festival also featured grapes from the local vineyards. (Hence, the name Grape Festival).

We didn't buy any grapes but we did try the grape flavored ice cream. Normally, I avoid grape flavored things because I'm always reminded of dimetapp......Fortunately, this was yummy ice cream with no resemblance to the syrupy medication.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Ozark Inn

For those of you who haven't heard, Nathan and I recently purchased The Ozark Inn Bed & Breakfast. The historic Ozark Inn, dating back to 2002, is situated on a lovely .22 acres in the heart of charming Bentonville Arkansas. The Ozark Inn offers luxurious accommodations to it's guests. Our cozy rooms provide comfort and allow our guests to discover a home away from home. Guests have the freedom of choosing from an array of fun, themed rooms. Our most popular rooms are the Dr. Seuss Suite and Dwight Schrute Chamber.

The Dwight Schrute Chamber is painted the exact shade of mustard as the shirt of the character you know and love on the The Office. Fans of the show, will feel they are almost a part of an actual episode!

Or for the young at heart,The Dr. Seuss Suite is hand painted to take guests down the nostalgic, childhood, memory lane. You can't go wrong with any room at the Ozark Inn. We are excited to offer guests not only their choice of rooms, but their choice of beds as well! We'll mix and match beds and rooms to create your ideal experience. Photos of options are included below. 
The Queen Size Eddie Bauer

The double high queen size Coleman

The cozy sleeping bag for one or two!

The soft, yet firm yoga mat
Guests can mingle with one another in our large, bright common room and enjoy reading, watching t.v., or playing the piano.

And as all good bed and breakfasts do, we offer a succulent buffet breakfast each morning to our guests. Not only do we do breakfast, but lunch and dinner are included with your stay as well!

We know you will have a wonderful and relaxing stay when you choose the Ozark Inn. Whether you are planning a vacation, business trip, or a weekend getaway to the Natural State, the Ozark Inn is the place for you. We would love the opportunity to make your stay unforgettable! Rooms book up quickly, so make your reservations soon! For reservations feel free to leave us a message in a comment to this blog.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Floating Trailer Park

Have you ever heard the song, "Redneck Yacht Club"? I always thought it was a funny song but I never expected to find myself experiencing it. I'm pretty sure we stumbled across the redneck float club this weekend. We decided to go on a float trip down the Elk River. We were expecting a quite, peaceful day on the water, but as you will soon see, we could not have been more wrong!

Saturday morning we packed our cooler, drove up to Missouri, rented a canoe and set off down the river. It wasn't long before we came across what looked like the Jersey Shore rowing crew. A group of rowdy, tattooed coeds in their twenties, drinking beer, smoking, and making out. We laughed to ourselves at how trashy they looked as we quickly paddled past them. We passed several more similar rafts and began to feel that we were in the middle of a spring break-type gathering. We were in for a surprise (and not a pleasant one) as we rounded the next bend and there it was: the floating trailer park! Hundreds of canoes, rafts, kayaks and tubes we're berthed in the widest part of the river, of which 99% of the occupants were intoxicated. We saw all ages of people from teenagers on up to grandpas who could be described as anything but classy. It took us a good fifteen minutes just to maneuver through the mass. I won't go into great detail of what we beheld because this is a family-friendly blog and it wasn't a family-friendly sight! The best description I could come up with is Mardi Gras meets Vegas, meets MTV Spring Break redneck edition. I will say the one positive note was the wonders it did for my body image issues: seeing enough middle-aged women with beer bellies clad in very skimpy bikinis made me look at my body in a whole new light! 

We saw many of these floating beer coolers along the way

Once we got through that area, we hoped we'd passed the worst of it. Unfortunately, it didn't get better from there. We kept paddling faster and faster in search of a white trash-free zone, but somehow never came upon it. I was hoping to find a spot to get out and swim for a while, but was deterred by watching people throw their beer cans and cigarette butts overboard and spit their chewing tobacco in the water. When I saw a father throw up in the river from being so wasted, that was the nail in the coffin. I didn't even want to put my feet in the water after that.

