Sunday, July 31, 2011

Youth Conference 2011

Josh and I got assigned to be youth conference counselors almost as soon as we moved into our new ward. Josh, having been an EFY counselor forever and me, having wanted to be an EFY counselor forever immediately and excitedly accepted.

The theme this year was "We seek after these things" coming from the 13th article of faith. Josh was in charge of 6 boys and I was in charge of 5 girls. We were both lucky and had really great kids. There was a total of about 550 youth there, with about 100 leaders. It was held at Kutztown University in PA and had youth from the surrounding 5 stakes.

We did a lot of different activities, including games, a future fair, workshops, and several devotionals. We even got to have Sister Mary N. Cook, who is the first counselor in the General Young Women Presidency come and speak a few different occasions. She was just amazing and I think I have a new favorite general authority now! One of the things she stressed was PROS:

Pray (morning and night)
Read (the Book of Mormon, at least 5 minutes every day)
Obey (the standards in For the Strength of Youth and the commandments)
Smile (Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal)

It is so simple and easy to remember, yet can make such a difference in the lives of each of us, not just the youth.

I love being around youth and I miss serving in YW! I loved it and definitely learned from it.

In-Laws Visit

Five days after we got back from DC, Josh's parents came out for their visit to see us in our new home. I have a feeling they will be visiting a lot more now that we are so close to them. It was a very busy week and lots of fun!

Baltimore Aquarium
I LOVE turtles.

4D movie, including a shark attack!

This little bird is SO loud! It is so cute when he makes the sound, he rears his whole body back to get enough power. If you listen at the end of the sloth video, you can hear him.

We got a treat-we watched this sloth move across the whole rain forest room! They can stay in the same spot for up to two days, so we were lucky. Here's a video of him in action::

We also went to the beach twice! The first day we tried out Cape Henlopen and the next day we went to Rehoboth. They were both crazy busy, no surprise there. Josh's mom also got us boogie boards, but the waves were very, very lame.

Funny face Josh

The most important part of their trip is that I discovered my new love--Rita's! It is an italian ice shop where you can get gelato on top of your ice, and it is pure heaven. I am entirely addicted, plus they have already sent me two coupons, which means this addiction is sustainable. Good thing.

Washington D.C.

This is old news by now, but life has been too busy to blog lately!
Josh had a scholarship orientation in Washington DC 3 weeks ago, from Mon-Thurs. This meant a free mini vacation for me!
We got there Monday night, so my first day of adventuring started Tuesday. I went to the Museum of American History and the Holocaust Museum. The biggest thing that I got out of these two museums was that our country has already been through many difficult experiences and times. Throughout all of them, life goes on. This was reassuring to me because there are times that I feel like our country is now in a crisis mode--but life goes on. Someway, somehow, we will make it through this and eventually look back on it and hopefully learn from it.

The next day, I went to the zoo. It made me think two things--1) I don't want to have children. And 2) I hate zoos.
There were a million (this does not feel like an exaggeration) screaming (neither does this) little kids running around like crazy the day I was there. I realize the zoo is probably more a place for kids than for grown-ups (which I am coming to accept that I am), but still, I'd like to be able to see the panda, too! I will admit, I have come back to my senses and do want to have kids, but I had my doubts there for a day.
I hate zoos because of an experience in the monkey house. Upon entering the monkey house, there is a big sign that explains how orangutans specifically are shy creatures. It gives suggestions on how to treat them--walk up to the glass back first, do not bang on the glass, be patient, look at them over your back, etc. Were these millions of children obeying one of those suggestions? Of course not. I am naturally a more shy, reserved person, so I felt like I could relate to those apes, and I could only imagine how terrified and psychologically damaged they felt! Not only could I relate to them, but their behavior was sullen and antisocial. They looked like they just wanted to be left alone. Now this is not the fault of the zoo--on the contrary, it seemed like they get good care and attention in the zoo. It is the fault of children and parents who do not teach their children better.
But they had this sweet apparatus to climb on, so that helped me feel a little bit better.

Other zoo highlights:

Josh got done early that day and we got to go for a brief visit to the Museum of Natural History and have dinner with his future boss.
The last day I went to the American Art Museum and Portrait Gallery. I love art and I could have spent a lot longer there, but this is the only picture I took!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fourth of July, Philly Style

We were very excited to be out on the east coast for the 4th of July. This has always been my favorite holiday because it is the least stressful and has the least expectations-- as long as there are fireworks, it will pretty much be a success.
We originally planned on going to DC for the 4th, but when we learned about the celebration Philadelphia would be having, we changed our plans.
They had a week long celebration with different events each day and then on the 4th, there was a parade and a street full of entertainment, activities, food, concerts, and lots and lots of people.
Climbing the Army's rock wall.

Funny guy.

Strongman Competition

African dance group

One of the best things about the day was all the free stuff we got! In addition to these awesome hats that we'll never wear again, we got juice, Dole fruit, protein bars, fake tattoos (that I have yet to apply)...pretty sweet.
It went so fast I didn't have time to think!

Street performers

Josh had plenty of time to read more HP while we waited for the concert to start. We picked out the perfect spot in the late afternoon and waited there for a few hours. As it got closer and closer to the concert starting though, more and more people began crowding in and we realized the two of us weren't going to be enough to hold our blanket down. It turned out to be way too many people for us to sit down and still be able to see and we ended up standing almost the whole night. Oh well, live and learn!

It was a perfect night--not too hot, just a little humid, beautiful sunset, and of course, hordes of people enjoying it with us!

The day ended with the country's biggest free outdoor concert with The Roots, Sara Bareilles, Estelle, Michael McDonald, and Earth, Wind and Fire. They also surprised us by having Committed (they won the TV show "The Sing-Off and they were my favorite!) and Boyz II Men! Boyz II Men was Josh's favorite group ever growing up. It was fantastic and helped us endure the crowds.

Overall, it was a great Independence Day, but we probably won't do it again, unless we can figure out how to get the reserved seats...

The Fourth of July is also a special holiday for us because it is the holiday that we took our first road trip (to Colorado!) together and really the beginning of when we started to fall in love (2 weeks later we were engaged!). I can't believe it's been 2 years ago already! Time flies when you're in love, living your dream life with your best friend.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Home Decorating

The last part of our apartment that needed serious work after our move here was our bedroom. We were sadly using linens, curtains, and decorations that I have had since high school, so that when Josh walked into the room, he said he felt like he was walking into my room, not our room. And it was ugly, barren, and not welcoming at all. I do not have any before pictures, but here are the after pictures!
Yes, the top right frame still doesn't have pictures in it! Work in progress.

I know it's definitely not perfect, but it so comfortable, homey, and inviting. It feels like us, which I think is important. The best thing about it is that everything we used was super cheap! I'm a big bargain hunter and we got some great deals:
shelves on wall: $1.50 each at a garage sale, painted and sanded
new duvet cover w/ shams: $12 clearance at Target
curtains: free from my mom
The biggest purchase in the room was for the nightstands, which were still cheap as far as furniture goes.
Anyway, we love it and we can officially say now that we are all moved in! (except for that frame we need to put pictures in!)