Sunday, December 26, 2010

Recipe for a Great Christmas

Considering that our wedding is less than three week away, Christmas this year was kind of put on the back burner. That doesn't mean, though, awesome memories weren't made and gifts weren't given with love and tenderness. It was a smaller Christmas this year, but still full of joy and happiness as we spent time with family and friends, celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Here's my recipe for a Great Christmas:

#1 An epic Christmas Eve breakfast, filled with
Did I mention that I LOVE him? Okay, because I do. Def do.

#2 Annual Christmas Eve snowshoeing hike to Donut Falls up Big Cottonwood Canyon (it's time to hit the pavement again, because those hills kicked my fanny WAY too hard.)
It was the whole Fam minus one fabulous mama, as she thoroughly enjoyed some much-needed peace and quiet in a home deserted of needy children and husband.

Can't imagine why, can you?
Fact: We're nothing but a bunch of loonies.
Fact: Spending too much time with us could make you're
face look like this.
Fact: There's no hope for B. He's a goner.
#3 A pleasant Christmas Eve night out with the in-laws. The Johnson's treated us to a lovely dinner at Olive Garden and presents back at their house. Of course I was too lame to remember my camera to document such events. The evening was topped off with happy tears (in-laws presented me and B with our gifts: framed picture of the Salt Lake Temple and hand-made sign that read: Dreams do come true. Prayers are answered. Miracles do happen) AND a legit game of Uno. Ask me who won. Go on, ask me. Need you even guess- OF COURSE it was I ... Uno Champion of the Universe. Eat that Brandon Johnson. :)

#4 A happy Christmas morning, full of really awesome Mickey Slurps and morning breath. After about the first 30 minutes, I started to wake up and thoroughly enjoyed the new 55-200 mm lens B got me for my camera and license plate cover "Brigham Young University Alumni". Of course my gifts to B weren't nearly as exciting- slippers, clothes, and a gift basket full of Warm Vanilla scent (okay, for me to wear as a gift to him :) ) Am I lame? Possibly.

NOT these pics, though. They are the epitome of Christmas morning at the Shaw household. Epitome.
say cheese...

If there is anything I remember worthwhile from Kate Gosselin, it's this:

It may be a crazy life, but it's our life.

Ha. And so it is.
(just minus the 8 screaming kids, trendy blonde hairdos, and paparazzi bikini pictures.)
Ok, I'll stop.
For the record: I really REALLY liked that show, until it got very VERY sad.
I am so SO grateful for the family I do have and the eternal bonds we have to each other, which are the foundation to our happiness. We are not perfect. But we rely on the gift of the Gospel to keep those special ties strong and immovable. How excited I am to continue this legacy of love and strength with my amazing future husband and children.

Fact: Families can be TOGETHER FOREVER.

#5: A Christmas evening with the Birch and Johnson families. We gathered together at B's aunt and uncle's house for good food, games (including Seinfeld Scene It, Scategories, and a game called "Things". Unfortunately B won that one, with me coming in close second.), and laughing. I don't think there is anything better than gut laughing OVER and OVER again with the ones you love! I am so glad to be part of this great family- love them!

Last, but not least, ingredient for a GREAT CHRISTMAS:

#6 A good-night snuggle session and kiss, with the love of your life whispering "I love you." in your ear. I submit there is NO better way to end the season! ;)


Now the REAL count-down begins....19 MORE DAYS!!!!!!! And a post entitled "The up's and down's of wedding planning: How to keep a healthy sleep schedule and help your man STAY up and interested in wedding details for the next 2 1/2 weeks."
Bless his little patient heart. He's been a champion.

Happy New Year, because it is for us!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Engaged, why is it so fun?

For the female variety, there are certain days of our lives we plan and prepare for from the time we are little. I can remember many nights, lying in my bed, dreaming about the day the man of my dreams would get on his knee and ask me to marry him. Why is it that I still get a little mushy and my heart skips a beat when I hear these words from Taylor:

He knelt to the ground, and pulled out a ring, and said.....
"Marry me Juliet, you never have to be alone.
I love you, and that's all I really know."...

Oh goodness, even writing it makes me soggy inside.

It's because, getting engaged is lovely. Perfectly lovely. I know this now, because the man of my dreams knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring November 11, 2010- on a blustery Thursday afternoon. September 11th, being a day celebrated and cherished by Brandon and I, he thought it would be sweet to take me to eat at a little Greek place down the street during his lunch break. We chatted and chatted, and then headed back to his apartment to look at drawer space and potential couch placement (okay, you got me. We even had our date at the temple set. Always be prepared, right?) As we entered the apartment, B gave me a letter with my name on it. I looked at him a little surprised, then opened it up and started reading. As I got to the end, I read "Will you be my wife for time and all eternity?" Completely thrown off (really...truly), I gave a short squeak and looked up to find B on his knee with the ring.

