February 29, 2016

Snow Day & A Dog Sled Ride

When I was little, my family took a trip to Alaska. I remember visiting the North Pole, staying at a bed 'n breakfast (my room had a TV and I could watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-- I thought that was like the coolest thing ever), we sat in a giant ice chair, and I seem to recall riding in a dog sled but I don't remember much about it.

For about the last three years or so, I have wanted to ride in a dog sled. Earlier this year we booked a dog sledding adventure, but our trip had to be rescheduled because the truck that hauls the dogs broke down.

This past weekend we were finally able to go on that dog sled ride I have been dreaming about.

The morning started off early at 6:00 am. We were in the car by 7:00 am and headed to Bend. We arrived at the mountain shortly before our scheduled ride at 10:30. The first thing I noticed when we got the mountain was the dogs. In my mind I had envisioned being pulled in a sled by big old huskies. The dogs that greeted me however we not big, they were quite small and they were very loud.

Our musher was named Alex, he explained to us that the dogs pulling the sled were Alaskan Huskies but that they are a mutt breed- they have a variety of different dogs in them.

The dogs!


Love this photo!

Me & Andy- ready to go!

Giddy up!

Before our ride the dogs just kept barking, they were pretty loud. As soon as the sled started to move the dogs went silent. We quickly learned that these dogs have a hidden talent, they run and poop at the same time. Yes you read that right, they run and poop at the same time. The need to go to the bathroom doesn't slow these dogs down. I was really glad that they didn't fling any poop back in our faces that's not to say we didn't smell it- we did.

The dog on the right is pooping- you're welcome!

Poop aside the ride was a lot of fun! I wish it were longer. It was fun to fly down hills and glide around turns. The scenery was beautiful too!

We decided since we had driven along way to get to the mountain, we might as well see if there was a place nearby to go inner tubing. It was our lucky day!

Andy & I.

The rope tow.

I thought the chair lift looked so pretty in contrast with the trees and snow.


My Eskimo!

Being a Creature.

We spent two hours tearing up the snow with some inner tubes, it was a blast!

We grabbed a bite to eat and then headed out for some more fun in the snow. We went snow shoeing, made a snow angel, threw a few snowballs, attempted to build a snow cave, and took in the breathtaking scenery.

The forest.

Trail marker.

Andy checking out all the snow on the trees.

Always on the go.

I love my trees!

Andy & Ashlee

We found this and thought it was great.
When we left it looked like this- we dedicate it to Megan!
Making a snowshoe angel.

The final product.

Looking up at the sky!

We live in a beautiful world.

Feeling content.

South Sister decided to come out from behind the clouds.

Andy & I.

Snow cave.

Before we knew it was time to get in the car and head for home. On our way out of town we decided to hit of thrift store. Bend in a ritzy town so we thought we might find some awesome deals, our hunch was right. We were both glad we stopped.

In was an incredibly long day, but we had so much fun! We can't wait to get back out in the snow.

February 26, 2016

To My Friends

One of my favorite apostles is Elder Jeffery R. Holland. I can't tell you exactly what I like about Elder Holland, but every time I hear him speak, I feel like I take so much away from his talk. When I heard that he was coming out with a new book I got super excited! And well, the book addict in me had to have it or at least read it.

I finished reading To My Friends yesterday. To My Friends is a collection of talks given by Elder Holland over the years and it addresses a wide variety of topics. This book was such a wonderful read. There were times when I was reading that I felt like the Lord was speaking to me personally.

As I was reading two paragraphs jumped out at me. I shared those paragraphs with Andy and he really liked them. I'd like to share them with you too!

In speaking on happiness Elder Holland says:

"In anticipation of addressing this topic, I sat in my study for a long time trying to think if I had ever know a happy person who was unkind or unpleasant to be with. And guess what? I couldn't think of one- not a single, solitary one. So learn this great truth: You can never, worlds without end, build your happiness on someone else's unhappiness. Sometimes, maybe when we are young and insecure and trying to make our way up in the world, we think if we can tear someone else down a little, it will somehow miraculously lift us up. That is what bullying is. That is what catty remarks are. That is what arrogance and superficiality and exclusiveness are. Perhaps we think if we are negative enough, or cynical enough, or just plain mean enough, then expectations won't be too high; we can keep everyone down to a flaw-filled level and therefore our flaws won't be so glaring

Happy people aren't negative or cynical or mean, so don't plan on that being part of the "manner" of happiness. If my life has taught me anything, it is that kindness and pleasantness and faith-based optimism are characteristics of happy people."

