Recently, Mike and I discovered the local library. It is a gold mine of information. I checked-out several books on labor and delivery in order to educate myself more fully. I have spent the last week reading The Big Book of Birth by Erica Lyon. It has been full of little gems of information, teaching me what is going to happen to my body during labor and suggesting multiple ways in order for me to cope with the entire process. Surprisingly, as I read, my once epidural-determined mind opened up to the idea of natural childbirth and a belief that I really just might be able to handle the pain on my own, that it might be a Wonder Woman challenge I am willing to undertake. Until I read the chapter titled, “Pushing”. It was full of words and phrases like 15 minutes to 4 hours, ring of fire, watermelon-sized bowel movement, work, breathing, tearing, burst blood vessels, and episiotomy. It was full of pictures of suggested pushing positions that made me cringe in horror at the thought that I might have to replicate them. As a result, I have decided one of two situations will occur during my delivery. Number 1: Being pregnant isn’t so bad…my baby can just stay put and I will avoid this whole pushing thing altogether! Or number 2: Take advantage of technology and pray I am able to receive an epidural that lasts a very, very long time! Who wants to be Wonder Woman anyways? Her nemesis, Circe, had a much sexier costume.
Hey Friends and Family! Brittany really is better at this than I, so when she doesn't update, we end up falling off the face of the Earth. Sorry Blogger world, we've been very bad. Since I'm the one posting you'll have to bear with the lack of good writing, sunshine and butterflies.
Texas has been an interesting time of growth and excitement for us. We are so far away from family and friends, it's hard not to think about how we are going to make our way back to the mountains or the coast someday. Fortunately, almost all the restaurants that we loved back home and in California are here in Houston plus amazing additions of Tex-Mex and Southern Seafood which has made the transition way easier than expected. As long as I can find good food, I can live anywhere. So Brit settled into her new teaching job at Northshore Senior High and I had continued the job hunt and worked on improving resumes and cover letters.
You bored yet? OK, so here are some of the exciting things that have happened since we moved to Tejas.
Week Before Thanksgiving
Brittany and I are enjoying some sun at San Rafael beach, which is located about 3 hours west of Santo Domingo in Barahona. My mission covered a large span on the Western side, all the way to Haiti, so I couldn't miss the chance to go back to the places where tourists don't go. We got here by...
...a little Kia Picanto, which drove wonderfully and got us out of a lot of sticky situations. If you have ever been to developing countries, you know what I'm talking about. No one is really paying attention to that red light and the intersection is jammed with people going in all directions and the only way through is to muscle every inch you can. Not fun. I'm surprised I decided to drive in the first place and I'm surprised I didn't leave that trip with an ulcer.
We saw Crístobal Colón (Christopher Colombus) and the tomb that his remains are buried in. There is actually a disagreement between the Spaniards and Dominicans as to whether CC's remains are all in the D.R. or all in Spain.
We also saw an amazing print facility, one of those Marmon temples (way beautiful!), and an amazing sunset. It was way fun although it really was a culture shock for Brittany and even I was glad to be home after the trip. (It's so nice to be able to flush your poopy TP down the toilet)
From the warm D.R. we directly flew to SLC and made our way to Burley, Idaho. One thing that absolutely sucked about combining the two trips was packing for two seasons and staying under 50 pounds for each piece of luggage. You try it! Not to mention it was holiday traveling and we were flying international, it's a zoo at best. For real!
We went from this...
...to this in a matter of days. But I'm not complaining at all because we were well fed and well taken care of in both climates.
What I was most excited about wasn't the snow and it wasn't the uber-ginormous meal that beckoned me from Paradise...
...It was playing Uncle with Zoey and giving her whipped cream, which made her pucker up as if the sweetness of it really tasted sour. I couldn't stop laughing! Her reaction was priceless and I was chastised for being a tease, as always. We sure enjoyed playing together. It was the best two week vaykay ever!
Two Week Christmas Drive From Houston to Syracuse And Back
By December I was still looking for work, and even with a moderate 8.3% unemployment rate as compared to the rest of the U.S., It wasn't all that bad. I had about 5 interviews to this point in time but nothing was developing. So, when Brit announced that she was off for two weeks during Christmas we decided that a road trip back home to her family was in order. Brit's sister Madison, who is nannying in New York, found that a road trip from Texas would be a great opportunity coming home for the holidays; tickets into Houston were way cheaper than flying into SLC anyway.
