February 22, 2017

Welcome Home, Jade.

My fireball little sister just got home from her eighteen-month mission in Des Moines, Iowa. Growing up, she had so much spunk and attitude-- and that hasn't changed a bit. When she first appeared at the top of the escalator, it was impossible to miss her because she was garbed in a multi-colored poncho that fell all the way past her knees. A large grin spread across her face the moment she made eye contact with those of us waiting at the base of the escalator. Her feet hit the cold floor of the airport and she instantly plowed into my mom, hugging her while bursts of tears flowed from their eyes. 

There is something about missionary homecomings that tug upon my heartstrings every single time. I don't even have to know the family to feel all of the raw, return missionary emotions again. I always flash back to my own experience coming down that escalator and it's impossible to not feel all of it all over again. There were so many missionaries returning home from the Iowa Des Moines mission that morning and it was really sweet to watch each and every one of them be reunited with their families. 

It's now been a couple of days since this glorious reunion, but watching this video still makes me so happy! There were so many little moments I missed in the whir of excitement and emotions that took place when she descended the escalator, but now I get to look back and experience some of those minor details that I didn't get to experience the first time around.

I'm just glad to have her home! For the first time in YEARS, my family doesn't have a missionary out serving and we almost don't know what to do with ourselves. Our next missionary won't leave for about two years, so we've got some time before we temporarily lose another family member to the work of the lord (I guess we better make sure we get our family photos done or something). 


February 14, 2017

Oregon | Valentine's Day Weekend

As missionaries, Taylor and I were really good at sending letters back and forth between Korea and Norway. We'd talk about all sorts of things (including the weather, funny experiences we were having, and the coolest parts about living in different countries across the world). But there were a collection of topics that consistently came up within those letters; one of those big topics just so happened to be Oregon. Neither of us had ever been to Oregon, but it had been at the top of the bucket list for both of us. 

"Make plans, not excuses." I was sitting on my couch editing photos one afternoon when I started thinking about all the places I wanted to go and all of the things I wanted to do during the course of my life-- and then I was bombarded with all the reasons why I "couldn't." I think it's so easy for us to come up with excuses as to why we aren't living the life we want to be living. But what I came to realize was this: it's just as easy to make plans as it is to make excuses. If we put our priorities in the right places, we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to. 

We drove for a total of twenty-six hours just to spend a day and a half on the Oregon coast. All of our friends and family thought we were completely crazy (but they were supportive of us nonetheless). And maybe we are crazy, but love is a crazy thing and we're crazy in love! We got to our little airbnb on the beach around 3pm Friday afternoon and began our journey back to Utah at 6am Sunday morning. We only had one full day to spend in Oregon, but we made the most of the time we had. 

We stayed on Rockaway Beach-- which ended up being Taylor's favorite beach of the trip (because it was the coziest and least crowded). Our cottage was probably only twenty or so feet off of the beach, so we got to fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. It was supposed to be raining all weekend, but the day we arrived, the entire weather forecast for the weekend had completely changed. We ended up getting the perfect mix of moody rain and glorious sunshine. It honestly could not have been more perfect. 

We woke up early Saturday morning and cruised down the coastline, stopping at every beach and "view point" along the way. We didn't really have a specific destination, but we took the time to enjoy the journey. By noon, we had spent time on three different beaches and at least three different overlooks. There was one point where I had rolled the window down in order to get the "full effect" of the ocean breeze and the mist of the rain on my skin... but somehow, I managed to break the window. We literally had to pull over to try and get it to go back up (because it was definitely too cold and wet to leave it open indefinitely). Thankfully, the odds were in our favor and we managed to get it all the way back up again, but not without a bit of a struggle.

We ate lunch at this adorable little diner that was nestled ever so comfortably on a beautiful lakeside. We don't usually eat at burger joints, but we ate nothing but greasy food and junk all weekend and we embraced it. That being said-- these burgers were some of the best burgers we have EVER had. Taylor's weighed at least three pounds and they had to serve it with a steak knife jabbed through the middle of it just to keep it all together. I went with the cliche "tillamook cheeseburger" (cliche only because we were in Tillamook) but I was not disappointed with my decision. The food was so delicious and so filling that we went into an immediate food coma. 

