Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Home Away From Home Away From Home

True story: I've been obsessed with Arizona for as long as I can remember. My family and I would visit my mom's family there every year growing up. I always looked forward to those trips - seeing tons of cousins, aunts, and uncles, shopping and eating out all over the valley, visiting the small town my mom grew up in, and attending sweet family reunions in the mountains. Both of my parents and a couple of my grandparents were born in Arizona, so I'm pretty sure it's in my blood. As I've gotten older, I haven't been able to go as much as I used to. So, this last 3 day weekend was basically a dream come true for me because we took a road trip back down to Phoenix

Nate and Claire used to live in Orem (in the apartment we now live in). They would have us over every Sunday for delicious dinners that year we were dating and engaged, and we did a lot of things with them on the weekends, too. After Nate graduated, they moved to Phoenix to work for American Express. A couple of weeks ago, Claire had her second baby! They named him Owen Hugh Allred and he is an absolute doll. As soon as I saw pictures of him I knew we had to drive down there ASAP so I could hold that baby!

Daren and Margo had already driven down the day before, but because of school and such, we couldn't leave until Friday night. Scott drove down from Logan and picked us up so we could start our 11 hour drive to paradise. We stopped to gas up the car about 2 miles from our house, and this is what happened there:

If you look carefully, the car key is in fact broken into 2 different pieces. Great way to start the trip:)

Luckily, we were able to call a locksmith and have him make a new key from these two broken pieces. It only set us back about a 45 minutes or so.

We drove all through the night (okay, I mostly just slept in the back seat) until we got to Phoenix around 6:30 Saturday morning. We went straight to the hotel Daren and Margo were at and took some power naps. When we woke up, we went to Nate and Claire's for a great day!

Clearly there was a lot of excitement going on.

After lunch with all those Allreds, Nate and Claire let Johnny and me borrow their car to go to Mesa. Of course we had to stop by Last Chance on our way down there so we could get some sweet Nordstrom sales. Then we went to my cousin Stacie's house. She was there with her four kids, and her sister Kamala was also there with her little boy. It was way fun to see some cousins. I wanted to stop by and see an aunt in Mesa, but we ran out of time and had to get back to Phoenix for dinner with everyone. We also got to see one of Johnny's old mission companions and his wife in Mesa.

We had a delicious pizza night back in Phoenix, talked a lot with the fam, and then Johnny and I went back to the hotel with his parents for the night. We were pretty tired from our trip for some reason.

On Sunday we went to church with Nate and Claire, then went back to their place for a classic Sunday dinner (just like the good ol' days). After dinner we went on a walk to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather!

Johnny and Scotty thought it was the perfect time to get in a nice workout.

Everyone minus the photographer, Daren.

After the walk, we grabbed a few last minute shots.

Seriously could not get enough of baby Owen.


I had to get one with Claire. I love this girl!

Sadly, we left Monday morning. It was such a short trip but so much fun! We caravaned/raced Daren and Margo home (don't laugh at the fact that they beat us). We also took a random detour to see the Hoover Dam. Johnny got some pretty sweet pics.

Our first and only pic together from the whole trip!

It's a long way down.

We had such a great President's Day Weekend! Now we don't have another day off of school for the rest of the semester, so it's time to buckle down. Hopefully we make it to graduation on April 20th!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Such a Busy February!

First of all, I'm sorry to those that I worried with my last post. I wasn't trying to have a pity party, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has blessed our lives so much recently. We feel so blessed and we know that it's often through friends and family that God answers our prayers.

Okay, now back to the upbeat, positive stuff!

Is anyone else struggling to believe that we're already halfway through February? I can't get over how fast this year is already going by. It's probably because Johnny and I have been keeping so busy lately (but busy in a good way).

