Friday, June 29, 2012

Memory Lane

On our way back from Columbus we drove through Centerville, where Spencer graduated high school and often considers his home town (Air Force brat, he lived in 8 different states growing up).

We stopped by both houses that he lived in there

And by his old high school

We even got to stop by and see the Izu's, old friends of his and even took a short detour to the pool with them. It was a nice nostalgic afternoon for Spencer and I'm so glad we made the trip!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memorial Day in Columbus

Memorial Day weekend was a week after we got to Jacksonville. Nate and Telisha (brother and sister-in-law) were living in Columbus but Nate was graduating and they would be moving in just a few weeks so we decided to go visit them!

I LOVE my nieces and nephews! They are SO CUTE and we loved playing with them all weekend. We went to Lowe's for the kid activity day (Did you know they do this? It's awesome!)

We went to the movie theater and watched "the orange movie" as Owen liked to call it (The Lorax). It was actually pretty good.

Spencer dancing to the closing credits :)

We went to the pet store where they would pull out any pet and let you hold and play with them. I have never wanted a puppy so badly. And I'm allergic.

There was wrestling

And lots and lots of playing with water in the backyard.

Miss Sassy Pants

Tanner "watering" my feet

Spencer almost instantly became everyone's best friend. Sid was in love, Owen had a best bud, but at least Tanner still wanted to hang out with me.

It was an amazingly fun weekend, and I'm so sad that I won't see them again until after we get back from China :(  But it was a great way to spend the holiday weekend. Thanks Nate and T!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Toilet Is Evil

Look at it. So unassuming and innocent looking.

But it's NOT.

My toilet is possessed. Seriously. If you even look at it wrong it won't flush right and it whines for hours. See for yourself.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

The ward here in Jacksonville is AMAZING! Now I've been in some pretty awesome wards before, but this ward works the very way a ward should. The members are ridiculously warm and generous. They are eager to help wherever help is needed, they love the missionaries and strive to assist them in their work, and they love life.

Let me lay out our experience thus far.

Spencer and I had been looking for apartments here for months while we were in Provo, but it's a little town with few options. We finally called the bishop, who got us in contact with Lauren (our angel) who immediately started looking for openings and checking out listings that we had found. She gave us feedback and made what ended up being our ultimate choice happen. (I know that I said the place was sketchy, but she did warn us and suggested that it would work for the short three months that we would be here, and she was right) Anyways, after many emails and phone calls we got the apartment.

Then she asked us via email (while we were in Turkey) if we needed anything when we got here (furniture, dishes, appliances) because she would be willing to ask the ward if anyone had extras they could spare for the summer. We had actually decided to not rent a truck but to just fill our car with everything we could, we were planning on buying some cheap replacements instead of trying to cart them across the country, so we said that would be great. A few days later we hear back. When we arrive in Jacksonville there would be a bed (frame, mattress, and box spring), a couch, a kitchen table and chairs, and a set of dishes for us to use. Later, members would also contribute two bicycles, a toaster oven, a dvd player, and hair cutting supplies for Spencer.

So an HOUR after we pulled into Jacksonville, several cars and a truck showed up full of people and furniture to help us move in. We were filled with gratitude, and it was so nice to meet some people and not just wallow in the scariness that was our apartment.

The first Sunday: About 120 people were there. I'm guessing about 100 of them came up to us and introduced themselves that day. And asked us if we needed anything else. And we were invited to several homes for dinner over the following several days.

I am so grateful for the amazing love and generosity that we have been shown by the ward members here. I love being able to see Christ's love in action, and I know that He knew that we would need this ward this summer. The longer we're here, the more I know that I am going to hate leaving this ward in two months.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Team Jason

 While reading through my cousin's blog I came across a particular post that pricked my heart and made me cry. I'll let you check it out, but I knew I had to share. See my cousin's blog post here.

Sometimes I forget that other people have problems MUCH bigger than mine. And what can we do about it? We can help. So please, help if you can.

The Tale of the Super Sketchy Apartment That Turned Into Home

Ok, so I think it's time that I shared the story of our arrival in Jacksonville.

So we FINALLY pull into town, and we're on the right street looking for our apartment. We realize we've gone to far, and turn around. We realize that again we've gone too far, turn around again. Finally find it. It looks like this:

Doesn't really look much like an apartment building, does it? Ok, to set the stage, it's about 7 pm so the sun is almost set. We pull into this strange parking lot that we have finally realized is our apartment building. We try to call our landlord (he's supposed to meet us there) answer. We decided to go inside; maybe he's already inside waiting? So we walk in and this is the first thing we see:

Oy vey, talk about inspiring confidence. Not to mention the air smells heavily of cigarette smoke. Great. We go up the stairs and turn to see this:

Now, to be fair to us, this picture was taken after the walls were painted, the carpets cleaned, and about half of the lights had been replaced. Trust me, it looked MUCH sketchier when we got here. So we go to the very end of the hallway (of course) and it's locked. We knock, no answer. But there's a baby screaming somewhere to our right and some man starts yelling somewhere behind us. We went back outside, rather quickly, to wait.

