Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Now--July 8

Here are my Happy Now 10 for the past couple of weeks:

1.  Blue Apron Meals--I recently discovered Blue Apron Meals and have had such a fun time using them in the kitchen!  Every week I get a refrigerated box with the recipes and ingredients for three yummy meals. The ingredients come pre-measured and labeled (practically fool-proof), and the meals are healthy and flavorful.  It takes me about an hour to prepare the meals, but I have loved the experience and the opportunity to use kitchen tools we received for our wedding that, until now, have just sat in drawers.  It has exposed us to meals I KNOW we never would have had otherwise.  Blue Apron has given me four free weeks to share with friends if anyone is interested (one week--3 meals for two people--per person).  If anyone is interest, let me know!  Here are some recent meals I've made:

First 3 Meals:  Lemon Thyme Turkey Cutlets, Meatball Subs, Ratatouille-filled Zucchini

Recent Meal: Beef and Bulgur-Stuffed Squash

Recent Meal: Lemon and Pea Tendril Risotto
2.  Bike Riding--Darren and I recently spent a day in Jackson Hole and rode our bikes through Grand Teton National Park.  It was gorgeous!  I'm grateful to live in a place where we're surrounded by so many of Heavenly Father's beautiful creations.

Darren riding with no helmet and no hands, that daredevil.  You can see below that I took a slightly different approach ...

3.  Babysitting Animals--Two weeks ago, Darren and I were asked to babysit the animals of the sweet family that lives next door.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Remember this post when I said my perfect combination of pets would be a dog, a cat, and a horse?  Well ... I got to live the dream for a week.  The fact that their cats had just recently had kittens was the cherry on top.  It was about all I could do to keep from spending all of my time over there!  The first picture is a group shot, but I also had to include some close-ups of the kittens.  Their little faces kill me!

This was the only little boy ... and Darren's favorite. :)

This little girl was the adventurer in the group, and frankly made me a little nervous.  She was the most difficult to keep in her cage (we had to keep the cage door open so that Mama Kitty could get in and out) and loved getting under and behind things where we couldn't reach her.  You know what they say about curiosity and cats ... I'm just glad our neighbors still had all three kittens when they returned home!

This little sweetheart might have been my favorite.  She was pretty calm and even tempered, but still had a playful side.   I may or may not have picked out a name for her.

4.  Horse Meds--One of our responsibilities while taking care of the animals next door was to give the  horse two types of oral medications for a leg injury she received right before our neighbors went out of town.  I haven't spent significant time with horses in years, so I was pretty nervous about this responsibility.  In the end, it was so gratifying to work closely with this sweet girl.  She was very cooperative, and Darren and I both had the chance to work with her.  I actually really miss it now, though I doubt she does. ;)

5.  Cartoon--Maybe it's because I lost two hamsters to our cat, Ariel, when I was younger, but I about died when I saw this cartoon last week.

6.  FHE Date Night--In an effort to have more regular FHEs in the Myler household (something we definitely need to work on) Darren and I decided to create a schedule and assign a theme to each Monday of the month.  We made the fourth Monday of each month a "Bonding FHE" where we just find a fun activity to do together.  We have kept it pretty simple so far, usually just carving out time to take a walk together or some such thing.  Two Mondays ago we decided to make reservations for dinner at the Half Moon Lake Lodge that recently reopened for the season.  I'm so glad we did.  It was beautiful and peaceful and the food was delicious.  Maybe in the future we'll decide to do some more adventurous activities, but for now I'm thinking this might be an activity we need to repeat again soon!

7.  4th of July Fudge--My friend, Kristal, and I got together to make some 4th of July fudge.  It was my first time making fudge, so I was glad to have an expert on hand!

8.  4th of July--The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  Darren had to work last Friday, so we kept our celebrations pretty low key.  I made chicken sliders and coleslaw (thanks, Blue Apron!), and we had a great view of the fireworks show from our front porch.  I'm so grateful to be an American and for the freedoms we enjoy!

