Monday, December 31, 2012

a year in review

as i have reflected on 2012 over the past few days and weeks, i've been trying hard not to let the couple of completely terrible things that happened define the whole year. because, though some of the worst things that have ever happened to me happened to me this year, on the whole it was actually pretty great.

the highlight was, of course, my first wedding anniversary. if you hate mushy love stuff, i recommend you skip ahead, as i'd like to take a moment to say how incredibly thankful i am to be married to AWD. when i think about the people i thought i might like to marry, before AWD came along that is, i am astounded by my own naivete and short-sightedness. this is not to say that every day is a rosy cakewalk-- this is life we are talking about after all-- but being married to AWD has made me feel safe and empowered in a way i never imagined. i just didn't know there was a person who could make me feel so comfortable and unashamed to be no one but myself, and now i can't even imagine what my life would have been like if i'd ended up with anyone else. i am so grateful that a loving heavenly father blesses us with what we want, paired with what we need.

other highlights from the year include:

a trip south with d

a little movie magic 
some (work-related) love from the white house
good friends. old friends. ice cream.

warrior games!
good eats and good cousins in austin

new york with the mama bear

family reunion (and cotton candy)

china! china! china! china! china!
four more years
playoff baseball (even for losers)

some (christmas-related) love from the white house

the killers (even AWD liked it!)  

and, maybe the biggest highlight of all: perspective. to have learned this lesson, that good things and rich blessings are just as inevitable as bad things and hard trials, and to know that even the worst things i can imagine are things i can endure, and then endure well, just that alone would have made 2012 a pretty great year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date twelve

in what is becoming a tradition that i really, really like, AWD and i had an early, personal, just-the-two-of-us christmas at home before we left for his parents' house for the rest of the holiday festivities.

AWD is modest about this, but he's a gifted gift-giver; he always pays attention to things i say i want and then i forget about them and then then buys them for me and i open them and remember they are the things i wanted the most in the world and now they are mine!

and this year he did not disappoint.

so, this year i propose we all get over the post-holiday hump with some delicious food cooked in my fancy new digital crock pot.

lemme know if you're down.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

from us to you.

merry christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Monday, December 24, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date eleven

we decided to send out some christmas cards this year, because i figure that is what married people do. so, for our eleventh date of christmas we addressed those suckers and sent them out.

we hope people like cards that consist only of pictures of us. because that's what they're getting.

Friday, December 21, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date ten

for the past couple years, AWD and i have gone to see "the nutcracker" around christmastime. it's one of my favorite traditions. but this year we were a little slow on the draw getting our tickets and there were only really expensive seats left and so we decided not to go.

and i was sad.

but then, i heard that they had released some seats for a sold-out killers concert, and it seemed like too good of a christmas miracle to pass up.

so, off we went for the tenth date of christmas to see the killers at the patriot center in fairfax.

you may recall that i am close, personal friends of the killers (they might not remember, but it's true), thanks to my catering work on the set of the music video for "human." and by catering, i mean that sallee and i made eggs over a camp stove, and banana boats in dutch ovens. but, a good time was had by all, and it was nice to see the band again after so much time apart.

they put on a pretty sweet show, complete with skinny jeans, fireworks, smoke and swoony dancing. i was a little worried about whether AWD was having a good time, as he is not a super fan of concerts, but as we were walking out he said, "well, that was definitely more fun that 'the nutcracker.'" so, i guess we found a winner.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date nine

for our ninth date of christmas (are we knocking this out of the park or what?), AWD and i went to a little dinner party/white elephant gift exchange.

luckily everyone else approached the gift exchange the same way we did: as a chance to get rid of stuff you don't want in your house anymore. and even more luckily, i managed to trade away someone's broken snorkeling flippers for this box of chocolate.

i should have put it next to a regular sized box of chocolate for the sake of context, but this is a two-and-a-half pound box of chocolate. it was giant. and awesome.

knowing the risk it would pose to the health and well-being of our household if left there for too long, i brought it into work for our office holiday party. it was a big hit, and getting it  out of the house meant that i only ate three pieces of chocolate instead of nearly three pounds of chocolate.

win, win.

epilogue: when i came into work this morning, the day after the holiday party, the chocolate was gone. all two-and-a-half pounds. maybe some of my co-workers will need to put new pants on their christmas lists, too?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date eight

on sunday AWD and i hosted a little christmas gathering, the subtitle of which could have been one of my favorite phrases: actually, i like treats more than food.

the reason being because i used it as an opportunity to get all my christmas baking done in one fell (and diabetic) swoop.

i made candy bar cookies.

and rocky road brownies.

and peppermint ice cream.

and my mom's gingerbread cookies.

your blood sugar went up just reading that, huh?

