Monday, December 30, 2013

the piano guys

So if you've been following my blog you know I'm a big big big music nerd.

My Uncle Rick surprised us with Piano Guys concert tickets last weekend.

My dad, a few of my cousins and aunts and uncles and I enjoyed a lasagna soup dinner thanks to Aunt Diane and then piled into the car to Salt Lake (poor Brettie had to finish finals so couldn't make it).

I loved it!

Not only is Jon Schmidt my piano idol, but The Piano Guys are accessible, talented, and spiritual middle-aged men who decided to live their dream and what's more inspiring than that? ;) Not to mention their cellist, Steven Sharp Nelson, is near a musical genius. He uses a looping device to loop his music, and it sounded super awesome live. I definitely want to get one of those and practice jamming with it even though it's 95% certain that I'll sound terrible.



^^^Isn't this picture so good? Ha! iPhone cameras just aren't cutting it for me these days.


The concert was Christmas-themed and it definitely got me into the Christmas spirit. This may sound dramatic, but I was close to tears a few times, especially when they played O Come, O Come Emmanuel . . . my favorite Christmas song of all time. Their music made me feel Christ's love and remember why Christmas is so special: because the Savior of the world was born.


Here are some of my favorite songs by The Piano Guys:



^^^How could I not love their Lord of the Rings cover? I'm obsessed.


^^^Jon Schmidt wrote this when he was a teenager. Can I say musical prodigy?

^^^They want to do a music video on each of the 7 wonders of the world. I'm not sure how they got a piano on the Great Wall of China but I'm pretty sure it was a piece of cake.


I listen to them a lot at work. Listen to their music if you want something uplifting and beautiful.








Sunday, December 29, 2013

idaho? . . . no udaho!

I had to.

A few weekends ago my dad and I drove up to Idaho to see Bri perform in her last viola performance at BYU-Idaho ever (and to see my brother who is a freshman there). Brett was in Vegas at his best friend's bachelor party, so I figured I should do something fun too.

She did a fantastic job, especially in the song Sleigh Ride when her part is incredibly intricate.






^^^Not sure what's going on here. 




It was my first time visiting BYU-Idaho and it was very cold and dreary and farm-like and not really my taste but hey, if you like that kind of stuff, then go there!


^^^First and last selfies for me. I was just really loving this berry lipstick and I think I might steal it from my sister. 

No, BYU-Idaho really wasn't all that bad. Downtown Rexburg was lit up with Christmas lights and we got to go to the school gym and see The Hobbit which was actually really good and 845,679,341 times better than the first.

^^^Workin' on our fitness. 

So that was Idaho.I loved spending quality talk time with my dad in the car to and from Rexburg. He is the kindest, smartest, and most forgiving person I know.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

merry christmas

Merry Christmas from the Candlands!

I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His birth. What a wonderful season.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

don't you just love books?

But, seriously?

I love them so much.

Here is the second installment of book reviews of the novels, memoirs, etc. I've read on the train commuting to and from work.

Catfish and Mandala 
by Andrew X. Pham


This is a memoir about a Vietnamese-American's journey to Vietnam. I never figured out why it was called Catfish and Mandala since he never talks about either. I love the detail he uses while describing Vietnam--its beauties and its vices--I feel like I've been there now. I can't believe how sick he gets eating their food! You'll have to read it to see what I mean. I love the theme of being a stranger in both lands, not really belonging to Vietnam and not really belonging to America, since both persecute him. I love the exploration of immigrants who find themselves without a nation to completely call their own.


The Goose Girl
by Shannon Hale


This is your classic Disney-esque fairy tale. After the first few pages I was greatly considering not reading further. But, I'm glad I did because the story got better and her prose less annoying.I would have drooled over this book as a thirteen-year-old girl, which is the intended audience. But, it is entertaining and has a cute love story and all that so you should read it if you're looking for something light.


My Story
by Elizabeth Smart


Before I read this book, I watched an interview with Elizabeth Smart and the interviewer commented that Elizabeth holds nothing back in this book--that it's graphic and detailed. Thus, I was hesitant to read it, but also wanted to see her perspective. It wasn't as graphic as I thought it would be, but I can't believe the things she had to go through as a fourteen-year-old. The book also wasn't as bad as it could be because I knew it had a happy ending. It's incredible that someone can rise above the horrors and become a strong example to so many people.

One story that I love from her book is when she went without drinking water for three days. She prayed to God and pleaded with Him to somehow give her water or else she was going to die. That night, as she lay in the tent, something woke her up. She looked around and saw that both her captors were asleep. Then she looked to her other side and found a cup of cold, clear water. She'd never had a cold cup of clear water in the entire time she'd been kidnapped. She drank the water and instantly felt relieved. Upon remembering that moment, she says that there is no explanation for that cold cup of water other than it came from God.

That is undeniable.


I Am the Cheese 
by Robert Cormier


I heard rave reviews about this 1970's mystery novel. I read it in a day--it's engaging and exciting. I like the unreliable boy narrator who may or may not be crazy. I like the believable suggestions of mental illness and anxiety. The ending is definitely upsetting. I don't want to give a lot away, but I recommend you read it.

That's the second installment. I have a few more installments to go.

My book of the week: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Not a very Christmas-y happy book (she gets raped on the first page) but powerful and beautiful nonetheless.

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. Christmas is next week! AH!

P.S.S. I love this image. Extroverts unite!









Wednesday, December 11, 2013

thank to the sgiving

Thanksgiving was spent in beautiful San Diego.

And 2 of the 5 days I had off of work were driving. But it was definitely worth it.

All the fam bam came to my parent's house.

Thanksgiving morning we hiked on Torrey Pines beach (there is a big hill, I promise).


Tailgating breakfast.

^^The only picture I got from Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious, especially the pear and tangerine infused sweet potatoes. 

 Park adventures to settle our stomachs. I love this picture of my dad.



 ^^Baby Ander had no fun at all.


 ^^Tara and Sophie spidering it up.

We spent some time with my Poppop (my grandpa) as well. He has cancer and it's blocked his small intestines so he can't eat. He has a tube that goes directly into his large intestines and that's how he survives. He couldn't eat during Thanksgiving and I felt so bad enjoying all of the yummy food. He has maintained a positive attitude and I admire that. I'm grateful for my grandparents.

We took family pictures at lovely Balboa Park.



We also got some Thai food and sushi, went to the beach, saw a comedy show, and watched some movies. But alas, you can't get pictures of everything.

I'm so grateful for all of my family, especially my husband. I'm grateful for a loving God who knows me personally. I'm grateful to be surrounded by amazing people every day who I can and do look up to. I'm grateful to know that my life is not by chance, and that there's a reason why I'm here and a reason why I'm doing the things I'm doing. I'm grateful for serendipity--when your life takes an unsuspected turn and your pleasantly surprised and never imagined that's how it would be. I'm grateful that there is more love in the world than there is hate. I'm grateful that I'm grateful in a world where comparison is the thief of gratitude.







Thursday, November 21, 2013

recently


-I've been adoring the first grandchild in the McCloskey clan!
-I've been listening to the Black Swan Soundtrack at work. It's pretty amazing. It's just the right amount of beauty and darkness. 
Three of my favorites from it (listen to them!):
The New Season

A Swan Song (for Nina). I really want to learn how to play this on the piano.

Perfection.

-I taught my Relief Society a yoga class and it was pretty great.
-I've been contemplating the meaning of life and what I want to do with my career since I have a very possible chance of working in New York City starting in the summer (more on that to come). 
-I ran 5 miles without stopping and felt awesome the whole time. Personal triumph for me. 
-I had a Taco Bell picnic in my living room with my lover.

That's all. I need to sleep. 
Have a great night!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Books galore

Lately I have been reading a lot.

And.

It's.

Awesome.

Now that I'm done with my English major I can read whatever I want. No more creepy Turn of the Screw!

I've gotten into a pretty good routine on the train to and from work.

Morning: read scriptures (lately it's been the Book of Mormon) and the Wall Street Journal (Brett and I subscribe and I highly recommend you do as well).

Evening: glance at the news again and read a book.

I'm now on my 9th book.

I thought I'd do a little review of the books I've read for my enjoyment and pleasure and perhaps for yours too if you're a book nerd like me, which everyone should be because book nerds are the coolest and most interesting people.

The Lost Symbol
First book read on the train was The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.This is more or less a pure entertainment book. Once again Brown brings out his atheist chops and tries to convince the reader that the Bible was written by scientists attempting to delve into the capacity of the human mind.


Although this is obviously different from my personal and religious beliefs, I still found the plot intriguing and I enjoyed the unforeseen twist at the end. Don't read The Lost Symbol to gain any deep insights about humanity and/or the meaning of life, rather read it on your beach day or as you're waiting for your kid to come out of karate.