9.  Harp Practice--I have been really bad about practicing the harp since Christmas.  When I was reminded a few weeks ago that I had agreed to play for the Pioneer Day-themed Sacrament Meeting on July 20th,  I went into full panic mode replacing broken strings and finding appropriate music.  The music I found is a little above my ability level, so I'm really hoping I can pull it together, but I'm so grateful for this reason to be back behind the harp.  Wish me luck!

10.  The Giver--I just started listening to the audiobook of Lois Lowry's The Giver.  I'm a little embarrassed I've gone this long without reading it.  I've had it on my list of books to read for a while, and with the movie coming out soon I realized that now was the time.  I've heard mixed reviews on the book, so I'm really surprised by how much I'm loving it! I realize it's a classic and I'm probably the last 30 year old to read it, but I love finding little literary gems like this one.  I'm only half-way done, but I highly recommend it!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy Now--June 22

Pinedale has been in full bloom lately.  The winter was long, but it's this time of year that makes all of the snow seem worth while.  Everything is green and the rivers have started flowing again.  When Darren had a couple of days off this week, we decided to take advantage of living around so much natural beauty and hiked around two local lakes.  The skies weren't as blue as they had been earlier in the week, but our outings sure made me happy.  For my Happy Now this week, I'm sharing ten of my favorite pictures from this weekend.

Friday, Hike 1 (New Fork Lake):

Saturday, Hike 2 (Green Rivers Lake):

Eating lunch lakeside :)

My handsome hiking husband

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Grateful in Any Circumstances

This blog has been an exercise for me in trying to record some of the small moments in my life with Darren that bring joy and help me experience gratitude more fully.  Since my last entry, Darren and I suffered a loss that brought a lot of heartache to our little family.  Darren and I have dealt with this loss through the love and support of our family, friends, and, most importantly, our Father in Heaven.  This support has improved our perspective and has gone a long way toward healing our hearts, but I still found it hard to focus on gratitude on a weekly, not to mention daily, basis.

Today in Sacrament Meeting, however, one of the speakers shared a message from President Uchtdorf's most recent General Conference address entitled "Grateful in Any Circumstances".  I don't know why President Uchtdorf's messages are the ones that prompt my getting on this blog to write (it was his "Forget Me Not" talk that started all of my Happy Now posts two and a half years ago), but they do.  After listening to the Sacrament talk, I went home and reviewed his message for the first time since Conference.  Here are a few of the thoughts that stood out to me:

"Often our grief is caused by what seems to them as an ending ... Everyone's situation is different, and the details of each life are unique.  Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives.  There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.  We can be grateful!"

"Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation?  In other words, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances--whatever they may be."

"Being grateful in  our circumstances is an act of faith in God.  It requires that we trust God and hope for things we may not see but which are true."

"In light of what we know about our eternal destiny, is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings in life, they seem unacceptable to us?  There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.  Why is this?  Because we are made of the stuff of eternity...Endings are not our destiny."

Darren and I were reminded of the eternal nature of our destinies recently with the beautiful temple marriage of his brother, Steven, to his fiancée Brittany.  And just this evening I had the chance to FaceTime with my brother and his fiancée, Christiane, who are preparing for a temple marriage this August.  Regardless of our current circumstances, our Heavenly Father has an eternal plan in place for each of us.  Even if the eternal blessings we hope for do not come when we expect them, we can have faith and gratitude that they will all come. As President Uchtdorf reminds us, "True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony."

For whatever reason, I feel that finding gratitude in any circumstance is a skill that will continue to be a focus in my life.  I am grateful for the faith and testimony of others that help bolster my own.  I am also grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord as He gently finds ways to remind me that our eternal destinies are so much more than our current circumstances.  I am grateful for His patience with me as I learn this lesson, falter, and strive to learn it again.  Onward!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Happy Now--April 27

 This past month has flown by!  It was busy, but also very happy.  I started a new post several weeks ago, so I will keep those original Happy Now moments and just add to them.  Since I am covering about a month, I am allowing myself a Happy Now 16.  Here they are (listed pretty much in chronological order).

