October 12, 2017

Utah Cousins

Between the time we got back from Ohio and when Andrew's new quarter of school started, we decided to drive up to Utah to see Stephanie and Kevin and their kids. I just now remembered that I never blogged about that trip and I at least wanted to post all the photos from my phone to preserve the memory (this blog is great at reminding me of all the fun things we've done that I would otherwise forget).

Stephanie and Kevin are always the greatest hosts and it's so fun to watch Taylor and his cousins play. Both those things made the 9 hour drive there worth it. We usually find a cheap flight on Allegiant when we want to go see them, but we could not find a flight that would work for us. We had almost decided that we weren't going, when we just went ahead and made the long drive all the while praying that the kids wouldn't cry the entire way (they did awesome on the way there... not so much on the drive home).

Looking back at all these photos makes me so excited for Christmas when ALL of the Snow cousins will be together. I can't believe that's only in a little over two months away!

October 2, 2017

Be Kind Anyway

I struggle with all the bad news clogging up my social media feed. Sometimes I tell myself I'm going to delete it all, become a recluse, and shield my children from all the hate and hurt, but I know that's not a sensible solution. Ignoring the problems doesn't make them go away, and being ignorant of the issues won't change anything.

People are often cynical these days, immediately judging the intentions of others. I have been guilty of this countless times. I have seen a homeless man on the side of the road begging for money and instantly assumed he was going to use any money he received to buy drugs. I have slowly come to realize (and still have to occasionally correct my thinking) that it doesn't matter what they do with the money I give them. I can't control their decision. I can, however, control my decision to serve. The blessings that come from service are not lessened because the benefactor makes a poor choice. The same goes for accepting people of all races and backgrounds. I will not let the decisions of one person influence my opinion of those from similar cultures. I will not turn my back on a group of people because of one thing someone else does. I will not treat someone differently simply because our beliefs might not align. I will not judge, I will not assume intent, and I will serve anyway.

Something I'm continuously working on is my empathy towards others. Since becoming a mom my empathy has improved some, maybe too well at times (because #hormones). I cry when I hear about the suffering of others. I pray daily that the hurt so many are suffering will be taken away or lessened in some way. I feel despair when viewing videos or reading articles about the many problems in the world. Five million Syrians are refugees and 6.3 million are still displaced within Syria - half of those are beautiful, innocent children. There are 20 million people facing severe food shortages in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Hate crimes are on the rise in America. Nearly 600,000 people are homeless on any given night in the U.S. I could go on and on, but the point is this: there is no shortage of suffering. Empathy is the biggest motivator of change in my opinion, and something the world could use more of. Unfortunately, the world is not going to gain a collective empathetic state of mind over night. I know I can’t even begin to solve all those problems, but I will try to put myself in others’ shoes, I will imagine how I would feel if those faces were my own children, and I will care about others anyway.

I used to be afraid of what others would think about my political opinions, personal convictions, beliefs, etc. I'm slowly becoming braver when it comes to sharing what I feel is important (case-in-point: this blog post). One of those opinions that I've gained a stronger conviction for since having a daughter is feminism. I used to believe that "feminist" was a dirty word. Many people associate feminism with abortion-loving, career women who want to imprison all men underground. That's simply not true. Feminism is simply the advocacy of women's rights. Do you believe that every girl deserves an education? Congrats, you're a feminist! Do you think the act of genital mutilation should be done away with? That would make you a feminist. Do you want young girls to have confidence and believe that they can change the world? Yep, you're a feminist. Do you want your daughter to have the same opportunities as her male counterparts? You better believe you're a feminist. I could list a million more scenarios, but I'm sure you get the gist. Even if you personally feel like you have the same rights as the men around you, that doesn't mean the work of feminism is done. It's not done until young girls and women around the world hold the same rights - politically, socially, and economically. Women have remarkable power, and I believe that this world and those that live here will not reach their full potential until women everywhere are given the same respect and consideration as men are given. Even though others may not agree with my beliefs, I will stand up and voice them anyway. 