I'll be honest, at this point I'm kinda freaking out. And the best word to describe it all was "sketchy". It was all sketchy. Spencer is trying to keep me calm, keeps hugging me and telling me it will all work out. Then some guys pulls into the parking lot. On a Harley. With a doo-rag and a leather jacket. I turn to Spencer and jokingly say, "Just watch, that's our landlord". A few seconds later, "Oh. My. Gosh. That IS our landlord!" I couldn't believe it. Granted, once he took off the jacket and the headband he was quite respectable looking (he's a lawyer in Springfield) but the first impression was just perfect for the whole experience. 

So he let's us in and shows us the place. He tells us that they've been working on it every night for weeks to get it ready for us. The only thing I keep thinking? "I hate to think what it was like before you starting working on it!" Slanted ceiling, nasty carpet, broken flooring in the kitchen. Spencer keeps looking at me, making sure I'm not going to have a meltdown. And then he asks me, "So, are you ok with this?"  I take a breath, close my eyes and tell him yes, we'll take it.

I've had a few people in the ward who have been to our apartment ask if we're ok (they thought it was super sketchy too) but now that we live here and have settled in it really doesn't seem that bad. At least as long as we're inside. We have some very interesting neighbors, and the building is still a little weird, but we've found our little piece of heaven. Our apartment is our sanctuary, and we love our little home.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What's A Girl to Do?

Yesterday Spencer was standing behind me, poking and pushing me randomly...

Me: Spencer, what are you doing?
Spencer: Loving you.
Me: Oh really? And how is that loving?
Spencer: Because it's from me to you.

Bah. How do I argue with that?

Oh how I love this man!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Warning: Lots of words, few pictures.

Phew. After 24 hours of traveling back from Turkey (including almost missing a flight. Like, they-were-closing-the-doors-as-we-ran-up almost missed the flight), we spent one day back scrambling all over the Provo area trying to get everything in order, packed, and taken care of, and then we started driving.

First of all, I just want to say that Spencer is an AMAZING packer. We packed our car just as full I thought it could ever get, and then we realized we left out an entire tub. Oy vey. But Spencer took some things out, rearranged, got the tub in, and then put everything else back in. I doubted, I didn't think he could do it. But he did. Props to the hubby.

I forgot to take a pic from the back, but trust
me, it's COMPLETELY full.

First thing you should know about our trip- no air conditioning. If you are ever going to embark on a cross-country car trip, PLEASE make sure you have functioning air conditioning before you leave. Luckily it was only mid-May so it was sweltering yet, but still. Luckily we were smart and packed a cooler full of ice and cold drinks. We used most of the water bottles more as ice packs than as drinks, but it made for a much more pleasant drive.

When we were in Turkey Spencer's mom told me about how they would always stop at Little America and get ice cream (50 cents!) when they would drive cross-country. As we got closer I kept thinking that we should stop and get an ice cream, but Spencer wasn't sold, he wanted to just keep going. But I kept thinking we should stop. So we stopped (isn't that just how it works with marriage sometimes ;) ). And as we pulled onto the freeway exit the car just shuddered and stopped. Yikes. Tried to start it up, it sputtered...and then died again. Yikes again. Tried once more, and finally the engine turned. Phew. But every light was one: check engine, check oil, and something was blinking. Luckily there was a mechanics shop but wouldn't you know it, they didn't have the equipment to find out what was wrong. And they wanted to charge 60 bucks to check the car. So Spencer decides to just check the fluids and see what he can find. Turns out there is not a single drop of coolant. Bone dry. $20 dollars a few minutes later the car is up and running. Spencer and I were extremely grateful that Heavenly Father was looking out for us. If we hadn't stopped we would have been stranded in the middle of nowhere and probably would have had to replace an engine. We definitely felt His hand and know that He helped us out of a potential disaster.

After we were confident that the car was ok, we enjoyed a little of Little America.

He may try to hide it, but he definitely has an inner child.

A huge, ridiculously cheap ice cream cone later and we were off again.

1,289 miles over 2 days (about 19 hours of driving) and we finally pulled into Jacksonville. Road trip: success!