December 22, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is our cute table with personalized name packets/activities for everyone to do. The decorations came from my lovely American friend Rachel which was so great because it's hard to find fall leaves and turkey decorations down here!

Varian and I and my cute belly. I'm 7+ months along here.

We actually bought a turkey this year - not very common here, and hence more expensive, but I'm glad we got it. For those of you who saw my facebook photos of last year's Thanksgiving, saw that I mentioned I cried in the supermarket when we vetoed the turkey and just bought chicken. Not that I don't like chicken but sometimes being homesick hits worst around holidays and traditions.

Also I'm so lucky to have a husband that loves to cook and is such a great chef! Ugh - I've never wanted to be the one to have to cook the turkey (too many bones and icky things) but Varian doesn't mind cooking meat (and loves eating it) and so usually that job falls to him. I did make up the stuffing this year which turned out to be a great success (yay!) and our lovely family brought everything else to help out.

Getting ready to eat. Lani and Mya were there too that night but my camera was going crazy and I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked. It was a lovely night though and great to be able to celebrate the Pilgrims and Indians and all the blessings that Heavenly Father gives us!


So I always have lots of ideas of things to post but then downloading the photos and what not always slow me down until too much time passes and I haven't posted. So hopefully this week I'll get more caught up. BUT I wanted to write about 2 game miracles. 1) - I actually won a game of real life solitaire. I was beginning to doubt if it could actually be done...but it's true (and I've even won since then). I was so excited that I had to stop and take a picture of it.

Miracle 2) - It was an Alhambra miracle! This is a game that was introduced to us by Jake and Becca, the game gurus of the world, but has definitely not been one of my favorites. There are too many things to focus on, walls, colors, money, placement...etc. When we taught the Aston family I started out so poorly. I enjoyed the game itself but it would take a long time to play and then I'd terribly loose and so hence it wasn't becoming one of my top choices. But I've slowly improved my strategy on it and any time I win it's an alhambra miracle. :) Well the other night we played with Lani and Cameron and it was the most beautiful Alhambra game I've ever played. I broke the record for longest wall (22 baby) and highest score (122). Yes that city is completely closed off with the last piece I bought (I've got 2 other red tiles in the bank) and overall it was just an amazing game. Everything fell into place after a first few risky moves by myself and lots of perfect was amazing.

November 30, 2009

Happy Halloween

I'm determined to carry on American traditions and holidays. This year, however, I was worried that our Halloween was going to fall through. We talked about doing a family party then perhaps a friend party then maybe a mixed party. We kept putting off deciding (hmm - I hold Varian a little more responsible for this than myself but I was also to blame) and in the end we waited too long to really give anyone enough notice. I was worried we would have failed the attempt/good intentions but luckily our cute friends Chrissy and Nathaniel came over and we had a great night with them. We had already put up some decorations, we threw together costumes at the last minute (so much harder to do when you don't have your mom's closet and costumes to rumage through) and had a lovely night. I was a little bummed that we didn't get many trick-or-treaters (only 3 groups this year - if you count the missionaries who stopped by to ask Varian something) but we had a great time. I made Katie Bailey's taco soup recipe up and we ate and carved watermelons (such a cool thing - it's so much easier to carve than a pumpkin, it glows spooky red and you get to eat all the guts) and played cheesy Halloween games. It was a great night! Here are a few photos from it. Stay tuned for Thanksgiving.
ps: These posts are driving me crazy. To get the photos and text exactly where I want it to be is so difficult and then when I preview it/post it it doesn't even look the same. Any advice from you professional bloggers out there?

November 21, 2009


So there's already been lots of little things that I've debated adding to this blog and I've yet to do it. So this one today isn't anything grand - but something that I was studying this morning and felt motivated to come and post.

For my scripture study this morning I came across the gratitude / Thanksgiving video on and watched it. (sorry - I tried to attach it here but am not sure how to do that yet.) It was charming and sweet and made me start to reflect more on all the blessings I have and the things I'm grateful for. Gratitude's always been an important principle to me but one I've noticed I have fallen short on at times over the past year or so. Pres Oaks in the clip talks about how we need to be grateful for our adversities as well and pray for help to meet them. I could do better at that. I am so grateful for so many little things and my life is truly rich with blessings, but I could try harder to be grateful for challenges as well. Hmm, how specific does one be on a blog? I haven't quite found my groove yet.

