Friday, January 8, 2016

Books of 2015

I k now I haven't posted in, like, forever, and that this is a super boring way to get myself back into it. But it's all I've got at the moment, so it will have to do. This past year, I made a goal to read 55 books. Last year I said I'd read 50, and I surpassed it, so I thought upping it again would be a good idea. And then, for whatever reason, it took me forever to read a good portion of the books I read, whether I was enjoying them or not. So I guess it just kind of depends on what's going on in my life.
But without further ado, here's the list.

1. Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan
2. The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan
3. The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan
4. The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan
5. The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus #3) by Rick Riordan
6. The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan
7. The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan
8. My Name Is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner
9. The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa
10. The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa
11. The Forever Song (Blood of Eden #3) by Julie Kagawa
12. Atlantia by Allie Condie
13. The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa
14. The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa
15. The Iron Queen (Iron Fey #3) by Julie Kagawa
16. The Iron Knight (Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa
17. Dead Zone (Blackout #2) by Robison Wells
18. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
19. Fairest (Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer
20. I Am Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver #1) by Dan Wells
21. Mr. Monster (John Cleaver #2) by Dan Wells
22. I Don't Want to Kill You (John Cleaver #3) by Dan Wells
23. Next of Kin (John Cleaver #3.5) by Dan Wells
24. The Devil's Only Friend (John Cleaver #4) by Dan Wells
25. The Silence of God by Gale Sears
26. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
27. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
28. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
29. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
30. The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #2) by Patrick Ness
31. The String Diaries (The String Diaries #1) by Stephen Lloyd Jones
32. Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
33. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
34. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
35. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
36. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
37. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer
38. Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness
39. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making This Place Our Home: Living Room

I keep meaning to write posts about some of the fun things we've done to decorate our house, but then the house gets messy and I don't want to take pictures of a messy house and then I get busy with work or crafts or reading and I don't make time to blog. So I'm taking advantage of a slow afternoon to finally write another blog post.

We have a very large wall in our living room, and I knew from the moment we moved in that I wanted to create a collage wall. We did one with our wedding and engagement photos when we first moved in (sorry, no pictures). We just eyeballed the setup, and it was nice. But then we started realizing that our pictures were kind of old, especially since we had gotten updated professional family photos. So we decided it was time to update the pictures and set up a new collage.

I looked around online and found a pretty cool way of setting up a collage without ending up with a million nail holes in your wall. We got a couple rolls of cheap wrapping paper, then traced and cut out all the frames and the items we wanted to put up. We also made sure to mark where the nail would need to go. Then we taped the paper frames on the wall and could move them as often as we needed to.

Tracing and cutting out the paper was pretty annoying, but in the end, I think it was worth it. It was so much better than having to take down frames to move them over an inch. It also helped us visualize it better so we could tell just how many pictures we could get on the wall.

I really like what we ended up with. I love having some of our vacation photos up along with our professional photos. I also always love having Andrew's photography up. I think the picture of Diagon Alley is my favorite.

Sorry it's not the greatest picture; if there's no glare from the window, there's a glare from the lamp. I did my best.

Another project we did for the living room before we even moved in was the bookshelves. Andrew and I have two of the tall bookshelves from Walmart with the super flimsy nearly cardboard backing. We had each had our bookshelves for years, since before we got married, and they had been through multiple moves. And sadly, the backing just didn't survive the move to the house.

Instead of buying new bookshelves, we decided to try and fix them ourselves. We went to Home Depot and bought the big sheets of bead board. The nice thing about Home Depot is that they will cut the pieces down for you; we just had to make sure we had the correct measurements. If I'm remembering correctly, they didn't even charge us for all the cuts. And if they did, it usually runs about $.25 per cut after your first.

We then picked out a fun, sea green that we both liked and that we have since used throughout our house. (Such as on the letters on the collage wall.) We painted the bead board, let it dry, and then tacked the boards into place on the backs of the bookshelves. And I love the way it looks.

Not only does this spice up our bookshelves a bit, but the bead board also acts as a really good, sturdy frame for the shelves. They're no longer wobbly, and we don't have to worry about pushing a book too forcefully on the shelf and ripping the backing. Now our only issue is bowing shelves. We're planning on buying some new IKEA bookshelves in the near future (because they're wider and taller and would hold so much more stuff), and we like the look of these bookshelves so much that we're thinking of doing the same thing to our brand-new shelves and then just relocating our old ones instead of getting rid of them.

We have also added some fun items for display. I love all the typewriters and vintage cameras, and I especially love the roll-top desk that my Grandpa Newman made. I'm so happy that I ended up with it and that it fits so well.

