Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Because I'm lazy and we've already mailed out wedding invitations and thank-you cards this year, I'm skipping out on sending Christmas cards. Besides, we don't have any adorable kids, and no one wants a boring picture of just the two of us. So instead, I figured I'd post a summary of 2013 instead.

This has been quite the busy year, to say the least. The biggest event was the wedding, obviously. On February 19, I became Lindy Conelly, and I haven't regretted it for a single second. These past 10 months have been wonderful. Andrew and I have learned so much about each other, and I continue to love him more and more every day. He's amazing, and I couldn't ask for a better husband.

The other major events of 2013 include a brand-new job for me and a subsequent move to Salt Lake for the two of us. It couldn't have worked out better. Andrew was already working in Midvale, so when I got a job in Cottonwood Heights, it only made sense for us to move. The bad part was that it was my second move in five months and Andrew's third move in a year. Our families would be content if they never had to help us move ever again, I'm sure.

Andrew and I have also gone on two vacations this year, both of which were fantastic and left me with the travel bug. The first, of course, was our honeymoon to Maui. It was absolutely gorgeous and I am determined that we will go back one day, hopefully sooner rather than later. I loved every second of it. The second vacation was our spur-of-the-moment birthday trip to Orlando for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We were only there for two days, but we had so much fun! I can't think of a better way to celebrate turning 26. I'm so glad we could go and just have a weekend of fun.

The rest of the year has been spent working, going to football games, watching movies, going to family get-togethers, and relaxing on the couch in front of the TV. I feel like most of the exciting things from this year happened the first half of the year, but we've been spending our time setting up our apartment the way we want it to be and simply figuring out how to live together. I think we've done a pretty good job of it so far. Andrew and I are both so excited about our first Christmas together as a married couple. It will be so fun to combine our family traditions and maybe add some new ones.

I would have to say that 2013 has been an amazing year. I'm not sure how 2014 could hope to beat it, but I'm excited to see it try.

Merry Christmas from the Conellys!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmastime Is Here

I love Christmas. And not just the holiday itself—the entire month of December. I love the decorations, the lights, and the look of the presents under the tree. I love listening to Christmas music and singing Christmas hymns at church. I love the work parties and the family parties. I love the spirit of giving and the service opportunities that pop up everywhere. Most of all, I love the Spirit of Christ that permeates so much of the season. Despite the cold temperatures, I associate warmth with the Christmas season, and I attribute that mostly to the spirit of the season.

I have to admit, though, that when I first started thinking about what Andrew and I would do for Christmas this year, I wasn't sure how much fun it would be. I thought gift giving would be a bit of a let down what with setting a budget and knowing pretty much what we were getting each other. I thought only having the two of us would minimize the magic some.

And then we spent the weekend after Thanksgiving shopping for Christmas decorations. We bought a 7.5-foot tree. We bought lots of ornaments. We bought lights. I bought yarn to make some Christmas projects. And as I put the decorations up and Andrew and I talked about our family traditions and new traditions we want to start, I realized that the spirit of the season isn't dependent on how many people you're sharing it with. It isn't dependent on how many surprises are under the tree. It's about being with people you love and remembering why we celebrate the holiday. This is Christ's season, and I get to spend it with the man I love, the man I have made an eternity-long commitment to.

So now when I get home from work and see this

And this

I get excited. We may not have the nicest decorations, or even a lot of decorations, but what we do have brings the spirit of Christmas into our home every day. I love this time of year, and I can't wait to start my own traditions with Andrew that our kids will talk about with their spouses one day.

And to conclude this post, I list five of my very most favorite Christmas songs:
  1. "I Pray on Christmas" – When My Heart Finds Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr.
  2. "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" – A Family Christmas by the Piano Guys
  3. "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" – Home For Christmas by *NSYNC
  4. "Stille Nacht" – Christmas by Mannheim Steamroller
  5. "I Wonder As I Wander" – Kurt Bestor Christmas by Kurt Bestor

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We Chose Each Other

I found this quote on Pinterest, and I love it. It's from The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie. I've never read the book, but this stuck out to me.