1.  Geese--When Darren and I first moved to Pinedale last August, I loved the open spaces and nature that surrounded us.  The air smelled fresher, the grass looked greener, and I loved becoming acquainted with new sounds in nature.  For some reason, the sound a flock of geese made every morning as it flew over our home was a particular favorite.  It just seemed so .... country.  It wasn't long before the geese left and winter came.  But last Monday (which is now several Mondays ago), as I was eating breakfast, I heard them again.  They're back!  It is the Wyoming version of seagulls and ocean waves.  It made me so happy!

2.  Bread Making--For many years, the Sonnes had a tradition of making Grandma Elaine's bread every Christmas.  This was always a group effort and, with several extended family members, kneading the bread two or three times was usually the extent of my involvement in the bread making process.  I recently used a fairly simple recipe for wheat bread I had found to attempt the whole process on my own.  Success!

3.  Frozen Yogurt--Darren and I finally got around to trying the new frozen yogurt shop it Pinedale.  It was great, and I'm so glad it's here!

4.  Mom's Birthday--Mom's birthday was March 27.  I am so, so grateful for her.  She is an example to me in every way, and someone who I try to emulate in my interactions with others.  When my Papa John (my mom's dad) died last year, I was given a picture he had had in his apartment of me and my mom when I was a baby.  Paired next to a picture from my wedding, that picture represents what a source of support and strength my mom has been to me all these years, and how blessed I've been to have always had her by my side.  Love you, Mom!

5.  Chris is Engaged!--This was the happiest moment of the whole month for me!  Chris called me and Darren on the evening of March 30 to let us know that he and Christiane Cannon were engaged.  Christiane got on the phone with him at the end, and it was great to have a moment to celebrate with them both.  We have yet to meet Christiane, but I can tell how happy she makes my brother and I couldn't be more happy for them both.  I have heard so many wonderful things about her.  So glad to have you join the family, Christiane! 

6.  Snowshoeing--My last snowshoeing experience was several years ago ... and wasn't particularly fun.    Darren talked me into getting out and trying it again at the beginning of April, and I'm so glad he did!  It was a beautiful day, and the snow was just right.  Darren (who had bought snowshoes for himself and his future wife before we even met) was equipped.  It was fun to see him so much in his element.

7.  General Conference--I love this time of year.  There were so many wonderful messages shared at General Conference at the beginning of April, and I am grateful to be able to review them online and through the Ensign.  What a blessing!  And a special thank you to Katie Houston and her family for letting me watch the Saturday sessions with them!

8.  Dad's Early Arrival--Some "family business" required me to be in Salt Lake from April 3-22.  Due to work, Darren couldn't join me until April 13.  My parents also planned to come out and spend some time with us from the 11-20.  I was so THRILLED when my dad called and said he had rearranged his schedule to join me on the evening of the 5th.  Having constant company with me for that first week was a real-life saver.  I will always remember that week we spent together.  Thanks so much, Dad!

9.  Logan Trip--One of the things my dad and I did during our first week in Utah was to take a little road trip to Logan.  My great-grandpa, Alma Sonne, raised his family in Logan (which included his son, my grandpa, Conway Sonne).  Alma was President of the local bank (originally the First National Bank and now the Cache Valley Bank) and was Chairman of the Board of Directors at Utah State University (where my Grandpa Conway eventually met my Grandma Elaine).  It was fun to visit some of the old "Sonne sites" and learn a little more about my family history.  Dad, as always, was a great traveling companion.
Alma Sonne's house on Main St. in Logan.  It is now a dental lab.  The kind people inside let us look around (they have kept everything looking very "homey") and gave us a type-written history of the house they had found in a drawer when they moved in.  From that history we learned that the builder of the home was Fred Dahle, Alma's friend who served a mission for the Church with him in England  and whose illness prevented Fred, Alma, and a few other missionaries from returning home on the Titanic!
Although it is now called the Cache Valley Bank, the old First National Bank lettering from when my Great-Grandpa worked there is still on the steps.
The outside of what is now the Cache Valley Bank.  One of the Bank clerks also gave us a tour of the bank.  It brought back many memories for my dad from when he had visited the bank in the 70s to get his first bank loan from Grandpa Alma for college.
Dad and I had lunch at "The Bluebird" (apparently a hot-spot while my grandparents were in college and where both of my grandparents wrote in their journals about going on dates)!

