Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Cool for School

How is that we got back from 3 weeks in Guatemala just 2 months ago and I am already sick of school and ready for another vacation?

Wish I was here:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Here, There, Everywhere

I know that it has been a month since our last post, but it has been quite a busy month!  We finished school at the end of July and took our drive across the United States back to Virginia.  On the way, we stopped at Jenn and Ryan's house, Bethany's sister and brother-in-law, and spent a day with them and their kids.  It was the halfway point between Rexburg and Richmond and really helped to break up the 38 hour journey.  

On August 6th, Bethany and I were sealed in the Washington, D.C. temple for time and eternity.  For those of you who are not familiar with LDS beliefs and practices, we believe that marriage is for time (this life) and eternity (the life to come) if done by the power of God in His holy temples.  The day of the wedding was a fairly pleasant Summer day but that doesn't seem to matter too much when you are wearing a three piece suit in August.  After the actual marriage ceremony, Bethany and I came out of the temple to our family and friends who looked beautiful and happy to be there for us.  We took pictures with Alicia (who I would recommend to ANYONE) and then went to a nice luncheon with our immediate family at a fantastic Italian restaurant.  

We spent the night in Washington, D.C. and caught a plane to Guatemala City, Guatemala the next morning for our honeymoon.  Jorge picked us up from the airport and drove us where we needed to be.  Jorge was our saving grace many times and helped us on our journey in Guatemala.  He speaks English very well and is one of the nicest men we have ever met.  We spent the first 2 days in Antigua, Guatemala at a nice bed and breakfast.  We had a private room in a house that was owned by a lady who used to be a doctor and regularly tries to learn new languages in her spare time. 

The next week was spent in Roatan, Honduras.  We had to travel about 12 hours by bus to get to La Ceiba, a port town in Honduras, and then take the hour and a half ferry ride to the island of Roatan the next day.  Unfortunately, the ferry was broken the morning we tried to leave so we ended up staying in La Ceiba an extra day.  We were fed up with the extortionate taxi prices and were ready to be in Roatan, lounging on the beach and reading a book.  The ferry ride, when it was finally fixed, was eventful in that we saw a small fishing ship sink and I was on the verge of throwing up for about an hour because of sea sickness.  Roatan itself was a beautiful caribbean island and we enjoyed soaking in the sun and doing a little snorkeling.

We took the 12 hour bus ride back to Guatemala and spent the next 10 days at Lake Atitlan above the town of Panajachel.  Bethany's parents rented us a small house on the mountain with a beautiful view from our bedroom of the lake and Panajachel.  It was refreshing to wake up to that every morning.  We spent our time there going to the markets and catching up on the books we wanted to read.  We also spent some time at Vicki and Jody's orphan preventage program, Casa de Sion, teaching the mothers how to cook simple Italian dishes so they can feed themselves and hopefully sell these dishes at the market for money.  If you want to learn more about these programs you can visit their website, Casa de Sion.  It was a wonderful trip and we loved being in this beautiful country.  The weather was a constant 75 degrees during the day with cool nights and rain in the evenings.  It was my first time being there and I am looking forward to going back.

We got back at 2 in the morning on Aug. 30th and were quickly thrown into what reminded me of that show "Hell's Kitchen".  Madison and Michael's wedding was on Sept. 1st and my parents' house was buzzing with energy, both good and bad, stress, and flowers.  They were sealed together at the Washington D.C. temple and had a reception the same night at the Hanover Country Club.  It was a lot of fun and they are currently on their honeymoon.

That night we went to my parents' house and packed the car in what could be considered a modern day feat of engineering.  The car is completely packed and I make sure the doors are always locked for fear of our luggage busting the doors open and causing an accident on the highway.  We left the next morning at 5 and drove until midnight to come full circle again to Jenn and Ryan's house.  It seems that our lives in one way or another have been influenced by them and I know that Ryan takes full credit for me and Bethany getting married.  

We are happy, tired, and glad to be going back to school.  We haven't spent more than a few days in any one place since we got married and look forward to setting up our apartment and finding some stability.  As for now, we are sitting in the basement with Jenn and Ryan's four kids while they play Horse Pony 2 on the Wii and Sam kicks his brother in the back of the head.  It is good to be with family!  If you haven't seen our wedding pictures, you can see them on Alicia's website (linked above) or on one of our facebook pages.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ghetto Water Slide