There are still some things I want to add to the living room (mostly just a real piano instead of a digital—one day), but I love this cozy little room and how well things fit.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Books of 2014

For 2014, my goal was to read 50 books, and I ended up with 52, which was fun. I'm trying to up the amount of books I read every year; I used to feel really good about reading 30 books in a year, then I made friends who read over 100 books a year. Which makes me feel a bit like a disappointment. But I do enjoy most of the books I read, and sometimes I have other hobbies that take up more of my time, so I'm trying not to feel too bad about that.

I think my favorite new discovery this year was the Lunar Chronicles series. It's a sci-fi take on classic fairy tales, and it is incredibly well written. Not to mention that each new book in the series features a strong, intelligent female character whose life isn't all about finding the right man, which I love. This world needs more of that. The only downside from finding this series was that I didn't know it was a series when I picked up Cinder, and the final installment doesn't come out until November of 2015. It's heartbreaking, really.

I also did quite a bit of rereading, which is one quirk I have. I love rereading books, especially when a new book in the series is coming out and I don't remember all the details of the previous books. And sometimes I just want to reread a book or a series because I love it so much. I think 2015 might continue some of that trend; I have quite a few series that I haven't read in four or five years, and I'm started to get the itch to read them again.

And now, on to my list!
  1. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
  2. Champion (Legend #3) by Marie Lue
  3. Austenland by Shannon Hale
  4. Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson
  5. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
  6. The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
  7. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
  8. Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
  9. Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  10. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
  11. The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran #1) by Nancy Farmer
  12. The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer
  13. The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict
  14. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  15. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  16. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner
  17. The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner
  18. Partials (Partials Sequence #1) by Dan Wells
  19. Fragments (Partials Sequence #2) by Dan Wells
  20. Ruins (Partials Sequence #3) by Dan Wells
  21. The Wide, Wide Sea (Chaos Walking #2.5) by Patrick Ness
  22. Snowscape (Chaos Walking #3.5) by Patrick Ness
  23. George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  24. Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
  25. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  26. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  27. Matilda by Roald Dahl
  28. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  29. The Thief (The Queen's Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  30. The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #2) by Megan Whalen Turner
  31. The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief #3) by Megan Whalen Turner
  32. A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief #4) by Megan Whalen Turner
  33. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  34. Vodnik by Bryce Moore
  35. The Water and the Blood by Nancy E. Turner
  36. This House Is Haunted by John Boyne
  37. The Kill Order (Maze Runner #0.5) by James Dashner
  38. Blackout (Blackout #1) by Robison Wells
  39. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright
  40. Dangerous by Shannon Hale
  41. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  42. Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
  43. Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
  44. Forever (Wolves of Mercy Falls #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
  45. Sinner (Wolves of Mercy Falls #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
  46. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
  47. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
  48. Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
  49. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
  50. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
  51. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan
  52. The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3) by Rick Riordan

Rejoining the World of Blogging

It has been a very long time since I have blogged, which is a shame because this past year has been quite the eventful one. I'm not even sure where to start to catch up on things. There have been a lot of ups and a few downs, but things have been good, for the most part.

So here's a brief catch-up on the goings-on of the Conelly household over the past nine months or so:

  • We bought a house, obviously, and have spent a good amount of time decorating and doing minor DIY projects, mostly in the kitchen and dining room. Our current project is updating our framed photos (since our current ones are all engagement/wedding photos) and redoing the collage wall in the living room. I'm hoping to do a post with pictures of some of the little things we've done that I think look really nice.
  • Andrew lost his job. Which was a very stressful time for a little while. But we have been blessed with how good my job is, and we have been fine financially. That means that once Andrew finds a new job, we'll be able to save most of his income, which will hopefully get us to our goals faster. 
  • We went to Disneyland. This may seem a little frivolous after losing one income, but it had been half paid for before Andrew lost his job, and we had cash and gift cards we had been saving for the trip. The only thing we had to pay for out of pocket was the hotel, which made it feel like a very inexpensive vacation. And it was so much fun to be in Disneyland for Christmas. It's just so pretty. We had such a good time. 
  • We adopted a kitty! Andrew and I had no idea we could be crazy cat people, but Bagheera has transformed us. This adorable little fuzzball has completely stolen our hearts and we love her to death. Bagheera is a really fun and rather affectionate cat, and she is spoiled rotten. But I think she deserves it after living in a shelter for six months and being burdened with the name Pink. But we saved her from both, and now she answers to Bagheera just fine. Well, when she wants to, anyway. We're even half considering getting an actual kitten at some point in the future so Bagheera has someone to keep her company, but we'll see.
  • We celebrated a fun, quiet Christmas with just the two of us, and it was so relaxing and nice. We didn't have anything big under the tree, but that didn't matter; it was nice to be home together. New Year's was also low-key; I don't even think I made it to midnight. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep on the couch.
  • I got a pretty awesome raise at work, which is such a blessing, especially considering it came completely out of the blue. I'm so incredibly grateful for my job and for the company I work for. My bosses care about me and want me to stay and be happy here, and the executives are all so careful in making sure their employees are taken care of. I am incredibly fortunate that I have followed my career opportunities to be where I am today.
  • Andrew and I celebrated our second anniversary in the glorious Wizarding World of Harry Potter! We had been talking about this since last year, but when Andrew lost his job, we didn't think we would be able to make it work. But when we looked at our finances, the money was available, so we just went. And it was amazing. Seriously. The expansion with Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express is pretty incredible, and I loved every second of being there and feeling like witches and wizards really do exist. I geeked out hardcore and enjoyed myself thoroughly. This trip was only a couple of weeks ago, so I'm hoping to write up a more detailed post once Andrew edits the pictures he took.

