Saturday, December 14, 2013

A few more ...

I had forgotten that Angie already texted me several of her pictures, so here are a few more to add to the previous post.  Thanks, Ang!

Inside the Empire State Building
Susan Boyle performing on the Today Show
Today Show
Dinner at Lombardi's

Trip to the Big Apple

Here are a few pics from our trip to NYC.  We had a wonderful time!  The city is so fun during the holidays, and it was great to experience it with some of Darren's family and my brother (who was able to visit from D.C.)!  I'm realizing there are several gaps in the pictures I took and only a few people and places are represented.  There may be another post coming, therefore, once we've had the chance to share pictures ... but for now, this will give you an idea of some of the fun we had!

We arrived in NY early in the morning, and our first order of business was meeting up with Chris, who had arrived in the city the night before.  That first day we spent visiting Times Square, the NY Public Library, and the Empire State Building.  We ventured into Brooklyn that night to have pizza at Grimaldi's.  Yum!

Outside of the NY Public Library with Chris
Of all the beautiful places in NYC, the library is one of my favorites.

Skyline from Brooklyn 

Cute nieces
A stud in the subway ;)

Chris had to leave the next day, so we spent the morning walking through Central Park and exploring the UWS.  It was fun to show the group my old stomping grounds (Chris was on his mission in Brazil while I was living in NY and never had the chance to visit).

49 W. 84th St.--where I lived for most of my time in the city.
We also had the chance to see Wicked!  What a treat!

The next day, Darren and I spent part of the day on our own to celebrate our anniversary.  We ate at one of my favorite delis on the UWS, Lennys.

 We visited the temple, ...

felt right at home when we saw a piece Jackson in the city, ...

and (a real highlight for me) had dessert at Edgar's Cafe where my roommate Tai and I used to write every Friday.  Darren was such a good sport and read while I opened up my laptop and, for tradition's sake, tried punching out a few paragraphs.

We met up with the rest of the group that night for dinner and the Rockettes!  What a show!

Our last morning in NYC we were up early and made it on the Today Show.  So fun!  There was a time I dreamed of being the next Katie Couric, so "being on TV" with Matt, Al, and the gang was kind of a dream come true. ;)

My parents caught our few seconds of fame on T.V.
It was hard to leave since there was so much we still had to do, but that just makes us excited to return again someday.  Until next time, New York!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Je suis reconnaissant pour ...

I was looking through an old scrapbook today and came across a gratitude list I made on Thanksgiving in 2006 while working as an intern in Geneva, Switzerland.  Since I was living in Geneva, I celebrated Thanksgiving somewhat privately that year and sent a list of things for which I was grateful to my parents.  I started the list "Je suis reconnaissant pour ..." (I am grateful for ...) and then listed the 10 top things I felt most grateful for at that time.  It was fun to read.  Many of the things I listed in 2006 would still be on my list today, but others have changed.  Since I am celebrating Thanksgiving in a similar style today (away from family while Darren is working), I thought that I would recreate a 2013 version of my list:

1.  I am grateful for the Gospel in my life.  When life throws us curveballs, the straightness of the way provided by the Gospel gives me an improved perspective, guidance, and hope.  I feel truly grateful for the experiences I have had that have made my testimony what it is today.

2.  I am grateful for my immediate family: Darren, Mom, Dad, and Chris.  Darren and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary yesterday, and I could not be more grateful for these past three years.  I have learned so much about what true love means by being married to him.  My parents and brother each, in their own way, bring such blessings and joy in my life.

3.  I am grateful for my extended Sonne, Hubbard, and Myler families.  I was fortunate enough to grow up with extended family nearby, yearly family reunions, and cousins who felt more like siblings.  Through some limited family history work, I have become more grateful for my ancestors who lived their lives in such a way that have brought blessings to mine.  I am grateful for their sacrifices and legacies.  I am grateful to now be a part of the Myler family and for the love and generosity I have felt from them.

4.  I am grateful for friendship.  I have been blessed with the friendship of some true kindred spirits (you know who you are!) who have brought such richness, joy, comfort, and laughter to my life.

5.  I am grateful to be an American.  I am proud of the principles on which this country was founded.  I am grateful for all those who have fought and do fight for freedom and America.

