Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hello, thirty.

Last Wednesday, the 24th of August, at 3:56pm, I officially bid my twenties farewell.

It's ironic that the last year of my life has been the most significant yet. On a handful of occasions I've referred to it as "my year", in fact. Despite the many challenges I've faced, however, I've grown leaps and bounds, and gained a new level of empathy, patience and acceptance for the inevitable. It certainly has been a time to grow. No need to get mushy though. It's been a wonderful week and I've had a blast celebrating. In light of that, I thought it would be fun to post a birthday interview to document who I am right now. Thirty is a milestone, after all, and I think it's worth making a tiny fuss over. So here is probably way more than you ever wanted to know about me.

AS OF 24 AUGUST 2011:

Favorite thing to eat:

I'm on a major caprese salad kick. We have two tomato plants outside that finally started producing cherry tomatoes a couple weeks ago. Between those and my sweet cousin's amazing vegetable garden close by, there has been an abundance of tomatoes around here. I've also managed to keep my basil plant alive this year, which is a first for me. Now add a little fresh mozzarella, red onion, and a sweet balsamic vinegar concoction and you've got a tasty (and eye-pleasing) treat. What's really funny is I've hated tomatoes my whole life, until about a year ago.   

Favorite TV shows:
House, M.D. and Criminal Minds.  Also love How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, SNL and So You Think You Can Dance.  We still watch The Office, but I think it's going downhill.

Favorite movies:
Oceans Eleven has for years been my favorite. And among many others, I'm a real sucker for make ya feel goods like The Blind Side, August Rush, Radio, Rudy, and The Pursuit of Happyness. I also try to watch A&E's Pride and Prejudice every few years, though I still haven't talked Neil into watching it with me. I also love many old movies and find the dialogue to be refreshing and insightful. So many movies today lack good dialogue.

Actors I love:
Vince Vaughn - my absolute fav. He's the kind of actor who seems to just play himself. He's so natural and real. I think he'd be a really cool guy to hang out with at a BBQ.
Jack Black - again, hilarious and real. Love his quirky, eccentric nature.
Matt Damon - great actor and ridiculously good looking.
Justin Timberlake - really could care less about his music, but think he's an incredible actor. And as a longtime SNL viewer and fan, I also think he is by far the best host they've had.
Clark Gable - the epitome of "tall, dark and handsome." Loved him in It Happened One Night.
Paul Newman - maybe part of the reason I've always loved him is because he reminds me of Neil. Aside from his amazing talent as an actor, he was also a family man. I respect and love him for it.
Daniel Craig & Ryan Reynolds - hottness at its finest!

Actresses I love:
Reese Witherspoon - love her cute and sassy nature. She plays her roles very well too.
Kate Winslet - I find her endearing, sweet and very down-to-earth. I also love her accent.
Joan Cusak - love her voice!!
Kristen Wiig - so funny! One of the best cast members SNL has ever had. Target lady? Genius!
Ellen Degeneres - absolutely hilarious!  Love her.
Katharine Hepburn - love the sassy roles she played, especially in Bringing Up Baby.
Kate Beckinsale - quite possibly the most gorgeous woman I've ever laid eyes on.

Musical artists I love:
I'm pretty well rounded when it comes to music.
Diana Krall, who's not only an incredibly talented singer and pianist, but a down to earth wife and mother to twin boys. It's rare to find such qualities in a celebrity these days.
Other favorites include The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Sergei Rachmoninov (composer and pianist), John Mayer, Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead and some of the older classics like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles. I guess it's the stuff you hear from your youth that often sticks with ya.

Songs I'm loving:
"Hello" (Martin Solveig & Dragonette), "Strawberry Swing" (Coldplay), "Good Life" (OneRepublic), and "Starlight" (Muse).

Favorite Christmas song:

"Winter Wonderland."  Also love Dean Martin's "Marshmallow World."  No one sings that song like Dean.  That recording brings back tender memories of childhood Christmases.

Favorite church apostle:
Among the many amazing ones out there, Jeffrey R. Holland is probably my very favorite.

Favorite hymn:
I have many! "Lord, I Would Follow Thee," "Where Can I Turn For Peace?," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "The Lord is my Shepherd," "Joseph Smith's First Prayer," "Love at Home," and "The Spirit of God" are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Powerful words and melodies. I usually can't get through any one of these without getting choked up.