Well for now let me just "begin" to list some of the many things I'm grateful for - the tip of the iceberg. :) I hope you all can do the same. I'm trying to introduce the American holidays over here as best as I can and so in a week will have our 2nd annual Thanksgiving dinner. Last year we had everyone go around the table and list things about that year that they were grateful for. It was tender and sweet and I think I will have everyone do it again this year. May you all recognize the love of God and his many blessings in your life. Here are some of mine:

First and foremost I'm so grateful for God and the gospel in my life. I'm then so so grateful for my wonderful, loving husband who means the world to me and who I am so grateful that I get to be with forever. I'm next grateful for our growing son who's about to enter our family officially and the chance Varian and I have to be parents. I'm then so grateful for my wonderful family - they've always been such a core part of my life and I love them dearly. I'm grateful for my new in-law family and for all the love and support they give us! I'm so grateful for my beautiful friends that have been, are and will be a part of my life. I do believe that Heavenly Father puts people in your life at certain times for certain reasons, and some friends come to help you and be helped for a short time, and others are part of your life forever. Either way, friends have always been such a huge blessing in my life and I am so grateful for all that they've done.

Okay from here on out the hierarchy of blessings end because I've listed the most important things to me and everything else is now just a giant jumble of gratitude for me. So I think I'll randomly list whatever blessings come to mind - noting that I'm sure to only scratch the surface because blessings abound everywhere - even in small and miniscule things. :)