6.  I am grateful for travel.  While I am proud to be an American, I am so grateful for opportunities I've had to see more of the world.  My bucket list of places to see is long, and it keeps growing!

7.  I am grateful for beauty in all of its varieties: in words, nature, unexpected opportunities, art, music, people of all ages, a smile, a selfless act.

8.  I am grateful for history and for the lessons it has to teach us.

9.  I am grateful for my education--all that is has taught me, inspired me to feel, and allowed me to do.

10.  I am grateful for crisp autumn days and the warmth of a blanket and the smell of hot chocolate.  I am grateful for the festive winter season, the beauty of spring, and the warmth of summer. beaucoup plus!

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Conversation

Me:  I can't believe we will have been married for three years at the end of next month.

Darren:  I know!  What should we do to celebrate?

Me:  Hmmm ... I know the third anniversary is not considered a big one, but I think we should do something exciting. ((Thinking))  What if we took a trip somewhere?  Somewhere really fun?  ((More thinking, and then hesitatingly...))  We have talked about wanting to visit New York together ... ((Searching Darren's face for subtle signs of distress))

Darren:  You know what, I think we should go for it.

Me:  Really?!

Darren:  Yes.  The weekend after Thanksgiving would be perfect timing with my schedule.  Let's do it!

Okay, so I can't remember the conversation verbatim, but the point is that we have made reservations  to visit NYC at the end of November/beginning of December!  It turns out that Angie, Scott, Annalyse, Natalie, and Doug (Darren's cousin) also had plans to visit NYC before Christmas.  We decided to combine efforts and make travel plans together.  I can't wait to explore New York again with people that I love.  I have already started making lists of my favorite places to visit/things to see/food to eat.  I am seriously counting down the days!!

Images from Pinterest

Sunday, October 6, 2013


This weekend was General Conference weekend.  How I love these opportunities to curl up on my couch with a blanket and some hot cocoa (now that we're in Pinedale, that is) to soak in the inspired words of prophets, apostles, and other Church leaders of our day.  As I listened to the messages that were shared, I realized that I have let too many days go by without recording how grateful I feel for the events that have brought us here to Pinedale.  As generally happens after watching Conference, I feel that I view many things in life with a renewed perspective--thank goodness Conference comes every six months!  It is amazing to me how a place like Pinedale, that initially felt so foreign, can so quickly feel like home.  After nearly eight weeks here, I almost fear ever having to leave.  Quite a change from my last post, isn't it?