It was a LONG 8 mile journey. I'm sure we were the fastest ones on the river but that wasn't difficult considering many were too inebriated to even find their paddles. In the beginning, all I could think about was all the great material I would have for my next blog post, but the more we saw, the worse I felt. I mean can you imagine if that was your father throwing up in the river or your mother exposing herself for a string of Mardi Gras beads? What kind of message does that send to your kids? It’s no wonder that we are seeing the moral degradation of our society when parents are teaching their children that it is acceptable to exercise no self control as long as you are having “fun.” I am so grateful that I was raised in a home with high moral standards and taught from a young age to reject the “fun” the world has to offer. The world can only offer temporary happiness. And calling it happiness is even a stretch. I can’t imagine drinking yourself silly, giving yourself lung cancer, or contracting an STD can make you very happy.  No thank you for me! I think I’ll pass on those and choose the eternal things that will provide lasting happiness: family, friends, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Herdin' the Sheep

It all started with that dam run! Last summer Nate, Bryson, and I decided to run a race together (the Dam Night Run), and Kaley decided she wanted in on the fun (or rather "fun" as some would say). She told us she was going to get in shape and come run a 5k with us next summer. Well, it's next summer and................we all ran a 5k on Memorial Day!

Brady and Kaley (Nate's brother and sister) came to Arkansas for a whole week. They win the prize for the longest visit. We'd love for someone to try and top that. (hint, hint: come visit us!) The paramount event for the week was the First Annual - or not so annual- Shepherd 5k.

There weren't any races around so we created our own. We had grandiose ideas for making shirts, bibs, a fancy finish line, the works. And while none of those ideas actually emerged into reality, the important thing was the running part of the race did!There was a lot of trash talk beforehand, but when all was said and done, Brady came forth to wear the victor's crown of laurel leaves, or rather just a crown of sweat. Nate insists he would have won had he not been forced to answer the call of Nature along the way! Some of us we're just glad to be able to finish. I've been resting my leg since our half back in April, and let me tell you, seven weeks sedentary makes for seven days soreness for Laurel! Ok, not really seven days, but I sure felt pretty out of shape, and I just liked the alliteration of that sentence.

Kaley deserves a paragraph of recognition. Heck, she could write a whole book about her journey. Kaley is such an inspiration to me of where hard work can take you. Since last summer, she has lost 50 pounds! Not only does she look fantastic, but she is in such great shape too.  I was huffing and puffing keeping up with her during the race! She is amazing so I feel the need to toot her horn for her for all to hear. For those of you who know Kaley, let her know you agree with me that she is awesome, amazing, fantastic, and inspiring. And Kaley, I'm serious about that book thing; Paris Hilton wrote an autobiography and I'm not even sure she can read, yet people read it! I would read yours over hers any day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Overheard in a Waiting Room

Normally while in a waiting room, I read a magazine or watch t.v. Not today. A better form of entertainment presented itself during my wait: eavesdropping!
A woman on her cell phone, "I'm just sitting here waiting to have my boobs smashed flat."
That woman's friend, also on a cell phone, "I'm at the hospital with ____ for her I couldn't get my tongue pierced today because all the tattoo places are closed on Sunday and Monday."
Apparently, I wasn't the only one listening to the conversation because the old man sitting next to me made a disgusted face upon hearing about the tongue piercing and promptly turned to me, "How are you supposed to eat with one of them things in your tongue? I guess that's why we're all so different. To each his own."
Next, the man's teenage grandson walked into the room asking where his mom was. The old man replied, "She ain't comin. Your appointment is canceled today." The boy asked why no one had told him. The man's response was. "Well, seein as your mom put me in charge, I'd thought I'd let you check out of school early anyway." "Awesome! Thanks, grandpa."
It's always interesting to get a small glimpse into people's lives through eavesdropping. I wonder what people think of me when they hear my conversations?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daddy-Daughter-Husband Campout

Me+ Nate+ my dad+ camping+ fishing+ hiking+ dutch oven cooking= So much fun!

Good thing there are cows in Arkansas because where cows are, there my dad will be also. He speaks at conferences and goes to meetings about cattle all over the world. This past weekend he got to come here for some meetings! Well, he didn’t quite attend them all; we talked him into playing hooky and fishing instead!

Dad flew into Bentonville on Friday afternoon and then we headed for the hills. We took him camping at the Petit Jean State Park which was conveniently located 20 minutes from the town he had meetings in. On the way, we stopped for some good ole southern barbeque at Penguin Ed’s, compliments of Dad’s business expenses!