Bossypants
Second book read on the train was Bossypants by Tina Fey. I'd been wanting to read this for years and finally I spotted it in my friend's box of books and begged her to let me borrow it. I LOVED her sense of humor. Tina's humor is so awesomely eccentric. Sometimes after I read a ridiculous line, I'd say to myself Alright, someone gets it.She really broke the limits of what it means to be weird and I loved it.


Something I thought was strange is that Tina focused a lot on her body image and Photoshop in the book. Hello, aren't you the one woman in the media who isn't supposed to care about these things?

The Mistress of Spices
The third book read was The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I accidentally bought it for my Asian Literature class and decided to give it a whirl. It's a fantastical story about a young woman that decides to dedicate her life to the Indian spices and helping others. She forsakes her beauty, but then she falls in love with an American man. Oh no!


I really loved her lyrical writing style and eloquent Indian imagery. I felt like I could taste all the spices. Yummmmm. 

Little Bee
The fourth book read on the train was Little Bee by Chris Cleave. This book was very, very sad. I'm amazed at all the atrocities that happen around the world today, many of which we are unaware. The main character is Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee who has lost all her family and finds a haven in a British home. That part of the story was sad and beautiful.


But, that part of the story was very much shrouded by the British woman, Sarah's, affair with a jerk of a guy. The affair made me so mad because Cleave seemed like he was trying to justify it, or maybe it was just the character Sarah. Even still, it distracted me from the heart-felt part of the story and that's a real shame. I felt like Cleave was trying to tell two novels in one.

Many more novel reviews to come. 

Happy Monday!














Tuesday, October 22, 2013

concert redemption

So I no longer hate concerts because the Imagine Dragons concert was i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e.

My sister Bri and her hubbie Garrett treated us to tickets. We will forever be indebted to them.

 ^White girls rockin' out.


^^We got our fair share of photobombing. Brett looks sad, but he actually loved the concert and was dancing and singing along like a champ.



I already was a fan of Imagine Dragons, but my love for them grew even more. They were so humble and at one point Dan Reynolds (the lead singer) stopped singing and I saw from the big screen that he was tearing up! It was very sweet to see that even with all of their success they are still so happy and grateful that people like their music. (Can I mention that Dan is Mormon?)

During the whole concert I was dancing my little heart out! I felt so alive!  (Hehe, I couldn't help myself)

After the finale "Radioactive" (you know it) they left the stage but we cheered and stomped and roared so much so they just couldn't ignore the call for an encore.

I left with a very hoarse voice from shouting their songs and sweaty, sweaty bangs from dancing as is proven in this picture:



Go see Imagine Dragons!

Monday, October 14, 2013

utah lovin'

Mr. and I have been loving the fall here in good ol' Utah.

I love Utah in the fall. It's a fresh start to the year so I feel happy and motivated and I love seeing all the friends we left during the summer. Also, the leaves turn beautiful crimsons, golds, and burnt oranges, which isn't something I had in San Diego. Our seasons consisted of a 5 degree drop in winter and a 5 degree rise in summer; drastic.


Here are some pictures of the recent happenings:

Baby

Baby Ander came into the family! The first grandchild of the McCloskey clan.

My parents came up to send Marcus off to college (my little brother is in college, what?) and got to spend time with us and the new baby.




 ^^Ander's baby blessing.

 ^^Proud parents.

^^Last night at family Sunday dinner. Ander likes to literally "hang out" because it helps his poor gassy tummy. Sometimes it's no fun being a baby.



Fun

We have been hanging out a lot with friends, but I never get pictures of our excursions. We've been to Los Hermanos, had a crepe night and watched Parks and Recreation (best show on TV without a doubt), watched some football games, eaten Chinese food, and more.

The only outing with friends I've gotten pictures of is our hike to Stewart Falls that was unfortunately cut short because of my feeble ankle that got sprained yet again. It was still beautiful while it lasted.





Work

And then comes work. I love my internship and I love the people. I got to be in a meeting with the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society presidencies last week along with several members of the Seventy. We talked about this recent General Conference and what we can learn from the main themes. I was amazed at how aware the presidencies and members of the Seventy are of the women in the Church, and how they love, respect, and honor us. They said that we need to empower women and I was like, amen to that!


^^My cube.


 ^^Intern lunch while it was still warm out. There is one boy, but he took our pictures.

 ^^General conference! More on that later.

^^View from my boss's window. We get to see brides and grooms coming out all the time and it's pretty cute and distracting.

Tomorrow Elder Holland is speaking to us and I'm so beyond excited. Favorite apostle? I think yes!


More updates to come including a redemptive concert experience.


HAGM! 

(Have a great Monday)