Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Greetings from the Shepherds

Wow! Hard to believe another year has flown by. I'm happy to report it was another year of marital bliss in the Shepherd household. Everyday is of course just another day in paradise around here, but these are some of the highlights from the year:
~We managed to survive serving in the nursery. What was meant to be a "3-6 month calling" became an 16 month venture. Word on the street is our ward is splitting in January and we'll be released from the nursery. Surprisingly, I think we'll both miss it.
~Nathan got his second promotion at work! He is still enjoying his job with Wal-Mart and we are grateful that his job brought us out to Bentonville. Laurel on the other hand, works at a place where there is no such thing as a raise or a promotion (no bitterness here) but still finds her work as a health coach to be challenging and fulfilling.
~We took a fabulous trip to New York City with Nate's parents. We saw all the sights, went to Newsies on Broadway, and checked one more place off our bucket list.
~We drove the long trek to Utah in July to visit the Feuz side of the family. We entertained ourselves by listening to the Hunger Games and making frequent stops to walk Ollie. Half way across Nebraska our AC temporarily went out and I was afraid the flame of our love would too, but we survived, albeit a little grumpily for a few hours :) We ran our 15k in Logan, did some camping, and spent a lot of time hanging out with the fam.
~We had several visits over the year from both sides of the family. We are so very blessed to have family who will take the time to fly out to Arkansas and come stay at the Ozark Inn.
~Speaking of the Ozark Inn, we made several updates to the Inn this year. Next thing you know, we'll be a 5 star hotel! We've upgraded from an air mattress to a real bed in one of our guest suites! We've also finally finished painting (almost). My favorite improvement was granite counter tops and new back splash in our kitchen!

~Our niece, Chloe was born. She is such a fun baby and we are so happy Bryson and Alyssa live in Bentonville, so we get to see this sweet girl often! We are also excited to have another new niece and nephew on the Feuz side of the family in early 2013!

~The biggest highlight from our year was probably the addition of Ollie to our family. I never really thought of myself as a "dog person" let alone an "indoor dog person."  Nonetheless, I've seen the light and Ollie has converted me. He certainly keeps us entertained and we feel lucky to have him.

All in all, its been a busy but wonderful year. Just like anyone else, we've had our trials and struggles along the way, but we know our Father in Heaven loves us and His plan is infinitely better than anything we could come up with. We are so grateful for all we have and for this time of year to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. May you feel the love of Christ in your homes this Christmas season as well as the whole year long. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Halloween Happenings

Do you remember as a kid going trick or treating and hating when someone gave you a box of raisins instead of candy? You tried to smile and say thank you, but really you were wishing for one more piece of rich, delicious confectionery that would lead to canker sours, cavities, and obesity. Now that I am older and wiser (and work in the healthcare field), I quite like the idea of handing out raisins instead of candy. But alas, my thoughts of healthier options for the trick or treaters was one-upped by Nate this year. I had to work Halloween night, so I left Nate to his own devices. When I arrived home, I discovered Nate had un-wired the doorbell, placed a sign on the door inviting the trick or treaters to partake of the goodies in the basket on the door step, and filled that basket with bell peppers and jalapenos from our garden! What lucky children of our neighborhood!

Even though I missed Halloween night, we didn't let the month go by without celebrating the holiday. Our friends hosted a Werewolf party a couple weeks before Halloween. I haven't played that game in a long time, so that was definitely a fun night. It was also fun to be able to dress up in costumes. Nate and I have actually never dressed up for Halloween or done much to celebrate in years past, so it was about time. We went as a flapper girl and 1920s gentleman.

We also spent a night waiting 2 hours in line in the cold for zombie hunting. Definitely worth it. Shooting at unarmed zombies? Now that's my kind of paintballing. No bruises or welts for me. Although, I do hope they paid those poor zombies more than minimum wage!

The gang before the hunt

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not Every Idea Is A Good Idea

Last weekend we went camping with our friends Cat and Shaun down at Devil's Den State Park. Camping is always a good idea…except when it's not.

Good idea: Plan your camping trip to a campground that has flushable toilets.
Bad idea: Book a campsite in the ONLY area of the campground that does not have indoor plumbing. A nasty, insect-infested latrine? I think not. I chose to dehydrate myself all weekend instead.

Good idea: Go to a campground that has warm showers available.
Bad idea: See bad idea number 1…also forget to bring your towel. All four of us actually forgot our towels so we couldn't even have a communal towel. (Eww) So in the spirit of becoming one with nature, guess who went all weekend long without a shower?

Good Idea: Bring lots of water with you
Bad idea: Don't bring lots of water with you when you go hiking. When some fellow hikers found us pathetically squeezing the last drop of water from the pack, they took pity and offered us some of theirs.

