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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Big News!

Matt and I are going on our biggest adventure yet, and we couldn't possibly be more excited!
Be sure to watch the video before you scroll down. =D







A few notes: I'm 20 weeks along (halfway there!), finally feeling semi-human again (we'll address that later), and Christian made the video (with input from the ladies, of course).

Oh, and one more thing ...
It's a boy, and we are thrilled!

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Spring" break

Apparently, Utah missed the memo from Punxsutawney Phil that it's supposed to be springtime right now. The weekend before last, Matt and I left our perfect weather in Southern California to visit our families in Utah. We were greeted by winter, as evidenced by the snow-drenched yellow daffodils in my parents' front yard, but still managed to have a great weekend despite the cold. Then Matt took off for a business trip in Texas so I hung around to spend time with my siblings during their spring break and see my sister's college graduation this Friday.

My siblings were excited to have us in town, of course, but the babies are far less thrilled now that it's just me at home. Have I mentioned before that they love Matt infinitely more than they love me? It's probably the only drawback to marrying someone as fun as my husband, and is super sweet at the same time. Every time we walk into the house, there's an excited chorus of "Maaattttttt!!!!!!!!" and then an, "Oh, hi Ashley," as an afterthought. The babies wake us up every morning by jumping on the bed begging Matt to come play with them. They also have inside jokes with him and countless nicknames for him (my favorite is "Matty the Matt"). So yes, I'm the big sister who plays with them but also makes them do mean things like brush their teeth and go to bed, and Matt is just their big toy. They seriously adore him.

That leads me to a conversation I had with Gabey Baby (who is four) yesterday afternoon. He came up to me in the kitchen and asked, "Ashley, when are you leaving?" To which I responded that I'm staying until Coley's graduation and that he shouldn't want me to leave ever, of course. Gabe paused for a second and then said matter-of-factly, "Um, excuse me, but Matt is missing you." So I explained that I missed Matt, too, but sometimes Matt has to share me with other people that miss me, like Gabe and Mom and my friends.

Gabe thought about that for another few moments before responding, troubled: "Um, excuse me, but if you stay here then Matt will be all alone and will choose another girl!"

I laughed and told him that since Matt and I are married, he doesn't get any more choices that way, and it seemed to pacify Gabe just a little bit. I'm pretty sure he's still anxious to get rid of me to ensure Matt's eventual return, though :-) In the meantime, I made Matt promise to try really hard to not choose another girl this week.
Back to the point of this post -- our "spring" break in Utah. One of our most important stops while staying at my parents' house was the Mount Timpanogos Temple, which is a mere three minutes from home.
We got back from the temple just in time for Matt to play football with the kids at Josh's 6th birthday party. The freezing temperatures outside made for an interesting game in the bonus room!
We also went to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU with my parents before heading north to see Matt's family. It was beautiful. It's open for another couple weeks, so if you're in Utah, hurry to Provo!
We went on a fun double date with Matt's little brother Andy and his wife Kristen that night and spent the next day hanging around Brigham City in a blizzard. Highlights included a tour of Matt's dad's new office building and a family party with Matt's siblings, nieces and nephews.
This past week, I've stayed busy playing with the babies, hanging out with my siblings, running errands with my mom, having cousin parties, seeing friends and helping paint my parents' house. Meanwhile, Matt had the rough job of flying F16 simulators in Texas. But we'll save all that fun stuff for another post!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Then we jumped out of an airplane.

This one time, Matt and I woke up on a beautiful winter Friday, took the day off of work, and drove to Lake Elsinore. And then we jumped out of an airplane. This airplane, to be exact:
It was every bit as amazing and exhilarating as I'd always dreamed. We actually made the jump in December as an early Christmas present to each other (I mentioned it in my 2010 By the Numbers post), but I'm blogging about it now because my talented-yet-busy little brother Christian just barely finished editing our two generic videos into one awesome movie. It was definitely worth the wait. Thanks, Kiken!
So cool, right? I'd love to go again and again and again . . . but for now, I'll just have to relive it through the movie and these pictures. Someday when you go skydiving, you must pay extra for the video+picture package. Whether it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience or the first of many jumps, you'll want the memories! We each had a separate media guy jump with us (with the nifty helmets that had cameras mounted on top and remote clickers in their mouths) and got more than 100 great pictures each along with HD videos. Also, in case you were wondering, Skydive Elsinore was so impressive. The staff was knowledgeable and oh-so-entertaining and we never felt anything but safe--even when standing on the edge of an open airplane door! Also? It's so gorgeous there and since it was a clear day, we could see the Pacific Ocean and even Catalina Island. It rocked. K, enough with the talking. Here's the day in pictures:

