That feeling. Of coming home. While I still get that feeling every time I go home to Texas or Preston goes home to California, I am glad to say that I also get that feeling every time we come home to our little 600 sq ft. apartment here in Salt Lake City. I love our little home and all the memories that already are there in just 6 months of being there. I put effort into making this place feel like home and I'm so happy that it already does. While I'd like to think it's the comfy pillows, matching throws, and the neatly hung pictures on the wall, I think that is only a fraction of it. I don't mind the DVDs piling up on our TV stand or a few dishes in the sink occasionally. Sometimes our tennis shoes are left in the open and I just don't care. These are signs of a life being lived and they are a reminder to me of the lucky lives that we get to lead every day. It's the many meals cooked and enjoyed together. It is the cozy movie nights and the fun nights with friends that give us that feeling of home. And most importantly it is the warm feeling of peace and safety that I feel when I'm at home. While we have a long, long way to go in making our home a refuge from the storm of the world, I know we are taking steps in the right direction and for that I am grateful. This month I'm focusing on doing more of this:

(oh and hi, I realize I haven't blogged in a year....)


Santa Barbara Half Marathon

So back in September, Preston's Mom, Karlyn, called us up and asked if we wanted to run a half marathon in Santa Barbara. My first thought was "Uhhh, yeah, right, like that's going to happen." But after thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that this was a good idea and would be good for me. And Preston decided to do it with me, too. So the next day, we went out and bought new running shoes and got training.

On Friday, we flew out to LA to run the half marathon. I was really nervous. I hadn't trained as much as I would have liked and I still didn't think of myself as a runner. But Saturday morning came and there was really no way around it: I was running 13.1 miles that day whether I liked it or not. Thankfully, the rain that had been in the forecast didn't end up happening and it was a beautiful day in Santa Barbara. The scenery probably really doesn't get much better. The last mile or so is right along the coast. The whole area is just heaven. We rain through pretty wooded areas, a strawberry field, and some cute neighborhood streets lined with residents in lawn chairs cheering us on. One way or another, I made it through and crossed the finish line. And all I could think was "I have to sit down." So I sat down right there on the track as we waited for the rest of the runners in our group to finish.

If you would have asked me if I would do it again in the future on Saturday, I probably would have said no. But I think I will try it again. And I think I'll train more this time. :)

Preston and I just after I finished the race. Preston crossed the finish line about a minute before me. We had no idea we were so close at the end.

All the runners after finishing. Preston, Karlyn and I did the half, and Ben ran the FULL marathon. This was right after he came across the finish line.

The three half-ers while we were waiting for Ben to finish.

Preston was the first to finish.

And this picture sums up how my body felt afterwards...:)


Washington DC, Philly, New Jersey, New York....

I seriously hate rearranging pictures on blogger, and these are all out of order, so I'll just give you a run down of the trip, and then you can look at the pictures, even though they are out of order.

I've spent the last week travelling around the east coast with Preston's family. It was Preston's parents, Karlyn and Vaughn, Preston's sisters, Emma and Camille, Preston's not-even-released-as-a-missionary brother, Ben, and us. We took the trip to pick up Ben and see his mission, but got to visit some other cities along the way. He served his mission in New Jersey.

Saturday-Tuesday - Washington DC. Ben took at train down from New Jersey and met us in DC. We spent a few days seeing all the sites in DC. We went to the White House, the capital, Lincoln Memorial, Smithsonian Museums, Arlington Cemetery, the DC Temple, Washington Monument, WW1 & 2 Monuments....and probably more. We covered a lot of ground. It was HOT and HUMID in DC. We are probably just babies, but when you are walking from site to site, it can be pretty miserable. I swear I spent half of this trip sweating like a pig. We also went to some good restaurants and watched the fireworks from the roof of our hotel!

Tuesday--Thursday Travelled up to Philly (See picture for details) and then ended up in Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday. This was the section of the trip where we toured some of Ben's mission and visited some of the people that he met while on his mission. I was blown away by the humility and kindness of these people. Truly. Every person we met was so kind, and many of them fed us real authentic food from their countries. Ben served as a Spanish Speaking elder so the people we met were mostly from different spanish speaking countries. At one house, we all went in thinking that we were there for a 10-15 minute visit. It was the end of the night and we were all getting really tired. But when we showed up, the father of the family had made us a feast, appetizers, entrees, and dessert included! It was kind of funny, but the food was delicious. I could just tell by the look in his eyes that he lived to serve others. He loved to do something for other people. He is in remission from throat cancer and is not able to speak very much or very clearly, but his spirit was so strong to me. It was the same at every house we visited. It was great seeing the joy that the gospel brings in their life. Even though they are different from me in almost every way, that was the same.

Thursday Night - Saturday Morning - New York City! We ate at cool resturants, had Serendipity's frozen hot chocolate, went to times square, shopped, took the train to see the statue of liberty, went to central park and the Manhattan temple.

This is an awesome view of the New York City skyline from West New York. Ben served here at the very beginning of his mission.

Us in Times Square right after shopping at H&M and Zara!

In Newark, there is miles and miles of graffiti just like this along one of the railroad tracks. Pretty cool. Some of the areas the Ben served in were pretty Ghetto. Definitely got us out of our element I think.

In a sweet cathedral that we visited in Newark. It looked as big as the Salt Lake Temple. I'm not sure if it actually was, but it was massive and beautiful.

Preston in the Ironbound in New Jersey. The Ironbound is an area in Newark that got it's name because it is completely bound by train tracks. It is one of the safer parts of Newark and it is the place where all of the Portuguese people come to live. There are a lot of different cultures here, but it seemed that Portuguese was the dominate ethnicity. So this was pretty cool for Preston. We got to eat at a restaurant that had food just like food he used to eat while he was on his mission. They basically brought out a huge plate with a bunch of fries, rice, and really well-seasoned chicken and ribs. It was a ton a food and fun to try something that Preston was familiar with.

We also got to try out a portuguese bakery and get a bolos, a portuguese pastry that I've heard Preston talk about for 2 years. Ben also served in this area and learned to communicate with the portuguese while he was there.

This was one of the only pictures I took in Philadelphia. We were only here for a couple of hours. One of Preston's best friends lives in Philadephia as he goes to Villanova for law school. He joined us for a tour of the liberty bell and constitution hall. This was in the room where the Constitution was signed and where many important meetings were held. We also went and got Philly cheesesteak sandwiches for lunch. They were delicious.

We got to see our best friends Steve and Jessie in DC. Since they moved to DC in May, we have really missed them. We were so happy to see them a few times while we were there. They will always be in our lives, I just know it. :) This is just us in front of the capitol on the Fourth of July, our last night in DC.

Us at the Licoln Memorial. This was one of my favorite places that we visited in DC.

The DC temple in Maryland. We went to church on sunday at the church building right by the temple, and then went to the visitors center by the DC Temple. It was beautiful.

With Ben at the Temple.

More pictures to come....!