"Kater" has been a nickname for as long as I can remember, so it was fun to see this as we were walking along Main St.
10.  Mom and Darren's Arrival--Dad and I had a really fun time together, but we were both excited about having mom, and then Darren, join us.  Mom arrived on the 11th.  We stayed in SLC a couple more days before meeting up with Darren in Park City.  It was wonderful to have the family all together (we just missed Chris and Christiane)!

11.  Temple Walk with Mom--Before we left for Park City, Mom and I took a walk around Temple Square (it is SO beautiful this time of year) and up to the Capitol Building.  On our walk we found a little butterfly in the middle of the sidewalk.  This butterfly took to my mom immediately and would change direction to follow where my mom moved.  It was really kind of amazing!  Eventually we decided we had to be on our way but wanted to move our new little friend onto the grass out the the way of foot traffic. :)

Moving our friend to a safer spot.
12. Dad's Birthday--We were lucky enough to be with my dad in Park City on his birthday.  I think my dad is one of the most selfless people I know.  He somehow managed to make all of us feel good and special on HIS birthday.  I'll excited for any opportunity I have to celebrate him.  I couldn't be more blessed than to have him as a father.  Love you, Dad!

Dad's Birthday Dinner
Dad's Birthday Dinner
Birthday Banana Cream Pie!
13.  Dinner with Chaffees--The Chaffees are basically family members, and it had been WAY too long since we had seen them.  We made plans to meet up in Salt Lake with Phil and Stephanie for dinner once my parents and Darren were in town.  It was SO great to see them!  I have so many wonderful memories with the Chaffee family, and seeing them brought all of those memories back.  I love and admire Phil and Steph's strength, humor, testimony, and the love they share with everyone.  I hope to see them and their girls again soon!

14.  Dinner with Roommates--My friends and former roommates Katie and Melissa made the effort to come visit us in Park City while we were there.  We had a chance to have dinner and visit for a bit, but the time went by much too quickly (even though I had also had dinner with them in Salt Lake earlier in the month, there just never seems to be enough time with these wonderful ladies).  I am so blessed to have such supportive friends!

15.  Peter Yarrow Concert--I found out the Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) was having a concert at the Egyptian Theater in Park City while we were there.  Knowing my Dad liked/likes some of Peter, Paul, and Mary's songs, Darren, Chris, and I went in on 4 tickets as a birthday present to my dad.  It was a fun (if at times slightly interesting) evening, and it brought back a lot of memories for me and my parents.  I remember sitting around the campfire at Stanford Sierra Camp or on the deck at Laguna during Sonne family reunions each summer growing up singing such classics as "Leaving on a Jet Plane", "Blowin' in the Wind", "If I Had a Hammer", etc.  It sure made me feel nostalgic.  My favorite part of the concert, though, was when Peter (and his son who was performing with him) invited all the children at the concert onstage to sing "Puff, the Magic Dragon."  He gave the microphone over to several of the kids during the song, and it was pretty adorable.  All in all, it was definitely a memorable evening.  :)

Mom and Dad at the concert.

Calling the kids onstage for "Puff, the Magic Dragon."  I took this shot a little early.  He had quite a crowd by the end!
16.  Easter--It never fails that my mom manages to make holidays special for her family no matter where we are.  On Easter morning when Darren and I came out of our hotel bedroom, we found some Easter gifts set up for us on the table, including a beautiful Jan Brett book on Easter.  I love this holiday and the reminder that it is of the blessing of the Atonement.  How grateful I am for the Atonement and a loving Father in Heaven and Savior who loved each of us enough to make it an essential part of their Plan of Happiness.

