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Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 By the Numbers

Anyone else feel like 2009 flew by crazy fast? Matt and I had been waiting for that magic number for (literally) years, and now that it's come and gone we can hardly believe it. So, just to help ourselves come to grips with the fact that it's almost over, here is our...

2009 by the numbers:

(This picture basically sums up our year! Matt, me and a plane. This one happens to be in France.)
The year began in Dallas, Texas, where Air Force had just taken on Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl and we spent our 3rd January 1st together.
In the beginning of the year, I worked over 900 hours in 5 months at my job as a marketing communications specialist. My paychecks funded enough flights to Matt for me to earn 3 more free round-trips with Southwest. After a 7-year hiatus, Matt returned to the world of track and competed in 4 sprinting events--the 100, 200, 4x100 & 4x400. At the MWC championships, he placed in each event, set 3 new personal records and brought home 1 bronze medal.
The next week, Matt completed his 7-year plan (redshirt, mission, USAFA) and graduated from a top-10 engineering program at the United States Air Force Academy. He was concurrently commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. We danced the night away at the Graduation Ball to celebrate.
Then, our 21-month engagement ended and was succeeded by (nearly) 7 months of marital bliss. The grass is definitely greener on this side of things! June 2, 2009, was the big day that marked the end of our 731 day countdown and the beginning of our forever.
It also marked the beginning of our
26-week-long life as nomads, during which we covered 23 states, 2 continents and 6 countries (that includes our trip to Europe which I PROMISE to blog about SOON!). Since the big move-in this month, we have spent a mere 12 days in our own house. We unpacked 67 boxes and still have more to go. Little by little, though, California is feeling more like home.
(The dark states are the ones we visited in 2009 alone. I started kidding that we were trying to visit all 50 states in our first 5 years of marriage. Now, I'm not so sure that's a joke!)

To sum it all up, 2009 was such a fun adventure!
We can't wait to see what 2010 has in store. Any predictions from the gallery? We have a few ideas... some that we might even share with you :-) Actually, we have a lot to share with you as soon as I recover from the holidays. So stay tuned--and until then, happy new year to each of you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." -Isaiah 9:6

(Art by Liz Lemon Swindle)

We are so grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ and for our testimonies of Him as our Savior and Redeemer. At a time when so much hardship abounds in the world, our appreciation for His Atonement and our membership in His church increases daily. The gospel brings so much peace and joy to our lives, and we hope you can find that same happiness through Him today and throughout the new year. We love all of you and wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Meet me at Alaska

At least every other week for two-and-one-half years, I flew into the Denver International Airport to spend the weekend with my handsome fiance in Colorado Springs. DIA's arrivals pick-up area is constantly busy so we found a way to avoid the traffic and, in the process, established a little tradition all our own.

Rather than deal with the busyness below, Matt would pick me up on the departures level--at the Alaska sign, to be exact. Consequently, every pre-flight phone call would end with an "I love you" and the now-familiar phrase: "Meet me at Alaska." And without fail for two-and-one-half years, Matt would be there at Alaska, waiting patiently with a smile on his face and a single rose in his hand. It was incredibly romantic and will always be one of my favorite memories of our courtship.

(From one such Alaska meeting about a year ago.)

This past weekend, Matt and I enjoyed a visit to our much-beloved Colorado Springs. I flew out on Thursday and Matt joined me on Friday night... which meant for the first time ever in our relationship, I got to pick HIM up at DIA. As you can imagine, I was pretty excited for the role reversal. And when Matt got off the plane, I was there at Alaska, waiting patiently with a smile on my face and a single rose in my hand.

The roles may have been reversed, but the moment was every bit as perfect as I remembered. And those butterflies I used to get the second I caught a glimpse of my Mister waiting for me? They were there, too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A night in Whoville

Last week, Matt and I went to see the Broadway rendition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical at Pantages Theater in Los Angeles.

It was such a riot! Familiar Hollywood faces were in the cast and the Grinch himself was phenomenal. We were laughing throughout the entire play and, dare I say, it was the first time we felt like Christmas was actually coming in the Golden State. Here's to the Whos!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Twist ties to the rescue

Unpacking has been a bit of an adventure. Since the movers packed everything up from a room/garage rather than a whole house, their packing logic was a bit sporadic to say the least. (Nevermind the fact that said room/garage was organized according to future rooms to make it easy.) Somehow they managed to pack every box similar to the way they packed this one--marked "Towels," containing: one beach towel, one comforter, one electric knife, three books, five t-shirts. I am not even being kidding.

This has not only created numerous headaches over the past few days, but it has also posed major problems when trying to get to a few key items. Like, say, shower curtain hooks so that we could take showers. Prior to being packed, they were nicely kept in the same box as the shower curtain, soap dispenser, toothbrush holder and tissue box cover. While unpacking, we found each of those things in separate boxes, none of which contained the hooks. So out of desperation, we came up with this solution and were able to go out in public with clean hair and shaved legs (well, for me anyway):

Three days later, we found the shower curtain hooks inside of a tiny ProActiv box addressed to my sister, wrapped with packing paper, in a giant box in the kitchen. Naturally.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's a miracle!!!

We have a house!!!