It reminds me of the advice my mom gave me and Andrew before we got married. At my family bridal shower, my sister made these adorable wood blocks that spell out "Welcome," and she had all the guests write down some advice. My mom wrote, "Always remember that you chose each other." And I think what she means is the same thing Alexie is saying. Andrew and I chose to marry each other, but that wasn't a one-time choice. It's a choice that we have to keep making every single day. We have to choose to remain faithful and choose to live by the covenants we made.

I personally think that one reason the divorce rate is so high is that people forget the choices they made and refuse to make the effort to keep making the same choices day in and day out. Marriage is hard work. It requires effort. A neglected marriage isn't going to last; it needs to be nurtured. Couples need to remember that they chose each other. This is a choice they made and one that they need to continue making.

I'm not trying to say I'm an expert on marriage. Far from it. Andrew and I haven't even been married a year, and I know we haven't exited the honeymoon stage yet. But when the hard times come, I am going to do my best to remember that I chose him. We chose each other. And we have to continue choosing each other every day.

Monday, September 30, 2013

One Year Ago Today . . .

This happened:

I can't believe it has already been a year since Andrew proposed. The time has gone so quickly. We've already been married for seven and a half months, which seems like both a long time and a very short time. I'm so glad to have Andrew in my life. He's so good to me, and I love him so much more now than I did a year ago. This past year has been wonderful, and I can't say enough how happy I am that I get to spend the years ahead with the love of my life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Prepare yourselves for lots of pictures. Andrew posted them all on Facebook, but you get to see them again! This time with commentary! Hooray!

We started our trip at the airport, of course. We parked the car and took the shuttle to the terminal. For such a short trip, it was way more convenient to just pay for long-term parking than it was to find someone who could drop us off and pick us up.

Then we grabbed some ridiculously expensive airport food and waited for our flight. I hate the waiting part of trips. And often the flights. The turbulence makes my stomach queasy, and since Andrew and I had to sit across the aisle from each other, we couldn't watch movies together or play any games. Lame. But we survived the flight and made it to Orlando, where we waited for our shuttle to take us to the hotel. We didn't get in until after 1:00 a.m., when we immediately crashed and were up again in five hours.

But waking up wasn't too bad because I knew that soon, very soon, I would be seeing Hogsmeade in real life! Well, as real life as Hogsmeade gets. Our hotel was conveniently located a mere 20-minute walk from the park, so we headed out to take advantage of our early admission to the park. We got to the entrance, used the kiosk to print our tickets, and stood in line, only to be told that what we had weren't the right tickets. We were directed to guest services, where we were told our registration didn't show any park tickets. Ummm . . . that was certainly a problem, and seeing as how we had all our confirmation documentation, we could prove that we actually paid for our tickets. We were finally given comp tickets for the day, and then we had to go to another office to figure out our actual registration. Eventually all was well, but it ate into our park time, so neither Andrew nor I were the happiest of campers.

But then we walked into Hogsmeade and my eyes were filled with this:

Who wouldn't be happy after that?! My mood was immediately awesome and I kind of started freaking out a little bit. It was so cool!

We started our day with breakfast at the Three Broomsticks.

A traditional English breakfast. It was tasty. Except for the black pudding. That was not so tasty.

If you watched long enough, the hog head would MOVE. Magic, I tell you!

A super nice security guard offered to take our picture.

We then headed over to the Forbidden Journey, which we had heard wonderful things about. I was almost more excited—scratch that. I was actually more excited about going inside Hogwarts than I was about the ride itself.

The line starts in the Herbology greenhouse and moves through the entrance hall, Dumbledore's office, and the History of Magic classroom. The portraits on the wall actually move and talk and cross over to other frames. It was incredibly well done. I just had so much fun looking at everything and taking it all in. I loved it, of course.

At night, these words would suddenly appear on the pillars.

The ride itself was pretty awesome and impressive too. It was half roller coaster, half simulated in the vein of Soarin' Over California. There was a lot of movement, though, and going on it after eating a full meal may not have been the best decision.

We then had to go and try the famed butterbeer.

Photo attempt #1: Andrew took too long to take the picture and my mouth got so full of butterbeer that I couldn't hold the pose anymore. This was the result. 

Photo attempt #2: Success!

Andrew only needed one attempt.

