Christmas is Love | December 2010

This year my theme for Christmas is “Christmas is Love”. I don’t usually have a theme for Christmas because, well, that would do my head in, but for some reason everything came together this year under a big fat juicy red heart. I have found out in the last few years that there is so much love out there in the world for me, and so much love that I can give back, well, let’s just say I’m just a big ol‘ ball of love right now.

I wanted to share some of our favorite moments from this year (and I am determined to focus on this one blog next year so as to have some small hope of keeping it up to date), but in case you don’t want to read all of the 2010 posts (can’t say I blame you), here is a quick update on us:

Alek has been insanely over the top crazy busy this year. He transferred to UVU in January, got his EMT while taking a full class load, graduated from the Recruit Candidate Academy over the summer and was accepted into Paramedic school starting January 2011. He will finish paramedic school in August and will then have his Bachelor’s degree in addition to all of his Firefighter and Paramedic Certifications. Whoop! Oh, and he was offered TWO firefighter internships this semester (and took them both of course!). Oh, and he bought a paint company and is partnering up with another paint company and is now just bidding and selling projects. Oh, and he has been hired as an adjunct Motorcycle Safety instructor at Salt Lake Community College. Oh, and he was promoted by Harley Davidson to Network Quality Instructor and will be traveling around the western U.S. to audit their Rider’s Edge Motorcycle Safety courses. Whew!

– I was offered a dream job at Adobe in Orem. I was very very happy at Control4, but when I moved to Utah, Adobe was #1 on my list of companies I wanted to work for and when they called, I felt like I had to answer! I absolutely love what I’m doing and am learning so much. So I will just have to settle for drinking Bling Blings at the Oyster Bar with my Control4 mates every couple of weeks. I ran three half-marathons and the Wasatch Back Ragnar last year. I am signed up for the same races in 2011, only this time, I SWEAR I am actually going to train for them.

– Our biggest, happiest news is that we are ENGAGED!! WHOOP!! The plan is to get married when Alek is done with school and we can plan a good long getaway. And that pretty much sums up all of the wedding planning we’ve had time to do.

We are so so blessed to be healthy and happy and together. We could not do any of this without the immeasurable love and support from our friends and family. We wish you nothing but happiness and big wild crazy ridiculous LOVE in 2011.

Natalie & Alek

Alek Fights Fires | November 2010

Alek was offered TWO internships this semester. And although he only gets credit for one, it was such a huge opportunity that he of course did both. He has met two incredible crews and the experience has fully cemented that everything is in its right place.

Here are some pictures from real fires that he went on in November. (The top one is actually from the local news, WHAT??!!) You’ll probably get bored with all of my gushing over Alek, but I don’t care, he is wonderful and all of his hard work is paying off and I could not be more proud!

Boo-Ya! | October 2010

This is what we were wearing when we found out Alek was getting into Paramedic school. OK, not really, but we were carrying these costumes around when we got the news. I was so excited when Alek pulled the packet out of the mailbox that I damn near dropped that Mr. Peanut costume.

I ran the Provo Halloween Half Marathon with Lisa and Lindsay. We decided to go 80’s for our costumes and Lindsay fully committed by wearing a thong leotard for the race. Lindsay is incredibly fit, probably because she eats the exact same healthy meals every day, only has sweets on the weekends and works out 60-90 minutes before work and does events like century bicycle rides on the weekends just for fun. (Note to self: Be more like Lindsay.) She finished a half Ironman in 2010 and I’m guessing she’s on her way to a full Ironman in the next couple of years. The point is, the girl can pull off a thong leotard.

This was a super fun race because it started on the beautiful Alpine Loop at Sundance and ended at the bottom of Provo Canyon. But the best part was the 2 mile walk back to our car at the end (we didn’t want to wait for the shuttle bus). Keep in mind that we were in PROVO. You know, the home of BYU. And we walked 2 miles on busy streets with Lindsay in a bright green thong leotard. Yes, we got honked at. Yes, it was awesome.

Tequila Mary | September 2010

One of my favorite nights this year was the Control4 Party at CEDIA Expo. They brought in Mike Relm, who was incredible. (And he played Everytime just for me!!)

This party was perfection. Cool location, cool vibe, cool people, and a VIP room with too much good tequila made this one of those off the hook fun nights that happen just often enough to make business travel worth it.

Me and my girl Christi.

Engagement! | September 2010

September 13th, 2010 was the 2nd anniversary of our 1st date and we had big plans. HUGE.
Alek was going to a Homeland Security class and I was going to cook dinner and when Alek got home from school we were going to hang out, just the two of us. Maybe sit on the couch and do nothing afterward. Ahhhhh, bliss. (Seriously, I was really excited about the night. Sitting on the couch and doing nothing is such a rare thing for us that it’s practically like a beach vacation.)
When I got home from work I saw that Alek had filled up all of my vases with red roses. There were flowers EVERYWHERE. And I do mean everywhere.