Let's start at the very beginning, shall we? (I have an urge to quote another Sound of Music song here, but I will resist.) At this time last year, we were living in Gilbert, Az, and Darren was in the middle of his first semester of law school.  While we were/are grateful for the opportunity Darren had to attend law school, a goal he had had for himself for several years, we agreed after a while that a life in the law was not right for us.  What followed was a few months of not knowing what path we should take.  I was in my fourth year of teaching 5th grade and Darren found a job that seemed like a good choice for the time being.  We began looking at homes in the Gilbert area.  Although we loved the area (who wouldn't love 70 degree temperatures in the winter, wonderful people, a relatively short drive home to family in Ca, and the opportunity to participate in the open house of a temple almost across the street from us??), we continued to hesitate in making these big decisions.  Darren began looking for other job opportunities and reached out to someone he knew from a ward he had lived in in Utah.  This friend had an unexpected connection with a company called Clean Harbors.  Darren got in touch with the Clean Harbors contact and after a phone interview, was asked if he could come to Wy for an in-person interview.  It just so happened that we were flying into Salt Lake that weekend for a family reunion with some of my dad's extended family in Manti.  We could take a 2 hour detour into Wy and then meet up with my family in Manti.  In order to keep this post from becoming a novel, I will bullet point some of the significant events that happened after that:
  • Something that NEVER happens to this slightly obsessive traveler happened with our flight to SLC--we missed boarding our flight by 10 minutes.  I did not handle this event gracefully.  As it turned out, though, the next flight got us into the SLC, and then Wy, at a time that worked much better for the person interviewing Darren.  He told us he had had things come up during the day that would have prevented him from interviewing Darren at our originally appointed time.  He ended up taking us both out to dinner after work and interviewing Darren at the restaurant (a slightly nerve-racking experience for me, but Darren did great!).
  • Darren was interviewed Friday night (July 19), we attended the Wintch reunion Saturday and Sunday (which was a lot of fun--see picture below), we both returned to work on Monday, and on Tuesday Darren received a call from Clean Harbors being offered the job--a great opportunity in their Pinedale, Wy location (a place I had previously never heard of).  It was going to be a big change, but it was a better fit for both of us in many ways.  We felt it was the right step to make.  Going to talk to the director of my school once we had decided to accept the job offer, however, was one of the scariest things I had ever done.  Not that any of my administrators inspired fear, but we were in our faculty training week and my fifth year of teaching was to start that following Monday.  I felt horribly guilty about bringing this change to my administrators the week before school started.  One tender mercy?  My administration and coworkers were extremely gracious.  They were excited for us.  Some of them knew of Pinedale and had only nice things to say about the area.  I told them that Darren had to leave for Wy the week of August 12, but that I would be willing to stay until mid-September if they needed that extra time to find a replacement.  Another tender mercy?  It worked out that my last day was on August 8, just in time for me to visit Pinedale with Darren to find a place to live and make the move with him!
  • Darren had an old truck with "a few mechanical issues"that we wanted to try and sell before moving.  Right before we left, someone with an understanding of all of the truck's issues and who knew how to fix them offered us our asking price, which covered most of our moving expenses.
  • The weekend of August 9-11, Darren and I flew to Pinedale to find a place to live.  We had an appointment with a realtor to show us some apartments for rent.  The apartments she showed us were pretty sketchy and in areas we didn't particularly like.  A few tears may have been shed (by me, not Darren).  At the end of our meeting, the realtor mentioned that there was a house for rent off of Fayette Pole Creek Rd, an area we had yet to explore.  Darren and I drove out there on our own and I immediately fell in love with the road and community.  We really wanted to make something work in this area.  We were shown the home and jumped at the opportunity to claim something on this road.  We secured the deal and traveled up to Jackson Hole to celebrate my 30th birthday (a day early) and this new chapter in our life.
  • We returned to Gilbert, packed up our massive moving truck, and drove for two and a half days to become official residents in Pinedale.  We moved into our home on Pole Creek Rd. with the help of the Cornelison family (thank you Scott, Angie, Annalyse, and Natalie!).  After a week and a half of living in that home, however, we discovered it had some issues as an old home that we were not prepared to handle.  When we addressed our concerns with our landlord, we were once again met with a very gracious response, and she let us out of our rental agreement.  We then were looking for a new place to live, a somewhat daunting experience after our meeting with that initial realtor.  We went to our new ward on Sunday and I shared our situation with some sisters in Relief Society.  After listening to me, one woman gave me the name and number of a family in the ward that was moving and wanted to rent the apartment attached to their home.  Guess where they lived.  This beautiful home and apartment was half a mile up the road on Pole Creek from the first house.  We contacted the family and were able to move (again!) with the help of our new neighbors that following week.  Needless to say, we felt very blessed.  We have loved and been very comfortable in this new home.
  • Finally, the people here in Pinedale, and more specifically in our Temple Peak Ward, have been amazing.  Within a week of living in our new home, we were invited to several Sunday dinners and were given opportunities to become more involved in the community.  My parents have had the opportunity to visit (which always makes a place feel more like home), and Darren and I have already started drooling over a plot of land close to where we're currently living.  I have even forgiven Pinedale for its first snowfall that came a week ago, while we were still in September!  We are home!
Riding horses at the Wintch reunion--Darren was there, too, but he's hiding behind my dad in this picture.
Moving Day--Leaving Gilbert

Wyoming sunset
Downtown Pinedale

30th Birthday Dinner in Jackson

View from birthday Gondola ride in Jackson

Autumn in Pinedale along Fayette Pole Creek Rd.

