do what makes you happy. be with who makes you smile. laugh as much as you breathe. love as long as you live.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Year In Review: 2011

A great blogger and friend posted the idea to do a Year in Review and Link Up blogs to share your year; triumphs, challenges and growing experiences. I just had to join in on the fun! Plus, I've been meaning to update, and now is as a good a time as ever!

My first word of 2011 was "Yes!" all in response to my best friend asking me to be his wife. I couldn't think of a better way to begin a new year. And with that one word, a crazy year began, one that was difficult but oh so rewarding and one that I would never, ever change. (If you haven't, check out my post of how Ray proposed) here:

The first weekend in February was the first time I got to see Ray since we had gotten engaged. Needless to say, that was the highlight of my month! In other news, I started getting the hang of my social work classes, and began making friends that made the dull classes more bearable. Slowly, oh so slowly, I began planning a wedding. (I imagine planning a wedding is a lot more fun when your fiance is actually in the same state as you, I'll never know now though!) :)

I got to go visit Ray in California for a second time! I was able to be there for his birthday, which was exponential fun. I got him silly gifts we spent another long weekend laughing, sightseeing, and wedding planning. This time we through in some engagement pictures too! Gotta love them photobooths...

This month, school got a lot more stressful, work was killing me, but Ray got to come to Utah for Easter! This meant that my extended family was finally able to meet him, (what a relief! I don't think they believed me he was real for a moment there! "No I swear! We met in Russia!" "Riiiight.....") Also in April I watched a very dear friend be sealed in the temple to her sweetheart, and got to spend an evening enjoying time with other old friends at such a beautiful occasion.

I proved that you can make it through school even while being engaged!!! Finals came and went, I ended up getting straight A's! Had Ray been in Utah, this probably wouldn't have been the case. Always look on the bright side of life, right? With school finally over, I felt like it could be crunch time for wedding planning. I flew to San Diego to meet up with Ray for a wedding of one of his old friends. (2011 could aptly be called the year of "I Do"). We got to meet with the caterer, floral designer, and the wonderful couple who loved Ray enough to give us their backyard for our reception. We also got our marriage license on this trip and reveled in the fact our marriage was only a month away.

At long last, a Wedding! On a beautiful day, in the beautiful San Diego Temple, we were sealed for time and all eternity. After the best day ever, we peaced out to Mexico to spend a blissful week together on a cruise ship. What a blast! Here we see me crackin' up at something Ray said, who knows what, next to an awesome towel monkey we came back to one evening!

After flying back to Utah for another reception, and a rockin' 4th of July with family, we packed up our rental with all (okay, maybe only most) of my stuff and headed for California! My first out of state move! A long drive and some old radio classic tales later, we arrived safely at our new home. July is also the month I decided I wasn't going to get 39 credits from a Bachelors degree only to stop and take a year off to gain residency and risk credits not transferring over. Hence, I switched my degree to Sociology and signed myself up to take online classes through the U of U. At this rate, I will be a college grad come next August!

Here is my younger brother trying to cram himself into our already packed car so he could sneak away to CA with us :) I miss him!

I began to establish a routine and network myself with friends and the area. Coach the masters team at 5AM, swim, online classes all day, cook dinner, spend my evenings with my new hubby. Life was (and still is, actually) great! I discovered in August that I absolutely love to cook and bake. Having my own kitchen was a dream come true! I believe I went the first three months of our married life without repeating a recipe, and I was having the time of my life! Once school started demanding more though, it was back to standards like meatloaf at least every other week, or crock pot mac n' cheese! Here we are building a new addition to our kitchen so I could have a little more counter space. :)

School got more stressful, and I started to feel the wear of being in an unfamiliar area with few friends, and family around to spend time with while Ray was at work all day. Fortunately, the Lord always answers our prayers, and mine were answered through receiving a calling in our ward that introduced me to so many people, and also in the form of my sister-in-law who lives down the street. With new friends, a supportive and understanding husband, and a loving Heavenly Father I made it through a trial of self-doubt. The other thing about September, was that I realized just how much I missed the mountains in Utah! Fortunately, we were invited to a camping trip with my father-in-law to his hometown which is in gorgeous Greenville, far, far northern California. My craving for mountains was satiated.

I attended my first trunk-or-treat, and Ray fulfilled a life dream of making a plaster, skeleton mask. We had oodles of fun rubbing vaseline all over his face so we could layer the plaster on and then peel it off easily once it dried. Ray then painted the mask himself... such talent!
Not surprisingly, Ray won our wards' Scariest Costume Award. He was thrilled :)

November was a bitter sweet month (like bitter-sweet chocolate! in the end, you're still getting chocolate). We didn't go to Utah for Thanksgiving, so it was my second away from my family. However, we also avoided snow, huge bonus! I made my first Thanksgiving turkey, which actually turned out really well, I was most pleased with the dinner I put together :) On the 11th of November, my dad remarried. Although I wasn't able to attend, I know he's happy, which makes me happy in turn. Another highlight of November was getting to spend time with Ray's dad and stepmom. They invited us to their home for a day of... hard labor? :) The couple is amazing and working towards complete self-reliance, so while Ray helped his dad put up the walls of second greenhouse, I helped his stepmom uproot her harvested garden and prepare the dirt to be repotted next spring. The long day of work was so rewarding and the company was the best you could ask for!
That's right, I hauled every one of those buckets full of dirt across the yard, then emptied the dirt and tore the roots out of it to prepare it for next year!

This month has been so much fun. Ray and I had a blast trying to hide gifts to each other around the house, and continually hunting for the perfect one. We spent time with family and worked on remembering Christ each day through the many blessings we continue to receive. Our Christmas Eve was spent celebrating our 6 month anniversary, and Christmas Day was spent enjoying each others' company plus some family and new friends for a delicious dinner. It couldn't have been better! To end our fantastic 2011 Year, tomorrow we leave for Disneyland, so we can spend New Years Eve there and go full circle from one year ago when we began our crazy, most excellent adventure together. Can't wait!!!

Time to post your own Year In Review!
I linked up with: