Monday, December 15, 2008

The dangers of NOT wearing contacts

So you've all heard crazy stories regarding contact lenses, right? Maybe some of you have experienced the irritation of awaking to the realization that you slept with your contacts in. Your eyelids were somewhat sticky and reluctantly to open and your contacts seemed suctioned to your eyeballs. Or maybe you've dealt with the pain only true contact-wearers know of having a contact somehow crawl up your eye ball, under your eye lid to the tip-top corner of your eyeball, like it's trying to see what's on the other side. And, then there is the occasional eye infection due to lack of oxygen - no I'm serious. My eye doctor told me I had to stop wearing my contacts all day long because my eyes needed oxygen. So, on to the point of this post which has very little to do with contacts and very much to do with how inconceivably freezing cold it is in Minnesota. (I know. I know. We were warned.)

So, I've been wearing my glasses at least 3 or 4 times a week to give my eyes all the oxygen those little pupils can eat up. Today I discovered the dangers of wearing glasses. It was SO cold my breath froze on my glasses creating a thin layer of ice - not just fog - ICE. I thought it was bad enough that my defroster/heater decided not to turn on as I drove to work this morning and my breath created hundreds of ice droplets on the INSIDE of my windshield. But, no, I had to scrap, not just rub, SCRAP the ice off my glasses. Imagine me looking like this guy in the picture, except add a coat, a scarf, a hat, some hair and ditch the beard and mustache.

I found a quick solution of lowering my scarf to only cover my chin so it didn't detour any breath up toward my glasses. So, in the end, yes, my nose hairs froze together (quite an awkward sensation), but I could see past my glasses through the mostly iced-over window to the wind-blown, snow-covered streets of St. Paul, Minnesota. And, I arrived at work alive.

The lessons of the day:

1. Wear contact lenses on really cold days when you have to drive to work - NOT Glasses

2. Be grateful, once again, that I'm not a pioneer

3. Southern California, Baby!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Real People - Our Family

Today Pedro's great grandparents, Baldomero and Jovita, were sealed in marriage for eternity when Pedro and I performed the vicarious sealing in the St. Paul temple. It is so neat to know that this is our family being connected together, joined forever. I am so grateful for the knowledge of eternal families. I know that through temple work we can be with our families forever.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What it's all about

I am really enjoying my work at Goodwill-EasterSeals. Goodwill is like the DI of Utah, but it's Mission Services Division has several programs to help people overcome barriers to employment. Mostly, they help people with disabilities or people in poverty. The main value is to strengthen the family - a value I really identify with. One of the programs, the FATHER Project - helps non-married dads build relationships with their children and learn to support them financially and emotionally.

I love being able to use my skills to help an organization with such great programs. I work with the Director of Quality and Evaluation as a project assistant. Though lots of my work is tedious administrative organizing of spreadsheet data and editing policies, my supervisor, Andrew, is great at letting me take on more interesting projects. I recognize how I could use my public administration education to benefit this organization, even though as a lowly project assistant I don't always have the opportunity to do so extensively.

I edited the strategic plan for Mission Services. While the content had already been approved by the board, I was able to make some minor changes to differentiate between outputs and outcomes and how they should be measured differently. Though most of the things needing changed weren't going to happen that day because of certain deadlines, at least my supervisor knows I understand and can help with the strategic plan details in the future.

I am also the point person for our AmeriCorps program. I interview candidates - which is way more fun than being interviewed. I resolve their concerns. And, I anticipate designing and delivering some training materials and working on measuring certain outputs for the grant requirements.

What else . . . I get to organize a special event in December. Oh, and I added a couple of pictures with animation to a PPT for a staff meeting, and several people commented on how great it was. If they were so excited with a simple PPT I put together in 20 minutes, they would flip to see one of my Baker PPT with a running agenda and professional application of the so-fun animation.

Though my job is technically a temp position, today, Andrew, asked me to be on a committee for the annual company banquet that takes place next spring. So, they may have me stick around for a while. I am working with managers in several divisions, so, hopefully, I'll get hired full-time for something or other soon.

Anyway, mostly, I'm just happy to be using my skills working with happy people for a happy good cause.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I stopped doing dishes so I could come write this blog. For all of you who have a dishwasher, BE GRATEFUL. I am grateful for running water inside my house so I don't have to go outside in the freezing cold to get water. That said, I'm definitely, hands-down, no questions asked, amen and hallalujah, nuff said, getting a dishwasher when we are finished with law school. Or, I might consider moving to an enchanted castle where the dishes can sing, they can dance, after all this is France, and most importantly they wash themselves.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So, I'm pretty excited and I'll tell you why

The UPS guy came.

Why would I get so excited about the guy in brown, you ask? Well, he brought me my DDR substitute.

I always imagined my dark, too-freezing-cold-to-exercise-outside-unless-you-want-to-get-on-a-lung-transplant-waiting-list days in Minnesota filled with the joyous vibrations of DDR - Dance Dance Revolution. But, as I would have to buy a game system (perferably a Wii), a t.v., the game and a dance pad, alas, my budget told me it was not to be (graduate student loan payments being what they are and the popular ranks of unemployment being what they are, well, nuff said).

Then I found Dance Praise, a Christian version of DDR. The actual game is very similiar to DDR, except it runs off my lap top, thus, eliminating the need to buy a t.v. and a game system. I got the CD-ROM and the dance pad for $50 plus $10 for shipping. YES!!!

It doesn't have the same great songs as DDR, of course, but the Christian songs have positive messages. Also, the hard level seems easier than DDR's hard level, so I hope it will give me a challenge. But for only $50, I'm pretty excited. Oh, and for you VeggieTales lovers, there is a VeggieTales version of DDR, so kids (and kids at heart) can dance to Silly Songs with Larry to their hearts' content.

So, if any one wants to party, come on over and we'll DDR like there's no tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Prop 8 - Why such bitter accusations of religion? Let's think about logic and doctrine

The Logic

I have a read a few bitter articles of the response from the passage of Prop 8 (and others in Arizona and Florida) that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Opposers of Prop 8 criticize religion, churches and their members of being bigoted and anti-Christian because they take a stand to support marriage as defined by God. Opposers see support of marriage as discriminatory and hateful, which is just not true. Churches have nothing to gain from the world by speaking out for what they believe is right and true regarding the sanctity of marriage.

Does it make churches more popular? N0.
Do they receive any praise from the media or even the public, who they strive to serve? NO.
Did they receive anything but attacks for encouraging people to support Prop 8? NO.

So, why is this whole issue of homosexuality and same-gender marriage important to churches?

Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic.” In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach."

Another official statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches."

This issue tares at the heart of any Christian who genuinely loves people regardless of their choice to engage in homosexual activity. Christians don't want to have to choose between what God says will bring us true happiness (aka the commandments) and what is a genuine concern for many people with homosexual tendencies. But, when faced with the choice to protect the sanctity of marriage, the freedom of religion and the best interests of children, families and communities, we have to do what is right, not what is popular.

The Doctrine

Even many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have spokenly harshly against church leaders for encouraging its members to support Prop 8. Do members not understand or believe what they say they believe. I raised my hand to sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as "prophets, seers and revelators." While they aren't perfect as individuals, these men are called of God. They are seers - or see-ers. I don't believe any church leaders of any denomination make decisions like this lightly, particularly one of such magnitude as actively supporting Prop 8. But, our faith goes beyond believing that our leaders engage in deliberation and prayer. I believe that with such deliberation and prayer, our Heavenly Father gives them the gift of sight. They see things we don't see.

I don't want my faith thrown back in my face with terms like "blind obedience." My faith gives me the sight I need to be obedient. And by that obedience, I gain additional sight.

The adversary's PR tactics will never change truth.

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done" Joseph Smith,5232,23-1-401-8,00.html

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did you get a sticker? I wish I could get two.

I finally live in a place where my vote counts for something, where it is actually one of thousands (rather than millions) that could make a difference of which presidential candidate gets Minnesota's electoral votes. So, it was my privilege as an American citizen to cast a ballot.

This was one of the hardest voting decisions I've made. I only wish I could have voted for a candidate I actually wanted to vote for and who had a chance at winning.

I'm pretty sure Obama is going to win. I think he will be good for the nation - a uniter. I just hope that a democrat president with a democrat-majority congress doesn't wreak havoc on our national debt with inefficient government spending or appoint judges who will add to our already mildewy national moral conscience. And, I hope that the billions he will approve will actually improve education, environment, quality of life and world peace.

We wanted change. I hope we can accept responsibility for it.

GOD BLESS AMERICA! We don't deserve His blessing, but we sure need it.

PS. Fill up today. Pedro has a theory that gas prices drop right before the election and that they will go up again after it's over.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

$2.17 - No lie!

I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch break today. I treated myself to a chicken pecan salad sandwich from Arby's (highly recommend). I ate in my car with the windows rolled down (remember I'm in Minnesota) and felt a nice breeze as I read the Book of Mormon (also highly recommend). And, I filled up the gas tank at $2.17 a gallon - no joke. This is very exciting because it means that just maybe, maybe, maybe airfare will go down ever so slightly or, if it doesn't, it won't be too horrible for Pedro and I to drive back to Utah for Christmas. Pray the roads aren't too bad.

Another reason I enjoy my lunch break is that I actually have one (rather than an all-day break). I've been doing temp work at different companies around the St. Paul area for the past month. I've loved meeting people and making new friends. This week at Nexstar, I've met some great people. They are so NICE! The sad thing about making new friends at work as a temp is that tomorrow I have to say goodbye. I am a big fan of email and facebook. It helps me stay at least somewhat connected to all my favorite people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our Little Greenies

We like plants. Lots of plants.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Tuesday Morning Run

Tuesday morning means a 7 a.m. institute class, Parables of Christ, and a run along the Mississippi River. Here's what you might see if you were me. And, fyi, I ran in the cold rain last week, which is big for me because my sensitive ears don't do well in wind or cold. So, usually, if it's too cold, I stay inside and do yoga. I salute all you brave, diligent souls who run regardless the weather conditions. But, if you are like me, unless the morning looks like these pictures, I highly recommend for an indoor workout.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mall of America - This one is for my Grandma

One evening Pedro and I got slightly lost as we tried to navigate the highways of the Twin Cities area while looking for a green house (we like to visit nurseries and see the plant variety). We found ourselves near Bloomington and decided to check out the Mall of America, a destination which is on the top of many lists of people who find themselves near Minneapolis.
This place is enormous! It has way too many stores for the good of consumer debt. Pedro and I aren't big mall shoppers; we'd prefer a day in the mountains. But, it was neat to see some of the themes the restaurants use to attract slightly hungry shoppers: rainforests, Forest Gump, classic 50's look, etc.

Our favorite part of the mall was Lego Land. The giant lego displays were incredible! They have a big place for kids (big and small) to build whatever they want with legos.

For anyone who comes to visit us, we'll give you a tour if you'd like.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Wolfman and Apple Pie

This is the story about how to pacify a hungry wolfman with Dutch apple pie so that he will let you cut his hair and sing you love songs on the guitar.

The Wolfman appeared calm at first, then he began to get ravenously hungry. Thinking fast, Lisa presented him with her newest creation, a traditional Dutch apple pie (thanks Morwenna). The Wolfman was so ecstatic when he saw the pie, he ate it with a voracious appetite and a smile. Then, to her utter amazement, he let Lisa cut his hair - what trust. Then, the Wolfman got a great idea. He played the guitar and sang Lisa love songs. What a happy ending all because of apple pie.

(okay, so that wasn't exactly a completely true story, but I did make apple pie which Pedro enjoyed and he did let me cut his hair, which he didn't enjoy quite as much, but tolerated, and he did play the guitar and sing me love songs)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Game Night

We miss game night with our friends and family. We love you guys!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Famous Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is a BIG deal.

The fairgrounds are enormous. We went for less than three hours on the last night; now we know to go with enough time to see it all. The animals left the day before we went, but we saw lots of food - from cheese to bacon - on a stick, some of it chocolate-covered. We saw some of the neat displays from a walk-through butterfly house to the dairy building with real butter sculptures of the county princesses. The state brings in lots of big-name musicians, too. Though we didn't have tickets, Toby Keith was playing in the grandstand for all to hear, if not see. You should come visit us around the end of August next year. Who knows what you'll see.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our New Home

I was so happy to see beautiful flowers to welcome us to our new apartment. It's a two-bedroom split-level, so we have more space than we need right now, but it's nice. We had to fight off lots of spiders the first few days. One gigantic spider made an enormous web in the corner of our back door. I pretty much freaked out according to Pedro. It was about the size of silver dollar (and I'm not exagerating here; Pedro concurs). He killed it by hitting it out of its web with two oars and stomping on it a few times. I love having a husband. And, I finally got that piano I've been saving up for. It's nice being able to make music in our home. Pedro is getting good on the guitar, too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Our Way

Pedro and I packed our life into my little Mazda 626 and his Ford Ranger with a trailer and left the familiarity of Provo for the open road to Minnesota on Monday, August 18. We enjoyed visits along the way; grandma in Heber, mission president's wife in Vernal, great aunt in Nauvoo and cousin in Iowa. We slept under the glorified tarp Pedro made (yes, he actually sewed it together) in state parks or national forests along the way.

A morning hike in Dinosaur National Monument was our last Utah adventure before climbing slowly up the steep canyon roads in Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park. Camping and hiking in this park reminded me of family backpacking trips in the Uintahs and the Windrivers. We saw a mama & a baby moose, a fox, elk, lots of friendly rodents and a black bear at Mills Lake (across the lake from us, gratefully). Beautiful pine forests with reddish hues not from autumn leaves changing colors, but from the destructive pine beetle, covered the canyon walls. Park rangers thwarted our attempt to paddle our little kayak to camp on an island in the middle of one big lake. They said the island was privately-owned in the middle of this big expanse of federal land. Foiled!

We cooked oatmeal, ramen and soup in a cup on a little gas stove Pedro made from a pop can. PBJs and Wendy's value meal kept us alive, too. Though for more than one meal, we scarfed Sister Cranney's amazing zucchini bread. Thank you Hermana Cranney!

Goodbye mountains. Hello corn fields and big sky. Kansas had a nice visitors information center. That's about it.

We arrived in Independence, Missouri about 2:30 a.m. because we couldn't find the state park in Kansas, so we decided to sleep in our car. A good thing because a big storm raged that night.

The LDS visitors center in Independence was very nice. I especially appreciated the simple beauty of our temples after seeing the thick, twisted spiral of the RLDS (now Community of Christ) church's temple. Before we knew what it was, we joked it looked like the great and spacious building. No offence to the RLDS.

Liberty Jail had a special feeling of sacrifice, humility and revelation. A testimony that the three go together; whereas Carthage had more of a sobering feeling. Far West and Adam-ondi-ahman lay in the midst of beautiful rolling hills of farmland. I never realized how hilly Missouri is. We felt a sense of peace and quiet and waiting calm as if the disparity of the saints situation in the late 1830s dissipated with the wind.

Nauvoo was alive. We rode our bikes through the historic town visiting restored homes of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Lucy Mack Smith, John Taylor and others. Because the pageant had ended the week before, more couple missionaries occupied Nauvoo than anyone else, so we felt like we had the town almost to ourselves. The sunset over the Mississippi River glowed bright orange as the statue of Joseph and Brigham points to the west.

An endowment session in the Nauvoo Temple made our time there so sweet. The majesty of that sacred edifice stands as a memory to the sacrifice and dedication of the early saints. The beauty of the inner walls shows the simple beauty of the gospel of Christ and the glorious plan of happiness.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fishing at Vivian Park

Smiling cousins, barbequed hot dogs and baited fishing poles - what more could you ask for to have a great time at Vivian Park.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Brother, the missionary

My brother, Brycen, entered the Missionary Training Center. After three weeks of preparation in the MTC, he will live in West Virginia for two years sharing the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and eternal families with anyone who is willing to listen.