First snowfall in Pinedale (view from our balcony)

New truck for Darren--with 4WD!
Mom and Dad next to Pine Creek during their visit to Pinedale 

Monday, September 2, 2013

I Have Confidence

A view of our neighborhood in Pinedale, WY

As I write this, Darren and I have been residents of Pinedale, Wyoming for about two and a half weeks.  
My next post will be about all of the events and small miracles that have happened over the past six weeks to bring us here.  Pinedale is beautiful, and there are obvious advantages to living in such a rural area.  That doesn't mean it doesn't require some major adjustments, though.  While I love it here most of the time, and we have met some amazing people and seen some beautiful sights, there are times I have wanted to pack everything back into the car and drive for the nearest town with a Walmart (at least!).  People here have been incredibly kind, but I have heard several times about Pinedale's harsh winters that can last up to six months or more.  These conversations have made me just a little bit nervous (read: I have small panic attacks almost daily anticipating the approaching winter).  There have been a couple of things in the past 12 hours or so, though, that have really helped to build up my confidence.

First, late last night I rediscovered a blog I had initially found through my friend Stephanie Chaffee on Facebook.  The Prairie Homestead is a blog that outlines how to "cultivate old-fashioned skills in a modern world."  Gardening, living off of as many whole foods as possible, riding horses, and raising animals has always appealed to me, and for that reason I had visited the site a few times while still living in Arizona.  I revisited the site for the first time in a while last night and discovered that she lives in Wyoming and had a lot of great advice about living in this area!  I was/am so excited to read more about this blog and learn more about how to make this kind of life fun and productive for us (on a smaller scale than her homestead, though, of course ;).

Second, I took a walk this morning and was listening to some songs on shuffle.  As I was turning onto the side street to our home, a song from the soundtrack of one of my favorite movies came on: "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music.  I can't tell you the bounce this song put in my step.  I started rewriting some of the lyrics in my head to fit my current situation.  I know what you're thinking, "Kate, that is incredibly cheesy and a little embarrassing."  I know.  But it made me feel so much better.  I have included the lyrics I came up with below and a sound clip of the song from the movie to set the tune (you'll notice I didn't have to change very much, especially at first)!

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the country and free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
Now here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?

Living in a very rural area
What's so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don't I just know I'll go pack
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to face really harsh winters
Face cooking on my own and getting splinters
I'll show them I'm worthy
And while I show them 
I'll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I'll do better than my best
I have confidence they'll put me to the test
But I'll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will survive this
I will be creative and bold
And all those horses (Heaven bless them!)
I will get to ride them--if they mind me!

 With each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence this world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in neighbors
I have confidence in planes
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers ((Pinedale's population: about 2000!))
Strength doesn't lie in stores
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Family Reunions Galore!

This past month has been filled with family fun!  Darren and I have had the chance to visit both of our families and enjoyed our time with them, as always.  Here is a quick review of our visits:

Pismo Beach with the Hubbards

Our first stop was to Pismo Beach for the Hubbard family reunion with my Mom's side of the family.  I love Pismo and I have so many wonderful memories there with the Hubbard clan.  This was Darren's first time to the Kon Tiki and it had been several years since I had been able to attend (the reunions are usually in October during the school year).  I'm so glad we could both be there this year!  It was amazing to leave 110 degree weather in Gilbert and arrive in Pismo where, even in the middle of the day, we needed pants and sweaters.  It was so wonderful to see everyone.  We missed Chris who was busy studying for his medical boards at Georgetown.  So proud of you, bud!

Nick, Gabe, Tad, Catrine, Dad, Mom, Me, Darren, Elizabeth, Jim, Sue, Ron

Pocatello, ID with the Cornelisons and Mylers

We then traveled to Angie and Scott's beautiful new home in Pocatello.  After losing their home in the ID fires last summer, it was wonderful to see them settled and happy in their gorgeous new place.  We were able to watch Annalyse perform in two dance shows (she was amazing!), do arts and crafts with Natalie, test out the rope swing in the yard, help set up and inaugurate the Cornelison's new trampoline, walk around the Myler family farm, visit with an old Sonne family friend in nearby Burley, ID, and spend Father's Day with Darren's dad.  It was a wonderful, whirlwind weekend!  I hate that I didn't take more pictures, but here are a few photos (and videos!).

Myler Family Farm:

I love that they have their own road!

Darren insists it's tradition to drink out of this natural spring every time he visits the farm.  I have to admit, it's not my favorite tradition.  I was prepared to rush him to the nearest emergency room if needed.
It was on the Myler farm three years ago where one of my favorites shots of us was taken.
Rope Swing--Notice who you do NOT see attempting this swing (PSA: Please ignore the sound of my voice in these videos.  I have learned to stay as quiet as possible while filming):

P.S.  The red-roofed structure in the background at the end of this last video is a beautiful indoor riding arena.  Gosh, I love their new house!