And that brings us to the present, which isn't terribly exciting at the moment. Andrew has a couple of solid leads on jobs, so we're hoping and praying that one of them comes through for us. And if it doesn't, he'll keep trekking and keep looking, and we know that he'll find something eventually. We don't have any fun trips planned, so there isn't much to look forward to in that respect. But that's okay. I'm sure we will find fun things to do, and hopefully I will be able to stay up on blogging in the future.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

That One Time When We Bought a House

Nothing makes you feel like an adult like buying a house. I think it has something to do with the thousands of dollars that are no longer in our savings account. It's such a huge decision, and there are so many variables and so many things to think about. And every aspect of the decision is stressful. You have to find a good realtor. And then you have to find a good lender. And then you have to find the house itself, taking into consideration the style, the age, the neighborhood, the yard, the condition, and about a thousand other things. A lot goes into buying a house, and understandably so. This is the place we're going to live for the next ten years or so. We're going to bring kids into this place, man.

But I digress. This story isn't just the story of finding the house that we want to spend a good chunk of our lives in. This is also a perfect example of how when God says, "Do this thing!", you end up doing that thing, even if you didn't think you were ready to do that thing quite yet.

As of about the beginning of April, Andrew and I were thinking about buying a house. In a year. It just felt like it was the right next step for us in our lives. We had had a whole discussion about how we felt a strong prompting that we needed to get into a house (all at IKEA, while looking at [and drooling over] their awesome kitchens). The lease for our apartment was ending on May 31, so we figured that we would sign for another year contract and save up some more money and do a really thorough job of looking at houses and finding what we really wanted. It felt like such a good plan that we even went to the office to re-sign our contract, but we were told that they would write up the contract and deliver it to us. So we figured that was fine and went on our way.

But because we were thinking seriously about it, we wanted to get some of the process started: Find a realtor, get preapproved, etc. As we got into that process, we realized that there might be a benefit to buying a little earlier. So we talked to our apartment office again and discovered that we had the option to sign a six-month contract instead, which was great to hear. We thought that might be a better timeline for us so that if we found a house earlier than expected, we wouldn't be stuck with an entire year-long contract along with our mortgage.

We continued looking into things more, and I started getting a little anxious. Mostly about that six-month timeline. I wanted to make sure that we wouldn't have to buy out a contract or pay rent and a mortgage. To make matters worse, we only had until April 15 to sign a contract to get a lower rate on our rent. I hated that we had to decide so soon what our timeline would be. We then went into the office again to find out if we could sign a contract up until our current lease expired, even if we had to pay a higher rate. At this point, it had been a couple of weeks since we were told that the office would deliver our contract, and it still hadn't happened. We ended up talking to the same girl who promised to get that done, and she immediately recognized us and felt all sorts of bad for being a slacker. She then promised that we could sign for the lower rate up until May 31. I felt much better about this because it gave us some breathing room in making a decision.

Our next step was to meet with a realtor. We met with Shauna, who came highly recommended. She came over to our apartment and got an idea of what we were looking for and what we could afford. Then she asked us about the lease at our apartment. When we told her that our contract was up on May 31 and that we were trying to decide how soon we wanted to buy, she told us to buy now. Interest rates are still really low, and they are projected to go up by the end of the year. She also said that spring is when all the houses go on the market, which creates good competition for buyers. Shauna said she could get us into a house by mid-June.

The whole time Shauna was talking, I just felt like we needed to follow her advice. I felt so good about working with her and about buying a house now instead of waiting. Once she left, Andrew told me that he felt the same way. So we decided that we were going to start looking.

