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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Move & the Job

I remember having so much to say about this when it first happened, and I'm sure I'll have more to say about it in another post.  But right now, I just want to get caught up.  So, for now I will just say that after Hamburg, Tom and I went to California for Arron's wedding.  While we were there Tom got the news that he was being offered a job at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This was THE BEST NEWS EVER.  

He had applied for the job while we were in Hamburg after finding that he had an old friend working there.  It seemed like forever passed before we finally got word and we had started to worry.  After looking for well over a year for a job, ANY job it is difficult to express just how happy, relieved, giddy and grateful we were to be finally getting that news.  And on top of it, it was a REAL job!  

The interesting thing is that, while it was wonderful for him to get a job, I remember also feeling a bit scared and uncomfortable, which I hadn't expected at all.  It was scary because it was such a big commitment and because we were so used to always being together (way more than most couples) and because it made us into normal settled down folks.  Actually, for Tom it was scary for other reasons - this is just me.  We were so used to being nomads and so much of our personality had begun to be tied up in that (and still is).  To be one of those people with an established job, who lived in the same place for years was (is) just so foreign to us.  We didn't (don't) know how to be those people.  I hope that doesn't sound offensive to anyone.  I don't mean it in a negative way, I just mean that it was different than what our experience had been.  And, to be honest, there IS a part of us that doesn't want to live that type of life.  It's not that we view it as a lesser kind of life, it's just that it isn't us.  Anyway, more on that in another post, because it truly deserves it own post.

The "uncomfortable" part was mostly about money.  We had gotten so used to the simplicity (in certain ways) of being destitute.  When you have no money, it's easy to decide whether or not to buy something - the answer is no.  At first that's hard (and to a limited extent it always is), but after a while you get pretty used to it and it becomes easy.  Easy in the same way that after moving 20 times de-cluttering becomes easy.  Actually, both situations require you to severely limit the amount of "stuff" you buy.  If you know your'e going to move in the next few months, you're probably not going to buy real furniture.  It will be painful and make you flinch when you have to give it up.  Also, if you have no money, you're not going to buy real furniture because it will be painful and make you flinch to not be able to pay rent.

So, to all of a sudden have disposable income (although, let's be honest, we still don't have THAT much disposable income...) and to be stationary for the foreseeable future is actually a bit of an unpleasant shock.  At least it was to me.  It was REALLY hard to get out of the mindset that we couldn't afford anything.  It was hard not to stress about every single little tiny purchase.  Like, can we really afford to buy another stick of eyeliner?  I could just skip make-up from now on.  Although, let's be honest, I still do anyway...Plus, now that we have the option of saving for retirement and saving for a house and saving for another car and saving for a new computer and saving for everything imaginable, we have to actually make decisions about whether to do so and how much money to put toward it all.  

It's been equally hard to even know how to put down roots.  I'm so used to feeling like I'm only going to know the people around me for 6 months that it just blows my mind every time I realize that, that's likely not the case here.  And I've gotten into such a cycle with places that I'm already starting to think about where we might move next even though it probably won't be for at least a FEW years.  What do I do with myself for YEARS in the SAME place?  How do I get so that I'm not so acutely aware of the passage of EACH month?  That kind of behavior is ok when you are only going to be somewhere for a few months, but when you'll be there for years, it's maddening.

Alright, enough of my thoughts.  To finish up with the catching up, Tom took the job and we moved into the basement of Tom's parents' house.  They don't live here right now because they are mission presidents abroad.  But, Tom's sister Emily, and her husband and baby girl live upstairs.  We like it here and are pretty content, but have started saving for a house.  So, hopefully we'll be moving into our first house in another year or less.  That should pacify my addiction to moving at least a bit.  Maybe we'll get a fixer-upper so that I can distract my obsessive brain and give it something to do.  

As for the job, Tom is performing anti-money-laundering investigations.  It's something he's been interested in for a while, so he finds it really interesting.  Some days he loves it and some days not so much.  The downside is mainly the loooooong hours.  The upsides are that it's interesting and that they offer GREAT benefits.  Oh, and that it's a JOB.  

The End

Arron's Wedding Reception

Alright.  It's been a while.  Life happened.  Then my mom emailed me and demanded I update my blog.  So, here we go.  Even though this happened four months ago, I present to you....Arron's Wedding Reception!  

Since it happened for months ago, I hope you will forgive me for having very limited dialog in this post.  I am anxious to move into the present....sorry Arron!

In case you don't know my brother, he served in Iraq a couple  of times.  While he was there several of his friends passed away.  This table is for them.

Don't the decorations look happy?

Tom held my niece, Rori, a lot during our visit.  She's awesome.

The kids LOVED these lights and just wanted to grab them.

So so so cute.

By the way, I'm writing this post while one of my nieces is laying next to me on my bed.  It's taking forever because she's super distracting!  She's only a couple months old and she's staring at me expectantly, wanting me to play with her.  Every time I do anything (make faces, shake her belly, move her legs) she just giggles and giggles.  Such a great baby!  Ok, back to the wedding.

I thought the room even looked cool when they were taking it down.

And one of the kids finally got to play with the light.
Happy 4 month anniversary Arron!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Arron & Ashley's Wedding

Right after we came back from Hamburg, my brother got  married!!  We were all pretty excited about it, especially since the girl he married is great!

My sisters and I were all bridesmaids and you can see our dresses below:

The colors were neon orange, pink and green.  At first I wasn't sure how that was going to look, but it actually turned out pretty cool!  The decorations at the reception were especially cool, which will be my next post.  All the groomsmen wore orange ties and the little boys got adorable orange bow ties (see below).  Then, the little girls got green tutus with pink leggings and headbands.  Please enjoy the zillions of pictures I took of my adorable nieces and nephews below.