La Jolla/Huntington with the Sonnes

We then headed back to California for a Sonne family reunion in La Jolla and the 4th of July/Chris's birthday celebration in Huntington.  We had a great time!  It is always fun to see and catch up with my Sonne relatives.  I especially love getting to watch my cousins' kids grow up.  They are all so adorable. This was my first time getting to meet Kim's newest, Hudson.  He was too cute!

Back in Huntington, we got to celebrate Chris's birthday and watch fireworks on the pier for the fourth:

4th of July
We have loved getting to see so much of our family recently and look forward to seeing more at the end of the month!  This summer is going by much too quickly!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mom and Dad

With Mother's Day not too far behind us and Father's Day quickly approaching, I have been thinking a lot about these two people I am blessed to have as parents:

They have been a source of light, encouragement, love, and support these past 29 years.  It only feels right that I take time, during this season of the year, to dedicate a post to them.

Several months ago, missing the book club I had joined in Utah, I decided that I wanted to start separate books clubs with each of my parents.  They both jumped on board, and I have loved every minute.  My parents and I talked separately about the books we wanted to read.  I love how the books we chose and our conversations about the books capture so perfectly some of the things I love most about each parent individually.  My parents and I have standing plans (almost) every weekend to talk about the most recent chapters we have read.

Dad and I talk Saturday mornings.  We are (painstakingly) making our way through Harold Bloom's The Anatomy of Influence.  Bloom's academic language pushes my understanding to the limits.  I often find myself at the end of a chapter wondering what it was I just read, reviewing the work for one or two paragraphs from which I might be able to pull something intelligible to discuss during our phone meetings.  As is generally the case when talking with my dad, however, complex ideas quickly become manageable and, consequently, more profound.  I leave our conversations feeling smarter, certainly, but also more passionate about literature, history, philosophy, and the humanities in general.  The depth of my dad's enthusiasm for learning and his ability to draw inspiration from everything good is a characteristic I will forever associate with him and respect.  In fact, I was just reading again today a book of quotes he compiled and gave me for Christmas last year.  My dad has been collecting and memorizing quotes that strike him as significant for as long as I can remember.  He even keeps track of the laps he swims in the pool by reciting a list of quotes he has committed to heart.  This particular gift is a collection of his favorite quotes and scriptures separated into twelve different themes (one theme for each month of the year).  There is then something on that theme for each day in the month to read.  It is a treasure, just like our conversations, and the man himself.

Mom and I talk Sunday afternoons.  The first book my mom and I chose was Cherie Carter-Scott's If Life is a Game, These are the Rules.  We finished that book during our last conversation and are now moving on to Pamela Keogh's What Would Audrey (Hepburn) Do?  Both of these books reflect qualities I love and appreciate in my mom.  My mom has been referred to as the "steam valve" in our family.  A psychologist by trade, she has the innate talent of listening, making us feel understood, taking on our stresses and giving us valuable feedback, telling us, in essence, "the rules of life" and "how to play the game."  That is, she teaches us how to play the game of life with grace, integrity, and class--qualities my mom has in abundance, like Hepburn.  She also helps others feel valued and understood by giving gifts personally tailored to the receiver.  The most recent example?  A bonsai tree is currently winging its way to our apartment, courtesy of my mom.  I am thrilled to have a little nature coming into our apartment, but it was the type of bonsai tree my mom ordered that struck me most deeply--a gardenia bonsai.  I love gardenias not only for their scent, but it holds special significance for me since I received a wedding gift from my dad's cousin that related a connection between the gardenia and my grandmother.  I have been collecting gardenia scented candles and body sprays ever since.  I can't wait to receive it and am touched by my mom's characteristic thoughtfulness.

I could, of course, go on and on.  Darren and I will be traveling home to Southern California next weekend for Memorial Day.  I will get to have both book clubs in person.  Yay!  But, book clubs aside, I just cherish every opportunity I have to be with these two amazing people.  I love you, mom and dad, and will be forever grateful for your example.
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