Everything along the coastline was so incredibly beautiful; every detail of the forests and beaches and oceanside fishing towns. I couldn't believe my eyes half of the time because the elements really came together to create the most beautiful experience for us. There wasn't a single second where I wasn't amazed. I think one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was driving through the Tillamook State Forest in the middle of an intense rainstorm-- it was so moody and mystical, just my kind of weather. Because of how beautiful the forest was on the way out to our beach condo, we made a point to drive all the way back out there Saturday night just to dance in the trees. But the night came quickly and we had to pile back into the car and make our way back into civilization. 

We made a pit stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory (because it's Taylor's absolute favorite cheese). I was laughing so hard over how excited he was to be there! So, just for him we bought cheese and souvenir t-shirts, like the good tourists we are. (We also bought ice cream because, I mean, duh). We were sad to see the day come to an end, but it made us excited for more opportunities to visit Oregon in the future. We woke up bright and early Sunday morning, packed up all of our things, then walked out to the beach by the light of the moon and said goodbye to the sea. 

The morning fog rested heavy in the forest trees as we made our way back through the mountains-- it was glorious. We made one final stop at Multnomah Falls on the way out of Portland because... well, we couldn't just drive past a 600 foot, gorgeous waterfall and NOT stop. We were standing at least a hundred feet away and still got soaked by the foam that was being spat out by the falls. But we didn't care, because it was absolutely stunning and we couldn't seem to pull ourselves away. But, eventually the daunting task of our 13 hour drive home eventually convinced us that it was time to go. We slowly made our way back to the car, sneaking glances back every step of the way. 

Our adventure was short, but it was full of beauty. Going back, we'd do it all again. We're already anxiously planning our next trip to the Oregon Coast (next time we plan on starting in California and cruising up the coastline-- friends are welcome, so COME). We may have only spent a day and a half in that gorgeous place, but it felt like an entire week (because of how much we crammed into such a short amount of time). This weekend was one for the books.


January 30, 2017

Forgotten moments remembered.

Taylor and I met in our seventh grade history class; he was the kind of boy who would raise his hand in the middle of the lesson just to crack a dumb joke and I was the kind of girl who would roll her eyes and ignore him. He wore oversized basketball shorts, button-up flannel shirts, and Jordan's. I wore awkwardly-tight aeropostale shirts, sweatpants, and slippers that were falling apart (I guess we were a match made in heaven). Our friendship began like any other middle school boy-girl relationship-- him trying to impress me and me trying to pretend I that didn't notice. Yet, despite my indifferences, somewhere between all of the classes we shared (history, foods, biology, choir) we became friends. (I guess I couldn't resist his awkward, teenage boy charm?)

We never dated in high school-- not officially, at least. Taylor claims he's been in love with me from the start. He even swears that his earliest memory of middle school was seeing me walking through the hallway and thinking, "Dang, she's the prettiest girl I've ever seen." We have no real record of that, of course, so I just let him claim what he will. 

I finally let myself fall for Taylor halfway through our senior year of high school. We'd been such good friends for such a long time and I was always too afraid to "ruin" that relationship. Eventually, however, I realized that I adored Taylor Dale Gunther in every way possible and that the mere thought of him warmed my heart. 

A few weeks ago, I happened across the journal I kept at the time I started falling in love with this boy of mine. I flipped through the pages, searching for every mention of my lover boy, and it brought back a whole wave of emotions. 

"Taylor Dale Gunther. Every heard of him? If not, you're missing out. He's only the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful and loving human being I have ever had the good fortune to meet; let alone love. I love the kid. I love him to pieces. And it's not your typical, cliche high school romance. I love the kid. He's been a best friend of mine ever since seventh grade. He's always been there. It's a best friend kind of love that morphed into something more. And even though I don't necessarily understand all of it quite yet, I know what I feel. And for me, that's more than enough. For now, at least."