the main event was a short, as in one song, piano recital by yours truly. in the couple of months since i started back up with my piano lessons i managed to learn an arrangement of "what child is this" well enough to feel (reasonably) comfortable performing it. i followed my rule of under-promising and over-delivering, and everyone was duly impressed.

and, after eating all those treats, i added new pants to my christmas list.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

have i done any good?

it's been hard to think about anything but sad, bad news since the connecticut shooting on friday. and i add my thoughts and prayers to all those already offered on behalf of those poor families. the mind boggles, really.

but, in the face of sad, bad things, good things happen, too. i stumbled upon this list of 26 moments from the past year that restored faith in humanity and it was such a pleasure to scroll through and see big and small and simple goodness all around. it's possible that i might have teared up at my desk at work reading about all this kindness, but i am not going to confirm or deny that.

i will confirm that my favorite of all the awesome things to choose from was the story of caine, and the cardboard arcade he built in his dad's used auto parts store in east l.a. i defy anyone to watch this video and not feel like there are still people in the world looking out for each other. especially the little guys. (i can't get the video to embed so you'll have to click on the link. but trust me, you won't be sorry.)

there. i feel a little bit better. how about you? 

Friday, December 14, 2012

you can call me pants, but i'm not going to wear them to church

i have been trying to write this post all morning. or maybe i should say, i have been writing and rewriting this post all morning, on paper, in my head, everywhere. but i think i should just cut to the chase. 

mormon feminists are wearing pants to church on sunday. i am planning to wear a skirt.

i was blessed to grow up in a home and environment where men and women were partners and treated fairly. i was never not allowed to do something, or made to do something else, because i was a girl. i was never told i couldn’t do one thing, or that i had to do another thing, because i was a girl. my potential was limitless and my worth was connected to me and me alone. i didn’t call myself a “feminist” until i got to college because i didn’t know there was a special word for what i assumed was the way everyone thought about the world and treated each other.

i recognize that not everyone was blessed to grow up like this. that breaks my heart. 

i have had to find my own peace about things i do not understand and cannot explain easily in my own faith tradition. i have felt frustrated, confused, offended, marginalized, misunderstood, out of place and judged. 

i have also felt loved, empowered, supported, recognized, seen and heard. always by my heavenly father, often by others. 

i believe that men and women are different, just as every person is somehow different from the next. i do not believe that different means “better” and “worse.” i think traditions and untruths that try to explain differences between men and women as the result of one gender being more righteous, more holy, more pure or somehow more “special” than the other are offensive, condescending and damaging to women and to men whether it is women or men perpetuating them. i would like to see those ideas go away entirely and forever. i hope i am playing my part to help that happen.

i believe that men and women can be fair and balanced partners in marriages, in congregations and in any other type of pairing or interaction. i do not believe that fairness equates to sameness. and that is ok with me.

i recognize and understand the desire—the need—to make your voice heard, to reveal yourself, to feel solidarity and shared purpose. i do not judge anything about that, or any way that anyone might settle on to make it happen for them. wearing pants to church is not the way I have settled on to make it happen for me. i hope that is equally respected and embraced.

there is certainly, i think, more to say. but every way I have tried to say it has come out sounding wrong. so i have decided to just say this: i am behind the great and glorious cause. i have, and will continue to fight for it in my own way. this is not my way. but if this is your way let it be known that you, your heart, your purposes and your dreams are seen, heard and safe by me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date seven

for our seventh date of christmas (are we killing this or what?) we headed up to the d.c. temple to see the lights. we were there right at twilight, which turned out to be a lovely time to be there. as you can see.

i'd like to give a shout out to AWD who indulges my passion for christmas lights of all kinds and in all places. and i'd like to give a shout out to dan diamond, who went to great and heroic lengths to help us jump our car battery after we left the lights on (irony?) and killed it.

christmas miracles all around.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

what would the dowager countess say?

in an effort to fill the long and lonely days until the third season of downtown abbey arrives on american shores (hurry up, january 6th!), EH and MJ and i have been re-watching season two. it's a lovely weekly ritual. but the whole thing is ruined when i see pictures like this.

mr. bates as a baller? no thanks.

