Saturday, April 27, 2013

New semester, new blog post!

Well, it's about that time. Things are a bit outdated from my last post!

We both had finals the week of April 8th-12th. I honestly have no idea how we survived...seriously, I'm glad a toddler can survive on cereal and oven pizzas for dinner while watching Thomas movies on mom's Kindle so mom and dad can get some work done! Nathan was SUCH a trooper, and we made sure to focus on HIM during break times to avoid meltdowns. He even got a new Thomas & Friends train or two during the week to keep HIS focus on playing and entertaining himself! Nothing prepares you for a sibling like having to play on your own, right? :o) 

In any case, we are so grateful for the blessings of great friends that live close enough to help us out as if they were family! (And the one cousin I have here...we need more FAMILY out here!) We are also so grateful for professors who met with us, worked overtime with us to make sure work we were turning in was up to par for them (they did NOT have to give us this extra time), and for a professor or two of mine that let me just VENT when I felt like I was just done with their class. Being 7 months pregnant + knowing it's your last semester of classes will do that to anyone, I tell myself!

So basically, here's how April has gone for us:

April 2-3rd: drop Camille off at the MTC (see my previous post)
April 8th-12th: finals week
April 13th-18th: trip to Gillette, WY to visit "GG & Papa Dooley" and Aunt Dani!
April 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th: New (ALL day) job training for me as a Peer Breastfeeding Counselor for our local WIC office
April 22nd: Also Mitch's first day of school, starting "IBC" (Integrated Business Curriculum), where you start up and run a business on campus with a group of 6-8 others, using real money and real stocks.
April 27th (today): our yard sale! After the first week of school and half a week of job training, we still had to go through the whole house and purge/sort/price things for this yard sale. It ended up being well worth it!
 May 1st-2nd: (this Wednesday) MOVING DAY(s) to our new apartment. A mid-week move is going to take everything poor Mitch has; he has at least 3 hours of homework every night and group meetings every, single day. I'm just hoping his group will let him have Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning to help us load a truck and move!

Whew. Anyway, I can't wait for April and the first few days of May to be over! April's almost gone, but it hasn't gone without a fight and a lot of stress!

The best part of this post? Miss Eliza Kay's surprise BABY SHOWER, thrown by her awesome Wyoming grandparents and her lovely auntie! 
I had no idea about this shower before we got to Gillette, but had I known I probably would have packed a bit lighter! :o) It was a shower thrown by Dani, Mitch's sister and my former roommate (whom I will forever give credit for Mitch and I meeting!). She is awesome, and we have missed them so much since she and her husband moved from Rexburg to Seattle a year ago. They are doing great out there and working hard at their grown-up full-time jobs, but we MISS THEM! She and I planned this trip in December and I'm so glad we did! We wish her husband could have been there as well, but we understand the need to, ya know, work a grown-up, full-time job!

I realized (again) how lucky I am to have married into Mitch's family. As far away as my Kansas family is, I think someone upstairs KNEW I'd need amazing in-laws to survive only seeing my Larson family once or twice a year. It's rough. I hate that they don't know Nathan. I could go on...but I'm also so grateful for how welcoming and loving these Dooleys have been! I feel a genuine love from them and I always feel cared about and looked after like one of their own children.

This shower was DARLING; Dani has the best taste and sense of style! 

She put together a pink, vintage-y shower that was absolutely adorable. The pinkness of it all threw me for a loop after 2 1/2 years of nothing but blue and Thomas the train! Yay for baby girls! :o) 

The whole staff at Marshall Jewelry, the jewelry store where Mitch's mom, Dani, and I have all worked, all came and brought amazing gifts. 

They were so generous and hospitable, and it really feels like we have friends around Gillette whenever we visit! I'm really only there a few times a year, but it's as if I still worked there, I feel so much love from everyone! It's great. Oh, and Dani and Mom Dooley even got my mom to send a gift; it was awesome! I had no idea, and my mom tends to NOT keep secrets from me very well :o)
One of the cutest parts of this shower were the paper lanterns: they were originally from Dollar Tree, and Dani had seen on Pinterest that you can cut long, skinny triangles and glue them row after row to cover the whole lantern! They look so much more tasteful than normal Chinese lanterns! I was thinking I could add some spray paint or something, like a glossy-type that is a bit more subtle, but if I just made that product up, at least I still love them white! I brought them home and they are going to hang over Eliza's crib :o) Here are some close-ups so you can see what an awesome job she did!

The cake was also amazing! Dani said it's not what she was picturing, that it's a bit brighter pink than she had in mind, but I LOVED it!!

Thank you SO much to Mom Dooley and Dani, who hopefully still read this blog (lol), to my mom for being oh-so-secretive and sending a gift to add to the surprise, and to my amazing co-workers from Marshall Jewelry! I may only work with you guys a few times a year, but it's so fun to be friends year round!

More later about Mitch's business program and my new work-at-home-job that I'm also hoping to get approved as my internship for this Fall (I won't actually start this job until August/September, because they are gracious enough to give me a maternity leave before it all even starts!). It will all be finalized in the final interview on Monday: wish me luck!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our missionary!