  • That we have a beautiful home that we love.
  • For the lovely fields and space behind our house and parks around that make me feel a little more like the Valley and bring me peace.
  • For Varian having a good stable job that he enjoys and that makes it possible for him to support our family so that I can be a stay at home mom
  • For the career I've had in teaching and all the many growing experiences and wonderful relationships I've gained through the years.
  • That I could work in Weber School District when I started, for my quick beginning at Roosevelt Elem, for my wonderful years at Green Acres and the faculty there - how I loved that job! For being able to transfer all of my teaching credentials easily over the Australia and so quickly find work here. For my beautiful easy reading grant job that came at a point in my life when other things were not so easy. For my year three contract at Brassall Primary and for the "growing experience" that was for me. So hard, but also some really great things! For the great blessing I've had recently to mostly work at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School and how wonderful the people and children are there and how close it is to my house. To be able to get maternity leave from Education QLD and work in the private sector on the side in preparation to finishing my teaching career and moving on to being a one-income family. For the many parents and children that I've worked with over the years. It truly has been a delight to be a teacher.
  • For Jacaranda trees and all the many flowering trees of Australia that lift my spirits and help me feel God's love and cheer up my heart when sad.
  • For the beautiful ocean
  • Oh the mountains - how much I miss them. I'm grateful for mountains and fall leaves and seasons, and the beautiful dry Utah weather. :)
  • For the people I've met through my church calling here and the chance to visit around the stake.
  • For Huntsville 3rd ward - what wonderful people they are. They helped raise me as well!
  • For amazing parents who always made family and each other such a priority and are such a great example to me.
  • For wonderful siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles, fake-aunts/uncles/cousins, all my wonderful inlaws.....Family - truly one of life's most precious blessings!
  • For all the rainforests, and botanical gardens, and rivers, exotic birds, flowers and pretty things there are to see here.
  • For nice neighbors
  • For ridding my house of the cockroach infestation that was here before we moved in. Ugh! Granted Varian reminds me it is summer now and some will still find a way in on occasion (in response to me being so bummed at finding one the other day) but overall our house is pretty bug-free and I'm definitely grateful for that.
  • For skype and being able to talk to family and friends online for free. Some do that more than others and I do love it!
  • For being able to email and stay connected with people.
  • For macaroni and cheese. That was one of the things listed on that gratitude video and believe me I fully empathize. I know it's kind of garbage kid food, but I love it and miss it so much and ration off the boxes that my parents brought me. (They do have some really expensive versions here that are so sad to me).
  • Potatoes!!! My favorite food! My top list is potatoes, cheese and salt. Yes salt shouldn't count as a favorite food but still it's there.
  • Mexican food - sigh where are all the Mexicans?
  • Costa Vida - sweet pork!!!
  • Sigh - for cheap prices in Utah. I miss having so many options and being able to buy bulk things at low prices. I still get frustrated sometimes shopping. I miss so many things about American food and although there are some lovely things here and things I would miss, I would wholeheartedly switch all Australia food with American food.
  • All the fresh fruits and veggies here, and yummy fresh bread rolls
  • custard, crumpets, muesli, sausage rolls, meat pies, the chocolate here - I could list a million things that I miss from America (and maybe will in another post) but that tends to lean towards ingratitude so I wanted to list in this case some foods that I like here.
  • Convenience - not a big pro here and I admit I like things that are convenient.
  • Music
  • Books - Oh I can never get enough!!!
  • Movies - I'm a sucker, I admit it!
  • cilantro, taco seasoning, SALT, garlic, curry...I love lots of seasonings!
  • Yellowstone- we used to go there every year as kids
  • Vacations with family - even ones close by. It doesn't matter as much where you go (though I've been so blessed to go to some really amazing places) but that you're with people you love!
  • That I haven't been sick in my pregnancy - other than our brief miscarriage scare at the beginning and oh how I'm grateful that we overcame that!
  • For my lovely Cahoon house (Leah's Loveshack as we had named it) and for the experience that was, the roommates I had, and how that house really loved me and I it!
  • Oh my next door neighbor there who did all my gardening for free!
  • Varian's interest in gardening here - I am glad that we're starting to do it, but definitely need to be prompted a bit from him.
  • Chimes, shells, sparkly things, rocks, crystals, jewelry, fireworks, fireflies, star fish, dolphins, cats, elephants, art, shooting stars, waterfalls, humming birds, rainbows, sprinklers (I miss sprinklers) the smell of rain,
  • Photos and journals- I know I'm extreemly obsessive about those things but I love them.
  • Brushing my teeth - it's such a great sensation.
  • Getting a massage!!!
  • Cheap movies and restaurants and entertainment in the states.
  • When we get to go here.
  • crazy toe nail polish
  • oh, that I have nicely shaped feet - not everyone can say that
  • that my hair and nails grow so fast
  • my mommy thumb and my daddy thumb
  • That I'm able to be pregnant and be a mom soon. I've wanted this blessing for a very long time! I hope to have millions of kids too so keep this blessing coming!
  • for my wonderful mission to Paraguay and all the blessings that came with that!!!
  • For being able to go through the temple (I'm going on 10.5 years) and for what a huge blessing that has been in my life. I'm so grateful for all the temples that were so close by in Utah, and so grateful that there is a temple here not too far away. That would break my heart to not live close to one. I love the temple!
  • For scriptures, and conferences, and my testimony.
  • For our chance to go to Africa and work in the orphanage and safari and tour - what an amazing experience and even more so to be able to share that with Varian.
  • AMERICA!!!! - I love my country so very much!!!
  • For being able to learn new things, and try new things. I'm glad that I like to learn and there's so many talents out there to gain.
  • Traditions, celebrations, anniversaries, theme-parties, special occasions or any reason to call something a special occasion.
  • Yoga, candles, reflection, writing, long talks with friends, beauty
  • The chance to live closer to Varian's family and get to bond with them
  • that we don't have to shovel snow here - ugh I don't miss that.
  • That we only have to mow the lawn every month in the busy season, and much left often throughout the dry times.
  • That we don't have to water our lawns here
  • The thick plush lawns of home where we could water our lawns. :)
  • My fast typing skills. I just tested at 77 words per min- 96% accuracy for this temp agency interview I did. It's because of Mr. Weight being a Nazi-typist teacher in 4th grade for which I will forever be grateful!
  • Good health - this is a huge blessing and one I've been lucky enough to receive.
  • Opportunities for education!
  • Being debt-free!!!!!! (yes we do have a house loan, but it's sensible and manageable. I've always stayed out of debt and have been a saver and this has always brought many blessings!)
  • That so many of my family members and friends are strong in the gospel and are receiving those blessings!
  • For my girls- The Katies and Liz and the friendship the four of us have had for now over a decade. I love them so much and they have been a source of so many blessings in my life!!!
  • For my friends growing up in the Valley, friends from WHS, my college and institute friends, my Singles Ward friends and from that stage of my life, for my work friends and church friends and new friends that I'm making here - friends are treasures!
  • I know I've technically mentioned this one already, but to be married and to such a wonderful person. For the relationship that we have and the commitment we have to each other and to God. To how sweet and unselfish Varian is to me, and for the fun that we have. For our love and our being together. Next to God this truly is the greatest blessing of my life.
Perhaps I'll pause there for now. My life truly overflows with blessings!