As I finish this post, I can think of about 16 more things that made me happy over the past few weeks.  I especially want to thank the Walker family for allowing me to stay in their beautiful condo in Draper for part of the time I was in Utah.  Overall, my heart is just full of gratitude for all the friends, family, and events that filled up last month.  I am truly blessed.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Happy Now--March 23

Here are my Happy Now for this week:

1.  Husband's Birthday--Darren's birthday was on Tuesday, and I was grateful for a day to celebrate him!  I had fun surprising him with some birthday decorations and gifts and, as always, he reacted to my efforts with such gratitude and excitement.  He also received some generous gifts from both sets of parents and well wishes from other family and friends.  Happy birthday, Darren.  Sure love you!

2.  Birthday Cake--Darren always requests the same type of birthday cake: white confetti cake with rainbow chip frosting.  I definitely don't mind since it's my favorite, too!

3.  Activity Days Moose--We had a surprise visitor during our Primary Activity Days on Wednesday--a baby moose!  This poor thing looked like he'd had a bit of a tough time with patches of missing fur, but he was still cute. ;)  We had to keep the girls inside until he decided to move on, but I was excited to finally capture a moose on film ... and a baby one at that!

I texted this picture to my parents and brother, and I have to include some of their responses.  They crack me up! :)

4.  Spring Flowers--I decided to celebrate the first day of spring this week with some fresh flowers for our kitchen.  There are few things that brighten up a room like some pretty petals, I think.  I am SO ready for this new season!

5.  Spring Cleaning--Putting the new, fresh flowers in a vase totally energized me to start some spring cleaning around our apartment.  I rearranged some items in our kitchen and started going through my closet trying to decide what was ready to go and what new items I might need for spring.  ;)  Have I mentioned how excited I am for some warmer weather?

6.  Base Camp Challenge--Friday I subbed for an 8th grade Language Arts teacher.  This was the last day before Spring Break and, oh my, these students were a handful.  Middle school isn't my favorite, and this day seemed especially rough.  Fortunately, the principal arranged for an assembly during the last hour of school.  The assembly was a competition between 6th, 7th, and 8th grade base camps (homerooms).  The teachers of each base camp were in charge of keeping track of their class's points during the competition.  One of the students I had taught that day came running up to me saying they needed me to fill in for their teacher ... and they ended up winning the entire competition!  The students were SO excited.  It was a happy moment, and I was sure glad to end the day on a high note.

7.  Library Card--I am the proud new owner of a Pinedale Library card!  Pinedale has a beautiful new library.  I have gone there a few times to work on my computer, but I had yet to check anything out.  Now I can (and have)!  It makes me feel like more of an official Pinedale resident.  :)

8.  Girls' Night--I was invited over to my neighbor's house last night for a girls' night.  My neighbor, Sharlyn, is so sweet, and I really admire her family.  She has three boys and three girls ranging in ages from 12 to 2, and they are all so adorable.  Her husband took the boys out last night and Sharlyn and the girls invited a couple of ladies from the ward over to watch the LDS Pride and Prejudice (boy, did that take me back!).  It was so fun to hang out with these women and girls!

9.  New Primary Lyrics--Today during opening exercises in Primary, the chorister asked the kids to close their eyes while they sang "I Love to See the Temple" as part of a game.  I was sitting next to one of the little guys in my class and started to notice he was changing some lyrics.  I know he knows the song, but I guess he was feeling creative and uninhibited with his eyes closed.  He was sitting very calmly with his arms folded.  He would sing the correct words and then insert lines like "I am being so reverent.  I am peaceful" to the tune of the song.  I love these sweet kids!

10.  Sunday Cat Nap--It has been a while since I've taken a Sunday nap.  Today after church, however, I was relaxing on the couch while Darren and I were watching T.V., sun rays were coming through the window and warming the couch, and I began to doze.  I never fell into a deep sleep, always somewhat aware of what was going on on the television, but it was SO relaxing.  It was the perfect way to spend part of the afternoon!

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