Good Idea: Cook some delicious food while camping including my dad's famous Dutch oven potatoes
Bad Idea: Forget ketchup! Dutch oven potatoes without ketchup is a crime.  

Roasting Woofums! Yum!
Good Idea: Religiously watch the weather forecast all week to make sure it's not going to rain on your camping trip
Bad Idea: Trust the weatherman

Good Idea: Bring your fishing poles and buy a fishing license.
Bad Idea: Think you're going to actually catch anything while casting in a puddle. The only "fish" we saw were smaller than the bait!
Doesn't everyone look excited to be fishing?

While we had some bad ideas along the way, we really did have a great time camping with our friends. It was a beautiful weekend (except when it rained), and we always love being able to unplug from life and just relax and enjoy all of God's creations. Thanks Cat and Shaun for the awesome weekend!

While on the subject of camping, I just realized I never blogged about our trip to Nauvoo. We went with Bryson, Alyssa, and Chloe over Labor Day weekend for some "glamping." AKA we got to camp in cabins! It ended up raining quite a bit that weekend so we were grateful to not be tent camping. It was neat to see all the historical sights and take some time to understand and appreciate the lives of the early Saints. I've been to Nauvoo years ago, but I honestly felt like everything was new and different this time. Maybe I'm more mature now and can really value the experience. We enjoyed touring the bakery, blacksmith, brickyard, gunsmith, and many more. It was also really special to go to Carthage Jail and see the site and hear the story of Joseph Smith's martyrdom. He was asked to go through so much in his short lifetime and he faced those trials with courage and an unceasing faith. Learning of his life as well as the hardships the early members of the Church went through, certainly puts things in perspective. We are so immensely blessed and I am glad we were able to have such a wonderful experience to remind us of this.

All five of us in front of the beautiful Nauvoo Temple

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Loving the Cheese in Branson

Branson is a strange little town. For those of you who have never been there, I'm not really sure how to describe it. I always thought of Branson  as cheesy, over-the-top, and out-dated. I pictured it full of busloads of retirees on vacation eager to see performers from the golden days still onstage. And while I've discovered that all of those things are true, Branson is still somehow fabulously awesome. We've gone a few different times and always had a good time. In fact, our most recent jaunt to The Live Music Show Capital of the World proved to be no disappointment.

We didn't get a chance to really celebrate our anniversary this year, so this was somewhat of a belated anniversary trip. We stayed in a hotel that was older than dirt, but you get what you pay for and it was dirt cheap. Did you know they still have hotels that give you an actual key to your room rather than one of those little key cards? Weird. It was old but well kept and Nate certainly enjoyed the complimentary dessert bar of cobbler, cookies, and ice cream. Although, Nate freaked out when he saw the sign that said the ice cream was the lactose free. What do they make it with? Soy? And refused to eat anymore. The desk clerk was a young, friendly fellow and asked what we were going to be doing on our visit. I told him we had bought a deal on Groupon for the zipline and I was shocked when he asked me, "What is that?" "What is a zipline?"  "No, what is Groupon?" Really? Do you live under a rock? If you don't know what that is, let me just turn your world upside down and tell you to go get online and prepare to find some deals!

The zipline ended up being a lot of fun.While we had a blast actually on the zip, the highlight involved a 12 year old boy. He was very afraid of heights and talked about how he wimped out when his family was in Guatemala. After his little sister went, he stepped up and exclaimed, "God is good!" before leaping off the plank. We got a chuckle out of that, and it certainly appears that God granted him some courage.

We also went to the fish hatchery and Table Rock Damn. I know, what's more romantic than learning about spawning fish on your anniversary trip? We just can't resist FREE things! Afterwards, we went for a hike in the State Park. Once again, FREE! We finished up the night at a dinner show. My personal favorite scene was the dramatic dance/aerial ribbon routine between the two lovers performed to the theme from Titanic. There was also some cool fire twirling, singing, unicycling, and bubble blowing. It was quite the variety of entertainment. Cheesy? Yes. Enjoyable? You bet!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The History of Stupidity Repeats Itself

I have this history of stupid, self-inflicted injuries. There was that time when I roasted a marshmallow on a fork over the stove and then put the fork in my mouth. My lips had a four pronged blister for a week! Or the time I accidentally cut off the middle of my eyebrow with a pair of scissors. I'm still trying to figure out how I managed that one. Well you know what they say, history repeats itself, and my history of self-inflicted injuries has repeated itself three times in the last three days! 