Alek arrived home from school and we ate a dinner. We sat on the couch afterwards and had a glass of wine and chatted about this and that and reminisced about the last couple of years. Alek told me to close my eyes. I figured maybe he got me a little anniversary present or had a surprise pint of Green Tea Haagen Dazs in the freezer or was going to do some kind of crazy strip tease or something, but lo and behold, when I opened my eyes he was down on one knee, with MORE red roses, and he asked me to marry him!! Whoop!! It was such a lovely, lovely surprise. I just started to cry. And I cried. And cried. And cried.

And not one of those ladylike cries. It was the full-on-ugly-cry. The I-can’t-believe-that-such-an-amazing-man-is-asking-me-to-marry-him-I-can’t-believe-I-am-so-lucky-Every-choice-I’ve-made-has-led-me-up-to-this-moment-and-I-wouldn’t-change-anything-cry. Yeah. THAT cry. And after a while Alek asked if that was a yes. Oh yeah! Details!
I feel so so blessed to have Alek in my life and I love everyone in Alek’s big world that he has brought into my world. He has so many fun friends and such a fantastic family that I can’t wait to be a part of.
I love Alek. He inspires me every day to be better than I am now, to work harder, to laugh a lot, to always be learning, to have fun, to love more, and to be open to everyone because you never know where new friends will be made or who can change your life. No matter what is going on – no matter how exhausted or busy or stressed out – Alek is positive. He is like sunshine. He makes me remember that important things are what matter – family, friends, LIFE and extracting the most out of every day that you possibly can. I cannot wait to share my life with him.
That said, we’re just too damn busy, so the wedding will be sometime in the fall of 2011, which will probably be our next opportunity to just sit on the couch and do nothing again. Until then, I am going to enjoy every moment of being enfianced. MMMMmmmHhhhhmmmm. Don’t you just love the sound of that??

A Really High Ladder is Climbed | August 2010

In August, the RCA hosted a family night a few days prior to graduation. It was so fun to meet the guys that Alek had been talking about all summer and to see them in action.

Mmmm. Me and Alek in front of a burned out car. Alright.

It doesn’t look like it in this picture, but this ladder was REALLY high.

This poor, headless dummy has seen more than its fair share of action.

I was so proud of Alek at his graduation. (And it was really fun to see him before midnight for the first time in months!!)

The Crusty Bastards like to make fun of our obsession with balloons, but don’t they just make every occasion more fun??

Alek carpooled to the RCA with Andrew and Paul. I have this feeling they’ll all end up working together and be friends for life. Even just the friends for life part will be great because these guys are seriously cool. Andrew will be in paramedic school with Alek next semester. And yes, Alek does have a black eye in this picture. Why is that? Well, because he asked Chelsea to punch him in the face because he’d never been punched in the face before. (No comment as to whether or not alcohol was involved in that request.)

Giddy-Up! | July 2010

I took this picture to prove that I went on at least one hike this summer. (Oh, alright! I only went on one hike this summer!! Sheesh.)

My family has created a bunch of traditions around the 4th of July weekend and I LOVE them all because they’re each such a slice of Americana. This year, we started out with a neighborhood parade, complete with a pancake breakfast at a local park. Then it was off to the Oakley Rodeo. We all try to cowboy it up.

This year Baby G could walk and would not be tamed at any event for any longer than it took for her to quench her thirst.

Ed’s Mom lives on the Salt Lake Country club and she has extended the invitation to her annual 4th of July gala to our family. There is a huge BBQ followed by Bocce ball until the sun goes down. Then we all wander out onto the green for the huge fireworks show, which is the best way to cap off the holiday weekend.

Chicken Run | June 2010

While Alek was at the fire academy, I was having a grand time with his family celebrating Gab and Brad’s marriage with a girls night at our place. One of the sweetest moments of the year was when Alek’s nieces Livia and Gwyn discovered the Polaroid camera. The sheer delight and surprise when the photo came popping out made me wish I had more film for them.
Leanna and I were in charge of delivering the cake to the wedding, and we will forever be bonded over that shared experience. I can’t really go into more detail than that because we swore we’d never go into more detail than that. Let’s just say, delivering a wedding cake is about the most stressful thing EVER. I’m surprised those Ace of Cake people aren’t in mental institutions.

In mid-June I ran the Wasatch Back Ragnar race. The Wasatch Back Ragnar is a 188 Mile, 12 person relay race. My Ragnar experience really deserves its own post, but I still wanted to share these pics because they represent the best parts of the race. First – you guessed it, the medal. Every time I see that thing it makes me smile. Second – I did it, and will be doing it again in 2011, because of these people. This race was SO MUCH FUN because of my team. And if you’re smiling after running ~20 miles over 36 hours, after spending two days crammed into a Tahoe, after watching your teammates puke and pop their blisters, and after using countless porta-potties, well…it’s just hard to explain. I’ll just say it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.