So the three of us made the 30 hour, grueling trip back to Syracuse, Utah while making stops at scenic places along the way to break up the monotony. In all honesty, Arizona and Utah were the most scenic and best parts of the drive. West Texas was the absolute WORST part of the trip. Unfortunately, this was the best route to take back home due to massive amounts of snow in Colorado and luckily we only had some rain on the way there. Here are some of the photos that we took there and back:
Zions National Park on New Years Day
El Gran Cañón
8 months have passed since my last full time job and it wasn't for the lack of finding work. There are TONS of jobs here in Houston. Some have asked why I didn't go back to Target or look into retail while I looked for the job I wanted. My answer was always this, "If I settle for menial or ordinary now and always look for the easy path, sooner or later, I just know that I'll be too tired to try and too exhausted to challenge myself for something better." The easy has been way too tempting since I've been here and honestly I was going crazy at home, even with all my "toys" to help pass some time. I even tried to convince Brit for us to set aside 500 bones to pay a pet deposit at our apartment so that I could have a friend at home to keep me company. That didn't work out too well. So I decided to take on another type of animal that would get me off my butt and serve...Cub Scouts.
They have kept me busy and creative. Here is a video that I helped them make with an Always-Be-Prepared motif:
It's incredible how smart some of these boys are. They have been a lot of fun but 12 rambunctious boys can definitely make me tired after an hour and for the rest of the week. Now I understand why people in America think their kids have ADD and why they become Riddlin junkies. Little boys are just hyper, even the shy ones. It's sad that moms and dads will misdiagnose their kids so that they can have some peace and quiet. Soapbox moment. Right now we have 2 or 3 Den leaders for each den (Wolves, Bears, Webelos) to assist with the madness and we still hardly get things done when we want them done. We do have some great moments though and it's great to be able to teach little boys something valuable.
For the month of February we have had good news all around. Brit was named Teacher of The Month which consisted of student and supervisor approval. She is great at what she does and she loves it. She is ready for the summer though and ready to take the baby out of the crock pot!
We also had her 25th week checkup and we were hoping for another shot at the ultrasound to see if we were having a Lady or a Gent. FOILED AGAIN by the institution of stupid people! We were so upset and our mothers were so looking forward to the revealing. We decided to take matters into our own hands. A Sister in our ward is a ultrasound tech and she had helped others in the ward find out the sex of their babies, so we decided to petition her for help. She gladly agreed and took us to her hospital and within 2 minutes we knew that we were having a baby boy! I was thrilled! Here was the proof that were desperately waiting for:
My Y chromosome won out in the end and I couldn't be happier. Since Brit was raised with all sisters, she's not going to know what to do with a boy. She'll be amazing though, look how she has raised me!
To top off all the good news, I was offered not one but two job offers! Sometimes when it rains, it pours. Both are entry-level positions and start you off from the bottom up. One is called Consolidated Graphics, a commercial digital print giant, which holds a 3 year Leadership Development Program for post-undergrads. I was offered a spot in their Technology and IT department to work on web applications, software, etc. The other is called Rosen Inspection, an international pipeline inspection company, and they offered a position on their Data Analyst team. Yeah, they both may sound boring but they offer stability and growth which is so important to Brit and I. It's the reason we have moved to so many places; opportunity and growth. Both these offers can advance my career. Eventually I'll go back to school to do a Masters or MBA, but for the time being, I'm just going to savor these exciting moments.
It seems that every Sunday, at least one comment is made by one of the speakers about how they tried to discover a way to get out of speaking. And you know that they weren't successful because obviously, they are standing right there. Well, Mike did find a way to get our of speaking during Sacrament meeting last Sunday, and if I may say so, it was going a little too far!
This last Saturday was a busy day for Mike and I. I had a long day of work scheduled and Mike had a long day of golf planned with a few of the guys in our ward. During my 8 hour shift, I periodically sent texts to Mike, checking to see how he was doing during his game. Text after text, I received no answer. When I finally got home from work, I was a little irritated to find Mike laying face-down on our bed, instead of studying for his talk and Sunday School lesson. I jumped on the bed, poked him, and told him to roll over! After a moment, he did, and I was absolutely horrified with what a I saw!
His entire body was covered with these horrible, red, blotchy hives! Almost every limb on his body was swollen and red. He was very lethargic and sore. During the golf tournament, one of the guys had parked the golf cart on top of a ground bee hive and Mike had been attacked! He was stung at least sixteen times on his legs. It was later reported to me that he had been stung on hole four and continued to play through hole eighteen, even though by that time he looked like a rotten tomato. I quickly called his mom, who is a nurse, and found out that he would be alright, as long as he didn't have any breathing problems. He was in a lot of pain, which made me feel very sorry for him. I started giving him Benadryl every six hours. As a result, he slept from 7pm Saturday night through 2pm Sunday afternoon, conveniently missing his talk he was supposed to give during Sacrament Meeting on Sunday morning. Don't worry. A talk was still given in his place. By me.