Saturday morning, I bought a new bike and I was so excited to break it in and go for a ride on the trails around Lake Fayetteville. Unfortunately, my new, purple Mongoose's maiden voyage was doomed to the same fate as the Titanic's voyage. It went down! And just as the captain went down with the Titanic, so too did I go down with my bike.....twice. There were a couple of tricky spots along the way with giant roots growing in the middle of the trail, and I apparently didn't maneuver them very well. I had my seat up too high and couldn't reach my feet down in time to catch myself, so I took a tumble into the brush! Fortunately, I managed to land on a nice pile of leaves. I took two falls before I realized I needed to lower my seat. (Why two and not one is beyond me.) I escaped with only a few minor scrapes and bruises and enjoyed the rest of the ride. Luckily, my new bike is just as resilient as me and held up beautifully to the abuse I inflicted. 

Sunday, our friends Zach and Anna, invited us over for dinner. I was in charge of the salad and decided that I just had to have candied nuts in it. Of course, I forgot to buy them earlier in the week, so I determined I would have to candy some nuts myself. Should be easy enough, I thought to myself. When I caramelized some sugar, it just smelled so delicious and I simply had to have a taste. (Hey, it's quality control. I gotta make sure I'm serving edible food.) In my glutinous state, I forgot that sugar caramelizes at 320 degrees and stuck my finger right in that lava goodness.  I now have a blistered index finger to remind me. 

Today, I was so proud of myself for waking up early to fix dinner and throw it in the crockpot before I left for work. Alyssa gave me a new recipe for cilantro lime chicken that I was eager to try. I chopped everything up, tossed it in the crockpot, and washed my hands with soap and water. Then, I went to go get ready for work. Imagine my surprise and pain, when I went to apply my makeup and realized the jalapeno residue remained on my hands! My eyes felt like I dumped gasoline on them and put a match to it. I couldn't even open my eyes the burning was so bad. I tried to splash some water on my face, but quickly realized that was a dumb idea too since I was still using my hands. I finally put my head under the faucet and attempted to extinguish the burning with running water. I was blinded for several minutes, and needless to say, I was late for work this morning and never bothered to reapply my makeup. I decided to go all natural rather than risk another eye scorching moment. I will say that dinner turned out quite tasty almost making the whole fiasco worth it….almost. My advice: wear gloves when cutting jalapenos!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Unexpected Helper

Who knew dogs could be so helpful? When we first adopted Ollie, we had no idea how willing he would be to help out around the house. I only hope our future children can live up to Ollie's example and be just as productive.

This was right after I shaved him. I think he was a little depressed.
Ollie helped us plant our garden this spring. We thought he might like to weed the garden while we were gone at work, so we decided to put a fence around it. We wouldn't want him to overwork himself while we're away.

I was surprised to learn that Ollie enjoys quilting. He loves to help lay all the squares out and then lay out on all the squares to keep them in place.

Finally! A man who enjoys helping with the dishes. Boy, did I get lucky with this one!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Let Freedom Ring in the 15k

We ran in the Freedom 15k in Logan, UT on the 4th of July with some of my family. We learned a few things about freedom throughout the course of this race.

Nate learned that you are free to avoid running for over a year and wait until the last 2 weeks before the race to start your training, but this also entitles you to a week of pain in the aftermath! The finish line volunteers were sure he was about to pass out, but he pulled through! He actually got a pretty decent time as well.
Here is Nate, going strong and looking over at Ollie
 Laurel learned that you are free to train all you want at 1296 feet, but it will feel like you haven't done a darn thing to prepare when you run a race that starts at 5610 feet! Fortunately, the race was mostly downhill and I was proud that I didn't walk any of it.
Kyle (Laurel's brother) learned you are free to attempt to relive your glory days from high school, but you may discover you are not quite as glorious as you used to be! He was actually the first one done of our whole group, so I guess he's pretty glorious amongst the Feuz clan.
Brianne (Laurel's sister) learned that she is free to humble her sister and leave her in the dust after the first 3 miles. Oh how the mighty have fallen! She was the first of the girls to finish.
Paige (Laurel's aunt) learned that you are free to use the porta-potty as many times as you like before the race just to make sure you are prepared. The best strategy is as soon as you come out of the porta-potty, cut in line with someone else you know to make sure you get all four times in before the gun sounds.
Jeff (Brianne's husband) learned that you are free to read a book in the car as you wait for the runners to go by to cheer for them, but you will probably become engrossed in said book and miss half the people you were there to watch.
Kaley (Nate's sister) learned that you are free to set the leash down to take a picture, but Ollie will run through the throng of runners to try to reach Nate if you do so.
Mom and Emily (Laurel's sister) learned you are free to spectate on the middle of the big, fat hill but the runners may begrudge you for it. I know I wasn't the only one who's plans to walk up the hill were spoiled by the sight of our fans. That would be shameful to be caught walking! 

