Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Inventory

So as Raytch (and pretty much everyone else) is well aware, I like making lists. Every year for as long as I can remember, I've written down/typed out everything I've gotten for Christmas. It's my way of remaining grateful for a long time.

Here it goes!

Christmas 2008

From Tanner:
A box of See's chocolate
A certificate to get a massage! Yesss...
The Ultimate Michael Jackson collection

From Raytch:
A cute "to-do list" pad (I'm going to put magnets on this for the fridge)
A Listography book

From Cara:
A Cookie cookbook (see this blog)

From Cody:
A dream jar

From Amber:
An old fashioned parchment stationery set

From Jason:
A cute card
A gold-plated heart necklace

From Jake:
A jewelry box with picture spots

From Jared:
A homemade and painted apple-shaped pencil holder

It says #1 Teacher on it :)

From Christmas:
Cute black bead bracelets

From Parents:
A portable salad shaker bowl thing (it's cooler than it sounds)
Victoria's Secret jammies and matching slippers:

Victoria's Secret bras--yesss!!
A mini-fondue ceramic set
An over-the-sink colander
A digital picture frame
A recipe book with some recipes from my mom
Money to buy clothes

Stocking presents:
Amway makeup remover
Hair tie scrunchy things
Candy and gum
Nail polish
A makeup brush set
Jingle bell toe socks

From Grandpa Gabe I got a card and a check.
From Grandma Bolda and Puffy I got money.
From Grandpa Mike I got money.
From Mimi I got a gift card to Wal-Mart.

If I forgot something, I apologize. This is all from memory. And I may not have received some presents or cards because I'm not at my apartment to receive them. Just want to thank everyone for such thoughtful and generous gifts. I love you all and hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

In other news:

My cat likes to sleep in the hall closet (on the top shelf).

My cat also beats up the dog. They have good boxing matches. Rusty's quick, but my cat is a lightweight street boxer.

My mom made a delicious Christmas dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, stuffing, and amazing veggies.

I spent all day fixing my brother's computer by installing service packs, installing iTunes, getting his songs onto his iPod, and running an anti-virus program.

I've woken up in the family room to my grandpa's rustling of the newspaper and listening of his headphones on full blast pretty much every day since I got home. So I moved to the uncomfortable top bunk in my brothers' room.

Finally, and much to my dismay, punctuation and grammatical errors abound wherever I look. I'm finding it hard not to lose hope in humanity. Especially when we're complacent about what I regard as one of the biggest travesties in language evolution:

Nevertheless, I shall soldier on against certain changes and for certain changes.

Some of my best things this year:

1. The Lord's help in school and work--being able to fulfill all of my responsibilities to the best of my ability.
2. Prayer, and knowing that Heavenly Father hears and answers mine
3. A long fall
4. Supportive parents who help me so much financially so that I don't have to stress about those things.
5. My favorite people living with me
6. My loving boyfriend who puts up with me
7. Sleep

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tagged? Dumb.

Raytch and Cody tagged me.

8 Favorite T.V. Shows--
1. American Idol
2. So You Think You Can Dance?
3. House
4. Dog the Bounty Hunter
5. Criss Angel Mindfreak
6. Gene Simmons Family Jewels
7. Dexter
8. Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Dang that show--makes me cry every time.

8 Favorite Restaurants--
1. In-N-Out
2. Zupas
3. Red Robin
4. Outback Steakhouse
5. T.G.I. Friday's
6. Olive Garden
7. Carrabba's
8. Cafe Rio

8 Things to Look Forward To--
1. Sleeping tonight
2. Going back to Provo to my apartment and my loves
3. Kissing Tanner
4. Christmas tomorrow! :)
5. Marriage
6. Delivering Christmas trays
7. Opening and unwrapping things tomorrow
8. Graduation

8 Things I LOVE about winter--
1. Uh.
2. Hot chocolate
3. Christmas trees
4. Wood burning smell
5. Snuggling
6. Blankets
7. Baking
8. Sleeping

8 Things on my wishlist-
1. Chocolate
2. Clothes
3. I
4. don't
5. need
6. or
7. want
8. anything.

Now I tag these people:
1. Cara
2. Bri
3. Aunt April
4. Tracy
5. Tanner
6. Ashlee
7. Aunt Amy
8. Shivani

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'll Take That As a Compliment

I got into it with somebody close to me today.