Favorite primary song:
"I Know Heavenly Father Loves Me."

Favorite scripture story:
Joseph Smith's first vision and the events that followed. This last year especially I have grown to love and cherish the Doctrine and Covenants. So many treasures there!

Current church calling:
Beehive advisor (for the third time in nine years).

A calling I would enjoy:
Relief Society teacher.

Favorite holiday:
Thanksgiving. It lands during my favorite season, the food is always amazing, the football is awesome, and you can't beat spending time with family! I think another reason I love Thanksgiving is because it's sort of the kick off to the Christmas season. Rest assured, I never get my Christmas decor out until after Thanksgiving has passed.

Favorite candy:
Chewy Sprees! Also love Hot Tamales, Red Vines, and Peanut M&Ms. Definitely prefer fruity over chocolaty.

Guilty pleasures:
Coke or Pepsi.  I drink way too much of it. Sushi is another. I literally can't get enough and am always in the mood. Pioneer Woman's chocolate sheet cake - so terribly tasty.  I only make it once or twice a year for a reason.

Favorite smells:
Tide with a hint of Downy - I could sit and smell a bottle of that stuff all day long. Fresh rain. Vanilla and Harvest scented candles. Pampers Swaddlers - I know that's weird, but they have such a clean, new baby scent, and totally take me back to those first days.

Places I'd love to go:
I am a real homebody so honestly, the idea of traveling isn't a must for me. There are a few places I'd love to see before I die though. New Orleans is one of them, as strange as that may be. I'd also love to travel Europe, see Jane Austen's house, and visit Bern, Switzerland from where my paternal grandmother and her family came when she was only eleven.

What I want to be when I grow up:
The same thing I've always wanted to be: a wife and mother. I am living the dream, and I mean that with all sincerity.

Things I both love and hate:
Running - hate doing it, love the liberation that follows.
The Pottery Barn - love their stuff, hate their prices.
Pinterest - the ultimate time sucker! I will say I have found some excellent and useful ideas and recipes there. It really is an incredible tool and offers an efficient way to archive some of your favorite things. I've just had to learn to practice some serious restraint!

Biggest pet peeves:
Forgive my candor, but I have quite a few.
Bad grammar! Don't even get me started.
Not giving credit where credit is due.Twice I have seen my photos on another person's blog with no permission or mention of me, and I've seen it happen to other photographers countless times as well. This is why I've started watermarking my personal photos in addition to my professional ones. It isn't that I care if people use them. Nor am I trying to say I think my photos are exceptional and deserve praise. It's just principle! If you're going to share someone else's work on your blog, social network page or anywhere for that matter, take the extra two seconds to include their name! And it wouldn't hurt to ask their permission first, too!
Bad drivers. Some people just shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel.
Flakiness/not following through. If you've committed yourself to something, do it! If you can't or won't do it, don't commit in the first place! It's quite simple. And if you borrow something, give it back! Don't make me ask for it! Drives me nuts!
Phoniness. I don't want candy coated, I want real!
Disrespect/sense of entitlement.This mainly applies to the youth of today, but unfortunately I've seen it among adults as well.
Noisy/inconsiderate neighbors. I don't tolerate noise well, especially when it disrupts the peace and quiet in my home. Whether it be someone blasting their stereo or talking loudly, if I can hear it inside my house with my windows shut, I'm probably going to make a fuss over it!

Greatest weaknesses:
I'm indecisive, lack patience, am an extreme perfectionist and a terrible procrastinator. Wow, that really doesn't paint a very pretty picture, does it?

Greatest insecurity:

My teeth. Hate them. Ugh! Braces, someday.

Greatest strengths:
I am compassionate and care deeply for the important people in my life, probably much more than they know. I also have the ability to recognize God's simple beauties. I am passionate about and easily moved by these things, and I'm grateful for this sensitivity. The world is so much more pleasant when you can surround yourself with lovely things that fulfill you. Sometimes I feel like I'm a young person with an old soul because of how deeply I appreciate and feel like I can understand certain things. Whether it be music, art, poetry, or dance, when I am moved by it, you know it. I really hope I can pass this same sense of passion, recognition and appreciation down to my children, not just so they'll learn to love some of the things I love, but because I know it can bring them joy and fulfillment as well.