As you can see, many around me were walking, but I persevered for the sake of the fans.
Shara and Susan (Laurel's sister-in-law and niece) learned you are free to wait around after the race all day because Kyle is sure he will win the treadmill in the post race raffle, but the odds will never be in your favor. I don't know how Kyle planned on getting a treadmill home to Washington anyway.....
Mike (uncle), Colin (cousin), Rachel (cousin's wife), and Connor (cousin) also ran the race but I'm not sure what lessons of freedom they were taught along the way other than they are free to be a part of the crazy runner's club and pay money to go run 9.3 miles on a holiday. 

What a wonderful country we live in that allows us these freedoms and many more! We were grateful to celebrate the holiday with our family and take time to remember how very blessed we are indeed.
We had a much needed week-long vacation with my family. In addition to the race, we had a cookout in the canyon, went to the Bountiful temple, swam at Willard Bay with Kaley, spent time with extended family at the Anderson reunion, went waterskiing at Flaming Gorge in the rain, played horseshoes and ladderball, played in the pool, and just enjoyed not thinking about work for an entire week! We took Ollie with us for his first road trip and he had a grand time! He loved being in the car, looking out the window, and sleeping on my lap. Apparently, he was too lonely in the backseat. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lessons Learned While Hosting a Baby Shower

Attending baby showers is an interesting rite of passage that all women must go through. There are many customs and norms that one must adhere to at such an event. I am in that season in my life when many of my friends and family members are having babies and starting families, so I am slowly being immersed into the world of baby showers. Last week, I helped host Alyssa's shower. I am like a baby myself when it comes to baby showers due to my inexperience with such celebrations, so this was a learning experience for me. 

Lesson number one: Food should not be put on sticks. No matter how cute the theme may be (She's Ready to Pop), don't give in to the temptation to turn every treat into a pop. It is time consuming and may result in the treat falling off onto the table before your guests can even see how creative you were. 

Lesson number two: Expect guests to arrive 20 minutes early and plan accordingly to ensure you are finished decorating before their (over)prompt arrival. 

Lesson number three: When playing the Guess How Many _______ Are In This Jar game, do not pick something as small as a "pop"corn kernel because it will take you an hour to count out over 2,000 of them! This was a second hand lesson as Melissa, the other host, was the one to learn it. However, I too learned a lesson from this game. It doesn't matter if you forgot how many lolli"pops" were actually in the container, or for that matter you never actually counted them but went by the serving size on the bag, because no one is going to double count them. Its okay to pick a winner based on an estimate. 

Lesson number four: Don't bother preparing food for an army because when women get together in large social settings, they feel the need to eat daintily, and you will have a lot of leftovers.

Lesson number five: Baby showers create a forum for women to tell their worst birthing and child rearing stories. It is almost like a form of hazing as a way of inducting the mother to be into the society of women who have endured the pains and joys of childbirth.

I'm sure I will have many more lessons to learn as I continue to attend baby showers. Overall, I think the shower was a success and now I'm ready for my little niece to get here!

I successfully completed another rag quilt!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Marching to Our Own Beat

Sometimes, we do things that others may consider a little strange.....

Example one: a few months ago we bought this crib from our neighbor. Since it was already put together, we saw no reason to take it apart. So.....we wheeled it down the middle of the road and waved our hands just like a parade. I'm sure anyone looking out their window thought we were making a proclamation to the neighborhood that we are expecting a baby. However, didn't your mother ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover? It's called an investment, people. Not an announcement. The funny thing is, once we got it home, we realized it wouldn't fit through the bedroom door, so we ended up taking it apart anyway.

Example Two: We, and by we I mean Nate, have trouble asking for help sometimes, so we make do. Nate had been practically salivating every time we walked past the wheelbarrows at Lowe's, so for his birthday, I told him he could pick whatever one he wanted. I saw two options: buy a wheelbarrow that hadn't been put together yet and take it home in our car, or buy one that was pre-assembled and ask someone with an SUV, van, or truck to help us get it home. However, Nate saw a third option: buy a wheelbarrow that is fully assembled and spend thirty minutes in the Lowe's parking lot maneuvering it to fit in the back seat of our car. Good thing they make windows that roll down.... On second thought, this may not be a strange thing at all. I have a feeling many a wife has experienced a similar situation.

Example three: Last week we went on an 8 mile hike with some of our friends. We decided to take Ollie with us. Let's just say Nate was able to get a nice upper body workout. I never understood how people spoiled their dogs until we got Ollie. Now we have crossed over to the dog lover's world. I brush his teeth, give him ice water, talk to him like a baby, and even let him sleep in bed with me occasionally. I do draw the line at a doggy carriage. I see this couple walk through our neighborhood all the time with a FAT dog riding in a carriage. Hello, don't you know puppyhood obesity is an epidemic and your dog needs some exercise? At least Ollie made it 6 miles before collapsing in the shade and refusing to take another step.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

That's How You Know He's Your Love

Disclaimer: The following post reaches new levels of cheesiness for this blog. So cheesy that Nate is embarrassed that I'm even posting it.