First of all, Johnny is completely dominating his student teaching! His cooperating teacher absolutely loves him and so do the students. The BYU professor that comes to observe him actually worked in this particular school district (Alpine) for 30 years, and she is convinced that he'd have no trouble at all finding a job in Alpine! She has only good things to say about him - he's engaging, he has a good rapport with the students, he's firm but still fun. His cooperating teacher was bragging like crazy about him to someone at the district office, too, so I'm pretty sure he's going to have great recommendations coming from all over the place. I'm so proud of my husband! He loves what he's doing and we can't wait for him to get his own classroom.

School is going well for me, too. This semester is pretty chill; some of my classes include food preparation and marriage enhancement, but it's my last semester so I hear I'm allowed to take it easy. Also, for the first time in my BYU career (don't mind the fact that it took until my senior year for this to happen) I actually feel smart! It's all thanks to this little letter I got in the mail a few weeks ago.

Earlier in the month Margo, Jeanette, Sharla, and I threw a bridal shower for Johnny's little sister, Amy. She and Chaz get married on March 9th! It's coming up so soon. There was so much delicious food, a sweet game complete with a dvd of Chaz answering questions, and as usual Amy looked cute as ever. Here's some pictures I tried to grab before things really got crazy.

Unfortunately the yummy chicken salad on croissant sandwiches were in the fridge for this picture.

The night before the shower, Laura slept over and helped me work on these lights, the cake pops, and the centerpieces. Best little sis ever.

I loved these picture lines that Margo made.

The shower was a success and I think Amy got everything she'll ever need for her future home:)

Now, for our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. I'm pretty sure that just about anything would have been better than how we spent the holiday last year (me in the ER, ruptured ovarian cyst, and lots of morphine & hydrocodone). This year, I wanted to plan something fun for us to do to celebrate. Thanks to the help from several people, I basically pulled off the best V-Day surprise in the history of all newlyweds. Here's how it all went down:
  1. I kidnapped Johnny from work a few minutes early on Saturday afternoon and drove up to Park City (an hour away) with him completely blindfolded. I know, he is the best for going along with that. Johnny, if you read this, I'd like to apologize again for the headache that blindfold gave you.
  2. Took him to Prime Steakhouse and Piano Bar for a delicious steak! Don't even worry that we were the only ones at the restaurant to order a Dr. Pepper and a water as opposed to a $750 bottle of wine. We're classy, we know.
  3. I told him we had to stop by one more place for dessert before we drove back home for the night. So, this time with his eyes closed but free of the headache-inducing blindfold, I led him up the stairs to Aunt Carol and Uncle Tim's sweet condo!
  4. Surprise! We're spending the night here and yes, I secretly packed our bags and placed them in the trunk of my car.
  5. But I wasn't kidding about dessert - also in the trunk of my car was a 7 layer s'mores cake made from scratch! I love my husband. And after a bite of that cake, he loves me too.

Thanks to the Bartons for letting us use their beautiful condo for the night!

We woke up to a blizzard the next morning. No worries though, we had a cozy fireplace to keep us warm.

Let me just explain this cake real quick. It contains 2 brownie layers, 2 chocolate chip cookie layers, 2 cheesecake layers, 1 graham cracker layer, marshmallow frosting, and of course, chocolate frosting. Emily sent me the recipe from this website and it is pretty much to die for!

We drove home the next day and then Johnny had to quickly figure out what to do on Tuesday for the actual holiday. I told him to keep it simple because we had a big celebration over the weekend. I couldn't have planned a better night than he did! He just had pizza delivered and then we watched the Bachelor while we ate. It was perfect and relaxing, and so nice to avoid the crazy restaurant crowds. He also gave me some pretty sweet gifts because he's thoughtful like that.

Not pictured: the super clean apartment that I came home to and the other box of Raisinets that I completely devoured.

This Valentine's Day was much better than last year's! And this weekend will be another great one! Scott, Johnny, and I are going on a road trip down to Phoenix to visit Nate, Claire, Norah, and brand new baby Owen! Monday is our last day off of school for the semester, so we're making the most of it. You should all do the same!