* * * * * * *

"...I called him. He didn't answer. I was slightly devastated. But not too long after, he called me back. We joked around, and when he finally asked why I called, I told him that I wanted to hang out with him. 

Needless to say, when six o'clock rolled around (or at least sometime around six o'clock), I was sitting on the front porch wrapped up in a massive blanket with a little red polka dot umbrella propped against my shoulder and a bottle of bubbles near my feet. And there I sat, happy as could be, when Tay pulled into the cul-de-sac, parked his car, and began his journey to the steps upon which I sat. 

We laughed and blew bubbles as the sky leaked raindrops from way up above; we sat there until the stiffness of the cement made our bodies ache, then we allowed ourselves to merely topple backwards and sprawl awkwardly out upon my front porch. We spun the umbrella above our heads and talked about silly things. Taylor would occasionally reach over and tickle me and I'd squirm quickly away; I've always been exceptionally ticklish.

Eventually the cold seeped through the blanket and all the way to our bones. So we gathered up our things and proceeded to go inside, all the way downstairs to watch a movie. And that's what we did. But he unexpectedly reached his arm around me and pulled my head into his chest and just like that, I found my heaven in his arms."

"I talked to Taylor earlier today and we planned on hanging out. He pulled up in front of the house as I was lounging outside comfortably basking in the sunlight. It was a beautiful day today. He joined me on the blanket and we talked with each other and teased each other.  He kept cracking jokes and I couldn't stop laughing. He took my phone and I freaked out because I didn't want him to see that I had set the picture of the two of us the night he got his mission call as my background. 

He tickled me, and teased me, and kept covering my head with the blanket. He sometimes even tackled me and pinned me to the ground. We literally just played and I loved every second of it. The sun felt so warm on my skin and it lit up his eyes as we layed on our stomachs with our heads resting on our folded arms. He had me laughing so hard that my eyes were leaking pure happiness. I kept telling him that he was making me cry, but he'd look at me and exclaim, "There are no tears!!" So I'd take his fingers and press them to the corners of my eyes and say, "Don't you feel them?" and he'd smile fiendishly and say, "Nope."

Eventually, we found ourselves walking inside because the sun had started to fall asleep and it took all of its warmth with it. We meandered all the way downstairs into the dungeon (yes, that's what I call my basement). He kept teasing me and I'd just tease him right back. He was sitting on the beanbag chair and I was laying on the couch. He reached up his arm and started running his fingers through my hair. I love when he does that. Even though my hair is always so tangled. 

Eventually, we ended up on the same couch. He held me close and my fingers traced his facial features as we talked about simple things. I kept telling him that he was a horrible person (but only because he was teasing me so mercilessly) and he tickled me to the point of which it could have easily been considered torture. He told me that I am a wonderful person and I just said, "Maybe." He raised his eyebrows and I just smiled and said, "What if I'm actually a horrible person?" He sat for a moment before replying, "Hmm. Well, if that's the case, what are we going to do about it?" And I just smiled before saying, "Well, we'll just have to be absolutely miserable, won't we?" And just like that, he moved closer and pressed his lips against my own.

It doesn't go away. That 'first kiss' sensation, I mean. It's there each and every time we kiss. I don't know how he does it, how he makes me feel the way he does, but he is so good at it."

It was such a sweet experience to read through these forgotten moments with Tay. I'd start every entry with, "Hey, Tay, see if you can remember this!" And then I'd read the words scrawled across the page and we'd both smile as our hearts filled up with warmth and our heads filled up with memories. There were a couple of times when a rush of old memories would hit me so suddenly that my eyes would well up with tears and my throat would get all tight and scratchy and my heart was full of so many emotions. It was also just cool to see how our relationship has stayed pretty much the same despite the fact that so many years have passed and we've had so many more experiences than we had back then. It's just a testimony to me that love is love and it flourishes when it's nurtured! But I sure do love this boy. And the me of now really identified with the me of "then" as I read through the words I had to share about the way I felt about him. I wanted to reach through the pages of my journal (kind of like Tom Riddle's diary.. but not as evil and creepy) to the younger me and tell her that things worked out and that Tay and I are now married and so, so happy! It makes me wonder what the me of the future would want to say to the me of right now. Life's so bizarre and trippy and wonderful.