We met with Shauna on Monday, and that Thursday, we started the hunt. We looked at quite a few houses that we absolutely did not like. There was one that we liked, but we didn't love it, and there were a lot of things that needed to be fixed. We had gotten a good idea that day of what houses looked like at what we thought was in our price range, and they weren't fantastic. So we went home and took a really hard look at what we could afford, and we upped our price a little bit. On Saturday, we spent four hours looking at nine houses, and we found a couple that we really liked. But in the end, we decided not to put an offer on either of them.

So the next Monday, we went and looked at more houses. The first one we looked at was cute, but the backyard needed to be completely redone. It didn't even have sod; just a bunch of weeds and a wooden fence that was falling down. The next couple were definite no-gos. Then we pulled up to this adorable little blue rambler in West Jordan. It was at the end of a cul-de-sac, and the front yard was beautiful. We walked in, and everything just felt right. We loved the paint choices. The kitchen wasn't super up to date, but it was nice and well cared for. And the backyard was AMAZING. It was so big, and the landscaping was so perfect we thought the owners had to be professionals. Everything about the house felt good. The basement was finished, and finished nicely. It had a formal living room upstairs and a family room downstairs. It had a pretty big laundry room. It even had a room for cold storage. It was obvious to everyone that this was the best house we had looked at so far.

I know that I loved it. Andrew did too, but it was at the very top of our price range, and that made him a little nervous. But Shauna talked to the seller's agent and told us there was some wiggle room on the price, so we decided to put in an offer. Which was nerve-racking, but so exciting. And then the next morning, I got a call from Shauna telling me that our offer was accepted with no issues.

So after three days of shopping, we found our house. We had met with our realtor a mere week before we signed our offer. It was insane. And everything from that point on went insanely smoothly. No major issues came up in the inspection. There were absolutely no hiccups in processing our loan. The sellers had no problems on their side, either. We could have closed a week earlier than we did because of how easy everything was. It's still so surreal to me that we own a house, but I could not be more excited about it. I can't wait to be done with moving and to make this place our home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Because of Him

Easter has passed, which means I'm a little late in posting this. But it's never a bad time to think about the sacrifice my Savior made for me and for all of us. Easter is a time to remember Christ and the incomprehensible gift of the Atonement and the subsequent Resurrection. I've been thinking a lot about this scripture lately:
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled with saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death with bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. (Alma 7: 11–13)
My savior suffered for me. He suffered my pains and my afflictions, my temptations and my sicknesses. He took my sins upon me so that I can repent and return to Him one day. And He broke the bands of death by rising again. He lives. And because of Him, I can live again too. He made it possible for me to live eternally with my family, despite the mistakes I will inevitably make. Because of Him, there is always the possibility of a fresh start. Because of Him, I can become whole again.

I cannot even begin to express just how much comfort the Atonement gives me. My Heavenly Father did not send me on this earth to fail, so He sent His Son to give me a way to succeed. Heavenly Father wants me to return to Him, and His Son made that possible. Because of that gift, I can become clean again and again. I can start every day as a new day. Because of Him, I can have peace.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Are You? A Topic for Each Week of the Year {Week 7: Parents}

Week 1: Birth
Week 2: School
Week 3: Hobbies
Week 4: Birthdays
Week 5: Childhood Home
Week 6: Grandparents

7. What were your parents like? Did you have a special relationship with either of them? Do you know anything about them when they were children?

I am incredibly close with both of my parents. I feel very blessed to have such a great relationship with my parents, both growing up and as an adult. I know that is something that many people don't get to experience, so I try to remember to be grateful for it and not take it for granted.

Jeanine Newman Brown

My mom is a very caring woman. She always wants to be involved in the lives of those close to her—her children, her grandchildren, and her friends. As the youngest child, I spent a lot of time with Mom. She worked while I was growing up, but she was generally able to find work she could do from home. I remember countless times going clothes shopping and grocery shopping and any other kind of shopping with Mom. The only kind of shopping I thoroughly loathed was fabric shopping. Mom would drag me to fabric stores and spend what felt like hours looking through the fabric and the patterns. I hated every second of it. And that is still something we joke about on a regular basis.