I'm pretty sure nothing I am able to do will make a big impact on the problems the world is facing. I'm just one person, a quiet and reserved person at that. I have a desire to influence change, but "leader" is not a word I would use to describe myself. So I've learned to research the issues, form my opinions, try to share what I know with those in my immediate circle of influence, and donate to charities I am confident in. It's not much, but hopefully my tiny contribution will create ripples. Maybe someone I share ideas with is a more ambitious trailblazer that can create community change. Perhaps my small contributions to a charity will get them closer to their goal. Then again, maybe I won't do that much to affect others and that's okay too. I will be affected by my own efforts and I will be changed into a better person. I will be blessed by doing my (very small) part. Even if I change nothing, I've decided to work hard anyway.

There will never be a solution that fixes all the problems the world is facing. There will always be racism, bigotry, hate, and hurt. I doubt very much that I will see "world peace" in my lifetime. I've decided to be kind anyway.

September 18, 2017

4 Tips For A Stress-Free Football Tailgate

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HostUltimateTailgate #CollectiveBias

It's football season, which means much more than just football. It also means getting together with friends and eating lots of yummy food. Although I love a good tailgate, sometimes the prep and planning can be a bit overwhelming. So, I’m here with a few quick tips on how to throw a stress-free tailgate:

1. Send invites online. I am a big fan of actual, physical paper invitations, but the truth is they aren't always practical. A football tailgate is one of those times when an online invite suffices. Make a Facebook event, put together an email with the information, or just send a text message to your friends. Less work for you while still getting the details out there.

2. Pick one decoration. Having a Pinterest-worthy party is cool and all, but having a simple, easy party takes the stress away and just leaves you with the fun. Instead of putting a ton of time into decorating for your tailgate, just pick one central item to focus on. For me, that's my trusty chalkboard that changes to fit the holiday, occasion, or in this case, sport. You could also do a football-themed centerpiece, a banner to celebrate your favorite team, or a fun backdrop for your guests to take pictures in front of. Chances are your guests won't remember the decorations anyway, so keep it simple! 

3. Buy pre-prepared food. Sometimes, time is not on your side, and that's okay. For this tailgate I put together, I went to Safeway to get everything. After picking up some Coca-Cola® and COCA-COLA® ZERO SUGAR, I hit up the bakery and deli to fill my cart with ready-to-go food. If your friends can’t do without your legendary seven-layer dip, plan for that, but don’t sacrifice substance for style. A bowl of fruit, donuts, and finger foods satisfies a hungry crowd just as well.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. There's three main reasons people are at your tailgate - football, food, and friends. They did not come to attend the perfect party. Did you forget the ice? It’s not a big deal. A quick drop-off to the fridge can get your Coca-Cola bottles as cold as they’ll need to be in time for kick-off. Can’t find the chip dip? You will all survive without it (and chances are no one will even notice). Focus on the fun memories instead of any “problems” you might encounter, and you’re guaranteed a stress-free and enjoyable tailgate!

Do you want to win the ultimate tailgate party? Purchase $15 of participating products and get a catalina receipt with a code to enter to win an ultimate tailgate experience at the Arizona Cardinals game, and other great prizes. Check out http://cbi.as/a0fgd to enter!

August 25, 2017

Our Last Two Days in Ohio

Our last two days in Ohio were the perfect ending to our summer. On Tuesday, we spent a little time on the beach of Lake Erie and then checked out the Avon Lake Library. It had two great children's sections that we eventually had to drag Taylor away from, and Olive pulled herself to standing for the first time on one of the learning cubes available. On Wednesday, we took my mom to see the Kirtland Temple and all the other church sites. I really enjoyed going through the temple a second time. I think you need two go-a-rounds when you have rowdy kids distracting you. Then it was home for naps before we headed to the airport for our flight home. (I didn't bring my camera with me to any of our outings, so I had to steal a few cell phones pictures from my mom.)

And that wraps up our summer in Ohio! If you missed any of our weekend adventures, you can see them all here.

August 21, 2017

Lake View Cemetery

We've been back from Ohio for over a month, but I still have a few more posts I've been putting off. I'm determined to get them finished up this week so here we go...