Monday, December 10, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date six (with a bonus lesson on the true spirit of the holidays!)

i think we all remember the foul mood i was in on friday. it was bad. and i decided i needed to snap myself out of it, if i could, as fast as i could.

there is a principle mormons are fond of espousing, that principle being that when you are focused on yourself and your own problems, you should serve someone else. and that by the act of coming outside of yourself, your own problems seems less serious or, at the best, somehow work themselves out. i have always been skeptical of this principle, mainly because i think sometimes the solution to our problems really is for other people to serve us when we need it, but i decided to put it to the test on friday.

and now, for some back story. every saturday AWD and i have "cleaning day," wherein we clean our house. vacuum, mop, clean the bathroom, do laundry. you know, cleaning day. AWD hates cleaning day. and he especially hates it when we have to do some or all of our cleaning on friday night because there won't be any time to do it on saturday. this weekend threatened to be a friday night cleaning day weekend, and he had already been lamenting that fact.

it was perfect really. i left work a few minutes early, stopped at the grocery and did all our shopping (something else AWD doesn't really like) and then went home and cleaned the whole house before he got home from work. and it felt so good! partly because i have found that an aggressive session of vacuuming or scrubbing gunk out of the caulk in the shower can be a cathartic release of rage and bad feelings. but mostly because AWD was so, so happy when he came home. doing that for him made me feel better than i had in days.

plus, the house was clean. which also makes me really happy.

to celebrate, AWD took me out to dinner at one of our favorite places, where i got one of my favorite sushi rolls and enjoyed a night out with my favorite guy.

in this case, at least, it turned out that forgetting about myself and serving someone else was just the right medicine. even better than watching a break-up video on repeat. imagine that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

just invite us to your parties and we'll work it out

it was rainy and gray when i woke up this morning, which did nothing to help the bad mood that's been hanging over me since yesterday. i just feel blah and blerg and meh, meh, meh. which might explain why the thing that made me happiest today was this video about a couple breaking up because he wanted kids and she didn't.

don't misunderstand, i'm not happy that they're breaking up. it sounds awful. as they say themselves, "breaking up's a mess." they seem like really nice people who really like each other and i am sorry it didn't work out. really.

but something about the me of today really appreciated that they were so mature and straightforward about it and just put it out there for what it was. sometimes i think the best thing to do is recognize that a really crappy thing is happening without sugar-coating it or laying blame or trying to talk yourself into (or out of) something that you don't want or believe.

s-word happens, you know? and recognizing it and then moving on when we're ready is usually the best medicine. and a bow tie and a catchy tune help it go down a little easier.

so, i'll just say that today was yucky. a lot of yesterday was yucky. but tomorrow could very well be lovely and wonderful and i am going to do what i can to make it that way. sound like a deal?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: dates four and five

AWD has been struck with a flu bug that's going around, so we've been laying low this week and taking things easy. which means lots of christmas movie watching! hurrah!

i made an unrealistically long list of christmas movies i want to watch this year and we crossed two of them off the list for christmas dates four and five.

first was the classic, it's christmas, charlie brown. the scene where linus steps out on stage and recites the christmas story from the book of luke has to be one of my favorite christmas movie scenes of all time. and i have a new determination to talk more like charlie brown characters, so don't be surprised if you hear a lot more, "oh, brother" from me.

we also started what i hope will be a new tradition of watching a christmas story. i didn't grow up with that movie like a lot of people did, but i am definitely an adult convert. i can never stop laughing when randy blurts out from under the sink, "dad's gonna kill ralphie!" the whole thing is so absurd and delightful. and i have a new determination to talk more like the parker family, so don't be surprised if you hear a lot more "on the double!" from me.

is it bad if i am sort of hoping AWD will stay a little sick so we can fit in a muppet christmas carol before the week is over?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date three

for our third date of christmas we decided to just do something every-day and normal.

so we went to the white house to see the holiday decorations.

yep. we went to the white house to see the holiday decorations. because that's how we do.

we have our kinda-sorta-cousin-in-law, chase, to thank; he works in the white house correspondence office and scored some tickets and was so nice and generous to invite us along. it was AWD's first time at the white house, which made it even more exciting. and honestly, no matter what my aunt joyce says, going to the white house never gets old. i just love walking through those rooms and thinking of all the things that have happened in them. and the whole thing is even more magical when everything is decorated for christmas.

the theme of this year's decorations was "joy to all," and i think it was an apt theme indeed.

sometimes d.c. is just the place where we live and hang out and it all seems pretty run-of-the-mill. and then something like this happens and i think, "man, i live here! here." and it feels really lucky and special. i like those moments. and it has to be said: thanks, obama!

Monday, December 3, 2012

the twelve dates of christmas: date two

our second christmas date was an evening out at my office holiday party. last year's office holiday party was in october, and it was a carnival for children who had a parent (or two) who had been killed on a deployment, and as part of the carnival festivities AWD and i agreed to dress up like clowns and hand out balloons.

this is a true story.

so, i think you can appreciate AWD's apprehension about my office holiday parties.

but, this year we got to dress up in fancy holiday clothes instead, and go to a swanky venue and eat delicious food and see lots of work people in a non-work context, which is always awesome. as we were leaving i said, "that was a lot of fun," and AWD said, "i thought so, too," and that, my friends, is the mark of a good party. to be sure.