In our church, young people have the opportunity to serve full-time missions. For young men, it is required. For young women, it is an option for those who have the desire to serve a mission. Young men can serve at age 18 and young women can serve at age 19. Previously, the ages young people could serve were older (boys at 19 and girls at 21), but a somewhat shocking announcement was made 6 months ago by our church leaders, lowering the age limits. 

My sister, Camille, is 21. She has been planning on serving a full-time mission for several years now. Because my family has all girls and Mitch has one little brother and two little sisters, we really didn't know how many missionary siblings we'd have. Mitch served a full-time mission for our church from 2006-2008 at age 19-21. His brother is also preparing to serve a full-time mission right now. 

Full-time missions mean a lot of sacrifice for these young people. Girls serve for 18 months and boys serve for 2 years. This means 18 mo - 2 yrs away from their family, living with a missionary companion somewhere in the world. They do not pick where they serve; they are assigned a "mission call" somewhere around the world (of course, disabilities, health restrictions, and other factors are all considered). These missionaries do missionary work 24/7. They do not watch tv, read magazines (outside of church magazines), read books (outside of scriptures), or have much leisure time. It is all work, all day, all for the Lord. They call home twice a year, on Mother's Day and on Christmas. Other than that, emails can be sent to anyone they wish, but computer time is very restricted. Written letters are, of course, always allowed as well. Missionaries hope to eliminate as many distractions as possible, so they formally defer from college (or serve a mission before they start), and most aren't involved in long-distance romantic relationships.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we got a chance to drop Camille off at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT, where she will spend 2 weeks learning how to be a missionary. She'll take classes, adopt a full-time missionary's schedule, and develop habits of daily healthy eating, exercise, and personal scripture study that will help her for the next 18 months. After that, she will leave for her mission. She was called to serve in Charlotte, North Carolina and will be there by the end of the month! 

I had never seen the MTC before; Camille and other BYU students have access to it to volunteer there since it is so close to their campus, and Camille has volunteered there many times, so new missionaries have people to practice teaching to. Because of this announcement regarding missionary age six months ago, a surge of missionary applications and mission calls have been received and sent out. Camille is 21, so she's not one of the 19 year-old missionaries, but she is still caught up in this huge surge of new missionaries with everyone else! 

Because my parents live so far from Utah, they sent her off at the Kansas City airport, and that was the last time they'll see her in 18 months. She had a friend pick her up at the Salt Lake City airport and was with her until we could drive from Idaho to pick her up. We spent the day doing last-minute errands and shopping that she needed, as well as just enjoying time together. We got together with friends from home that we hadn't seen in a long time, which was really fun! Poor Nathan was SO antsy after several hours in the car; he was kind of a banshee at the restaurant! Our friends who'd never met him definitely didn't see his fun side!
We ALL look terrible in this picture...Camille had stayed up all night packing, then caught a 6 am flight. Mitch and I had been up early, gone to classes, and then drove to Provo. It was a long day for all of us!

On Wednesday morning, we did some more last-minute shopping and went to lunch. Then we said our goodbyes across the street from the MTC and got ready to go drop her off. It was a madhouse, but the people working were very well-organized, so it was busy, but it all ran very smoothly.

There were a few rules to follow, like saying goodbyes across the street in a big field and parking lot, so the MTC parking lot and circle drive won't get too congested. Only the car with the missionary in it is allowed in the MTC parking lot; not their car and their families' five other cars with extended family. You only get 2 1/2 minutes to say goodbye to your missionary, just to keep things flowing smoothly. So, we had a very well-orchestrated plan to get her unloaded and say goodbye quickly; we even got a "nice job, guys!" from the missionaries that helped unload and that were directing traffic!

These pictures are kind of repetitive, but I know my parents really wished they could be there, so I just took enough pictures to help them feel like they were there. Enjoy!
Playing around in the field across from the MTC. Camille's drop-off time was 1:15, so the sun was in my least favorite spot...

There was tons of construction going on to expand the street in front of the MTC, to make dropping off easier. The famous hot spot for pictures, the "Missionary Training Center" sign isn't even there anymore.

We loved throwing mulch at the tree :o)

Last-minute bonding time with the auntie who won't see him again until he's FOUR!

Nathan's face is awesome. Also, I'm swelling with this baby and the car trip didn't help at all...ignore my swollen face and legs! It was my last chance to have pictures with my sister; I didn't care how I looked. I don't even know if I put makeup on before this!

We made Camille pose for pictures across the street from the MTC. Anyone who knows Camille knows she hates pictures more than most anything else, but we didn't give her a choice :o) She always just throws her hand on her hip and calls it good, haha.

Not only was the sun directly overhead, but there were ugly orange cones everywhere! I took them out in some pictures.

 Last picture before she grabbed her bags and went with the "host missionaries", who are in the MTC themselves, and assigned to curb duty to help missionaries part with their families. We did NOT want to be (1) the slow ones holding everything up, or (2) asked to please hurry and say goodbye. So, we were super efficient :o)

I just had the thought, "wouldn't it be funny if she and that random missionary met up later at BYU after their missions and got married, and I had this picture of them?" haha...

Camille will be awesome. She is now "Sister Larson" and will probably not say her first name more than 3 or 4 times over the next year and a half. She is more prepared than most people I know that go on missions because it's been her goal for so long. Farewell, Sister Larson!