Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Highlights

The Holidays were AWESOME! We sure love our family and friends and are so grateful we were able to spend so much time with everyone. We were definitely all over the place but we're so glad because we're off to Africa in ONE week!

Here are some Holiday Highlights:
  • Cafe Rio with Jon & Steph
  • Kendell family party at Grandma Gooney's and our "family talent show"
  • Ben's mission friends get-together
  • Meeting Colin Blair:)
  • Hanging out with the Phipps, dinner, sleepovers, laughing till we're crying, best talks ever!
  • Lunch with Haylie, Mo, and Lyndee and seeing the movie Seven Pounds (which was SO good!)
  • Photobucket
  • Christmas with Tom & Janet (Ben's dad and fiance)
  • Christmas with my family. Lots of Settlers of Catan and Cities and Knights and our new favorite game, Perudo. Gingerbread houses and SANTA!

Mine and Ben's gingerbread house this year was a joint event. The Taj Mahal!

  • Christmas with Lisa & Kraig and Jon, Nan and Pa, and Aunt. We built the best snowman!! Isn't he cute?
And don't you just love the one-piece pink suit I'm in!? I look SO good.
These goggles are so hott.
  • Johansen Christmas party. Pizza, Rook, seeing my aunts and uncles and my best buddy cousin Aaron before his mission!
  • Seeing Scott & Katie, and Tracee (Ben's step-siblings)! Playing lots of games.
  • Aaron's farewell. So cool. He's off to Minnesota, and he'll be an awesome missionary!
  • Dinner and games with Ben's high school friends Brady & Heather (and Jack on the way), Brandon & Karly, Preston & Cassie, and Nate & Chelsea! We love you guys! And we learned the best new games, Snaps and Bang Bang! :)
  • Brigham City with Ben's grandparents Nan & Pa, thanks so much!
  • My old college friends/roomies, our Dr. Mario tournament! I got 2nd....even though it should've been 1st:)
Old roomies, Whittney, Candalyn and Sarah!
  • Seeing my best buddy Kelly & Greg & Preston and little Sam on the way any day now!!
  • Ben skiing with friends, us skiing with my family.
  • New Years with Grandma and Grandpa Johansen and Aunt Diane!
  • Time with our buddies Doug and Mariah, games and talking all night. Love you guys.
  • I took Kate Stitt's engagement pictures which are AWESOME.Photobucket
  • Body Worlds with friends and family--how absolutely incredible!
  • On our way home we were able to make a detour and fly down to see Ben's grandma Sitty in Arizona. She was diagnosed with cancer last year...we really wanted to see her before we left to Africa. It was so great to see her. We love her so much.
The holidays were a blast. I love our families so much. We are so blessed. I sure am starting to feel the "reality" of moving in 6 days. I'm more scared and nervous and sad right now than excited. But I know that will pass and it will be an amazing opportunity. I'm really sad to be leaving our ward and our Thomas friends:) We're starting to pack up our whole apartment! Stay tuned for our journey!! I'm sure I'll have a lot of time on my hands when I get there and I'll sure need lots of support! :) Love you all. Hope you had an amazing Holdiay break.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Garrison Christmas

We had the Garrison Christmas at Tom's on the 23rd. It was fun! And as tradition, we get to pick a hat out of the plethora that he has on the piano and take some fun pictures.




We love them so much. We're so blessed to have such great family.

Mission Get-Together

We have such a great group of friends (from Ben's mission). He and the boys are really close and I love all of their wives. We had 2 new babies in the group!! It was so fun! Clark & Erin's little Hal Clark Jones IV and Landon & Kelsi's Avrie. So cute.




And of course, good old white elephant gifts:
We had so much fun.We love you ALL!

Young Women Retreat

The Friday before we left to come to Utah, our ward did a Young Women Retreat. It was an all-day event with the girls and it was a blast! Gingerbread houses, ice skating, dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, Christmas lights, hot chocolate and stories. I seriously love these girls and I'm SO glad I was able to be the Laurel leader for a few months. They are truly amazing girls.




Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Official!

It's been here and there...talked and rumored about....but today we officially accepted a YEAR-LONG transfer to Monitor's office in....

And we leave JANUARY 12th! Double AH!