The things I value most:
Being a daughter of God, a wife and a mother. Neil, Chloe and Ryan. Spending time with my family, extended families and close friends. Family history, including old and current photos, journaling and other special things documented. My parents' and in-laws' wisdom, knowledge and testimony of gospel truths as well as my own testimony and the sacred things in my heart.

A few of my favorite things:
Big tall trees, renovated homes in charming old neighborhoods, Bath and Bodywork's anti-bacterial soap, Target, Nike dri-fit gear, the Fall season, creme brulee, ballet, The Pioneer Woman, blasting an awesome song in the car while driving alone, polka dots and scalloped edges, writing, blogging, caramel corn, flag banners, classic Christmas music, cooking and baking, long, meaningful talks with loved ones, tasteful crafts, 49ers and LSU football, Pandora radio, the house in the movie Father of the Bride, Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, rain, rottweilers and bulldogs, family bike rides, Briannas salad dressings (haven't tried a flavor I don't love), white kitchen cabinets and dark wood floors, McDonald's fries, Lay's kettle cooked jalapeno potato chips, Baskin Robbin's daiquiri ice, C.S. Lewis, photography, old family photos, avacados, vintage fabric, and a good laugh. Just to name a few.

What I hope to accomplish in the coming year:
Build even stronger relationships with my children. Read to them more. Talk to them more. Relish my time with them more. Scrapbook and journal more. Get my photos organized once and for all. Print my blog into books. Read, study and know my scriptures better. Relax and not stress so much. Get back on a normal running/exercise schedule and stick to it. Call my grandma more frequently.  Take part in a flash mob.  Plant and maintain a nice fruit and vegetable garden. Be more kind to others. Go to bed earlier. Organize a family tree on a wall in my house consisting of old family photos, new family photos, and special quotes/sayings by family members who have passed on. Be happy, smile and laugh lots.

Wow, that took forever, didn't it?!


I had a great birthday week.  On Wednesday (my actual birthday), my cute friend, Brittney threw a birthday brunch for our friend Tina, who celebrated her birthday the 26th, and me.  Brittney, Tina and I went to TOFW together back in March and see each other a fair amount given the nature of our callings in YW.  I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Tina, who reached out to me the first Sunday we went to church here.  It was fun being the birthday girls together.

Neil thought he was going to have to go to Bakersfield Wednesday afternoon, so we had planned to celebrate my birthday another day, but he found out late Tuesday that he did not have to go after all.  So we snuck out for dinner that evening, leaving the kids with our next door neighbors.  When we came home, we sat outside and chatted for a while while the kiddos played. 

{With next door neighbors, Gabby and Ariana.  Love these girls.}

My cute friend, Janea dropped by some cupcakes while we were still outside, which finished off the day just right, not to mention all the texts, phone calls and facebook messages I had received throughout the day.

On Thursday, my friends Tami and Lorilee took me out for sushi.  Misty was going to come but got sick at the last minute, which I was really bummed about.  I kinda like that friend of mine.  It was fun to get away for an hour and a half and enjoy some girl time.  I've never really been a big "girls night out" kinda gal, but these 3 ladies make it really easy to love the concept.  I'm anxious for Tami's birthday in November so we'll have an excuse to go out again.  She'll also be celebrating the big 3-0!

Just when I thought birthday festivities were over, I was invited to yet another birthday lunch on Friday that another lady from the ward arranged for all the August birthday girls at church.  There were six of us total, so an intimate little group, but just perfect.  I am really amazed and touched by the generous nature of the women I go to church with.  They inspire me more than they know.

{Top left: the birthday girls holding up our bracelets that our friend, Alex made for us; top right: birthday brunch crew - me, Tina, Kathy, Alex, Amber, Kaylene and Belinda - all ladies from church; bottom left: Tami (with her cute little baby girl bump), Lorilee and me (we missed you, Misty!); bottom right: just a glance at the number of cards and treats I received from loved ones.}

So far thirty feels pretty good. Thanks for everyone who contributed to my very happy birthday.


The Andersens said...

Yay for birthdays! Thanks for posting the interview with yourself. I loved reading it. And I'm so glad I've always given you credit for your photos. Definitely don't want to experience the wrath of Valeri. :-)

-- Courtney

Tami said...

I love love love loved this post! So fun to read all about you friend!!!xoxox