When we went to pick up the first delivery of meat from our CSA Janaan said that everyone in the parking lot was a Yuppie (Porsche, Range Rover) or a Hippie (Subaru, 4Runner). We decided that we were a hybrid because while I drive a Subaru and Janaan drives a 4Runner, we really both want to be driving Range Rovers. So we started calling ourselves Hyuppies. Then my friend Lisa said that Yippie had a better ring to it, and we agreed. So, we are now proud Yippies. Sidebar: we were at a family reunion this summer and I was so intent on recycling as much as possible that my aunt told me she was going to buy me a green swastika. That was possibly my proudest moment as a yippie, and for the record we took home THREE 55 gallon bags of recyclables from the reunion.

Our biggest commitment to yippiehood to date has been our chickens. Janaan started doing research on urban chickens after we watched Food Inc. Then our Uncle Perry came to town and got us all jazzed up. He lives in Los Angeles and he has had backyard chickens for almost 20 years. So we formed a coop co-op (get it: coop co-op, heh heh heh) consisting of Janaan and Ed, me and Alek and our friends Barrett and Danielle. More or less, the deal was Barrett and Danielle would keep the chickens in their HUGE yard, Alek and I would build the coop and Ed and Janaan would raise the chicks. Then all of us would split the costs for feed and take turns cleaning the coop and we would feast on farm fresh eggs for 20 years! MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

So, Janaan did a bunch of research and found out which chickens laid the best eggs, were winter hearty and were easy on the eyes. We ordered them from Murray McMurray and they arrived on Sunday June 19th. You have to order the chickens in batches of 24 and you get a “surprise” 25th chicken for free. Somehow we ended up with 27 healthy happy baby chicks which Janaan and Ed raised with lots of love until they were ready for transport to the coop. (We’ve since had two casualties due to a backyard predator of some sort, one is M.I.A. and presumed dead, and one was a rooster and Barrett and Danielle ate him for Sunday dinner.)

Now I’m not going to lie, this chicken thing was a total pain in the ass to get off the ground. Coordinating the six of us to decide to go ahead with this (love you sister!), figuring out which breeds to buy (thanks Uncle Perry!), building the coop on the coldest, rainiest day of summer – the ONLY day that we had time to build it (thanks Dad for all of your help and your tools!), the drama of getting the chicks on Sunday (a special thank you to the USPS agent at the downtown SLC office for making a special delivery that day!), keeping the chicks alive (thanks farmer Ed!), transporting the chicks to the coop, making sure they are fed and have fresh water every day (thanks Barrett and Danielle!), and rebuilding the coop so that varmints (yes, that’s right, I just wrote varmints) can’t get in and kill them was and continues to be quite an endeavor. But all of that is forgotten every time we walk in and there are a pile of eggs waiting!

RCA Kick-Off | May 2010

Alek has had an incredibly busy year. Spring semester (January – April) he finished up his Associates Degree at Utah State, finished his pre-requisites for the Recruit Candidate Academy at UVU (a.k.a. the RCA, a.k.a. the Fire Academy), got his EMT certification, lost 15 pounds training for the CPAT, passed the CPAT, and got into the Fire Academy. WHEW!

The RCA ran from May – August of this year, 5 nights a week from 5:30 PM – 10:30 PM. Oh, and that didn’t include an 1+ hour commute in each direction. At the beginning of the semester the recruits were told that they could miss class for three reasons: 1. Their wife was giving birth. 2. An immediate family member died. 3. They died.

So basically, Alek spent the entire summer at school, and even missed his sister Gab’s wedding. Alek is someone who is truly a seeker of knowledge and training, but it was still hard to give up an entire summer – weekdays to work, weeknights to school and weekends to homework. It was an amazing experience for me to watch Alek fall in love with the fire service. I can’t think of many people that do what they love for work and it brought me so much joy to see all of Alek’s hard work and lost summer pay off with such a huge reward: finding himself in exactly the right place.

Birthday at the Barn | April 2010

In April, I ran the Salt Lake Half marathon for the 2nd time with my friends Lisa and Tiffany. I love this 1/2 because is 99% downhill and the weather has been PERFECT the last two years.

Joining our crew this year was my friend Chelsea. Chelsea fights MMA and is in fantastic shape. This was her first half marathon and she told me she was just going to pick a pace and stick to it. She picked a pretty good clip and I kept up with her for the whole race and almost had a personal record for a half marathon. Little did I know from her calm, cool demeanor that Miss Chelsea was absolutely miserable from about mile 8 on. I guess that’s what they teach you at the MMA clubs – don’t ever show how much pain you’re really in. She was a trouper but I think I’ve pretty much ruined Chelsea on running forever.

For my birthday this year I wanted everyone to go with me to the farm where we buy our CSA meat for their open house. So Mom, Dad, Janaan, Baby G, Alek and I went out there for the afternoon. It was fun to spend time with everyone and G loved it. I know it’s a weird birthday wish, but hey, it’s what I wanted to do and people should indulge you on your birthday right?

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