I made a comment regarding men who go to serve the Lord at age 19, all-the-while funding themselves and trying to share their happiness with others--devoting themselves to Someone else.

In response I got, "Everything is church with you. there is almost nothing else in your life."

I will take that as a compliment. I've never been the kind to consider myself to be defined by a group that I'm in. I've always just wanted to be me, doing what I want, believing what I want. But this comment has made me realize that the gospel is what I want people to see when they know me. This comment has also shown me that I've changed immensely in the last three years.

If "everything is church with me," I guess I'm on the right track. I want the gospel at the center of my life, and I do want it to define me. And I am OK with that.

Where I draw the line is in self-righteousness. I hope to set an example by being loving and kind rather than in acting better than others. Believe it or not, there is a fine line there, especially when the people you love are not doing the things that would truly make them happy. It has taken a lot of effort for me not to speak out of turn, or act like I know everything, or chastise the people I love. But I try, and I do say something when I feel it's necessary.

I pray to be better in this, as love and patience and a good example are what will truly make a difference.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our Christmas Tradition

For as long as I can remember, I have helped my mom with our Christmas baking every year. We usually make See's fudge, Chinese chews, chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies. We then use these goodies and make plates to deliver to neighbors and friends.

Slowly but surely, my mom has let me take over this whole thing completely. I love baking, but this is a LOT of work all on my own.

This year, we made Chinese chews. Thankfully, my brother helped. We also made fudge. I say we to involve my mom in the minuscule activities like chopping the nuts. I made sugar cookie dough as well. And I made Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies (minus the walnuts).

I decided, though, that it was time for more. Cara got me an amazing cookie recipe book for Christmas this year. I've made a lot of use of it so far. In addition to baking all of those things, I tried a new peanut butter cookie recipe for my dad called Chewy Choco-Peanut Pudgies. I made Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies--which are AMAZING, by the way. I made Polka-dot Macaroons! And I made Honey Carrot Cookies.

I baked all of last night (about four or five hours) and for about six hours or more today. Needless to say, I am exhausted. But I'm pretty proud of myself. My abilities as a baker are without limits!

Here are some pictures, and please keep in mind that these are pictures AFTER tons of these things have been eaten by my family and other guests. This is just a portion of what I really did.

Chinese chews

Toll House chocolate chip cookies--minus a million that got eaten

Peanut Butter Pudgies

See's Fudge

Oatmeal Coconut chocolate chip cookies

Honey Carrot Cookies

Polka Dot Macaroons

Sugar cookies

Next? Rocky Road Brownies, Breakfast cookies, and more Oatmeal coconut Chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gabriel K. Balibrea aka "Granpa"

I've got finals coming up next week. I should probably be studying for those. But let's face it, it's the last day of class. I can't concentrate anymore. Plus, I already took my religion final, and I have an A in that class. One down, four to go! So while I'm hanging out at work for the last couple hours of my 20-hour work week, I thought I'd write about my grandpa Gabe. For those who don't know, he's my dad's dad.

Now, since my grandpa is 77, I could write an epic blog post about him. He has lived a pretty extraordinary life. I intend to have a record of it someday. I've gotten some on my digital recorder. For now though...

My grandpa was born and raised in Hawaii. He watched the bombers fly over Pearl Harbor in 1941. He got in bar fights. He helped raise his siblings. He joined the Army and the Marine Reserves. He worked on the H-bombs. He had two sons with my Mimi. He invented barbecuing utensils--he invented lots of things. He worked in tool and dye. He hunted birds. He refused to speak Pidgin. He drove across the country with my dad and uncle. He quit smoking cold turkey.

He also saves dollar bills in book covers and Bibles to keep them crisp and nice. He loves to talk politics and is a staunch Republican. He thinks everyone should join the Army. He doesn't have any tolerance for liars. He wants me to learn to fly planes. He goes on long walks because he doesn't drive anymore. He loves working on projects outside. He drinks Coors Light at night and coffee in the morning. He listens to country music because "it tells a story."