It's that special season of the year! You know, the one that everyone looks forward to and young girls dream of at night. No, its not's PROM SEASON! Its that time of the year when you can spend a ridiculous amount of money on an outfit you're never going to wear again, you wear a flower around your wrist even though it annoys you the whole night, you take a million pictures of "the best night of your life", and dance to a cliche love song under the stars, the moonlight, the sea, or whatever overused theme it may be.

Since Nate and I obviously didn't know each other in high school, we had never been to prom together. We certainly couldn't miss out on a once in lifetime experience such as this night. We tossed around the idea of crashing the local high school prom, but upon further contemplation, realized it would be lame to be the "old chaperons" of the party. The only logical solution was to go on a prom at home date!

You could say Nate was less than enthusiastic about attending the prom and perhaps wished it really was a ONCE in a lifetime experience, but my sweet husband couldn't say no when I went to all the effort to ask him to go with me.

He answered Yes by making me a cd of love songs and leaving me a love note in the car. I know we're cheesy and some of you are throwing up in your mouth, but I'm in love and I don't care who knows it. Prom was lovely! We had a fancy dinner, got dressed up, and danced the night away. Well, it would be more accurately stated to say I danced the night away while Nate stood there looking awkwardly toward the window wondering if anyone could see us. I quickly realized that I was a bit ambitious when I created a playlist that was 1.8 hours long when after 1.8 minutes, Nate asked "Where are the punch and cookies?" Apparently, that's the only reason he ever went to dances.  A poor oversight on my part.

Here's Nate hand-making my corsage

I already owned this dress and just had to have my mom ship it to me. Nate bought a new studly purple shirt because it's my favorite color. However, he returned it the day after the prom.

We had a fun night (or at least I did and my wonderful husband indulged me). Thanks Baby!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nate's Brush with the Law x 2

Scene: Dark road in a small town 4:00 AM
Characters: Me, Nate, local law enforcement
Background: Nate and I were flying out of Tulsa at 6:45 AM. We'd gotten a later start than planned (as per usual, cough, cough, Nate) and we were rushing to make sure we would make our flight.
Lights, Camera, Action: Nate, “Oh crap! That was a cop I just passed, and he whipped around and is following me now.” Me, “Don't speed!” Nate carefully obeyed all traffic laws but the cop kept following us. Next thing we know, we see the flashing lights in the rear view mirror. Officer, “You sure were hugging that yellow line...Where you coming from tonight?” Nate, “Bentonville.” I wanted to nudge Nate at this point and say, “He doesn't care what city you're coming from. That's code for are you coming from a bar tonight and driving drunk?” Officer, “Have you ever been arrested?” Just as I suspected, he's hoping for a DUI tonight. After Nate explained that no, he'd never been arrested and that we were on our way to the airport for a flight he was making us miss, the officer put a little skip in his step and hurried to check the license and registration and send us on our way. Fortunately, he didn't send us with a souvenir. We can't afford another ticket! I think this was just a case of a small town cop on the midnight shift who hadn't seen another car for hours and got a bit overeager for some excitement.

Several Days Later....
Scene: Dallas Airport 2:00 AM
Characters: Me, Nate, TSA security guard
Background: Due to a 4 hour delay in Newark, we missed our connection home. We ended up being rerouted to Dallas where we arrived well after midnight. Our flight home was set to leave at 6:00 AM, so we determined it would be best to make use of the lovely airport accommodations. We found a quiet corner and settled into that oh-so-comfy row of chairs for a much needed slumber after a long day of traveling.
Lights, Camera, Action: I'm dreaming of being home in my own bed when I hear a gruff voice. I must be dreaming. Who in there right mind would possibly be trying to talk to me at 2:00 AM in a nearly empty airport when I am clearly sleeping? I ignore the voice, but alas, I hear it again. Are you kidding me? Stop talking to me! I open my eyes to give the voice a piece of my mind but have to swallow my words when I realize there is a security guard standing menacingly over me. His mouth is moving, but in my sleepy haze, I don't have a clue what he is saying. Finally, I realize he is telling me we have to leave. I think ok, we'll just go find another bench to sleep on but then it becomes clear that we are being kicked out of the terminal completely! Nate is still ignoring the guard, so Mr. Let Me Ruin Your Night Even More For You goes over and gives him a shake. Uh-oh. I know from experience that waking Nate up at such an hour is like poking the sleeping dragon. Nate gets up with fire in his eyes, glaring at the security guard, and I realize I'm going to have to intervene to make sure he doesn't get arrested for assault charges! I take him by the hand and pull him away before it is too late. We are forced to spend the rest of the night in baggage claim waiting until they open the terminal again at 5:00 AM to go BACK through security. So ridiculous! Needless to say, when we finally arrived home, we were exhausted and grumpy but still had to go to work! I feel sorry for our coworkers.

