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Friday, November 26, 2010

Holiday in the sun

I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving! We spent the day with friends here in SoCal and had a lovely holiday. You just can't go wrong with good food and good company! When we realized we wouldn't be going "home" for Thanksgiving, I had a moment of panic that I'd have to repeat last year's turkey experience all by myself. But, thankfully, our friends Duane and Kaley invited us to their dinner party and took care of all the hard stuff. My only assignment this year was pie, and although cooking may not be my favorite pastime, I jump at any chance to bake. Let's just say sugar and I get along really well.
To allow for all that yummy goodness, I went on my annual Thanksgiving morning run and even convinced Matt to come with me this year. We wore November-ish workout clothes and immediately regretted it due to the warm, sunny weather. Sometimes we forget we live in Southern California.
Then it was off to Duane and Kaley's house, which was perfectly themed as usual. Kaley is an entertaining pro and I'm more than a little jealous of all of her adorable decorations!
The table looked beautiful and the food smelled like heaven--and tasted like it, too.
After dinner, the couples spent hours talking while the kids played. I entirely neglected my camera after the table pictures, so I unfortunately don't have any pictures of all of us. Right before we left, though, I remembered the camera and took a quick one of us with Duane, Kaley and their darling baby boy Gabe.
As I said, it was a lovely Thanksgiving. The absolute best part of it, though, was taking a day to remember all of the things that we are so thankful for--each other, our families, our friends, our health, our home, our education, America, our jobs, California's beautiful weather, chocolate, and football, to name a few. Of course, more than anything, we are grateful for our loving Heavenly Father who has blessed us with so much. We are so excited to enter this holiday season when we focus so much on the birth of His son, Jesus Christ, who is our greatest blessing of all.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new normal

This is old news by now, but my dear friend Tobi's comment on the last post reminded me that I've yet to share. Perhaps you've noticed a decline in my commenting on your blogs in the past while? Be assured that it has nothing to do with how much I love you. Rather, I've been busy devoting 40+ hours a week to a dream job of mine and figuring out how to balance the rest of my life with its somewhat odd schedule.

Let's skip the suspense, shall we? I'm now a full-time journalist, working as a sports reporter for a Los Angeles County daily newspaper. I cover prep sports in the area and am suddenly fully immersed in every corner of our community. Five days a week, I hang out with an awesome group of coworkers, attend sporting events, talk to people from around the Valley, write about it on tight deadlines, and see it published the next day. To put it simply, I am having the time of my life.
(Matt took this picture of me writing and submitting a story from the football field.
I had exactly 32 minutes after the game ended to whip out an article before deadline.)

It's quite a shift in lifestyle, though. Sporting events don't really conform to the typical 9-5 schedule, so I work a lot of afternoons, nights and weekends. It has definitely taken some getting used to for me, Matt, and my sleeping pattern. The good news is Matt gets to tag along for a lot of the events! We've spent many Friday nights under the lights of high school football this fall.
Of course, we always follow those chilly games with hot cocoa on the couch after midnight.
If you're surprised by the cold weather apparel in Southern California, don't be. Fall is a terribly bipolar season here. It requires shorts in the daytime and wool coats at night. Even the daytime temperatures can be drastically different from day to day, though. For example, two Saturdays ago I covered cross country prelims all day. I was wearing a cardigan but had to take it off because it was NINETY degrees outside. So hot, in fact, that a runner passed out from heat exhaustion a mere fifty yards from the finish line of the 3-mile course.
This past Saturday, I covered the cross country finals at the same course. But this time, I had to don these babies:
That's because it was FIFTY degrees and raining all day, just seven days after the heat exhaustion incident. Today, it's back up to 75. I told you the weather is bipolar here.
Matt and I spent a glorious six hours in the pouring rain on Saturday. Not only was I watching the races, interviewing coaches and athletes, and writing three separate articles that day, but I also took pictures of the event for the front sports page because it was too far away to send a photographer. Matt was a huge lifesaver who diligently held an umbrella over himself, another over me and the camera, and also toted my purse around when necessary. I sure love that man!
Of course, one of those umbrellas decided to break at the end of the day right as we decided to take a couple pictures. Thank goodness it lasted that long.
So there you have it, folks--a real update in the regular life of Matt and Ashley. Lest you be concerned that my work schedule is "cramping our style" too drastically, though, I promise that we still pencil in time for fun! I have a nice, long backlog of activities that must be blogged to prove it. Here's hoping I can get caught up soon!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Falcons and friends

Last night found us three hours away from home, here:
Air Force football came to Las Vegas to take on UNLV in their last regular game of the season, and we just couldn't stay away. Matt and I took a day off of work and headed East to hang out with our friends Talon and Carolyn and cheer on the Falcons for the second time this year.
(Contrary to the picture above, it was not snowing. Our point-and-shoot just decided to mix things up with a few random dots.)
Carolyn is 36-weeks pregnant and was a total trooper to come with us.
One fun thing about attending Air Force games is the little reunion that always ensues. This time, we ran into a bunch of Matt's old teammates that are stationed around Vegas and California. It's so fun to see familiar faces and catch up with old friends. And it would be even more fun if I'd thought to document it but we were all a bit wrapped up in the game, for good reason.
Air Force started off slow but came back with a 35-20 win. They pulled out an 8-4 record on the season and won the Commander in Chief's trophy, so it's been a great year. Go Falcons!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Free thrills