My sister Erin decided to bring herself and her 3 kids up for the weekend. Then Hannah is babysitting my sister Sarah's two kids while they are in Aruba so she came up for the bridal shower with her kids and decided to stay the night. Then Flossie showed up with her two boys and not far behind her was Bryan with his two boys. So it turned out to be a big family reunion. With a house full of kids there was bound to be mischief. Us Dalia children are known for coming up with creative ways to play. I remember when my parents were out of town we would pile mattresses on the stairway and slide down them. Strangely enough no one broke anything doing that. We have come up with many ways to make water slides as well. Emmie, Alisa, and Tony made a HUGE water slide going from our swing set slide all the way down the hill to the driveway with a kiddie pool at the bottom to catch you. Erin called it the Ghetto Water park. The regular slide had a water hose running and the kids put soap all over the slide so you went extra fast! The kiddie pool was not the safest way to catch you because it was a steep drop into it which made for a hard fall, especially if you didn't make it into the pool but hit the rock driveway. So we had Emmie and Tony on call to catch the kids as they got close to the bottom. But once poor little Katie went down the slide without making sure there was someone to catch her and before we could get her she went down and hit the bottom hard. All her mother had to say was " that is the risk you take for sliding on this slide". It worked because she didn't cry at all and got right back in line to ride the slide.

Bridal Shower

My sisters ( mainly Flossie) threw me a very nice bridal shower this weekend. They did a wonderful job and I really enjoyed it. I think the best part about all of it was a game where everyone had to fill out questions about me and then she made me fill it out at the same time. The person who got the most right won the prize. Well, I couldn't answer the questions myself so I didn't figure anyone else would be able to either. There were questions like your favorite TV show? Your favorite band? Your favorite store to shop in? These answers change based on what is on netflix and what Eric has playing. ( I am a strong, independent person who has her own taste, but Eric definitely controls the music in our relationship. He does have great taste)

Then Flossie made me play that game guessing what Eric would say to certain questions. If i got it wrong i had to load my mouth with bubble gum. I think i know Eric pretty well but there were some unfair questions. Like what is his favorite band. No way anyone knows that, not even Eric, because it changes from day to day.

The favorite game of the day was when Flossie divided the groups into teams and they had to dress my mom and Eric's mom in a wedding dress made of toilet paper. They both told me not to post the pictures on facebook but no one said my blog was out!

Since most of my nieces and nephews, with the addition of some other kids, attended the shower, they all wanted to help open the presents.

There were some very cute decorations, including a line of pictures of Eric and I growing up and then together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

20 Years Later

This past weekend we took a trip down to Salt Lake City to visit our friends Rosie, Stephen, and their dog Max. They threw us a little wedding party for all of our friends in Utah to come to. Her parents were nice enough to offer their home for the party. It was really nice to see old companions and friends. I realized that night more than ever that the friendships Bethany and I made while we were serving as missionaries will be lifelong relationships that run deep. The Gospel really does bind people together, even in friendship.

Rosie is about 8 months pregnant and had her baby shower on Saturday. I was invited by her mother but decided that the thought of being in a circle of women talking about child birth was too much for me to handle right before I get married. So, I ditched them and went to see Harry Potter. Alone. And yes, it was awesome to have a little guy time to myself.

As our friends came to our wedding party, there was a table set up where they could write on slips of paper and put them in a jar. The prompt beside the jar was "Where will we be in 20 years?". Well, here is where our friends think we will be by then:

  • "Professor McLean"
  • Own a jet
  • 20 kids
  • Sending our firstborn to BYU-Idaho, hopefully having paid the debt of bad roommates for them.
  • East Coast, most likely Virginia
  • Half of our kids will be adopted
  • Won the lottery
  • Starred in a reality t.v. show
  • Lived in 2 foreign countries
  • Vacation house in Italy
  • Bethany will own a boutique/cafe
  • Genius children
Well, there you have it folks. It looks like we will have a very, very, VERY long and eventful 20 years and winning the lottery will allow us to have 20 kids, purchase a jet to fly to our vacation home in Italy, open a boutique/cafe, start our own reality t.v. show, and make sure that our kids go to the best schools so that they can be geniuses...because we all know my salary as a teacher just won't cut it!

We are very happy to be going home in a few days but are dreading the drive across the badlands of America. We have been frantically trying to get things together before we leave and have accomplished quite a lot. We even bought our first piece of furniture! It is a refinished kitchen table that is a sort of black/rust color with high top chairs. We like it so much that we almost forget we need to find some more furniture so our table isn't the only decor in our new apartment.

The big day is almost here!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 4th of July

This year on the 4th I woke up with a vivid memory from my childhood. It was from the fourth of July 13 years ago.

We were living in China, Maine. My older siblings had gone to the fireworks in a town 20 minutes away (by car) and I really wanted to go. As a kid, I had a bad habit of complaining to my parents so that they would make one of my older siblings take me with them. I remember getting to places with them and their friends on numerous occasions, but this wasn't one them. They told me I couldn't go with Flossie (my sister) and her friends to the fireworks. I was pretty mad so I decided that I could ride my bike the 15 or 20 miles into the next town and see the fireworks myself.