Being in the MTC brought back so many special memories of when I served a mission. We sang "Called to Serve," and tears came to my eyes. I feel so much love for the people I taught in Bolivia. Christ changed their hearts as they kept His commandments. I know that the message of the restored gospel is true. We are all called to serve God and share His message of love and peace and joy.

Go with God, Elder Mills!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Top of Timpanogos

Saturday, Pedro and I hiked to the top of Timp with my brother, Brycen, my dad, and a couple of family friends, Sharon Larkin and Gary Brimley. The wild flowers were incredible, so many varieties. It was my last hike with Brycen before he leaves on a mission to West Virginia. I loved chatting with him along the trail. We made our way down quite a bit shorter by sliding on our feet (or rear) down the snow fields - steep, a little scary, but exhilerating.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

We enjoyed Independence Day Weekend in El Centro, California and in Mexico. The long drive was worth it to eat authentic Mexican tacos with Pedro's grandparents in Mexicali on Thursday. They showed us old pictures of when they were teenagers. At 17, his grandma was absolutely gorgeous. She still doing pretty good. Later, we visited his other grandma, Nana Flora, who fed us way more than we were capable of eating. She loves to tell stories about Pedro when he would visit her as a little boy. She explained how his mom would dress him in spotless white shirts, shorts and shoes, but when he got to grandma's house, he was free to take it all off and run free. In the evening, we ate the traditional shrimp with Pedro's dad. After dinner we went to the stake center for a ward basketball game. Pedro got to see some of his high school friends and play basketball with his dad. It was nice to see family and friends before taking off to the cold north of Minnesota.

Friday, the fourth, we enjoyed a pancake breakfast with the ward in El Centro. Their ward does a kids parade with red, white and blue decorated bikes and lawn mowers just like we did growing up in Holladay. Later that afternoon, we headed out of the 110* heat into the mountains above San Diego for a camping trip. At night, from the top of a hill, we could see thousands of stars. I sang quietly to myself some of my favorite songs: "America the Beautiful" and "My Country Tis of Thee." The next day we headed to Ensanata, Mexico, where we enjoyed a boat ride in the harbor and shopping in the streets.

Going back and forth over the border so easily made me grateful for my citizenship. How blessed we are to live in a free nation. I LOVE AMERICA!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Island Park, Yellowstone & Teton National Park

It was so fun going back to our adopted Grandpa Dan's cabin in Island Park. I remember as a child feeding the chipmunks and the yellow-bellied marmots that lived behind the wood pile. The marmot doesn't hang around any more, but we did see beavers and otters in the Buffalo river (no fish) and a moose among the trees.

We enjoyed kayaking down the Snake River and mountain biking along the side. Brette brought her paints, and we rediscovered the relaxing joys of painting nature. One evening the guys fished on Henry's Lake while Mom took Brette, Kelsey and I to see Oklahoma in West Yellowstone. We had a blast and laughed all the way back to the cabin.

Saturday, Pedro and I saw Yellowstone and the Tetons, at least as much as you can see in a day. It was a great day for seeing animals. I think Pedro brings luck. We saw a bear, a wolf, a mama & baby moose, deer (about 15 feet away, no joke), elk, bison and about 2.3 billion mosquitos. And to add to our luck, just after we saw Old Faithful, a much bigger and less frequent geyser, the Beehive geyser, started to spout. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Worlds Apart

Pedro had a great time in Uganda, except, of course, that he missed me unbearably and swore to never leave me again. Fine by me; we can go together to see the world. I was so happy to have him home again, especially after two canceled flights.

He was using his computer science skills to set up computers and internet in a rural orphanage among other engineering projects. He taught the nuns who run the orphanage how to use email and how to make salsa. While he was gone, I spent some time in Mendon. Devan showed me how he gets the hummingbirds to sit on his hands. Brycen showed off his cloud-eating and tree-climbing skills. I'll never forget the gorgeous rainbows in that peaceful, quaint Cache Valley of mine.