November 9, 2009

Tacky People

Tacky People - gotta love 'em. The world never seems to have a shortage of people just waiting to say really tacky and somewhat insensitive things. We all come across them and sadly I'm sure we've all been them at one point or another.

Pregnancy seems to bring out those all too inappropriate comments from people. Now this is dangerous as it's said a pregnant woman's hormones are all over the place and therefore their reaction could be very unpredictable. I have been impressed with myself and how little I seem to have the pregnancy-hormones raging wildly inside of me.

But in saying that I have found I am much more prone to cry if I ever feel any emotion strongly and I admit at times for no good reason at all. Luckily I have a beautiful husband who doesn't mind holding me close and letting me cry something out when necessary.

For example, the other day I was watching the news about the flooding in Samoa and this child who had been ripped away from her mothers arms...okay, seriously, I probably would have teared up even if I hadn't been pregnant.

Towards the beginning of my pregnancy I had a week where 6 people asked me what was wrong with my face. Seriously what's wrong with your manners?! Okay, technically they asked me what was wrong with my skin but still it hurt. Pregnancy - that's what's wrong with my skin. :) I know I shouldn't complain because other women are throwing up and I'm just breaking out - but still common decency would tell you not to point out a person's flaws like that. By the 6th person I admit I could feel the dam about to break and had to run away before the person saw me crying. Sigh.

But I'm now entering the "woah you're so fat" stage of my pregnancy. Very flattering. It's funny because I've been trying to show people for ages how "pregnant" I looked and now all of a sudden they're telling me. I had someone grab my belly the other day and say "wow - you must be due next week." Try three months.

So it definitely depends on what I'm wearing to the extent of the reaction I get. Either way, I think it's the most darling little pregnant belly in the world. Granted fat comments are going to get really old - but other than that - I love having it there and find myself gazing into any reflective surface to see my cute little ball of a belly. I think pregnancy is so wonderful. I love feeling him kick and love all the cute clothes and love that my ribs are aching...he-he, well I love most things about it.

I don't have tons of pictures yet - but here's some I've taken of my cute little belly over the months. Some people will tell you how little you look - others how huge - I think it depends on the outfit I wear. I'm actually 30 weeks along now- I can't believe how fast it's flying by. I definitely love the pregnant stage of life - tacky people and hormones included!

October 18, 2009

Let the Blogs Begin

I never thought I would be a "blogger," but I always have been one to slowly accept new fads and perhaps my time has come. For so long (especially since moving to the outer reaches of the world aka Australia) many of you have tried to convince me of the joys and benefits of blogging. My skepticism coupled with my underlying laziness of cyber-scrapbooking has thus held me back, but here I now come to give this new phenomenon a try. I am a lover of writing/record keeping and photos and so hopefully that will help carry me into this new world of blogger-space and hopefully, my at-times-inept computer skills will not hold me back. We'll see. Be patient!

I don't ordinarily think of myself as an indecisive person, but after just spending an hour trying to come up with a name and address for this blog I begin to question that self-perception. So after previewing the blogs of any friends and family that I could remember and find links to, and trying out various available URL addresses- I end up with lotsofleah with the title "Memoirs of a Leah." Yes, with a not-so-subtle reference to memoirs of a geisha, I do picture myself in a red kimono with chopsticks in my hair (the pasty white face comes naturally) sitting down at my computer to make the attempt. I imagine this blog will be just lots of random little thoughts and experiences that happen to cross my fancy at the time.

Without further ado, I begin this adventure that so many have embarked on before me. Wish me luck.

Signing out as the reluctant but experimental blogger-