After 6 months and 2 days of an extremely nomadic lifestyle, Matt and I finally have a place to call home. Merry Christmas, right? It definitely feels that way as we unpack boxes and boxes and more boxes of things that we forgot we owned in the first place. Pretty sure we won't need to buy any more shoes or clothes for the next decade. And speaking of clothes, I'd like to introduce you all to the newest love in my life:

It's called a dresser, and it's a truly amazing invention. I love it almost as much as I love the man who helped me put it together at 11 p.m. the night we moved in.

(And almost as much as our new neighbors probably hate us for that late-night hammering.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Half a year...

Last week, we celebrated our 6-month wedding anniversary. I swear, time flies by so fast! It feels like it should be September, not December. Although, that might have something to do with the fact that it's 75-degrees and sunny around here instead of 25-degrees and snowing. But anyway, as I was saying, 6 months of marital bliss...
We had high hopes of celebrating it in a home of our own but alas, after 6 months of marriage we were still homeless. So instead, we found ourselves in the high-class lodging on base, drinking sparkling cider from plastic cups. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have! Might not have been as extravagant as our 100 Days celebration but we enjoyed it all the same :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Savior of the World

My absolute favorite thing to do to kick off the holiday season is attend the play Savior of the World at Temple Square. It is a beautiful musical that testifies of the Son of God and His divine mission. According to the director, "The purpose of the production is to testify of Jesus Christ. During the Christmas season, Savior of the World provides a meaningful opportunity for all to remember His birth and resurrection and renew their devotion to Him." What better way to begin this time of year than by doing just that?

Our favorite brunettes, Sterling and Alicia, came with us again this year. It's been an annual tradition of mine for years, and we plan on continuing it with the Clarks for many more to come! And if you live anywhere near Salt Lake City, we highly suggest going to this play at least once--if not every year as well. It's so easy to get caught up in our busy lives and all of the commercial & social aspects of the holidays, and we love the focus that attending this play gives to the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Jazz--from a whole new perspective!

I've watched countless games on TV, I've been in plenty of nose-bleed seats, I've experience the NBA semi-finals from the lower bowl, heck--I've even WORKED for the Jazz... but I've never seen them quite like we did last weekend! My uncle Brian has season tickets with the Legacy Club in the 3rd row, and my cousins Kyle & Michelle invited us to tag along. And let me tell you, it's a whole new game down there!
You can hear the coaches talk strategy during time-out, understand every last complaining word uttered to a ref, and see teamwork in action like never before. If you were (un)lucky enough, you could probably even catch a few drops of sweat from the players as they run by. It's like basketball heaven.

Oh, but the fun doesn't stop there--in fact, it doesn't start there, either. Before the game, the Jazz host an amazingly delicious gourmet dinner atop the arena complete with incredible views, lobster, filet mignon, salmon, Shirley Temples, and not one but TWO dessert tables to help satisfy your stomach. And if that wasn't enough, there's a mini-version during halftime as well!

Needless to say, we had a great time. So great, in fact, that the next morning I rolled over in bed and felt something around Matt's neck--his Legacy Club ticket from the night before. Yep, folks, he liked it so much he slept with it on. I love him. And we love sports. Obviously.

Matt with the same ticket I found around his neck the next morning.
Thanks again to Brian & Sharla for the tickets, and to Kyle & Michelle for the good time! We love you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Beyond the turkey

My aunt Steph hosted dozens of us Grafs at her house for the big feast. (Luckily, Lisa and I weren't the only cooks!) We had such a fun time chowing down, watching football, eating Shaun's legendary pies, playing freeze tag with the puppies, and mostly just catching up with everyone. Love being a Graf!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Tale of a Turkey

Once upon a time (okay, just a few days ago), Matt and I were staying with my aunt Lisa & uncle Jay down in Cedar City for the big Graf Thanksgiving. So fun! Matt spent Thanksgiving morning with Jay & Shaun on the golf course while I spent it with Lis in the kitchen. Cooking our first turkey. Ever. And let me tell you, it was mighty entertaining.

We are not gourmet chefs by any means, but we are intelligent human beings who can read directions. So how hard could it be? Well... let's just say I have a bone to pick with the Butterball label writers. In the meantime, however, enjoy the play-by-play.

Step one: Drain the turkey.
So far, so good. Kind of.

Step two: Remove plastic bags with neck and giblets from turkey.

Okay, A) What exactly is a giblet?
And B) Why on earth did they put it back inside the turkey?
Oh, and C) Um... why aren't the plastic bags coming out?!
Because after 3 days of defrosting in the fridge, they are still frozen to the inside of the turkey. Right.

Next, spot random chopstick on the counter.
Use it to try prying the plastic bags free. Fail.
Notice faucet sprayer. Turn on warm water. Give turkey a little drink.
Get excited about progress. Pull on plastic bag.
Attempt to contain laughter when it comes out empty.
Proceed to pull neck from turkey. Ignore mens' comments about labor.
Admire the goods. Or try not to puke. Whichever comes easier.
Part two of step two (yes, we're still on step two, people): Remove plastic bag #2.

Observe that plastic bag #2 will only come out through turkey's bum. Once again, ignore men in the room.
Remove bag from turkey's bum. Squeal.
Assemble special "turkey lifter." Wash turkey and cover with seasoning. Place in pan with broth. Cover with tin foil tee pee.
Place in oven. Try to maintain optimism.
Two homes, two showers, and five hours later, pull turkey from oven. Do happy dance. Eat. Be amazed at how good it tastes. Enjoy.
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