I have always said that Mike is successful at whatever he endeavors to do. This little experience just more fully solidifies that idea in my mind. While others talk about getting out of speaking in Sacrament Meeting, Mike actually does. Amazing.
So, my use of "ya'll" in the title of this post is totally appropriate, because Mike and I are moving to HOUSTON, TEXAS! Even though it is SO hot and humid. We are so excited for this great opportunity and all the amazing things that have happened over the last few days. Most of all, we are grateful for the chance to be able to live in a place longer than six months and settle down. Over the last week, we got two job offers: one for Mike and one for me. The company that Mike is interning for right now, finally offered him the position we had been hoping for...and then I got offered a job exactly two days later. We had the hardest time deciding, because we were excited about both great offers. But after much thought, prayer, advice from wonderful parents and friends, and lots of nervousness, we decided to take my offer to teach in Houston. The school systems in Texas are incredible. Those of us who grew up on in the west have no idea how cheated we were! Their juniors and seniors are divided into "academies" based on where their career interests lie. I was hired to teach Anatomy and Physiology in the Health Science Academy...which I am so excited about because I will be able to use my minor in Health! Texas pays teachers about $18,000-20,000 more a year than Utah or Idaho, cost of living there is the lowest in the entire US, all moving expenses are covered, our health insurance is paid for by the school district for the first year, and I got an extra $5000 sign on bonus for being a science teacher! Not to mention that we would live only 20 minutes from the temple, instead of 3 hours from it like we are now. Mike is going to look for a job, which shouldn't be too hard because we were recently put into contact with the executive chairman of the chamber of commerce, and he confidently told us that Mike will be able to get a job there without a problem, and he is going to help. However, Mike will probably only work for one year (because he needs a bit more experience and Texas residency) and then start his MBA at Rice or Bauer the next year. Depending on what he decides to do, he should be able to have it finished within a year. He is very excited about it and thrilled for another adventure.
We are so blessed by the Lord! We have really worried about what decision to make, but were reminded by reading Joshua 1:9 to "be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Go Texas!
We are together again! Yea! I finally finished my student teaching in Utah and headed out to Cali to be with my hubby. It was a long three months apart, but we have really had some great opportunities. Student teaching was one of the hardest things I have ever done. When parents complain about their kids' teachers, I really don't think they realize all the work teachers do and all the challenges that they face. But I won't go there or else this will turn into a LONG post! Usually I spent about 60 hours a week working on teaching stuff. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time the end came. But I passed my student teaching experience, I officially graduated, and I passed my Praxis exams so I am done! Mike is still working away at his internship. We haven't heard anything about whether they are going to offer him a job when the six months are up, but we are hoping. They have dropped many, many hints so it will be interesting to see what happens. Mike really enjoys his work and has been told often that no one thinks of him as an intern, but as an actual employee, which is a huge compliment. Whether it works out or not, we know that this is where we are supposed to be and have no regrets!
There were a few highlights during the last three months. First, Mike and I became an uncle and an aunt! Liz and Zack had the most beautiful baby girl that I am absolutely in love with. Second, Mike and I were able to visit San Francisco during Valentine's Weekend. Third, I had the opportunity to do crazy things with my little sisters, which I have really missed. Fourth, I fell in love with Discovery Channel's Life series! Fourth and a half, Vienna won the Bachelor which is the most disgusting, horrible thing to have ever happened in Bachelor history. It was a complete disgrace. Fifth, Mike became the new Sunday School teacher for our ward. Sixth, my little sister Macy was the prettiest girl at prom. Seventh, I was offered three teaching positions in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah, none of which I am going to accept because I am holding out for one in Cali or Texas. Wish me luck! Eighth, I fell off my little sister's ripstick for the third embarrassing time and have decided to retire. Ninth, Mike played lots of golf and is getting much better. AND, tenth, we have been asked at every church meeting since we left Rexburg when we are going to get busy and have a baby. That has to be some sort of record!
So it is sooo like me to never do anything on this blog and expect people to know what is going on with us. Yeah, you can probably guess that this is Mike, because Brit is usually on top of this thing. However, since Brit and I are states away at the moment and I have the pictures, the fate of our social lives lies on my rusty fingers. After about a month and half being apart from Brittany, I have started to feel the effects of drifting away into nothingness and feeling quite by myself. It's true! There is nothing better than spending endless hours with your best friend. We do have Skype and everyday calls, but it just isn't the same and I'm missing my better half. So I give myself much credit on the most fantastic Valentine's weekend ever; I'm still patting myself on the back.
So Brit has been missing me pretty bad, and I admit that the feeling is mutual. For about 2 weeks straight she is wanting me to fly home and be with her and I tell her no-can-do. It's hard having very little time off and being way too far to make a round trip drive. She understands but lets me know that if I really loved her I would find my way there. Sound familiar to anyone? To my surprise, I get a tip that an uncle has a free plane ticket with Brit's name on it for whenever I wanted. So I decided to let Brit slather on the guilt while I held firm to my decision to stay put. She was clueless the whole two weeks prior while I planned a two night getaway to San Francisco.
I reserved a hotel, dinner, and a fun two days. So while she was wishing for miracles, I was creating them. Aren't I the coolest guy ever? I'm so smug right now, it's awful. Just to make sure the surprise works, I sent her a bouquet of roses just days prior with a note saying, "Why spend Valentine's all alone when you can spend it with me in San Fran". To her credit she thought the note was phony telemarketing ploy to get her to buy something, which is totally understandable because I'm so horrible at these type of things. She was so excited on flying out with only a days notice. And I was excited to make her happy.
I picked her up in San Jose, Saturday afternoon and it was AWESOME! Wow, I really missed her. We drove around Cupertino for a quick lunch and I had to show her where Apple HQ was. She then chatted my ear off all the way to the hotel where we got dressed for the evening. I had reservations downtown at a restaurant called Zare at Fly Trap.
I know that sounds really weird but the food was really, really, really good. It serves Mediterranean style dishes with a touch of Persian influence. I was a bit nervous honestly because this was the type of place where wine is the main money maker. If you don't drink wine, you save your self about $100 dollars and make some servers quite upset due to way smaller tips. I was relieved with the great service and great food. Brit had grilled Moroccan-style salmon with toasted fregola, blue lake green beans and charmoula while I had lamb shank, black-eyes beans, fingerling potatoes and some torsi. The meat was extremely tender, it was so good. Mmmmmm.
Afterward we walked down to the bay and took in the nice brisk air. It was 55 degrees and clear night skys. We decided that The Lovely Bones would be a nice way to end the evening before we called it a night.
The next day we decided to see everything that Brit has never seen before. I'd had been to San Fran before back when I was in Jr. High but this was Brit's first. So we went to the Conservatory of Flowers and walked around Golden Gate park.
We then went to go see some of the redwood near Sausalito. It was packed on the road so we decided to return on another time. We did get out and take pictures of Golden Gate bridge and expensive ones at that. I didn't think about having change on me, who has change anymore these days anyways? People that live in the bay area thats who. Because I didn't have $6 for the toll on the way back over the bridge, they charged me $31 to get through! Needless to say we didn't attempt to go back over to see them trees!
Finding parking downtown is impossible, although pretty fun on those hills. After much stress, we parked near Fisherman's Wharf and got some good seafood dinner. I then decided to joy ride and drive down the beautiful coastline along the 1 . The rest of that evening was maniacal! We tried to find Baskin Robbins that didn't exist, google map app said there was one in Half Moon Bay which was lie, and my clutch decides to lock up on a hill 10 minutes from the hotel. Where did the karma go? I did finally get the car shifting and we found a Baskins so the night ended up alright after all.
All I can say is that Valentine's weekend was extra awesome for both Brit and I. Hopefully soon we'll have Brittany back posting some good entries, she probably could have given this one with a little more tact and a lot more lovin. G'nite!
So I thought I'd add a little something to the post, since the blog is really Brittany's strength. As I was listening to Christmas music to and from Idaho Falls this winter, I thought It would be appropriate to make a montage of Christ and send it out as a Christmas card. It would be our first one in almost 3 years of marriage and I thought I owed it to all my family and friends. I would have posted it earlier but i have been enjoying, oh so much, this break with being graduated and all. I did make this after school was out though and I wanted everyone to have their own copy but that came with challenges of it's own and It didn't send like I thought it would. So i have been trying every available means to get it out, with Facebook, personal visits, and now this blog. We want you all to know that we do think upon each and every one of you and hope that your doing well and that your dreams are coming true.