It was sweet and straight from his heart. As he slipped the ring on my finger and I looked at him before smooching his face, I thought my heart was going to burst as it grew bigger and bigger with all the love and emotion I felt for this amazing person. (Cheesy? Yes. But that's my new life- full of love and cheese.) ;)

8 weeks. I have to wait 8 weeks until I can be married to my best friend. And, I CAN'T WAIT. Well, I can. But, I can't...but, I can. But really... I can't wait. We have picked January 14th, 2011 to be sealed and could not be happier.
(okay, hair is a little "skeewampus", but I feel no guilt. I'M ENGAGED!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BYU vs San Diego State

P decided he'd had enough of the Cougars and relinquished his ticket so boyfriend could accompany me to the football game. Brandon informed me that he didn't have one single BYU t-shirt. Of course, there was NO way he was wearing any shirt with an A on it in Cougar Stadium! (We needed all the help we could get. No distractions ;)) So, during a girl's day out, Nycole and I stopped by Walgreens and picked one up. And...dang. I just wanna kiss him.

In fact... I think I will.

Check out the girl behind us. Annoyed? Grossed out?
Or...totally in awe of how awesome we are. Yeah, I'm going with that one.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Let me catch you up.

Ever feel like you're living in a whirlwind? That's what the past 3 weeks have felt like for me. A whirlwind. Sometimes I look back and think "This is crazy! So crazy, crazy!"
It may be crazy, but it's mine.

On September 11th, I grudgingly walked up to my friend's doorstep to pick her up for The SLC Greek Festival downtown, which she wanted to do for her birthday. I was cranky. When I walked through the door, I noticed a boy and a girl that I recognized from my ward, but didn't know very well. I offered to drive and we headed downtown. After about a half an hour of being there, we decided to stand in line to get food. As we stood there, I noticed that my friend was gone. Great. I didn't know where she had gone, so I turned to the boy. Realizing this would be more awkward if I just stood there, I decided to talk to him.
I've been grateful for that decision ever since.

Dating is a funny thing. Usually I would say it's extremely stressful, confusing, and just plain hard. But this round has been fantastically easy. I love it. It's enjoyable, exciting, and fun! I never thought I would use those words, but I am. It's true. It has been a crazy couple of weeks, but oh so enjoyable. I'm constantly asking Brandon "Is this crazy for you? Are we going too fast? You let me know when this gets old, but FYI..... it's not getting old for me."

Who knows what the future holds, but I'm enjoying every minute.
Every. Single. Minute.
It's quite refreshing. ;)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thinkin' about something...

So, I'm thinking when Brandon and I were standing in line chatting it up for the first time at the Salt Lake Greek Festival, he did not imagine this:

That's right, I dragged the boyfriend to a HANSON concert. Actually, I didn't have to drag too hard, and it was really mostly the influence of Whit- Hanson's number 1 fan. When we first started dating, I warned him that W loves, LOVES Hanson. Of course his first response was "You mean the boys that look like girls?" Yeah....them. Anyway, when he met Whit the first night, she eventually made him watch one of their music videos. Then she asked if he wanted to come to their concert with us. He asked her "Is Hanson worth $30?"
Of course, her response to that is "That was hurtful."

He came anyway, that trooper of mine.

So, I brought W's new camera and she asked if we would take pics and film some songs. So, we're standing in the crowd, trying to figure out the light settings and this random guy comes up to us asking if he could take our picture. We didn't mind, so he grabs the camera and just starts snapping picture after picture while asking if we're stoked about the concert.

We didn't see him again, until...

Right then Brandon turns to me as I turn to him in total disbelief and says
"Um ... that's the guy that took our picture." Lead singer. Of the opening band. Right on.

After a couple of bands, Hanson came out and they were great! I mean that honestly- they were amazing. Def a good show. Def. I would go again. (W paid me nothing to say that.) I was even impressed with boyfriend for dancing to the tunes and taking pictures and video. Oh how lovely he is.
We saw Hanson in concert. It rocked.
And I like this boyfriend of mine more and more everyday. ;)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lovely. Simply lovely.

I think life is the best when it throws you something unexpected.

Like him.

Yeah, funny.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Going Forth to Serve...

I know that I said graduation post would be coming soon. I didn't expect it to take 4 months. Oh well. I was going through all my photos and realized there was no way to choose which ones to post.

I can honestly say that graduation was one of the happiest and most joyful moments of my life- besides some special experiences as a missionary. I can think of a couple of times in my life where I felt my Heavenly Father's love for me so pronounced and sure- this was one of those times. For those of you who have walked the grad march and experienced that small moment on stage where they read your name and you receive your diploma... there really is nothing like it. For some, it may not be a big deal. For me, it was awesome.