You may be asking, what was all this for anyway? A getaway to New York City! While the journey was shall we say, eventful, both there and back, it was worth it for the great trip we had!

Nate's parents met us there and we spent several days seeing all there is to see in NYC. (Well, at least all we had time to see.) We did the bus tour and a harbor tour, saw the Statue of Liberty, went to the 9.11 Memorial Site, walked through Central Park, went across the Brooklyn Bridge, saw a musical, watched the street performers, went to the Original Soup Man from the soup nazi episode of Seinfield, ate some delicious food in Little Italy, and just walked the streets and explored.
Yummy food in Little Italy!
 My top three highlights were: 
3. Eating at a little taqueria owned by Aaron Sanchez (one of the judges on our favorite Food Network show, Chopped.) 
Loved that they cooked the tacos in an old VW van!
 2. Strolling through the beautiful Central Park (yes, we got a hot dog there from a stand. We also bought some delicious Gelato!)
1. Newsies! This was such a fun musical to watch. The dancing and singing were amazing. Also, Jess, from last season of So You Think You Can Dance, was in the play so that was cool to feel like we “knew” somebody on stage.
By the way, this is NOT Jess.
Nate's favorite part was Chinatown. He was fascinated by the two roasted ducks hanging by their feet in the store window at room temperature awaiting purchase. Apparently the FDA doesn't exist in Chinatown. It was a fun getaway that we were glad to share with Stan and Lisa. Where will our travels take us to next?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Deciphering my first professional massage

So I had an experience this week and I need help processing how I feel about it. Not sure if it was a good experience, a bad experience, or just a bizarre experience. I had my first professional massage. I've said for years that I wanted to get one but could never talk myself into forking out the money to have a stranger lather my body in essential oils. Fortunately, Alyssa gave me a gift certificate for a one hour massage at a local spa, so at long last, I could try out this whole massage business. Well I tried, and as I mentioned I'm not sure what I think about it, so let me just walk you through the appointment. When I got to the spa, they offered me a glass, no a goblet, of water with lemon and lime slices. Very refreshing! One point to the good experience. They also called me "Miss Laurel" which I'm sure was intentional to make me feel pampered and special or something. I guess I did kinda like that so another point to the good. Next, I'm walked back to the "Quiet Zone" where suddenly everyone is only talking in whispers. I assume this was to promote a peaceful, serene feeling, but it was more of an eerie feeling to me. I think I have too loud a personality for tranquility. Minus one point. Next, I'm shown to the restroom and asked if I need to go. Weird. I've only had 2 sips of the fancy water. It didn't go through me that quickly. Maybe they were being thoughtful in asking me since I was to spend the next hour lying on a table. But come on, I'm 24 years old. I think I can take care of my own bodily functions. Minus one point. The next room, is the robe room. I walked into this room a little hesistant. Am I supposed to be naked under this robe? Why are the only instructions on the wall "Use your spa voice" and "Turn off your cell phone"? Those of us who are new to the spa world are left with the dilemna to wear or not to wear? Minus one. Next, was my consultation. This involved soaking my feet and getting them rubbed while small talking. Plus one for the lovely foot massage, minus one for the small talk. I'm not very comfortable small talking with a stranger while naked. Then, I'm asked if I have a favorite oil I would like to use. Ummmm….. olive? Apparently, that wasn't a choice, so I was brought three options to smell and pick from. The first one smelled like a wilted dandelion. (Pass) The second smelled like moldy berries. (I don't think so.) The third one had a delightfully subtle, citrus smell. (I'll take that one) Minus one for the odorous oils but positive one for the frangrantly acceptable oil I chose. Next, it was time to disrobe and crawl into the sheets. Thankfully, I was left alone for this part. Plus one. And then the main event: the massage! It was great for about a minute and then I realized it was a full body massage! I thought is was just for my back. Immediately, I'm embarrassed to realize I haven't shaved since…..well, since I don't know when! I tried to console myself by rationalizing that the room was dark so she couldn't see how bad it was, but honestly, who needs to see it when they have to feel it? So I spend the first fifteen minutes of the massage ashamed of my bushy legs. Minus one. Thankfully, we moved on to other body parts and I was able to relax more. The mood music being played made me think there were probably people doing Tai Chi right outside the door. This was neither good or bad, merely an observation. The back, neck, and shoulder massage was excellent! Just the right amount of pressure in just the right places. I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect. Plus 2 points! While that portion was fantastic, the face massage was a little strange to me. I generally don't have aches and pains in my ears and eybrows. I would have prefered the time spent on my face to be used to continue that blissful shoulder massage. Minus one.  At the conclusion of the massage, I am AGAIN shown to the restroom and asked if I need to go. Still weird, and still the answer is no. Minus one. However, all day today, my muscles have felt so good. Plus one. As I look back through my musings and tally the points, it appears to be a tie. Eight points for each. (That is, if I did my math correctly!) And so it is up to you, the reader, to help me decipher was this a good experience or a bad experience?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Secret Society

There is something so exciting about being a part of a clandestine organization. I love the adrenaline rush that comes from being sneaky and feeling like I know something you don't know. However, what's the point of a secret if no one knows you know? So I've decided to let you all in on the secret. Geocaching!

For those who have never heard of this we'll go straight to horses mouth (aka for the definition. "Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices." My family came to visit back in January and we decided the best way to show them around town was through geocaching. My uncle Clint is an experienced geocacher (is that a word?) so he inducted us into the secret world of geocaching. He explained how to play and gave us strict orders not to let "muggles" see us. With GPS unit in hand and a list of coordinates around town we were off on our treasure hunt. I was amazed at how many caches I had walked right by in the past and had no idea were hidden there. We found all of the treasures except one. We searched and searched to no avail. That part was frustrating but 7 for 8 isn't bad for novice treasure hunters. Despite our efforts to be discreet, a few geomuggles did stumble upon us. We tried to appear very casual, like it was natural for us to be hanging out in the brush, bushwhacking. I am sure they did not suspect a thing especially in situations such as the one depicted in this picture....

Some muggles were walking by and Nate decided freezing in this pose would draw the least amount of attention

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our New Addition

The other day I was singing Justin Bieber's "I Just Need Somebody to Love" (hey, don't hate on the Biebs) and I realized it was true: I do just need somebody to love. This epiphany lead me to the conclusion that we needed a dog. That very day, I saw on Facebook that a family from church was needing to find a home for their dog. I of course interpreted this to be a sign that this dog was meant to be mine. Now to convince Nate. As I'm sure you can guess, I'm the spontaneous one and he's the responsible one in the relationship so the key was tricking I mean enlightening Nate so he would know that getting a dog was the responsible thing to do. After all, happy wife equals happy life. :) After plenty of research, he reached the same conclusion and agreed to a "trial run" with the dog. Little Ollie quickly won us both over making it impossible to say no to keeping him. And so I'm pleased to announce that we've officially adopted the cutest schnoodle you ever did see!

For all you Harry Potter geeks out there, his full name is Ollivander! I wanted Hufflepuff but Nate said that was embarrassing.

 He is a year and a half so he's still young and playful. He has a lot of energy but also likes to sit and snuggle. We haven't had Ollie very long, but we're already finding many hidden benefits to having a dog:
1. Having an indoor pet encourages me to keep the house cleaner because a) I don't want to leave things lying around that Ollie will chew on and get into and b) I refuse to have a house that smells like dog. I will be busting out the vacuum and the mop much more frequently.
2. Dogs like to be walked much more than husbands do! I love going on walks but Nate never saw the point of it. Now, I take Ollie for walks every day and he loves it. Nate even willingly joins us some days because there is a point to walking a dog.  
3. I am actually on time to work. Normally I hit the snooze at least three times, but I wake up on my first alarm now because I feel bad that Ollie is waiting to be let outside. I let him out and play with him for few minutes and still have more than enough time to get ready for work. Amazing how waking up 15 minutes earlier makes a difference.

We've also discovered that Ollie was on his best behavior for his 3 day trial period and his "true colors" are shining now. Today,  Nate called me during his lunch desperately looking for the breadsticks we'd had the night before. Turns out while we were away, Ollie ate the nearly half a pan of leftover breadsticks and a bowl of marinara sauce! No wonder he had no interest in his bowl of food last night or this morning. I suppose I should be mad, but really I just thought it was funny especially since Nate was frantically searching the kitchen for them. Who knows what other surprises Ollie has in store for us.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When in Rome

Now that we've been in Arkansas for over a year and half, Nate decided it was time to make a drastic move to better fit in with the culture. He realized that he wasn't nearly redneck enough to consider himself an Arkansan. So........