I'm glad that I was so good at documenting the events and experiences of my life back then. I rarely missed a day. I've always loved writing in my journal but I haven't been as diligent at keeping it up to date since we got married. I still write! I still record the big moments. But it's all of the little in-between moments, like the ones I shared today, that seem to be easily forgotten. So this is me re-committing to write like I used to write. 

I always have people asking me for tips regarding writing in journals, so these are the suggestions I always tend to give:

1. Don't worry about "catching up." Start with today. If you're busy worrying about writing about the last three years, four months, and ten days you haven't documented, you'll overwhelm yourself the moment you sit down to write (and it will be another three years, four months, and ten days until you have the courage to try again).

2. Find a journal that makes YOU excited to write. For some, it's a comic book journal, for others it's a journal with prompts every day. Some like lines, others like lots of empty space. Find something that makes you excited to write (or draw, or whatever) and then you'll be so much more motivated to do so (confession: I use endless amounts of stickers in my journals because I think they're so funny. I call them my "emojis" hahaha). 

3. Don't feel like you "have" to write anything. Just sit down and write whatever comes to mind-- whether that's four pages or three sentences-- and then call it good. Your journal is YOUR journal and nobody can tell you how to do it except for you.

So yeah. If you've managed to read this entire blog post, you deserve a gold star. 


January 19, 2017

Enjoy life, don't just endure it.

I'm a firm believer in doing the things you feel passionate about. I don't see the purpose in meandering through life doing anything BUT the things that welcome happiness, enthusiasm, and joy into your existence. That doesn't mean you eliminate all sadness, failure, and disappointment from your life (because, of course, that's impossible); but it does mean that you choose to chase after your dreams and make a point to do what you love to do. Sadness, failure, and disappointment will come, they're unavoidable obstacles in life, but they'll be drowned out by the enthusiasm pulsing through your veins as you sprint forward towards your passions and your dreams. If you love what you're doing, if you love the direction you're headed in, then the negative parts of life are really only minor stumbling blocks in the grand scheme of existence.

If you love dogs, get one. If you love New York City, go. If you love Korean food, eat it three times a week. If you love painting your nails, never hesitate to buy yourself new nail polishes to try out. If you love photography, challenge yourself to get out and take a new photo every single day. If you love fashion, sew. If you love your boy, marry him. Live your life passionately. Fill your days with the things you love. Write your own life story. 

Quit making excuses and start making PLANS. Don't say you can't afford to travel, instead, donate plasma twice a week for three months and you'll be able to afford it. Cut back on eating out all the time and you'll be able to afford it. Get another job. Budget, save, travel, repeat. Don't say you don't have time to read, instead, cut back on Netflix hours and you'll have time to read. Carry a book around in your purse and read when you're waiting at the doctor's office or sitting in a long line at the grocery store and you'll have time to read. Make it a priority, make it happen. I hear people making excuses all the time, but I rarely hear people making plans. Anything is possible when you make it a priority. Life's too short to live it adequately; live it passionately. 

January 16, 2017

Luna Lovedog.

Saying goodbye to lil' Dopey was one of the hardest things we've ever done, but we promised ourselves that we'll always have a couple of pups  in our home to care for (because all dogs need homes). This past week, we welcomes little Luna into our family *yes, she is named after Luna Lovegood. She's a bernedoodle (bernese mountain dog + poodle mix). She's only three months old and she's already surpassed Kingsley in size (which is no real surprise)! Her dad was HUGE (and adorable). Initially, we weren't planning on getting another dog so soon, but we met Luna and everything just worked out for us to get her (PLUS she was the most adorable thing and we couldn't say "no" to that sweet little face). 