 Wasn't that great?

There are enough crabs in the world, lets be kinder, gentler, and caring on our path to happiness.

February 25, 2016

Thursday Thought

 I have really been struggling lately. Life has been really hard. The other day when I was reading on my lunch break, I came across this quote and I just smiled to myself.

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln

That's a great quote, right? I'd read this quote before, but reading it again made it hit home for me just a little bit more. It helped me refocus and change my mindset.

Even though life is hard right now, I can still be happy. Happiness is a choice and I choose to be happy!

Things that increase my happiness:
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Studying the scriptures
  • Talking and visiting with family
  • Uplifting music
  • Exercise
  • Healthy food
  • Good sleep 
  • A clean house
  • Being productive
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Serving
What makes you happy?

"Think of a wonderful thought. Any merry little thought."

February 24, 2016

New Beginnings

We has New Beginnings earlier this week for Young Women's. I was asked to find eight girls that to talk about a specific Young Women's Value and then share their testimony of that value (Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice & Accountability, Good Works, and Integrity). The girls did a wonderful job! I was so touched by their sweet testimonies.

I had asked one of my Beehives to talk about Choice & Accountability. I started doing cartwheels in my head when she started talking about a lesson I gave the previous Sunday. Sometimes, I wonder how much the girls take away from church. I don't need to wonder anymore, they get it. I couldn't be more proud of my girls. They are all so different, but I love each and everyone of them. I hope they can feel that love.

Another Nathan Story

While at the high school one evening watching the basketball game, Nathan asked for money to buy himself a pop. Julie handed him a twenty dollar bill and he proceeded to find himself some pop.

He soon faced two options, buy pop from the vending machine or buy pop from the concession stand. He realized that it was a better deal to buy the pop out of the vending machine and proceeded to put his twenty dollars into the machine. He soon discovered that the vending machine wasn't going to accept a twenty dollar bill.

Meanwhile, the lady running the concession stand kept trying to convince him to buy pop from her. Growing frustrated Nathan returned back to his seat empty handed and exclaimed that the lady working the "concussion stand" wouldn't help him.

February 22, 2016

Hiking In The Snow

Growing up, my family liked to go snowshoeing. There is something calm and peaceful about tromping through a forest covered in snow.

A few years ago, Andy and I got snow shoes for Christmas. We were super excited to use them, but there wasn't much snow that year. The next winter came and went with the same result, not enough snow to snowshoe.

We have had an awesome winter in Oregon this year, lots on snow in the mountains and lots of rain in the valleys. On Saturday we decided to throw our snow gear in the car and we headed off to Sahalie Falls to snowshoe.

The drive to the falls was beautiful! The evergreen trees are so green right now. We started to get a little nervous as we were nearing the falls because there just wasn't a lot of snow on the ground. When we pulled into the parking lot, there was icy snow, but not enough to snowshoe. We were bummed.

Sahalie Falls.

The Falls.

Andy & I.
We decided since we had driven all that way to get to the falls, to do the next best thing. We put on our snow boots and hiked around the falls.

Check out the moss on that tree


Me (making the face) and Andy.

A hiking we will go!

It was so pretty out! The river was so blue, it was incredible!

Even though snowshoeing was a flop, we still had a wonderful time!

February 16, 2016

Valentine's Day Weekend

This weekend was a lot of fun! Megan and Daniel came down to spend the weekend with us.We stayed up way too late and played way too hard.

The weekend was full of thrift shopping, mini golf, family history, dominoes, church, a Walmart run, lots of food, McFarland, hiking Spencer Butte, lots of laughs, stories, and some Voodoo Doughnuts.

We look forward to doing it again!

February 11, 2016

Thursday Thought

I hope your week has been going better than mine. This past week has been incredibly hard. You know the old saying, "When it rains, it pours"? Well it seems like the trials have been raining down on me lately.

I have been trying my best to keep my chin up, to smile, to be happy, to breath and not let these trials get me down. Sometimes its okay and even necessary to have a good cry and I have done plenty of that today.

I talked with a friend earlier and she said, "changes 2016." I started thinking about that and I realized 2016 is going to be a year of change, Andy and I have a lot of big plans. I am hopeful that some of these trials will pass as these "plans" come about.

If your struggling like me right now with trials in your life, know that they won't last forever. The storm will pass. In the mean time, try to learn what you can from your challenges. I know it might be hard to view trials as a blessing, but more often than not, they are just that. They are opportunities from our Heavenly Father to help us learn, grow, and become better.