The first full day my mom was in Ohio with us, we went to the Lake View Cemetery. It was started in 1869 and is a Victorian style garden cemetery. It's full of large trees and beautiful tombstones. It's also home to the James A. Garfield Memorial which is a 180-foot tall tower that is filled with stained glass windows, ornate mosaics and a 12-foot marble statue of President Garfield. The caskets of President and Mrs. Garfield are on display in the lower level of the crypt. You're also able to climb the 180 feet to the top of the monument to an observation deck. It might seem weird to recommend a cemetery as a place to visit if you're ever in Ohio, but it truly is a beautiful place.

After the cemetery, we headed to the Cleveland Public Library. It was such a gorgeous building and had a fun area in the kids section. We didn't stay too long because there was another little boy who was about the same size as Taylor playing as well. Even though they were roughly the same size, this kid insisted on trying to carry Taylor around. Taylor was very confused and wasn't a fan (can't say I blame him). The little boy could not be deterred in his efforts to carry Taylor, so it was easier just to leave. The kids were ready for a nap anyways.

August 4, 2017

Palmyra, New York

After our day in Niagara Falls, we hit up all the LDS historical sites in Palmyra. Our first stop was the Hill Cumorah. We walked to the top and then it was on to the next area of sites (there's really not much else to do at the Hill Cumorah). We saw the Smith's family log house as well as the other house they later moved into that's located right down the road. My favorite part of the whole trip was walking through the Sacred Grove. We walked pretty far back into the grove so we were all alone and not surrounded by other tourists. The Sacred Grove is absolutely gorgeous and such a peaceful place to be. We spent quite a while walking down paths. After we finished there, we drove by the Palmyra Temple, and then went to find some lunch. 

While we were eating lunch at a pizzeria we found, we met a French family from Canada. They had a little boy around the same age as Taylor, and both boys were playing with their own toy car. It didn't take long before Taylor and the little boy traded cars and were happily playing together. This little boy only spoke French, but that didn't stop them from having a great time. Cars is the language they were speaking. Andrew and I talked to his parents and left wishing we could be best friends with them. It's funny how easy it is to bond with people when your kids are getting along in such a sweet manner.

Right across the street from the pizzeria was the printing press for the Book of Mormon. I didn't expect much, but it turned out to be a really interesting place to tour. On the same street as the printing press, there were so many old houses and antique shops. I wish we had more time to explore the area. 

Andrew's seminary teacher from high school, Brother Baker, happened to live right down the street from the printing press so we got to visit with him. He was nice enough to walk us down to Alvin's grave and told us some really interesting stories I was unaware of. 

By this point, all of us were exhausted from a long day so we headed back to the hotel. We were hoping we'd be able to see the Hill Cumorah pageant, but it doesn't start until 9:15 pm which doesn't really bode well with the tiny humans who run our lives. 

The next day, we drove the 4.5 hours home just in time to pick up my mom from the airport. She came out to help me make the flight back to AZ with two kids, and to spend time with us during our last few days in Ohio. More on our adventures while she was here in the next post I get up!

July 31, 2017

Niagara Falls

The kids and I have been back in Arizona for about a week and a half. We flew home last Wednesday for some doctor appointments we had already scheduled. Andrew had another week or so of work and then started his drive back on Saturday. He will be home by the end of the day and we are so excited to have him back.

While we were in Ohio, I did a pretty good job about staying on top of blogging all our adventures. Since being home, I haven't taken the time to sit down and document our last few adventures so here we go...

Our last weekend, we decided to drive the 3.5 hours to Niagara Falls. We figured we might as well make the trip while we're out on that side of the states. Our first stop was Old Fort Niagara. Old Fort Niagara is the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. At different points in its 300 year history, it was occupied by Britain, France, and the United States. I loved touring all the old buildings because, unlike most historic sites where certain rooms are off-limits or doorways are roped-off, everything was free to roam.

After we explored every building, we went to the actual falls and did the Maid of the Mist. Taylor was excited to get on the boat, but was a little unsure once water was pouring down on us. Now that it's over, he will excitedly tell you about how he went on a boat and got wet. 

Then it was back in the car for another 1.5 hour drive to our hotel which was located near Palmyra, New York where our next day of exploring would take place. Hopefully it doesn't take me quite as long to get that blog post up.
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