Butterbeer is quite possibly the greatest beverage known to man. So good!
We spent the remainder of day one wandering the shops in Hogsmeade, taking pictures of awesome things (which were everywhere), and going on Spiderman and a whole bunch of water rides that left us sopping wet. I was not a huge fan of that last part.

This baby Mandrake was squealing at us from behind the glass.

When we got home, I got such a kick out of seeing purchases from Dervish and Banges and Zonko's on my credit card.

Watching a kid get chosen by a wand in Ollivander's would have been so much cooler had the kid actually seemed like a Harry Potter fan instead of being a sarcastic little bugger.

Pretty sure I was sopping wet by the time this picture was taken. Sorry about that, Mr. Conductor.

After taking a rest in the hotel room and changing out of our soaking wet clothes, we headed back over to the park in order to catch our showing of the Blue Man Group. Neither of us really knew what to expect from the show. I had seen the clips of the percussion and paint, but that was about all I knew, other than that the performers were covered in blue paint and didn't speak. But it was so much more than gimmicks. The percussion was truly awesome, and there was improv and comedy and audience participation, and the whole thing ended in a giant dance party. Instead of streamers, they shot toilet paper out over the audience, and these huge, light-up beach balls fell from the ceiling to be tossed around the audience. It was such a blast. Unfortunately, taking pictures was prohibited, so this is all I have to show for it:

We started out day 2 at the other park, which was called Universal Studios (Harry Potter is in Islands of Adventure). We used our early admission intending to hit up Transformers before the line got to be three hours long, but to our dismay, it was down. So our early admission was wasted two days in a row. But we made the best of it by going on Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, which was adorable, and the Shrek 4D show, which was not nearly as adorable. We then stood in line for this ridiculous-looking roller coaster, which broke down before we could get on. So we ducked out of line and gave it up as a lost cause.

Andrew wanted to hit up the Simpson's ride, so we headed over there, and he had a good time looking at all the things they have set up there. What he did not enjoy, however, was the ride itself. It is a simulated ride that twists and turns and goes backward and forward and his motion sickness kicked in like nobody's business, so he had to spend a few minutes sitting and sipping Sprite.

After going on a few other kind of lame rides, we decided to head back to Islands of Adventure for lunch at the Three Broomsticks. On our way out, we checked in on Transformers, and it was up and running again! We used our handy-dandy express passes that we had gotten as a compensation for losing half of our registration to avoid the two-hour line. It's such an awesome ride; we both loved it.


Andrew was so excited for this picture. Those robots actually have people inside them. Pretty insane costumes, eh?

We headed back over to Harry Potter and got fish and chips (and more butterbeer, of course) for lunch.

I was pretty worn out from the heat and humidity by this point. My flyaways/frizz are awesome, though.

The Three Broomsticks does fish and chips right!

We honestly could not get enough of this stuff. $3.75 a glass? Totally worth it.
By this point, the heat and the humidity were getting to me in a bad way, so we decided to take a break and nap in the hotel. Who knew that 20 minutes could feel like an eternity? My hands were so swollen that I looked like I had sausages for fingers, I was sweating bullets, and I thought I was going to pass out. But I made it back to the hotel in nearly one piece and collapsed on the bed, reveling in the wonderful air conditioning.

That rest was just what I needed to gear up for our last night at the park.We headed back over to Islands of Adventure, and by this time, clouds had rolled in and it was sprinkling slightly. It made the weather quite beautiful, and the park was nearly empty compared to the lunchtime crowds we had just left. We went on the Hulk roller coaster, which was FANTASTIC, and left me with some pretty awesome hair.

What you can't see is the little nubbin left in my ponytail holder at the back of my head.
We also went on the Dueling Dragons, which was also a fun roller coaster in Harry Potter, though the Hulk was better. There were more cool things to see in this line, too, this time all related to the Triwizard Tournament.

We spent the rest of our evening relaxing in the Three Broomsticks and just wandering the streets of Hogsmeade. I really didn't want to leave—it just had the greatest feeling. I felt like Hagrid could stroll through any door at any moment. I really felt like I was in Hogsmeade and that witches and wizards really did exist. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and our trip was no exception. And as spur of the moment as the trip was, and as short as it ended up being, I am so glad we were able to go. I had such an incredible time. I can't wait until they finish the one in LA so that Harry Potter can be a little bit closer to home.

And now, a few more pictures.