And hey, he went sky diving at 77!

But more importantly...

He played with me in the front yard. He made newspaper hats for me and my brothers. He took us swimming. He fed us fruit. He taught us about wheat and rice. He made us beef jerky. He cut up "some mango" for us. He bought us Kern's. He told us stories. He sent us birthday cards and Christmas cards with checks in them. He signed us up for karate, and he paid for our weapons. He took us to the donut shop every Saturday. He told us he loved us.

These are things I know about my grandpa. They are things I love and respect about my grandpa. These things are not comprehensive, and by no means can you understand my grandpa without talking to him.

He has lived a life that forced him to protect himself and his image with a hard outer shell. If he didn't like you, you'd know it. Now, he talks of his philosophies on helping people out and being supportive. He believes that he has to try to do good and be good to people now to make up for his wrongs.

He preaches education, education, education, health, health, health, and education!

In his older age though, my grandpa has changed immensely. He has become much more tender and open about his feelings.

I arrived home a couple weeks ago for Thanksgiving. It had been probably eleven months since I had seen my grandpa--not too bad, since he spends half the year in New York, and I live in Utah. But when he saw me, his eyes filled with tears. He told me, in his still-distant way, "It's good to see you! You look good!" as he hugged me.

It was such a tender moment to me because without words, my grandpa told me he was proud of me. He told me that he loved me. He was glad to be my grandpa. To have the approval of somebody so great, somebody who tries to do good in the world, means so much to me.

So this post is for my grandpa. I have been so lucky to have him and his wisdom in my life. I hope I can continue to make him proud.

I love you, Granpa!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just Can't Contain It

All right, so I have lots of studying and other assignments I should probably be doing. It's been hard to justify writing blogs and spending time that way when I have too much else I should be doing. But I am just in such a good mood today (in spite of the fact that I look like a complete mess). I have a lot to be thankful for, and I can't wait until Sunday to tell everyone about it at the pulpit. So I figured I'd do it here.

Funny that my Aunt April emailed me today that she wanted another update. I had intended to write one today. Good timing, Aunt April! Speaking of... That baby is going to be here in 6 days!

Anyway, so I'd just like you all to know how grateful I am for my Father in Heaven and for how mindful I know He is of me, especially lately.

I haven't been slacking too, too much. I've been doing my normal things, praying regularly, you know. But there have been some things I've left out of my prayers, and my lack of asking has resulted in some trouble for me (and my relationship).

But I know from so many, many experiences, that He is waiting for us to ask. And when we knock, He opens the door for us. There are some things I need to continue asking for help with in order for my relationship to succeed. But relationship aside, I'd like to share some recent experiences that may seem silly to you, but they are important to me.

On Saturday night, I got back from vacation in California. I realized that I had forgotten where in the huge economy parking lot I had parked. I figured I should have written it down, but then I thought, "No, I'll remember." Well, folks, I forgot. I knew the numbers, between 10 and 12. So I got off the shuttle before I thought it was getting too far from where I parked. I wandered over to where I thought I had parked. Keep in mind it was around 9:30 at night, really dark, and pretty cold Utah fall weather. I knew the direction I had walked to get to the shuttle stop from my car, so I just went in that direction. I was wandering aimlessly, and I started to panic. This is a huge lot, guys. So before I got too out of control and emotional, I said a prayer. "Please, please just help me find my car. Help me to stay calm. Help me to find my car, please." So I'm wandering around, trying to call Tanner so that he can keep me from panicking... And out walks a young girl from the shuttle stop. She's the only one around, the only one who got off at that shuttle stop at that moment, a minute after I prayed. She went straight to her car and then called out to me, "Hey! Did you forget where you parked?" I went over to her and confirmed her suspicion that I had, indeed, forgotten where I parked. She said, "Well if you want, you can just put your stuff in my car, and we can drive around till we find it!"

What an angel.

Seriously, what a simple act of kindness she did for me. I'm getting all teary-eyed just thinking about it. She said she had done that once before, and she didn't want me wandering around by myself in the dark parking lot when she could just drive me around. Turns out she was a 20 year old student at BYU, coming home from a Thanksgiving break in Texas. I had her drive to the numbers I knew I was parked in, and to a different shuttle. We found Edna in all her blue old person glory, waiting for me. I was so grateful for Krysta for having compassion toward me and driving me around annoyingly. What an immediate, simple, and amazing answer to my prayer! Thank you, Heavenly Father.