Losing a pet is a really hard thing. But getting a new pet to love and care for can ease the sadness and make your heart feel happy again. 


January 8, 2017

We Love You, Dopey.

This sweet boy passed away early Saturday morning. He died quickly and experienced no pain, but it was a bit of a traumatic experience for us. It was unexpected and sad. I spent a better part of the day crying-- I didn't know what else to do. He was our little pup, we loved him. 

We had a little funeral for him and shared some of our favorite memories of him. Kingsley shuffled about near our feet, sniffing and searching for Dopey, but whimpering as his attempts proved useless. He was so close but so far away. 

"Well, Dopey wasn't the brightest dog... but he had an ability to love like no other dog we've seen. We'll miss his broccoli-cauliflower smelling farts and his little piggy noises. We were very grateful for the opportunity we had to take him from the abusive life he had before and give him a loving home. I may have been short, but it was worth it. He was plagued by physical and mental abilities and we know that where he is now, he won't be plagued by those anymore. We weren't sure if he was a dog, or a parrot, a pig, or a shark... maybe he was a combination of all those things. Maybe his disabilities came to be because his spirit was just too big for his little doggy body. He's probably a nine-foot tall doggy Einstein now with a deep, glorious bark. Woof. We're going to miss his cuddles and ear-lick-sucking-thing that he would do. He loved food of every kind and had the ability to summon old, lost toys up from the ground in our backyard. He loved everyone and was afraid of everyone, all at the same time. We'll miss him walking around the house with us, never more than three inches away. We'll miss the way he refused to go on walks and would end up being dragged around by Kingsley. Thank you Dopey, for loving us unconditionally every day we got to spend with you. We love you, Dopey. And we'll see you again sometime, you nine-foot tall, glorious soul." 


January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

I'm a little late to the party here, but I hope that everyone had a fantastic New Year's Eve! Ours was fun... but we didn't end up getting to bed until about 4am (which was rather difficult seeing as our normal bedtime as of late has been around 10pm). But we survived (sort of)! We've spent the last few days fighting off a nasty old cold and it's been really kicking us in the behinds. We're talking aches and sniffles and head pains-- the whole nine yards. So that's been fun (note the sarcasm). But at least we had the Bachelor season premier to keep us semi-entertained for an entire evening (no sarcasm there)!

In other news, it's been a snowy couple of days here in Utah. We've got at least 18 inches of snow sitting in our front yard, which makes letting the dogs out to go pee really funny. Like I said, we've been cooped up inside fighting off our devil colds for the last couple of days, so we've had plenty of time to set some goals for the upcoming year and sort out some last-minute things before we get slammed by our heavy load of credits this semester... yay (definitely some sarcasm there). 

Sorry my posts lately have been so short and insignificant. We've just been enjoying our time doing nothing and it's been marvelous (but it won't last for long)...


December 31, 2016

Arizona Lovin'.

We spent a couple of days in warm, sunny Arizona with the Bagley side of our family. We're weird and we love road trips, so we thoroughly enjoyed not only our time spent in AZ, but also the entire drive down (and up) as well. We fill up all of our "travel hours" by long chats, me reading aloud to Tay, and singing along at the top of our lungs to the random music we come across on the radio. We were only in Arizona for a few days, but the seventy degree weather was well-worth it! I'm a firm believer in vacations where you drive somewhere... and do basically nothing the whole time you're there. It's amazing. 

Anywho, that was our last road trip before we start school again next week (which I'm less than enthusiastic about. I love learning... but I don't love school because of all the busy work and bleh it involves. But whatever). We bought plane tickets to Norway for two weeks in May (to celebrate the completion of our semester and to celebrate the 17th of May, a Norwegian holiday, in Norway)! So the sooner school starts, the sooner it ends... and the sooner we get to go to Norway. Yay. 


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