Gearing up.
That'd be a "Danger" sign on our backs.
Ready to go!
With all the flying we've done, it was crazy taking off in that plane and knowing that we wouldn't be landing in it!
Leading up to our skydiving adventure, I said multiple times that I wasn't nervous but I was sure it'd hit me while standing on the edge of the plane door--but I was wrong! At that point, you're so committed to stepping out of that airplane that there's really no room for nervousness, just excitement. Such a crazy feeling!
Ready, and . . . jump!
There's no better end to a minute-long 120-mph free fall than the feeling of a parachute opening safely.
The free fall was incredible beyond words, but it wasn't over there! The parachute ride down was really fun, too, because our instructors let us take the controls (until landing, naturally).
We loved it!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rome, Italy: The Colosseum ate my toe.

The Colosseum is an obvious can't-miss in Rome.
On our first morning in the Eternal City, Matt and I woke up bright and early to visit one of the most intriguing sites from our entire honeymoon trip. We spent hours wandering the Colosseum, learning more about its history and marveling at its grandeur.

It was such a perfect way to kick off our packed schedule that day. That is, until tragedy struck and I nearly lost the tip of my big toe (it was hanging on by a thread). I'll just share the story via excerpts from an e-mail I wrote to my parents that night. Why rewrite it when I can just cut and paste, right? (And if you'd rather not read my ramblings, skip to the picture and I'll give a much quicker recap below it.)

"So, I'm sure a 3 a.m. phone call from your daughter in Rome telling you she basically spliced off her toe and it won't stop gushing blood isn't exactly the most pleasant thing in the world! But thank you SO much for your help in figuring everything out. All in the middle of the night. You're the best parents ever and I really appreciate your help. Now that we're not paying $1.50 a minute to talk to you (in fact, it's only £1.50 an hour for this internet cafe--woohoo, since Venice was £2.50 for just 15 minutes!), I'll give you a few more pleasant details about our trip... and all the gory details about the toe.
. . . [This is where I caught my parents up from Austria through Venice] . . .
Now we're in Rome. Liz said Rome was dirty and boy, was she right. We both wore flip flops yesterday and you should have seen our feet! We took a picture just in case you feel like you missed out haha. We took ourselves on a little walking tour of all the not-major sites yesterday since everything was closed when we got here (at 5 p.m.--long ride from Venice). We went to the Trevi as well, which was really neat--we're going back tonight when it's dark just to get the full movie experience there :-) The plan today was to get to the Colosseum before it opens at 8:30, spend a couple hours there before heading to the Forum, and then take a lunch break before the Vatican at 1:00. We got up on time and everything this morning, had a lovely time exploring the Colosseum (SO cool), and were literally following the exit signs to head to the Forum when tragedy struck.

Okay, not tragedy, but... close. You know how there are pedestals that line the edge of the walkway every few feet (along the ground floor on the inside at the base of every arch)? And how thery're all about 3-4 feet high? Yeah, well, some Roman genius decided about 2000 years ago that it would be super fun to have one about 3 feet wide and 2 inches high just so he could tear off my toe. Matt and I were just strolling along, holding hands, talking about the Forum when I suddenly felt this excruciating pain shooting up from my right big toe. I looked down, saw the blood gushing, and turned around to see my perpetrator, which was a lame one if you ask me. It wasnt even a pedestal, just raised Colosseum rock, just for the heck of it. Matt got the 2-foot-wide walkway and I got the nasty little stone that almost filleted off the top of my toe.

Anyway, we had conveniently left our first aid kit at the hotel about 1 km away, so Matt left me and sprinted up the hills back to the hotel. As soon as he left, I realized we didn't have cell phones, so finding each other at the now-crowded Colosseum might be interesting. I proceeded to find a worker who spoke no English but freaked out and pointed toward the direction of the ticket office (which was still quite far away when you're crippled) when I showed her my bleeding toe. The workers at the ticket office were helpful--they let me sit down in the air conditioned room and gave me some green stuff to clean up with, a piece of gauze, and two bandaids. I think that's all they had. (Actually, I know that's all they had cause the guy said he'd give me a few extras and then went through the box and couldn't find anything.)