Saturday morning we were excited to use our new camp stove and griddle that my parents gave us for Christmas. Unfortunately, we forgot the griddle at home, so we had to turn our Dutch oven lids over and cook on top of them. But the stove worked great and made things so convenient. After breakfast, the men did their fishing while I sat on the bank in my chair reading Twilight. All parties involved were happy with this arrangement. Nate caught the first (and only fish) of the day, and was thrilled at the opportunity to impress my dad!

That afternoon Dad figured he better make an appearance at his meetings, so Nate and I went hiking while he was gone. Petit Jean is a beautiful park with cool rock formations, great trails, and the largest waterfall in Arkansas.

Dinner was awesome! I enjoyed it because I didn’t have to make it and it was delicious. Dad and Nate made Dutch oven potatoes, steak, and peach cobbler. Yum! After dinner we sat around the fire and Nate got to know my dad’s “wild side” as he told stories from his high school and college days.

Sunday morning we packed up and made it home in time to go to church. We even had time to shower which I’m sure our fellow church members appreciated. What a great camping trip!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Half Marathon Shuffle

Note to self: running 13.1 miles with a stress fracture in your femur does not make for a pleasant race. Who knew?

Nate and I completed the Bentonville Half Marathon on Saturday! I've always been a runner and enjoyed running in races like this. Nate always found it pointless to run without a ball. However, since meeting me, I've slowly been converting him to the world of running. We started with a couple 5ks to ease into the idea, and then I begged and begged for us to do the half marathon together. For my birthday Nate signed us up! What a sweet husband I have!

We spent the last few months waking up early on Saturday mornings to complete our long runs. Yet another reason my husband is so sweet; he's not a big fan of the early morning Saturday business. Training was going great until I developed a stress fracture in my femur. I know, the femur is supposed to be the strongest bone in the body, but apparently my body doesn't know that. I didn't want to let all my training go to waste or make Nate do the race on his own when he only signed up because of me, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and do the race anyway. However, I was wise enough to stop my training runs and switch to cross training activities for the last several weeks before the race to take some pressure off my leg.

The morning of the race was beautiful! It had been rainy and cold all week, but the sun came out for a perfect day of racing weather on Saturday. We lined up at the start line and before we knew it, the gun had sounded. We got off to a great start! We were hitting our goal pace with ease and feeling strong. That is until about mile 4 when I started to have excruciating pain in my leg. Ok, maybe excruciating is too strong of a word, at least at this point of the race, but it was quite painful. Since we still had over 9 miles to go, I knew we'd be in for a LONG race. But I figured after so many miles my legs usually go numb and I can't feel any pain, so I would just have to push through for a couple more miles until the numbness kicked in. Unfortunately, that numbness never came, and the pain only got worse and worse with each mile.

Now is where I have to stopped and praise Nate! He stayed with me the entire time, always encouraging me and not allowing me to quit. He pushed me to keep going but allowed me to set the pace at one where it was possible for me to continue. It was a slow pace compared to our training runs and our goal pace (hence the name of the post, the half marathon shuffle!) but he never made me feel like I was holding him back. Like I said, I have the sweetest husband!!!

Thanks Derek and Katie for being awesome fans!

I also have to give a shout out to our fans! Our friends Derek and Katie made it to several spots throughout the course to cheer for us and take pictures. They even made t-shirts with our names on them! It's always motivational knowing you have friends somewhere on the course and you don't want to be caught walking when they see you! Bryson also road his bike down to the course and got some good pictures too. We're glad to have photo proof that we actually completed this event together, and we were happy that we had people support us! Thank you Derek, Katie, and Bryson.

Nate doing some fist pumping for Bryson and me trying to smile

Besides our personal fans, Bentonville townspeople were great fans too. We ran through a bunch of neighborhoods and I was surprised at how many people were outside on their driveways cheering for us. Some even had music blaring out of their cars or live bands playing. The atmosphere was a lot of fun. That was Nate's favorite part about the race. He actually felt pretty good most of the way and really enjoyed the race. He didn't even put his earphones in because he was just excited to listen to the crowds cheering!

With the help of our fans, the crowd, and lots of praying we managed to reach the finish line, join hands, and raise our arms triumphantly. It was a dramatic moment. This was my fifth and slowest half marathon, yet I am still proud of this one. I seriously wanted to drop out at several points of the race and let Nate go on with out me, but he didn't let me and I didn't let myself. So while it was a disappointing time, it was still a rewarding finish. We're planning on doing another one someday so I can redeem myself with a more satisfying time and Nate can set a true PR not a pity PR, but for now we'll be focusing on recovery! We're pretty sore today! Also I plan on taking the next 6-8 weeks off of running to allow my stress fracture to heal. It was a wonderful experience to run a half marathon with my husband and hopefully we can continue to make running a part of our lives together.

We really did cross the line with out arms held in the air. Unfortunately we put them down before this photo was snapped.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nate Can Rent a Car

A quarter of a century. Wow! My husband has been around for a long time. Not really, but I still like to tease him about it. In order to draw out the celebration and make life more exciting, we decided a proper birthday should consist of several days of festivities. His birthday was a week ago, but we still have plans for continued celebration! Events have and will consist of: eating Thai food, going to the movies, watching basketball, making pottery (Nate is really good at this) eating tacos and pie with friends, eating teriyaki chicken with Bryson and Alyssa, opening gifts, and going to the dirt race car track. Perhaps you noticed that several of the events consisted of eating delicious meals. If you know Nate at all, this probably won’t surprise you. If we get bored in the next month or so, we may add in some more celebrations in the name of Nate’s birthday. How long can we make a birthday last???

Here's a picture of Nate opening a present from his parents. I was informed that this is how a man opens a present.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Blizzard of 2011

When we moved to Arkansas, I was misled concerning the weather. I was told it would be quite mild with very little snow. Nothing like the Utah winters I've endured over the last four year. Apparently, the Utah winter decided to follow me. Two weeks ago Northwest Arkansas topped the 24 hour snowfall record, the single storm snowfall record, and the seasonal snowfall record for at least the last 70 years! We got 2 feet of snow dumped on us in one day. Just my luck!
For those of you still back in Utah, a blizzard of this nature wouldn't be out of the ordinary. But Arkansas is just not equipped to deal with that much snow. I swear there must be only one plow in the whole county, because most roads seemed to go untouched for days. Even if a road did get plowed, you never knew how much of the road was actually cleared. Sometimes I would drive down a road and suddenly the lane would end with a big pile of snow. Not only was the city not prepared for this kind of storm, the people weren't either. When the snow first started, there was a run on Wal-Mart. I was there to pick up a prescription and I couldn't believe how crazy it was. It looked like Black Friday shopping except everyone's carts were full of food, batteries, flashlights, bottled water, and other emergency preparedness supplies. The shelves were literally cleared off!
The high point of the storm was Nate and I were both able to work from home for a few days. I could get used to sitting in bed in my pajamas while working. It was nice to be able to do the laundry, clean up the kitchen, and make dinner during my breaks. I'm not normally a fan of blizzards, but I quite enjoyed my time working from home.
The strange thing was it went from -16 degrees to 69 degrees in a matter of days. This last week we were outside in shorts and flip flops. Hard to believe we just had a blizzard. Crazy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday in the Bahamas to Me!

My husband spoils me rotten! I have to say, I'm probably the luckiest girl in the world to have such a man. Sometimes I get mad at him for going a little overboard in his spoilage of me, but secretly I love it too! My birthday was one such occasion. Ok, not true, I didn't even pretend to be mad because I was just so excited. He took me on a cruise in the Bahamas!
This a picture of what we left behind in Arkansas....

This is a picture of what we went to...

I don't know, it was a toss up where I'd rather spend my birthday....

Our trip started out on a positive note at the Tulsa airport. You know those signs they have posted now that tell you about the new full body scanner/naked screening machine? The sign says if you refuse to do the body scan you will be subjected to the thorough pat down. Well, lucky me, I walked through the machine like everyone else AND received the "enhanced" pat down. I was my usual oblivious self though and didn't even notice that no one else was getting felt up and down until Nate asked me what I did. Apparently, I looked suspicious. We managed to make it through security and to Port Canaveral without further event.

When we got to our stateroom on the ship, I realized that the room had been misnamed. It should actually be called a "bed"room because the bed actually took up the entirety of the room! And I don't mean that the bed was unusually large. The room looked impossibly small in the pictures, but let me tell you, those pictures must have been from first class because our room was even smaller. Good news was we were on a giant cruise ship with plenty to do besides watch the mini t.v. in our room.