Clearly, as a 10 year old, I had not thought this through. But in true Dalia stubbornness I had to see the fireworks so I was going. I wrote a note and left it in my room. I must add my room was shared with my little sister Hannah and we were not clean children, so leaving the note in the middle of a pile of books probably wasn't the best idea. I left it anyway, hopped on my bike, and headed for the fireworks. I remember riding my bike along that main rode like it was yesterday. I was so scared. I had seen plenty of shows in my young of kids getting kidnapped. I really don't know how I made it all the way there. It kept getting darker and darker the longer I rode. I remember riding into town and realizing that this wasn't such a good idea. I had no idea where my sister was and I had no way to find her. There were huge crowds of people everywhere. I remember standing across the street from the McDonald's with my bike and crying because i had no idea what I was going to do. Then and i felt someone grab me and ask me what the heck I was doing there. It was my sister Flossie. I told her I had come to see the fireworks. She grabbed me and pulled me with her. I don't remember if I actually got to see the fireworks. I think I ruined it for myself and Flossie. I just remember one of her friends taking us home with my bike in the back.

We got to our house and there was my Mom crying. Now this was the time before cell phones so my parents had NO idea where i was and had NOT seen my note, so they had been very scared. My mom hugged me and told me she loved me and then she told me never to do that again and that I was grounded. ( you can always count on moms to give you the good news before the punishment) It turns out they had gone looking around the neighborhood and the local lake for me and were just about to call the police when they found out where I was.

That was by far my most eventful 4th of July. As I was remembering it yesterday morning I realized how lucky I was that day. There is no denying God was looking out for me. It was nothing short of a miracle that right as my 10 year old self rode into town on a bike my sister was right there to find me.

This week in Doctrine and Covenants class we talked about our country, what a great land it is, and how it is a miracle given to us by God. We are so blessed to live in a land of freedom, where we can worship and raise our families. As I have lived in other countries, I always come home with a greater appreciation for the USA. While I have loved living abroad and experiencing other cultures, I always come home with a longing for America. So, this fourth of July I am grateful for our country and the miracles that God gives us. I am grateful to the people who fight and have fought to keep us free.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bicycles & Life As We Know It

Today marks the one year anniversary of returning home from serving as a full-time missionary in the Washington Spokane Mission. It seems funny to think that the way you keep time as a missionary is by how much time you have left before you go home. Anyone who says they didn't think about that is a liar. It isn't a bad thing necessarily, unless it prevents you from doing the work you have been sent to do. It is what it is. What is really ironic is how you still keep track of time in terms of your mission, in this case, how far away you are from the day you came home. So much has happened, changed, and moved forward at a startling speed. I'm sure that when I am married I will keep track of time by how long I've been married...and then kids....and then I'll be an old man one day and probably won't remember what day of the week it is.

Anyway, to celebrate my one year anniversary of being home we decided to re-image our newly acquired bike (thanks to Will and Hannah). I figured that a little reminder of how much I hated riding around in dark slacks and white shirt (surprisingly comfortable..) underneath the blistering sun while being convinced that someone was going to throw something at me as my companion and I rode down a dangerously narrow and busy road. It only happened once or twice. I remember a stick and a drink. The stick bounced off the helmet, the drink...not so much. God bless those hard and terribly awkward shaped skull caps. I also remember when my bike was stolen and the thief was kind enough to leave his bike as a token of appreciation for mine. I was surprisingly calm as I rode this low rider bike with an almost-falling-off seat back to our apartment that day. I think it was because I was in that beautiful first 6 months period of your mission where anyone can do almost anything to you and all you can do is love them for some sickening reason. I was upset but quickly got over it as I took pride in the new bike I bought: a Raleigh M-80 that had gone through 2 generations of previous missionaries and would now endure another generation of torture and use at my hands. I am proud to say that it lasted the rest of my mission and was passed on to someone who needed it to get back and forth to work.

The bike was a combination of a hideously bright orange and white color scheme that reminded me of the something out of the seventies. It is a cruiser bike with a pretty hefty seat for even the cushiest rear end. I decided to take it out of the back of Bethany's car one day while she was in class. The back seat had to be laid down to get the bike in there for it's journey from SLC to Rexburg. I heard it went in pretty easy but getting it out was another story. Somehow I managed to lift the seat up and get it caught on the seat belt (which conveniently decided we were in the middle of a car wreck and would NOT release so that I could lower the seat again) and could not get it out. I was sweating and in a fit of desperation turned the AC on with all the doors open because I was getting so hot trying to get this bike out. I'm not sure what I was thinking now that I look back on the situation. The only thoughts in my head are one's I am too ashamed to repeat out loud. Something about cars..

Long story short, I took bike apart to get it out only after being secretly embarrassed in front of Bethany that I couldn't get it out to begin with. We have moved on since this incident.

I gave the bike a few days alone as punishment before I worked on it again and after a few cans of spray paint and some tender words of encouragement she looks great!

Ultimately, I realized that fixing this bike was a lot like my year of being home from serving a mission. It hasn't always been easy and in the middle of things can make you cuss under your breath. In the end though, life is beautiful. It requires some hard work and taking a step back from time to time to know what to do.