I walked outside and seeing as my toe was still bleeding and we were a solid 20-30 minutes into the ordeal, I was forced to LIE DOWN in ROME so I could get my foot elevated enough to control the bleeding. Matt found me about 4 minutes later and was dripping in sweat from his little trip, and so concerned because he'd been looking for me for about 10 minutes. Then, he left me again, lying down on the steps of the Colosseum with my foot propped up against the pillar while he jogged this time to the hotel to get the phone. And that's when I called you. So now you know the rest. My toe finally stopped bleeding about 45 minutes later, and we got it all cleaned up again and went on with our day (skipping the Forum and barely making our appointment at the Vatican). We figure we'll watch it for infections and go to the doctor if we need to. It's nice to know that'll be free if it comes to that. ..."
Recap: Matt and Ashley had a lovely time at the Colosseum. On the way out, the camouflaged perpetrator pictured above decided to attack and I learned you should wear shoes, not flip flops, around ancient Roman ruins. The tip of my big toe was hanging on by a thread, I kept it elevated as it gushed blood for well over an hour (and continued to bleed throughout the day, naturally), and my parents saved the day by googling pharmacy locations at 3 a.m. their time as well as confirming that Tricare would pay for medical expenses if my toe turned green and threatened to fall off for real. So fun.
We randomly took cheesy pictures with this creepy-looking "gladiator" (he would've been dead in 5 seconds back in the day) before taking off and then walked/hobbled over to the Vatican and carried on with our plans.
More Rome to come!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little taste of summer

It was a whopping 83 degrees in Santa Monica on Friday. For those of you who are unaware, that is July weather on the California coast. Needless to say, we couldn't resist a trip to Santa Monica for a little taste of summer.
Turns out, most of LA had the same idea. It may have only been April 1st, but that pier and beach were packed like a summer day! (Well, a summer weekday. But still.) There were even crazies out swimming in the ocean. Listen kids, I know it was warm out, but that California water is cold in August--and absolutely freezing in April!
We love Santa Monica because it has so much all in one place--good beach, fun pier, and great shopping. After walking along the sand for awhile, we headed to Third Street Promenade for dinner at Cafe Crepe. We'd grabbed dessert there numerous times (Nutella and strawberry/banana crepes, anyone?) but this was the first time we stopped for a real meal. It was delicious! Once the sun had gone down, we did a lot of window (and a little real) shopping and just enjoyed our time together. I love dates.
We spent the rest of the weekend at the Rozsas', where we watched General Conference, cheered for Butler, and played Ticket to Ride into the wee hours of the morning. It was such a wonderful, relaxing, uplifting weekend! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April!

April is off to a fantastic start. We've had a little taste of early summer (yes, summer) over the past few days with lots of sun, a light breeze and temperatures in the high 80's. Spring is coming back tomorrow and really, I'm not complaining either way. I love sunshine.
This morning, like every day this week, I enjoyed a good run in beautiful 75-degree weather without a cloud in the sky. I seriously couldn't wipe the smile off my face... and still can't. It's been a great week.
Around the 3-mile mark, Hilary Weeks' song "Unwritten" came up on my iPod. (Yes, I am a nerd and my running playlists include Broadway musicals, Hilary Weeks and country, along with the usual running repertoire.) In the song, she looks back on her life and expresses gratitude for the way the Lord has guided her story. As I ran along, I thought about all the different choices I could have made and all the different paths my life could have taken, and I felt a whole new sense of gratitude toward my Heavenly Father for getting me to where I am now. Life isn't perfect, but where it really matters, it is. I'm so grateful for my Savior and the gospel, and for the countless blessings I've been given. I love my life and wouldn't have it any other way!

Matt and I are excited to spend the weekend watching General Conference. No matter how great life is, it's always a little better after hearing from our church leaders and learning more about our Savior. Feel free to tune in with us--it's available online in real-time at http://lds.org/general-conference?lang=eng.
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