Keep your chin up, smile, and know that this trial is but a small moment in time.

February 9, 2016

A Nathan Story

I am a firm believer that kids say some of the funniest things. One evening while talking with Julie, she shared the following story with me and I thought it was too funny not to share.

Julie and my brother's Russell and Nathan were sitting around one evening talking about Lent (Note- we aren't Catholic). She asked each of the boys what they wanted to give up for Lent.

Julie decided to give up pop.

Russell decided he wanted to give up one of his favorite toys.

And Nathan, well he thought long and hard. He finally decided that the biggest sacrifice he could make would be to give up school, he was very serious when he said it too.

Julie had to be the bearer of bad news and tell him that by giving up school he would be held back a year.

February 8, 2016

Date Night

This weekend we went on a double date with our friends John and Kassy. John and Andy both served their missions to the Philippines and speak Tagalog so we thought it would be fun to go to a Filipino restaurant.

When we walked up to the counter to order Andy started speaking Tagalog and the woman taking our orders was surprised that Andy could speak her language. Then John walked up and started speaking Tagalog and the lady was floored. I don't think she had ever seen a white guy speak Tagalog before. We all just laughed, it was super funny! Naturally this lead to a discussion about Andy and John serving missions to the Philippines, it was pretty awesome!

Some of the food was really good and some of it didn't agree with my palate. The company was great and we had a good time!

Afterwards Andy and I hit up Goodwill, it's just down the street from the restaurant and I scored on a new skit. Yay!

February 7, 2016

A New Calling Of Sorts

Today I was released as 2nd Counselor in the Young Women's Presidency. About a minute later I was recalled as the 2nd Counselor in the Young Women's Presidency. Basically, we got a new Young Women's Presidency and I get the opportunity to continue on as 2nd Counselor.

I'm sad that I won't be working with the former presidency member's any longer, but I am excited to get to know the knew presidency members. I know the Lord know what He is doing and good things are in store.

February 5, 2016

The Boys In The Boat

I have an addiction. I have an addiction to books. I love to read! I read on my lunch break every day. If something takes me away from reading, I feel like my day has been thrown off and something is missing. I have loved to read since I was a little kid. When I was a pre-teen I created my own library at home and my siblings checked books out from me. Reading is a big part of my life. Admitting it is the first step right? On second thought, I'm not sure I'm ready to give up this addiction yet.

One night while working out at the gym a friend of mine suggested that I read, The Boys in the Boat. He told me a bit about the book and I put it on my Christmas list. Santa was nice to me this year and he brought me that very book.

Oh my goodness, this book is amazing! I had a hard time putting the book down at the end of my lunch break every day. This book is a true story and it takes place in my home state, Washington. Parts of the story even take place in my hometown. One of the addresses mentioned in the book, happens to be the same street my grandparents live on! Talk about a small world. Despite all of this, I had never even heard of the boys in the boat or the University of Washington Rowing Team.

The Boys in the Boat is the story of the University of Washington Rowing Team during the Great Depression and World War II. The story is told with such imagery that I could imagine myself being there. I could feel my muscles aching and my body sweating as I rowed with the boys in my mind. What these boys did and went through is absolutely incredible. I wish I had know about them and their journey earlier on in life, maybe I could have met a few of them.

If you like Unbroken, you will love The Boys in the Boat. It is definitely worth the read!

February 4, 2016

Thursday Thought

What do you think of when you think of courage? I tend to think of those awesome inspirational  sports movies (yes, I like those kinds of movies), where the "underdog" does something that nobody seems to think they are capable of doing. But is that really courage?

I think Nelson Mandela said it best, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

Nelson Mandela
I just love that! Courage doesn't mean that you don't have fears or insecurities, everyone has those (if they tell you they don't, they're lying). Having courage means you don't let your fears or insecurities hold you back, you put on your big girl or big boy pants and you face that fear.

Maybe all of those sports movies have had it right all along. The "hero" lacks some sort of belief in themselves or their team. They work really hard and try to overcome their own personal challenges and somewhere along the line they start to believe in themselves and their abilities.

What are you afraid of? What's holding you back? What are you going to do about it?

My challenge to you is this- figure out what you're afraid of and face your fear. In facing your fear, you will likely feel liberated, empowered, an increased belief in yourself, and happiness. And who doesn't want to feel those things?

Carpe Diem!