This is Cash.  Check out the beautiful blue eyes and lucious red lips.  He's a total sweetheart too.

This one is a CHARMER.  The two nephews are exactly the same age, but Donny is so much tinier than Cash!  His voice is tiny too and it all really throws you off when he speaks in full sentences!

This is my sweet niece Josie.  She's REALLY smart and very well behaved and just so innocent.  She looooved the skirt.

Rori (Aurora) was just born in June.  So sweet.

Grandma in Heaven with her grandbabies.


He was laughing his head off.

Josie picks flowers everywhere she goes, so she had a bouquet as well.
Mmmmm.  Yes please.  Tom was such a trooper the whole day.  I was proud to call him mine.   Also, he's really good-looking.

If you know my brother, you know why I took a picture of this street we saw on the way home.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mika's House

As I alluded to a couple posts ago, Tom left Hamburg before I did.  I think it was about 10 days before.  This was the longest we had been apart since we had been married.  Luckily, my co-worker and friend, Mika, offered to let me stay with her for those last few days!  This was really great for several reasons.  First, it meant I didn't have to spend a lot of money finding a place to stay for those 10 days.  Second, it meant I really didn't miss Tom nearly as much as I would have.  And finally, it was just a lot of fun!  She did a really great job of making me feel welcome and at home, we had some great conversations and it truly felt like a home away from home.  One of my favorite things was cooking dinner together.  Mika does NOT cook, so I made a list of some really simple things we could make together that I thought even she could do.  She ended up loving it and so did I.  We also watched documentaries together like the nerds we truly are, and I showed her a bit of the city since she hadn't been out much.  After a few days one of the other interns, Sophie, came back from a vacation she'd gone on and stayed with us too!  Even more fun, since I also love Sophie!  One day, Sophie, Mika, Ruthie (another great intern who came to hang out with us) and I went walking around the big, beautiful botanical garden that is right by Mika's place.  While there we happened upon this AMAZING park.  It was the type of park that really nurtures kids' creative sides.  I feel like all the parks in the States are more or less the same.  This one was such a breath of fresh air.  We, of course, had to plan on it too and we had so much fun!  Actually, I probably had more fun than anyone else.  I wish that when I have kids they could have a park like that.  But I don't think it will happen as long as I'm in the States because I think it would have been deemed too unsafe in the US.  Boo!!  I also hung out with another intern, Seara, a few times in those last few days, which was great.  It had been a long time since I had just hung out with girlfriends.  Anyway, I truly loved my last few days in Hamburg and they made me sad to go!

Friday, August 31, 2012


While we were in Hamburg, I interned at UNESCO's Institute for Lifelong Learning.  UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  Probably what they are best known for is establishing World Heritage Sites, but they do a lot of other great things too.  What I was working on is a publication called GRALE (Global Report on Adult Learning and Education).  Basically, in 2008 a bunch of UN member states got together for a conference in Brazil, called CONFINTEA VI.  It's a conference held once every several years to discuss adult learning.  After the conference, they put out a document which summarized what had been decided at the conference.  This document is called the Belem Framework for Action, and in it our little institute is charged with compiling data from as many member states as possible and synthesizing the data into a publication.  That publication is GRALE.  The first GRALE was published in 2008 and the one I worked on is the 2nd one.  Sorry for all this info.  I know no one probably cares but me.  Anyway, so before I got there, the institute (read: Anna) had already created and sent out reporting templates (read: questionnaires) to all of UNESCO's member states (which is something like 190 nations).  We were working on getting the nations to send them back to us, and to do so using the correct format, etc.  So, I kept up a spreadsheet on our progress and drafted emails and called UNESCO offices, etc.  Also, GRALE is organized into 6 chapters: governance, finance, participation, quality, policy and literacy (whew! still remember!).  I was assigned to the participation chapter and (together with input from the rest of the group) came up with the chapter's outline, main points, etc.  Also, once we finished collecting reporting templates, I spend a couple weeks inputting the data into the computer.  I also helped prepare for a conference, took down minutes at meeting, did some editing and lots of other little things.  It was a great experience.  I really loved the people I worked with.  They were kind and hard working and interesting.  I felt like I was a valued part of the team and like I was doing something real for a change, instead of just schoolwork.  One of my favorite aspects was that I worked with such a diverse group of people.  There were several Germans, a woman originally from India (who had lived in Germany for many years), a man originally from Togo, a woman originally from Ghana, a man from Ghana, a couple people from Korea, one from China, one from Japan, one from the Philippines, etc.  We all brought our different backgrounds into the work.  It was sad to say goodbye!

Below are some photos of the building:

My desk - coveted for how much relative privacy it offered.

Binders filled with email correspondence and completed reports from member countries.

Window by my desk with the flowers I bought from the market at lunch.

Snack table in our little intern room.  Sometimes other employees would come by just for our snacks.

Some of the other interns!  From right to left: Eugene, Mika, Seara and Ruthie.  They're great.

The building is an old mansion.

One day this famous German rockstar name Udo Lindenberg came by to see if he could use the house for a party.  All the Germans freaked out and we made him sign our guestbook.  Apparently Mika thought he was some homeless guy when he first walked in.  She is obviously not German.

This Chinese temple style building was across from our building.  Always reminded me of Taiwan.  I think it was a museum.

Dammtor Station, where I got off every day to go to work.
Farewell UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning!  Keep learning!!!