Ben's dream is coming true and even though we're a little overwhelmed by how SOON it is....we know it's the right time for us and we couldn't be more excited. We've LOVED living here in Dublin, we love our ward, our callings, our neighbors and friends...we'll miss everyone so much. Thank you all for being SO kind and welcoming. We know it feels like we just got here...5 months flew! But when an opportunity like this comes gotta take it!! It's once in a lifetime and better now than when we have a family to worry about:)

South Africa is HUGE! I didn't know how big it was until I was doing some research the other day. It's twice the size of Texas! There are about 48 million people living there and eleven official languages. English is the most commonly spoken language in official settings, however it is only the fifth most spoken home language. Demographics:
We'll be living in the heart of Johannesburg, population 8 million. Crime rate: HIGH--one of the highest in the world. We'll be living in corporate housing (with 24/7 high security) which will be nice. We'll also have a car so we can get around easily. How nice is that? Ben will be put on a 5-year long case immediately (even though we'll just be on it for one). As for me?? I don't know what I'll be doing...we'll see when we get there!
What we're looking forward to:

The Johannesburg LDS Temple:Cape Town:
Safari's and site seeing in Kenya & Tanzania:
Egypt:Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:And of course--visiting Ben's mission in Mozambique, just north east from S. Africa:
Wow guys. Wow. It's still pretty surreal. We have excited and anxious feelings inside...but the whole living in another in AFRICA...for a year....hasn't really hit us yet. But a year? That's nothing right?! It'll be great. We're so blessed to have this opportunity.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas

Wow. You want a movie recommendation??? Go see The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Yesterday, Ben had work off because he finished his 2nd case, so we had a date night. I was going to take him to see Twilight with me (which he was willing to do:)) and then my cousin's wife suggested this movie. I hadn't even heard of it. I guess it was a #1 selling book first. They just really haven't done much advertising for it--it'll spread by word of mouth, so here ya go! I would suggest reading it...because I'm sure it's even better than the movie. I think I might read it now too.

It's a story about set during World War II, "a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences."

Bruno and Schmal were the CUTEST boys. You just fell in love with them.

This was a heartbreaking story. At the end of it, the whole theater just sat there in silence watching the one moved for like 5 minutes. Tiff and I were BAWLING. It was just horrible. But absolutely powerful and touching.

Then we (my cousin Jared and his wife Tiff and us) went out to dinner at Macaroni Grill (Ben and I had never been there). It was good! We love these guys--they're moving back to Utah so we'll miss them!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Phantom of the Opera

Last night we went to Phantom of the Opera in San Francisco. I've ALWAYS wanted to see the play, but only seen the movie (like 1,000 times, I love it so much and have it all memorized). Since we might be moving soon, we thought we'd better take advantage of doing some last things in the city...including a Broadway play.

I LOVED IT!! It was SO great. We sat in the Mezaninne section which is the second floor up and close to the front. I think that's the best place to sit. We were able to see everything without having to look UP at all. Great seats. Recommend the upper balcony section. Carlotta was hilarious. Christine was amazing, her voice was so strong and beautiful. Raoul wasn't my favorite voice ever....but he did a good job. The Phantom was my favorite though. He was wonderful. The acting, the music, the scenery and backdrops were just INCREDIBLE! One of my favorite parts was the Masquerade, the Phantom was wearing that cool/scary red costume (in the above picture) when he came down the stairs. I also LOVED the Music of the Night part when he takes her down to his "lair." The backdrops were unbelievable. ALSO--the Chandelier actually fell from the ceiling and swung down and crashed on stage! It rocked! We had so much fun. Thanks babe for "splurging!!"

Utah in 2 days!!

Also--I found this great site that backs your blog up for free! I've always wondered 'what if something happened to blogger and we lost everything?' It really is a journal to us so this is a great site that backs it up for you and then you can make your blog into a book and stuff. Check it out!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pictures with Santa

This morning I was the photographer for the Pleasanton 3rd ward's primary activity..."Pictures with Santa." It was hosted at my cute aunt Christy and uncle Alan's house (he's the bishop). I took my good photo-friend Lisa Long with me (who brought the awesome lighting equipment--thank you!) And I just had to post some of these pictures.

Why does sitting on Santa's lap make so many kids cry?!?

They were absolutely terrified!

On the verge...

I love this.

Check out my photo blog for the ones that didn't cry:)

Golden Gate Bridge

This is the picture of the Golden Gate Bridge that I just finished drawing! I did it in chalk pastels. I did the whole thing in 2 days, it was a really fast one.
It's pretty big and it was really fun to do!

Monitor's Christmas Party

Last night was Monitor's Christmas Party. It's always fun to have a reason to dress up a little:)
It was "cocktails" for an hour (or for us, "Can I just have an orange juice please?"), then a really fancy meal 7:30-9pm, then Casino and dancing (and open bar) till midnight. They had gambling with fake money going on and you could buy raffle tickets with the fake money you won. I just watched. Ben had fun learning Craps and the strategy of Black Jack:
It's fun being a 'peculiar people.' Like this guy came up to talk to us and asked me, "So what are you having?" I looked down at my drink and said, "Cranberry juice, it's awesome." His face was so funny, "Oh...ok."

It's also fun to be the sober spectator's at a party (actually, this was our first time but it was quite the experience). It was pretty hilarious by the time dancing started....a lot of people were pretty hammered!

This is Ben's good friend Sumeet (and his wife Pavnov) from the office.
They're on the same case right now.
It was a late night, but a fun one!