Like most people, Matt and I enjoy free things. We also enjoy roller coasters. Therefore, we couldn't say no to the free admission offered to military this month at Knott's Berry Farm.
We kicked off our day by standing in an hour-long line for the Silver Bullet, only to have it break down when we were in front of the line. Luckily, the ride made up for it.
Super Scream was also well worth the wait, and I was even able to get a couple pictures on the way up... and down.
The rest of the day was spent pulling a few G's on roller coasters like Xcelerator, Montezuma's Revenge, and our favorite, Ghostrider. Although for Matt, who's flown in a couple super sonic jets recently, it wasn't quite as thrilling. He leaned over and commented that these rides are probably pretty dull for fighter pilots. He's probably right.
It was fun to go on big thrill rides as opposed to the calmer variety that we mostly go on at Disneyland, but to be honest, we'd pick Disney any day. I think that means we're getting older. Disney is just perfect, though. It's so much cleaner, has fast passes, hosts nicer patrons, and we shouldn't even have to mention how perfectly themed our beloved park is. But hey, it's nice to have your stomach drop every once in a while (seriously), so thanks for the good times, Knott's! We appreciate companies who appreciate the military, and I'm sure we'll be back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Better Men

I feel like there's so much I could say today--on Veteran's Day--but instead I'm going to keep it simple and to the point. At a time when so many people are ignorantly anti-war and take their liberty for granted, I'm reminded of a John Stuart Mill quote Matt shared with me years ago:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

I'm so grateful for all of the "better men" and women who have made and continue to make us free. I'm thankful for those who are fighting abroad and pray for their safety every day. Most of all, I'm proud to be an American and to be married to my airman, who believes freedom is worth fighting for.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Golf and Goodbyes

Matt really, really likes to golf. This is both good and bad. Good, because I get to tag along and drive the golf cart. Bad, because it's kind of an expensive habit and one that I'm not very good at. So every now and then, Matt takes me to the driving range in hopes that my sad skills will improve and I'll fall in like with this hobby of his. (He knows that "love" isn't quite possible for me and golf!) These driving range excursions always provide a good laugh, so we brought the missionaries along on their P-day.
The boys had everything under control and were hitting beautiful balls, even when imitating Happy Gilmore. *cough*Elder Gilbert*cough*
I, on the other hand, needed a lot of help. You guys, I don't know what it is, but I really can't figure out this driving thing! The only times I've ever done well is when I've had the golf pro right there correcting my every move. Matt tried to be of assistance...
... but I still managed plenty of dribblers, along with this swing-and-a-miss so perfectly caught on film.
I blamed it on the airplanes interrupting my focus, of course.
Luckily, years of serial dating allowed me to perfect my mini-golf game and therefore my putting skills. I can't drive the ball to save my life, but I can win a putting contest or ten. Needless to say, I was excited when we switched gears and pulled out the putters and I was able to redeem myself.
We stayed until the sun set over the golf course. The sky was beautiful that day!
Shortly thereafter, it was time for our buddy Elder Gilbert to head to another area--he'd been in ours for nine months, which is a very long time for missionaries to stay in one place. He put on his special suit when he stopped by to say goodbye and insisted we take a picture in front of the "Wall of Love."
Before we knew it, Elder Anderson was at our house for his final dinner before heading home at the completion of his 24-month service. We fed him bacon waffles and apple pie, and then wished him luck finding a wife! (Kidding, only kidding.)
We were missing Elder Gilbert, though, so we swung by Burbank on a Saturday night to take him and his new companion, Elder Cuthberson, out to dinner at Bob's Big Boy. This little gem is home of the original double-decker burger and the cutest big-bellied statue that just begs for a few pictures.
I remember always having the missionaries over when I was growing up in Northern California, and I really missed that living in Utah. Now that Matt and I are back in SoCal, we're loving all of the opportunities that we have to get to know so many great young men.

Monday, November 8, 2010

39 Hours

Matt and I are both pretty exhausted today! We pulled into our garage at 2 a.m. last night to complete the 17-hour round-trip drive that enabled our 39-hour visit back home in Utah. My little brother Kaleb recently turned eight-years-old, so we made the quick weekend trip to be there for his baptism. We left Friday after work and got into bed at my parents' house at 3 a.m. The babies woke us up bright and early, of course (it was all my mom could to do to keep them away until 8!). Then I was off to have breakfast with my other other half, Liz. The two of us were quite literally inseparable in college and it's really a shame that we live so far away from each other. I love that girl.
Right after breakfast, I headed back South for Kaleb's baptism. There was such a sweet, tender spirit there. We're all still so proud of Kaleb for making the decision to be baptized and become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The gospel brings so much peace and happiness to our lives, and I'm grateful for it every day.
We spent the rest of Saturday hanging out with family, watching football, and playing games. The kids all stayed up late watching Toy Story 3, which is quite possibly the best movie ever made. Matt and I are now proud owners of the Toy Story 1, 2 & 3 box set, just in case you were wondering.

On Sunday, we went to church and then enjoyed a beautiful Sunday drive to see the last bit of Autumn.
I was so glad that snow hadn't swept away all of the leaves yet. The year-round warm weather here in Southern California is lovely, but I do miss the changing seasons. Utah is always so beautiful in the fall.
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