I remember my high school graduation. I remember the morning of: My grams was ironing my gown and I was complaining to my mom that I didn't want to go because I didn't feel like it was that big of deal. I complained that I had to pay $50 to rent the stupid gown and be escorted by some dumb boy who probably didn't even know who I was, and then sit through speech after speech while idiot kids threw beach balls, toilet paper, and made cat calls... and faculty tried to "graciously" reprimand them for the last time. I didn't want to do it. I graduated. I was done. Now on to bigger and better things- like Brigham Young University.

I have wanted to go to BYU from the time I was 5. As dumb as it sounds, it all started with a football game. My dad was invited to a BYU football game in 1984 (the same year the Coug's won the national championship) by a guy named Marty Sheide who's brother Gary was a player in the late 70's. Dad was so impressed and enjoyed it so much, he decided to buy his own season tickets and it's history from there. I have fond memories of BYU football games with dad. Especially the hotdogs and peanut M&Ms. ;) I remember when I finally learned what the game was about and how much more exciting it became. I looked forward to those drives to Provo so much, because it was just me, "the general", and a stadium of blue blood. As I watched the football players enter the field, my heart always gave a little jump and in my mind I always said to myself "I'm going here someday. I want to be part of this legacy." And now, even as I attend the first game of the season next week at Lavell Edwards Stadium and those players run out onto the field, my heart will still leap and I will say to myself "I am a BYU alumni. I'm glad to be part of this legacy."
(this is about 5 days after my surgery, so don't judge.)

I started as a freshman at BYU in the fall of 2003 spending my days in Deseret Towers T hall (which is now nothing more than a grassy hill). I remember I was in my white chevy cobalt, which was packed to the brim with stuff, and I drove past the sign "Enter to learn, Go forth to serve." Something inside me clicked and I remember thinking " This is just the beginning." Of course, little did I know there would be so much learning that happened outside the classroom. I was dumb, emotional, naive, and petty. I had a lot of growing up to do and I'm grateful for friends, roommates, and peers who were patient and helped me along the way. There was a time that I thought maybe BYU wasn't for me and came very close to dropping out. But, the Lord stayed by my side and my parents continued to encourage and uplift. Eventually, I decided to serve a mission and take a break from my studies. My mission was one the best decisions I have ever made in my life, and as I came back to BYU 2 weeks after I got home, I saw things more clearly and had a greater understanding of what my role was as a student and the opportunities available to me at this university. I would have to say the last 2 years as a student at BYU were the best. More fun, more friends, and more focus. I decided on my major in psychology and did well and found great success.

Officially, I graduated December 2009, but decided to walk in April. I moved back home to SLC and at the end of April, found myself back down in Provo for one last "hurrah". As me and good friend and also "high school grad buddy" Nycole walked up the ramp into the Marriott Center, we approached the tent under which President Samuelson (His first year at BYU was fall 2003 as well) and Elder Christofferson sat. They waved and we continued to walk with our professors lining the way. It was silent as they watched us and applauded us with their smiles. But, it wasn't until the moment I entered the building and I saw my mom and dad standing and clapping with smiles on their faces, the spirit overwhelmed me and a voice so clear and perfect whispered "You have made it. This has always been part of the plan." and this strong and definite feeling of love filled my heart and I could not help but let the tears flow freely from my eyes. I knew so strongly and clearly how much my Heavenly Father loved me and I couldn't deny it. As we were walking up the steps, I'm blowing my face with my hands and this girl looks at me and I hear her say as I pass her "Did you see that girl? She's really crying. Like hard." We had a good laugh over that one.

I am the first in my immediate family to graduate from college with a bachelor's degree. I am the first in my immediate and extended family to graduate from BYU, besides one aunt. As my parents and I sat at the graduation dinner in the Hinckley Alumni Center, dad got choked up and teary as he expressed the legacy I was leaving for those coming after. My graduation from BYU was a stamp on my passport of life. It is a major milestone that will have great effect on my future and I need to remember that and live my life reflecting what I have learned and become as an alumni of Brigham Young University.

I love BYU. I always will. Is it perfect? Well... I think I could def say a few things about University Parking and Bookstore textbook refunding policy. ;) But it is a great institution and one that I support whole heartedly. I am grateful for wonderful professors, students, and administrators who I have met and have helped me. I am grateful for roommates. I am grateful for friends. I am grateful for family who never gave up and helped me "stick it" to the end. Thanks for such a great ride!

Now what? Onto bigger and better things... and going forth to serve.

And now, the final project: