Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

I don't want to summarize 2016 again...I did that in my Christmas message. But, I will say this...2016 was a big year of firsts for me...
First full-time job in the US, first house, first new car...I wish I could add first love to that, but it won't happen anytime soon.

I think 2017 will have to try really hard to top 2016.  I just hope that peace will come to certain parts of the world. This is my only request for 2017...I want fewer people to suffer, fewer refugees, fewer wars, fewer demolished homes, less pain, less suffering...and more love, more forgiveness and more peace and happiness. I'm not asking for much am I?

We had a bad Christmas storm and I was worried about driving to Utah on Tuesday. On Monday we did a paint project. My painting (other than needing a few adjustments) turned out to be pretty good I thought. I just need to make my moon smaller and add a few branches on the trees and I think it would look nicer.



On Wednesday we flew to Los Angeles. 50 degrees warmer, we were thrilled to be outside and not need a coat or a sweater even. The weather was simply perfect. My friend and I wanted to move to LA, well until we drove in the traffic and changed our minds.

I had food poisoning of some sort that first day. I was in the bathroom every 5 minutes. Well, until I had this amazing meal at a middle-eastern restaurant...it cured me.
 

We drove to the beach...and ya there were people swimming and surfing...Ok, it was warm, but I didn't think it was that warm!
 


We headed to Magic Mountain-Six Flags the next day. I was not expecting the large crowd I saw there. Most rides had a wait time of 2 hours at least. We were lucky to get on a few rides after waiting only one hour or less...But my friend insisted we wait on the Batman ride...we waited about 1 1/2 hours...And this is exactly what the ride felt like after the long wait...(the ride lasts 1 1/2 minutes).


When it got dark we walked through the amazing display they had of Christmas lights and went to a show...I honestly don't think I have ever been this tired. I have never walked so much or stood on my feet so long. I had so much pain in my feet and legs at the end. I still have muscle pain now (2 days later)...









And people in LA actually make fake snow. They were blowing it and making some to cover the ground. Ha Ha...I'd be happy to donate all the snow in my yard. That should pretty much cover all of the park area. See under my feet is this strange white stuff they use:
 


 I am in Utah now and am heading to Las Vegas tomorrow to meet with my brothers.  I just spent today visiting with dear friends, so this has been the best day of 2016 so far. I had an amazing dinner, and an amazing lunch...best food, best company.

My friends took me around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. This house is certainly the most amazing one I have ever seen....

So, here are pictures of the house:


  
But, the house next to theirs had the greatest idea...Here is the house next door:

 
 Happy New Year Everyone...don't party too hard...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Message


Merry Christmas from Snowy Rexburg...Where Christmas is always white, and so are all the other days actually.

Yes, those are my new dogs that I am training to pull my sleigh. I am selling my car (that simply does not work on the ice and snow) and moving to something better. I think the dogs will get me to where I want faster and safer. I considered buying reindeer, but don't have a place to keep them. So, this will have to do for now!

I am looking forward to traveling south for the winter...I'll be in California for two days and in Las Vegas for two days. I will be meeting family in Las Vegas and going with a friend to California. This is of course assuming my car gets me to Utah safely (that is where I am flying from). Too bad it is a short break and I will not be able to get enough warmth or enough sunshine...But, it is better than nothing.

I am spending Christmas with my friend's family. I am going to spend Christmas eve with them and Christmas day. They have been so sweet to take me in. Danae even said they had a stocking for me...I feel special...well, they have a stocking for the cat, so maybe not too special, but still...

Today someone cleaned my driveway and left me a gift for Christmas on my door and then ran. I was not fast enough to see who it was, but it was such a sweet thing to do. 

To summarize this year, I don't know what to say...I think this year brought so many blessings into my life. Some wish that 2017 will be a better year, and for me, I don't think better is even possible. Getting more blessings is not possible. 

I got a full-time position at BYU-Idaho in April. In May I bought my car which I love (well, I loved until I had to drive on ice), and in July I bought my house. I have never owned a house before and it is great! There are things that come with it like shoveling mountains of snow from the driveway, but it is still a great blessing to have a place of my own.  Actually even shoveling snow is not so bad with my snow blower which I love! There is nothing like sitting in my recliner by the fireplace and reading a book.

I teach amazing students every day. And although teaching is a hard job, it is totally worth it. Especially when your students write you sweet comments on their final exam. 

This past week we went over to the Hansens and made gingerbread houses. It was fun...I tried to make a house once and gave up, but this one actually was way better than my first attempt. I guess it just takes practice. The kids sure enjoyed this, but probably more candy got into their stomach than what went on to their gingerbread house.

Back of my house:


Front of my house:


 Everyone else's houses:


I am missing my family this Christmas...There is no better place to be on Christmas than Bethlehem.  It is the place where it all started...in my town the greatest news ever was given to humble shepherds about the birth of the Savior of all mankind. His remarkable birth over 2000 years ago was an amazing event that brought peace, hope and salvation to all. 

But, his birth 2000 years ago was discrete, very few heard of it and very few witnessed it or came to see the baby Jesus. His first coming was small, humble and perfect. 

His second coming won't be so discrete...when He comes again, everyone will see Him and everyone will notice Him. The clouds will part and He will come forth in all His glory. Even the king of kings, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel. I look forward to that day when I shall bow with humble adoration in front of my Savior. That day will not be amazing for many, for He will visit many with destruction, with earthquakes and other disasters. But these hard times we witness today will end with the Savior's appearance from the skies..It will all be worth it in the end if we but endure.

This Christmas, may we not only stand amazed at His first coming as a babe in a manger, but may we prepare for His second coming from above to rule and reign as the King of the whole earth.

I love my Savior, I thank God for Him, for His life and His example. And I await with anticipation His second coming...

Merry Christmas to all...May we all be inn keepers that will give room in our hearts for the Savior of the world this Christmas season.

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Health Issues

Finals are over and I finished grading...Grateful for some multiple choice questions which  made my exams faster to grade. I just have one final exam left to grade and I will finish that tomorrow and hopefully submit the grades the same day. 

I had amazing students this semester and I am going to miss them.  Many actually all did better than I thought in their final exam which was surprising to me because my final exam scores are normally not good.

I have started preparing for next semester. Changing the calculus class set up took forever, but I think I am almost there. I have amazing TAs this semester and next semester, so I am all set. My TA took care of setting up my precalc class all by herself! 

So, it has been cold here and snowed all day on Friday. Yesterday it was -20 F and then when it warmed up it got up to -15 F (-26 Celsius). 

On Friday I woke up really dizzy and I could not even stand. I didn't make it to work and had to miss graduation. But, in a way that was a blessing because it snowed all day Friday and I would have had to clear my driveway then walk in the snow in a dress over to graduation. It would not have been fun. 

I thought my dizziness would go away on Saturday, but it didn't. It got a little better, but I was still dizzy...
I had to clear my driveway and go shopping as I had no food left. My friend Danae came to help me, because clearing my driveway is easy with my snowblower, but once I got to the end I didn't know what to do. The snow plow came and left a big pile of hard snow at the front of my driveway. My snow blower was not able to move that big pile. I tried it with a shovel, but I didn't know what to do with the snow and it was taking forever. I had to go inside every few minutes because when you stop feeling your face and fingers, that indicates a good time to stop. -20 degrees is not a temperature you want to be out in. We finally got it all cleared...and after defrosting inside for a few minutes I went shopping.

I had to hurry and get what I needed because I started feeling really dizzy and was holding onto the shopping cart so I don't fall. Gladly I made it to my car before passing out. I really felt I would faint, that is how bad I felt.

The roads were horrible, very icy. I realized that having 4-wheel drive does nothing for you when the roads are covered with a layer of ice. I almost had an accident when I turned a corner (going SUPER slow) but my car still started to slide to the left and almost hit the car right next to me. So, I think I need snow tires! 

I got to rest all day Saturday. I called a friend of mine who is a doctor and he told me to do this maneuver to get rid of my dizziness. It seemed to help the first time and I felt better, but this morning I feel dizzy again. I repeated the maneuver, but maybe I should repeat it again when I have an empty stomach. I got really nauseous.  

Another problem I am having is my hip. I have had issues with my hip for 3 years. I take medication and can't sleep on my right side because of it. On Friday, for some reason as I slept I seemed to do something to my left side and it was hurting me all night. So, I was not able to sleep because when I sleep on my back, my back hurts and when I sleep on my stomach my neck hurts and now I could no longer sleep on any side. 

I didn't sleep well last night either and I am soar all over because I was trying to sleep in strange positions so I don't put pressure on my hip, but it did not work. I am going to go see a doctor as soon as possible...I have to be able to sleep! Maybe if I can hook myself and sleep standing up if possible...ummm I wonder...

My home teacher suggests I buy a foam mattress, but I already bought 3 mattresses and none of the worked. I don't really want to invest in another one...and I have no room in my place left to put mattresses. I guess the good side is now I can have many guests come visit me at the same time!

I am looking forward to my trip to California/Utah/Las Vegas next week. I can't wait to have warmer weather. Although with the horrible weather we have been having I am worried about driving down to Utah. I will have to pick a day when the roads are good so I can drive down.

I guess the best part about Winter here is that I rarely feel cold. It is only when I walk from my car to the building; which is usually a matter of a few seconds. I am loving having a warm house throughout winter. I can turn on my fireplace even and get a toasty warm living room in a matter of minutes. I used to spend my winters under the covers in Palestine because even though the temperature was never too cold (in the 40s), it was cold inside and you never felt warm. 

It seems like my green card application is more complicated than I thought. I am starting to think it will be a miracle if this all works out...but I believe in Miracles and I am going to wait and see what happens.  I guess just the other day I was complaining that I had no trials and things were going well...

It seems like my health issues are going to be some of my challenges.  But, I am still grateful for all the blessings I have been given. They are too many to number...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hope during Christmas

Well, it seems like Winter is here...although we are not getting as much snow as normal. I am starting to see why everyone said last winter was a mild winter. I have had to clean snow from my driveway almost every day this past week. With my snow blower, it actually is not a hard task...but seems like a useless task because the next day it snows and my driveway does not remain clean!

The roads in our subdivision don't get cleared and mostly remain snowy/icy which is not fun. It has been windy too...I really don't remember it being windy at all last winter.  The temperature these days has gone above freezing, but the last week was a bit colder (-17 Celsius or less). 

I am so glad this semester is finally coming to a close. I have managed to finish the material in each of my classes and next week we will just do a review for the final exam. 

I am dreading next week though because I am having my students do test corrections and I had them schedule times to meet with me and I am booked all day with no time to breathe or eat or rest. We will see how it goes...I don't know what I was thinking!

I finally heard back from Deseret book and they said they sent my manuscript to the editorial board...It is a step in the positive direction. Maybe they will agree to publish my book. We will see. 

The year 2016 has been an amazing year for me...I don't think the new year can top that, but I wait to be pleasantly surprised. Getting my book published will surely make it a great year as well...

We had our stake conference today. It was great...I love the goodness of the people around here. They motivate me to be better.

The Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour have been greater than ever this year. Thousands gathered up in my town for the lighting of the tree...Christmas carols were sung and fireworks were fired. 



I am amazed that the people there manage to find joy during Christmas...I guess that hope of a better life is the only thing that keeps them going. That hope that was given over 2000 years ago when a small baby was born in a stable. A babe that would give hope of a better future for all the human kind. 

When my stake president was called, he asked his 3-year old daughter what he should speak about in stake conference. She held his face in her hands and said: "Daddy, tell them about Jesus. That He lived and He died and then He lived again." As the primary children bore witness today in Stake conference, Jesus does love us...in Gethsemane He demonstrated that love to us by willingly kneeling down and drinking the bitter cup so that  each of us can have hope of a better life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Light the World

I don't have a lot to say today. I think you all are pretty busy with the holidays approaching that you don't want to spend time reading my blog anyway.

I had surgery on my gums. One of my lower teeth needed a gum graft. I kept postponing it not wanting to do it remembering how horrible and painful my first graft was and the fact that it failed. But, I figured that 12 years of medicine development may make a difference. 

I did the surgery on Monday and I was impressed that I was no in any pain and I was able to eat and talk just fine. I was worried I would not be able to teach or something...

This lasted until Friday (4 days after the surgery) when I woke up in the morning with a severe bleeding. The doctor said it is normal and that it isn't a lot of blood, but I don't think I ever saw that much blood. It would not stop...It finally stopped and I went to work. 5 minutes into my class, it started again. I had to rush out without explaining to my students why. I got the bleeding to stop long enough to go back and tell my students that I was cancelling class. I had my department head cover my 9 o'clock class.  I did not have any breakfast and was finally starving by lunch time...I started to eat, but after a few bites it started to bleed again.

It has been fine all weekend except that it seems infected as I have a big lump on the top of my mouth. Strangely enough the site of the graft is fine, it is just the piece that they took out from the top of my mouth that is bothering me. It has not bled since Friday, but I am freaking out thinking it may bleed in the middle of class tomorrow. I can't afford to cancel anymore classes.

My students have been amazing...Those that have not given up hope about passing and are still coming to class. I have many that gave up already and just don't come. All those that come on time early in the morning keep asking for extra credit. The other day one of the students said that there are always 4 students that come to class super early (like 7:20 or something)...I decided I would bring cupcakes tomorrow for those that are there early. Those who come late won't get any ;-)

I am giving a talk about Christmas in Bethlehem tomorrow at a friend's house. We also have our ward Christmas party tomorrow. I am making funeral potatoes (to take to the dinner). This is the first time I make those...See, I am truly embracing the culture here...we'll see how they turn out.

I can't wait to eat some real food. I have been living on soups, yogurt, and soft stuff. I miss biting into things!  

It started to get cold here pretty quick. I finally managed to turn on my snow blower with the help of my friend. I must say it was not as easy as I thought since it is not that easy to maneuver. But, at least I had a clean driveway for a day before the wind blow up all the snow back today and last night. Ugh why bother? People here should just get some reindeer and a sleigh.  No point in having a car...that would save a lot of hours on shoveling.  I think Santa must have been from Rexburg. Don't you think?

It is supposed to go down to 10 degrees (-12 Celsius) this week during the day (much lower at night)...

I am excited for the break. About one more week of classes left and then finals. I need to get my classes for next semester ready as I will be going to California and Las Vegas over the break. I am not sure why setting up a class online takes that long...

I have not done many things from the 'light the world' campaign. I would, however, like to promote it as I think it is an amazing idea. 
Here is the link if you have not seen it: 
Click here to see the 'Light the world' calendar 

I hope you all can continue to let your light so shine that others may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.  Each of us can reflect the Savior's light this Christmas. As great as his first coming was, born as a babe in Bethlehem...His second coming is going to be so much more magnificent and breath-taking. I can't wait...May we all prepare for his second coming by opening up our hearts to the Savior of the world.