Mom is a crafty person. She sews, crochets, cross stitches, quilts, and makes jewelry. When I was about 10, I wanted to learn how to crochet, so Mom sat down and patiently showed me how to work the yarn into knots with the hook. I'm sure it was slow-going, but I eventually got it. She was also good at correcting me when I had done something wrong, without making me feel stupid. She would teach me that I needed to count every stitch to make sure that my edges were even (though it took me a long time to really internalize that lesson; I hated counting stitches, so my edges were often all over the place). She also taught me to read a pattern so I could make more difficult projects. I still love crocheting to this day, and that is mostly thanks to Mom. She also taught me how to counted cross stitch, which I loved for a long time. Mom was also very supportive of my random crafty interests. She would buy me yarn to make baby blankets or take me to get the right colors for a cross stitch pattern. She would also let me have a lot of her embroidery floss to make the countless friendship bracelets I was always making.

Mom was almost always the one that helped me with my schoolwork. Which wasn't a picnic, let me tell you. I had this tendency to put homework off until late in the day when I was tired and not thinking clearly. Poor Mom would sit down with me and try to help me work through the assignment while I would frequently break down in tears because I didn't think I could do it. She would also deal with last-minute projects and trips to the grocery store for poster board and markers.

When I have a question or need help with something, I always call Mom. When I was in college, I would often call her during breaks between classes to talk to her about boy problems or school stresses or whatever other issues I was having. She was always willing to talk to me and listen to me whine and complain. I still call her when I need help with things, and she's always available. She's always supported me in everything I've done. She went to all of my big performances in high school choir and drama (even the most terrible Robin Hood: The Musical), and she and my dad even came on choir tour with me (though that was probably just an excuse to go on vacation). I always knew that I could count on Mom being there when I needed her.

One memory of her always being there sticks out in my mind. I had finally ended my dysfunctional relationship with my long-term boyfriend, and it was definitely not on good terms. It was later at night, and after I got off the phone, I went upstairs to find my mom watching TV. I told her what happened and broke into tears, and she told me how happy she was that I had been strong enough to make this decision and go through with it. She helped me see how detrimental my relationship had been to my emotional health, and I left that conversation feeling hopeful about my future and feeling like I had made the best decision for my own personal well-being. But she never made me feel bad about staying in the relationship for so long; she just made me feel good about my decision to end it, which was something I desperately needed right then.

David Roy Brown

I am a daddy's girl through and through. From the time that I was super little, I've always wanted to be near my dad. I'm also a whole lot like my dad. While I look more like my mom, I am more of an introvert like my dad. He is a funny, personable guy, and it's my favorite when he gets in a goofy mood. He often gets in goofy moods when we're on vacation and he can allow himself to just completely relax. Dad is also an incredibly kind and caring man. He has been bishop in two different wards, and he fulfills that calling to its fullest.

Dad is the main reason that I am such a huge sports fan. When I was little, I would sit with Dad and watch Jazz games. For the longest time, I was afraid of being vocal about the sports, so while Dad would yell and holler at the TV, I would whisper "Yes!" when something good happened. (I definitely grew out of that. Hollering and yelling is an integral part of watching any sport now.) When I was about five, Dad took me to a preseason Jazz game. He told me over and over that if I got tired, we could go home. But I stayed awake for the whole game and paid attention to everything. The Jazz beat the 76ers, and I had so much fun. Dad was amazed. I've been going to sporting events with him ever since.

One of my best memories of Dad was my senior year of high school. I had auditioned for a major role in our school musical, and I didn't get it. I was devastated because I felt like I had nailed my audition. I came home from school very upset and shut myself in my room to cry and stew and make myself angrier. Dad came to talk to me about letting go of the anger and doing my best with the role I had been given. He was very understanding and told me about a similar experience he had had in high school (he also did theater). Having this kind of talk was usually something my mom did, so hearing it from Dad had a really big impact on me. In the end, it was probably a very good thing I didn't get the role because of a lot of other things that went on during that show, so having Dad help me through that was a big deal to me.

Dad also joined Mom in coming to all of my big high school performances. One of the most memorable productions I was in was a locally written one act that was a combination of the Anne Frank story and a Holocaust prisoner of war story, and it was very powerful. I had a fairly big role, and we performed it for free for our families and fellow students. When we came out for the curtain call, we got a standing ovation. I immediately looked for my parents, and Dad had tears streaming down his face as he applauded. I could tell in that moment that he was very proud of me and my work.

While I don't call Dad with problems nearly as much as I call Mom, he is also always there to talk. When I do call him for one thing or another, we end up talking for way longer than expected, and we always have good conversations. He's a really good listener and always makes me feel like he's truly hearing me.

I'm so very grateful for the parents I've been given. There's so much more I could write about both of them. They have both always supported me in everything I've chosen to do and have pushed me to try new things and step out of my comfort zone. They've seen my potential and tried their best to help me achieve it, and I don't think you can ask for much better in your parents.