The Bahamas were beautiful. Nate was initiated into the world of snorkeling in Nassau. The water was chilly and the sun was in the clouds, but under the water was an amazing sight well worth the temperature. Too bad we didn't have an underwater camera to share the view with our readers. Nate's favorite part was feeding a Cheeto to a fish.

The highlight of Nassau was most definitely seeing Chuck Norris' house. No joke! This is his vacation home:

We were scheduled to go to a private island owned by the cruise line one day, but the sea conditions ruined that, so we spent the day on the ship instead. The nice thing was there were a bunch of shows and such to keep us entertained for the day. Comedians, musicians, magicians, dancers, etc. We also discovered that both of us had a hidden talent for shuffle board. In fact, we're now considering converting our wood flooring in our living room, into a shuffle board! So while it was disappointing not to make it to the island, we still enjoyed out day of relaxation and entertainment.

And of course, there is always everyone's favorite part of a cruise....eating! A cruise is like a Thanksgiving feast, but for every meal of every day. I'm ashamed to admit we joined our fellow cruisers is a weekend of gluttony and paid the price of a 16 pound weight gain between the two of us. Good thing it was just a short cruise! However, as part of my birthday present Nate signed us up for the Bentonville Half Marathon, so hopefully our training will put us back at an acceptable weight. Overall it was a wonderful birthday all thanks to my amazing husband!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Letter to our Followers

Dear Faithful Followers of this Blog,
I apologize for my temporary leave of absence. I'm trying to think of a good reason for my lack of writing, but I can't even come up with a truthful excuse. I could say nothing exciting has happened in the last six weeks, but that would be a lie: my best friend Erin came for a weekend visit, Nate and I spent our first Christmas together, we celebrated our six month wedding anniversary, and we started house hunting for our first home to name a few of the recent events in our lives. I could say I didn't have time with the holidays and such, but once again, that would be a lie: I was given vacation time from the 23rd of December-4th of January. (I may or may not have watched several seasons of Gilmore Girls during that time while Nate had to work...) I could even say my computer was destroyed in the New Year's tornado, yet another lie: while we did experience heavy rains and winds, the actual tornado hit a few towns away. (Good thing too, since we slept right through the sirens!) Needless to say, I can not provide any explanation to my bloglessness as of late (yes, I made up the work bloglessness), but seeing as it's a new year, I plan to get back on track.

I find it tedious to recount things that have long past, so I'll just touch on a few highlights since my last post.
  • Erin came to town! Erin and I lived to together for three years, so we've both been suffering from separation anxiety issues since I got married and moved to Arkansas. The only remedy was for her to come for a visit. We reenacted all our great moments: watching cheesy holiday movies, eating Little Caesar's pizza, going out to Olive Garden, watching 16 and Pregnant, etc. Another show we used to watch together was 19 Kids and Counting, and it just so happens that the Duggar family lives a mere 20 miles or so down the road from me! We decided to do a little detective work and see if we could stalk, I mean find them. We drove through the backwoods of Tontitown and we found their house! We had a grand weekend!
  • The holidays brought a mixture of emotions. We were excited to celebrate our first Christmas together as a married couple, but we were also sad that we weren't able to go home and visit family. We did spend Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve with Bryson and Alyssa playing games, eating delicious food, playing the Wii, watching movies, and just enjoying each others company. We are certainly grateful that they live in Bentonville as well, so our holidays weren't completely devoid of family.
  • Our six month anniversary was in December! Now I know to most people that may not seem like a big deal, but it was still fun to celebrate and look back on our first six months of marriage. It's amazing how much has already happened and how much I've learned in that short period of time. But in looking forward, I know I have infinitely more to learn about being married! Last Christmas, if you would have asked me where I'd be in a year, I never would have said married to Nate Shepherd and living happily in Arkansas. This year was one of surprises and tender mercies. I'm just amazed at how much better Heavenly Father knows me than I know myself. I'm definitely grateful that His plan was better than mine! So many changes have occurred in my life this year- graduated college, got married, moved to Arkansas, started my first real job- but I'm happier than I ever could have imagined. May you be blessed to recognize that same happiness in your own lives.
Wishing you all late happy holidays,
Laurel & Nate