He decided he needed to get rid of his front tooth! For those of you who know my husband well, you know he knocked his two front teeth out as a kid and has had fake ones every since. Over Thanksgiving, in a not very friendly match at the church turkey bowl, he chipped his fake tooth. He finally went in to get it fixed a few weeks ago. The dentist outfitted him with a temporary tooth as the lab creates a new one for him. The only problem, or not problem if you live in Arkansas, is the temporary tooth doesn't fit properly and keeps falling out. Bryson, Alyssa, and Derek were over for Sunday dinner the other day and Nate's tooth fell right out into his bowl of soup! He didn't notice at first and nearly slurped it up! Once he fished it out of the bowl, he casually put it back in without anyone noticing. Shortly thereafter, while eating his cheesy sandwich the tooth fell out again and he completely crunched it! He had to get a new temporary the next day. Being toothless has come in handy at times. Last night Nate had taken his tooth out to eat dinner (he learned his lesson after the soup incident) when the doorbell rang. Nate answered it forgetting he didn't have his tooth in. He scared that darn salesman right off! My favorite tooth incident happened one night while sitting on the couch. Nate had a giant sneeze that propelled the tooth out of his mouth and across the room where it bounced off the wall! I think Nate is more than ready to get his new permanent tooth, but I'm certainly enjoying all the funny moments in the meantime.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

YouTube Rag Quilt

A couple of weeks ago I declared I was going to make a rag quilt. Nate laughed. I don't think he thought I was serious. I've never made one, but after watching a video tutorial on YouTube, I was confident I could. I got all excited to make it and then remembered I broke my sewing machine the last time I had a crazy crafty thought. Oh well, it was a nice thought while it lasted. Guess I'll continue living my happy non-crafty life. Just kidding! Well, not about breaking the machine (I really did that) and not about living a happy non-crafty life (crafts stress me out and I prefer to live stress free); I was only joking about the giving up part. Fortunately, my mom was in town last weekend and she fixed my machine, sort of. At least enough to get through the quilt without too many more mishaps than would be normally expected when I attempt a craft. My mom helped me buy the right amount of fabric and cut the squares, but I did the rest all by myself! I know I sound like a child who has just tied their shoes for the first time, but I consider myself a toddler crafter so this was quite the accomplishment.

Perhaps you noticed this appears to be a baby blanket, and perhaps you are guessing this means I am making an announcement? Well I am.... someone who is pregnant is going to be the lucky recipient of this blanket! If  you'd like to be considered for the role of the lucky recipient, feel free to leave me a comment. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Room that Gives You a Hug

After owning the Ozark Inn for nearly six months, two significant events finally happened. We painted and had our first guests! The nice thing was those went hand in hand. It certainly goes a lot faster when your guests pay their bill via painting.
We were thrilled to welcome Nate's parents and sister and bestow the honor of being the inaugural guests upon them. They were welcomed with Andes Mints on their pillows and towel animals on their beds. Ok, I made up the towel part, but they did get mints. We were pleased to offer Stan and Lisa our newest sleeping accommodations with a brand new air mattress bought on Black Friday. They slept in the Doctor Seuss Suite so they could dream of future grandchildren. Kaley was lucky enough to take her rest in the Dwight Shrute Chamber where she learned that "chamber" implies drafty, cold, but still lovely! (Don't let this deter you from visiting, we're working out the kinks as we hope to be booked frequently this year.)
We couldn't have asked for a better Christmas! We felt pretty spoiled and loved and were so grateful to be together for the holidays. Highlights of the holidays included making and eating delicious food, watching cheesy Christmas movies (ie. A Boyfriend for Christmas!), hitting all the Christmas sales, playing Just Dance on the wii (Yes, there are pictures and video; No, I will NOT be sharing these on my blog), playing Uno Roboto several nights in a row, and feasting on fondue for New Year's Eve, to name a few.
As I mentioned before, the Inn got a face lift too. We painted our family room and guest bathroom. Both look great which is surprising considering Mr. Grumpy at Lowe's didn't listen to me, treated me like I was stupid and was causing him such an inconvenience to mix my paint, and then proceeded to mix the wrong color! We didn't realize it was wrong until we got it on the wall and saw that it didn't match the sample we had already painted. While it wasn't the color we wanted, it actually turned out pretty nice. Good thing too, or I would have gone back and given Mr. Grumpy a piece of my mind! The new color in the family room is so warm it almost feels like you're getting a hug from a teddy bear! Much more inviting then boring white walls.

Here's the finished result. Sorry the clutter is detracting from the teddy bear hug feeling!
The bathroom was hard to photograph without a wide angle lens, but this gives you an idea of the color at least.
In other news, my organ playing is improving.....I think. At least if I base that on the bishopric's responses. The first month I played, I received a thumbs up sign as well as these encouraging words: "We're all rooting for you!" "Don't worry, you can't make any mistake that hasn't been made before." Then I was given a key to the church so I could come and practice. The second month: "That practicing sure is helping!" The third month: absolutely no comment. I take this as a sign that I didn't suck so bad that they felt the need to cheer me up but not good enough that they could justify a genuine compliment. That's the goal for next month.