Thursday, May 13, 2010

Syracuse, NY

Last weekend was one of my favorite trips we have taken so far. Is that okay to say? Again, this one was pretty last minute. We called Aunt Beth, Thursday night and hopped on a plane the next day. We were so glad that she had the weekend open! It was such a wonderful time for me to get to know the famous, beloved Aunt Beth a little more, and I can see clearly now why she has such a special place in the hearts of Dane and his family. Beth is my father-in-law's older sister. She has never had children or married and has truly taken her nieces and nephews under her wing as her own. She is an unwavering example of strength, courage and faith. We love you Aunt Beth!

So, for those of you who don't know, Syracuse is about 60 miles from Palmyra, NY. We took a little day trip there on Saturday and had a chance to see the historic sites for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have not been there since my parents' mission and it was wonderful to go back. In a way, I think because they served there, a part of me really feels at home in Palmyra.

Here are some of the highlights from the sites:

Here I am with Aunt Beth at the top of the Hill Cumorah

Going into the Sacred Grove

For lunch, we stopped at the best place to eat in Palmyra, Nima's. Dane's sister, Emalei server as a site sister missionary in Palmyra and Aunt Beth said it was Emalei's favorite place to eat.

We ordered calzones and needless to say, they were HUGE!

Here is the Grandon Building where the first edition of the Book of Mormon was published. Unfortunately it was closed the day we were there because someone was filming a movie, but we got a picture just for fun.

Next, we stopped at a small grave yard in town and visited the grave of Alvin Smith. This is a headstone that the Church made as a memorial.

On the back side of the new headstone you can see where they put the original one.

Martin Harris home

We took a short little detour to go visit the Palmyra Temple. We didn't have enough time to do any work inside, but Dane had never been here before, so it was nice to see.

We walked around the back, and here is a picture of the stained glass window coming from the celestial room. It was really windy and cold, so we ran back to the car pretty quickly.

This is an inside view of the Peter Whitmer farmhouse where the Church was organized on April 6, 1830.

Outside view

Saturday night, Dane, Aunt Beth and I stayed up really late looking at old photos from the Smith family from past generations. Beth had endless stories to share and it was wonderful to get to know more about where Dane came from. Beth has taken upon herself the role of "family historian", and let me just say, she is an All-Star. She really knows her stuff.

Thanks for a great weekend, Aunt Beth!

Washington DC

For the last weekend in April, I had been told that we would be traveling, not to get a job for Friday, to pack clothes for warm weather, and that I was not allowed to ask any more questions. End of story. I wouldn't know where we were going until we got to the gate at the airport.

For those of you who know me, this was really hard! I love, Love, LOVE figuring things out, and to my husband's dismay, I love prying for information about secrets. He was pretty rock solid on this one though, and I have to say that I was totally impressed.

At the airport, through security, we stopped at some seats and Dane handed me my travel package. It was a Continental Airlines folder filled with papers confirming our hotel reservation, a print out of the weather forecast for the weekend, a map of the Metro system, directions to get to church for Sunday, and a complete list of famous sites to see, such as the Mall, every kind of Smithsonian you can imagine and more, historic monuments, and even info about the National Art Museum in Washington D.C.

I was totally shocked! When he said "Bring clothes for warm weather, and oh, yeah. You might want a bathing suit." East cost was ruled out of my mind. We had to be going somewhere in California or something....Way to go Dane. It was a wonderful surprise!

So I wanted to show you all some pics from our adventures. The weather was amazing. It was hot. Actually, maybe a little too hot. But we soaked in as much sunshine as we could.

Here is a nice view of the Jefferson Memorial:

As you can see, it was very bright! This was the best I could do to keep my eyes open for a picture. Washington Monument.

WWII Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

F. D. Roosevelt Memorial. This was one of my favorites. Lots of pretty waterfalls, stone walls, benches and gardens with inspiring quotes from FDR etched into the stone.

Lincoln Monument

Walking up to the Lincoln Monument...wait, is that Nacho Libre or Captain America waiving that American flag?!?!

US Capitol

On to the Smithsonian Museums. Can I just say it is amazing that they are free. So great. here I am in front of Julia Child's kitchen. Love the aqua.

Of course, we had to go see planes, right?

A way awesome mural at the Air and Space Smithsonian

Look what else we found? The FAA office. A bitter-sweet moment for Dane. :)

Thanks to Abbie who lived in DC for a while after her undergrad for recommending this great pizza place. How could our travel blog be complete without food right?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two Trips to Salt Lake

The weekend of April 23, Dane and I were in the airport with our bags packed and ready to fly to California, but because of a last-minute-scheduled doctor's appointment, we raced across the terminal to catch a flight to Salt Lake. We were sad not to be going to see our beloved friends in Santa Rosa, but very excited to get back to Utah to see so many people. We were able to visit our ward in Provo and spend much needed time with family.

Dane's doctor's appointment was Monday. He got both his back and leg x-rayed, and to our relief there was no problem with his back. His leg however, created a little more of a comical picture. In the x-ray you could easily see what was creating the strange lump behind his right knee. It looked like a finger had decided to grow right out of his leg. "That'll have to come off." Is what Dr. Myers said, and so we have an appointment to get a specialists diagnosis in June after we move back.

That afternoon we couldn't make the last flight back to Houston, so we caught the first flight home Tuesday morning. We were so grateful that the managers at Dane's work were so understanding! Thank you!!!

As we had a little extra time in Utah, we were able to be there to interview for a job as a managing couple of a singles' complex. This is a job that we have had our eyes on for the last year or so, and it was a miracle that we could meet with the owners of the complex on such short notice. Even though this job didn't ever really seem like something that was "so us", I had felt so strongly about perusing it. I knew it would be a great opportunity.

The interview went well, and I spent the next few days emailing back and forth with the owners about my resume, Dane's resume...etc. The owner mentioned that she liked my panda shoes that I had been wearing at the interview, and as it also came up that I was an art teaching major at BYU, she let me know about a position that was opening up in the fall for an art teacher at a local elementary school. She didn't know if I was interested but thought she would just let me know.

WOW! I was stunned. I was so excited. I put in my application within the next two days. I couldn't sleep, I was so excited and so grateful that she would be so thoughtful as to share that with me. Being in Houston, I have been a little disconnected from the job market back in UT. I have a job waiting for me when I get back, and I guess I had just let my dreams of having my own classroom someday slip into the back of my mind. Even thought that is what I really want to do, it just seemed impossible to find what I was looking for: full time, in Provo. And there it was. WOW.

So by the time I had everything in, we had been home about a week (and we had gotten word from the apartment complex owner that they had chosen another couple for the managing position). So, now it is Tuesday again. The teaching job closed on Friday. Friday afternoon (2 weeks after we left for SLC the first time) I got a call from the Principle at Edgemont Elementary. He wanted to know if I could come in for an interview on Monday. Dane checked the space available for the weekend, there was room (miracle!), I said, "Of course!" And Dane and I packed our bags and were out the door within the hour.

So just like that, we were off to Utah again. This was actually a great weekend to be in Utah. Dane's buddies from his freshman year had planned a reunion in Provo for Saturday night because a lot of them graduated and we were able to make it! Here are a few pics of the gang:

Also, Dane's great-uncle Grant Bangerter passed away earlier that week and his funeral was Saturday morning. It was so good to be there for both of those things. Dane's mom, Dale and Leisa, and lots of other family had come in town for the funeral, and it was wonderful to see them. The funeral services were beautiful and It was inspiring to hear about what an influential church leader and missionary that Uncle Grant had been.

Dane flew home Sunday night and I went into my interview Monday afternoon. I felt really good about it, and got pretty excited talking to the principle about the kind of art program they had in mind for the students at Edgemont. The said they would let me know within about a week, I said goodbye and put the rest in the hands of the Lord.

There have been times in my life when I wanted something so badly and after sincere prayer have not gotten them. Looking back, I am grateful the Lord is in control, and with those experiences, I felt a lot of peace about the teaching job. I knew that whatever happened, the Lord's will would be exercised and that He really knew what was best.

The next day, as I waited for Dane to pick me up at IAH, I checked my voice mail and almost dropped my phone when I heard the voice of Dennis Pratt, the principle at Edgemont, saying he wanted to talk to me more about the position. I called him back, and to my delight, was offered the job!!! I cannot tell you how grateful I am for this opportunity. It really is such a blessing. It all worked out so well. I never would have heard about the job if we hadn't interviewed for the management position. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
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