I bought some things for my dad for Christmas several months ago--as in, early summer. Good price, good presents, I couldn't resist. When I moved some stuff out of my room and into Tanner's basement, I knew I had moved those presents. For the past several days, I have been so bothered by not knowing WHERE these presents were. I had searched all the same places in my room three times. I looked on the shelf of my closet twice, and I had Tanner check. I looked under my bed, in my suitcases, in the corner of my room, in my bookcase, in the bookcase in the living room, in my bag of wrapping paper--EVERYWHERE--more than once! I searched the boxes at Tanner's house on my own. I had Tanner help me search! I looked again!

I don't know how well you all know me, but I'm a pretty organized person. I can get cluttery, but I know where everything is that I need. So when something is out of place, when something is lost, I freak out. It weighs on my mind like no other. I asked Rachel and Tanner if it'd be a silly thing to pray about. They said no!

So I did. And I prayed that I might be able to listen and hear where to go. I thought yesterday that maybe I should check Tanner's upstairs bedroom (we are never in there, I don't know why I thought of it), so we looked last night. Couldn't find them. Then I thought, "Go look in the boxes..." "Again? No!" "Go look in the boxes again, you haven't looked hard enough." "Ugh yes I have."

I ran back downstairs. In my searching of boxes I had convinced myself of one small box, "They cannot be in there. That's just my CD box. They're stacks of CDs, that's all that would fit in there. Besides, why would I have put THOSE in the bottom of a box of CDs? I'm not retarded." Nevertheless, I went straight for my little box where I had put my CDs.

Doubting the whole time, I used my key chain flashlight to look in the sides toward the bottom of the box. I lifted up one stack--nothing. Just CDs, like I thought.

"Keep looking." "Ugh, fine."

I lifted up another stack. Couldn't see anything.

Then I reached my hand down the side of this box, and I felt a bag.

I wriggled my fingers around to make sure it was the right texture of the bag.

I grabbed the bag, moved the stack of CDs, and pulled out the bag with the presents in it!

YES!!!! I found them!

You guys. Why would I have been dumb enough to put these presents at the bottom of a box of CDs? Probably because I thought I'd have unpacked it by Christmas time because we were already supposed to have been married. But whatever, that's where I put them. And in my last search, I listened to those promptings. I found them!

I feel so much better now, knowing where they are, that these presents are not lost.

These are two instances that sound so simple, but they are so powerful to me. They're so important especially right now, when I need so much help from the Lord. I needed these reminders to let me know that in prayer comes power and blessings. I know I can do what I need to do, and I know He is listening and will help me do what I need to do!

I am so grateful for the fall that has lasted so long this year! It's December 3rd, and still no snow! I'm grateful for the fall colors and the pretty leaves on the ground.

I am grateful for the Berry Topper from Jamba Juice because it's so healthy and delicious. I think I am addicted, actually. It may be a problem.

I am grateful for the beautiful sunset I saw the other night when I came out of my Spanish class at 5:20 PM. It was a wonderful thing to see after a long, hard, and emotional day of work and school and other problems. It was just a tender mercy for me to look at after that day.

I am grateful for Christmas music and pretty lights! I love looking at decorations. I put up stockings and lights at my apartment, in the living room and in my bedroom.

Note the cute "Believe" accessory on the TV. My grandma gave it to me.

Something about Christmas just brings out warm and happy feelings all the time. There is a house on Tanner's street that is decorated so simply and beautifully. It is my favorite. Driving is so much more enjoyable when there are decorated houses to look at! I love Christmas.

I am grateful for prayer. And I'm going to need a lot of help in the home stretch of the semester. I've got a test on Friday and a bunch of assignments left to do, plus one major project and a major paper to fine-tune.

I don't think I could have gotten through this semester of 5 classes and 30-32 hours of work per week without the Lord's help. I have been so blessed, and I needed to take time in my blog to express thanks for that.

If I don't update again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!