Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Springville Republican caucuses

This evening Tricia and I attended our first neighborhood caucus. I had been to the state Republican convention twice before (not as a delegate, just as an interested citizen), but we were interested to see what happens on the grassroots caucus level.

(I'll upload a video soon of our precinct chair explaining how he will do his best to represent our precinct. He has been in his position for 4 years and was reelected, unopposed, to two more.)

The caucus lasted just over an hour, and most of the meeting was spent electing our representatives: the chair, vice-chair, secretary/treasurer, two county delegates, and one state delegate.

Voting was done on slips of paper, which were then hand-counted by these volunteers.

With all the attention given to church and state separation, we got a chuckle out of the text at the bottom of some of our "ballots."

There were 50 people in attendence. We were told there are 700 registered voters in our precinct. I think that is actually a pretty good turnout.

Memorable lines/takeaways:

Our vice-chair said the documents that guide his political stands are "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," the Constitution, and the Republican platform, in that order.

One concerned citizen stood up and shared thoughts about the issues that are important to him. He is against ethanol, which is "not worth a doodley."

A candidate for state delegate ended a well-rehearsed speech explaining why we should vote for him with "I hope you'll vote for me or at least seriously consider me to be your delegate. This is my last chance--I'm almost 80 years old." He was met with some kindhearted chuckles, but an upstart 30-something won the ballot.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Favorite Board Game

Tricia and I took a great trip up to Idaho last weekend to visit relatives and meet our new cousin Eric.

What I didn't know was that I would discover a new favorite board game: Blokus.

If you like Tetris, 4-Player chess, and chinese checkers, this is the game for you.

Thanks, Curtis and Karla.

The game.

Family fun for all ages.

One night, after Blockus, Curtis and Tricia teamed up to put together a bookcase for Grandma. They were a great combination of nice, controlled hammering and enthusiastic whacking.

Welcoming the new cousin.

Monday, March 17, 2008

a retrospective 10-minute walk

This morning I walked down the southeast stairwell of the Tanner Building on BYU campus and came across a wall for the MPA (Master of Public Administration) program, from which I graduated a year ago. My face was plastered on the wall in at least four different pictures, but the one that took me back to a year ago was my graduation picture. There on the first row (yes, I am short), four people in from the left side, I stood with cap and gown and curly hair. I remembered that day and all the work leading up to it and all the anticipation after it. As I exited the Tanner Building and walked across campus to the library, I retrospectively reviewed the last year.

I had a lot of questions a year ago: Will I marry Matt? What will Ghana be like? Where will I find a job? Should I look for a job that is close? What KIND of job do I want? When will my net cash flow be positive again? I was on the crusp of a sparkling and unknown future. Here's a rundown of how everything has played out:

Ghana. I experienced a culture that brought questions about poverty and development to the forefront of my mind. It was a poignant experience for a lot of reasons, a few of which include being an obvious tourist, talking to people who aren't sure where their next meal might come from, seeing organizations that are doing amazing work!, feeling like I represented an opportunity for money over an opportunity for friendship, and trying to determine the balance between improving a society and respecting that society's roots.

Summer internship. The job I found--one which kept me close enough to see how things would work out with Matt and short-term enough to allow me room to maneuver if things didn't work out--was a summer internship with a local microcredit organization. My job was financed by a think tank back east, so I went to D.C. twice to be trained and to reflect on the results of my summer work. Since the work I did was based in Salt Lake, the organization I worked for did not appreciate the work I was doing. I don't think I've felt quite as under valued in other jobs I've had. The tastes left in my mouth from that experience include disappointment and clarity. I feel the microcredit industry has a long way to go before I can feel confident about it. But I came away knowing that was NOT the organization nor sector I wanted to work for--hence, the clarity.

Marriage. I got married on September 8, 2007. It was a wonderful day that started off with a wonderful sealing. Our honeymoon to Park City was the start of us settling into each other, and we have delighted in our progress since.

Thumb-twiddling. After we got married, I had no definite plans. I wasn't sure if I should be looking for something long-term while Matt was still throwing around the idea of graduate school. So after being crazily busy, I found myself struggling with so much time on my hands. I found a part-time job as a tutor for two African students. I took on card crafting and established a well-organized home. I planted bulbs. I swept our driveway every day. I tried to make friends in the ward. I practiced the piano and guitar. I made bread. I read. I went on long walks and got to know our neighborhood. It was a good time for me.

A real job! After all that twiddling of the thumbs, I was hired to teach two EMPA (Executive Master's of Public Administration) classes for the winter semester. In December I put together syllabi for a Communications class and a Writing class. The first day of class--January 8, 2008--was memorable for all the nerves I felt. As I drove up to Salt Lake to teach the first two-and-a-half-hour class, I gulped down buzzing thoughts that questioned who had thought that me, a recent graduate, teaching these two classes was a good idea. From that day to now has been such a growing experience that I feel I can compare it to the mission.

So, back to that picture in the Tanner Building. The reason I was walking down the stairs in the Tanner Building was because I had just finished a meeting with the director of the MPA program about working through some challenging difficulties I am currently facing. But the meeting ended on a positive note about ways to improve and progress for upcoming years. I think that juxtaposition sums up the last four months pretty well.

It has been a good year. I have tried to stop banking on absolutes in the future so I can start investing myself more in the present. I was happy to consider last year's adventures and successes...and I hope the next year will be just as interesting and fulfilling.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

no longer "just"

I've decided that since I now refer to "when we were first married," I cannot be hypocritical by calling us "just married." I have, therefore, removed the "just" from the subtitle of our blog and the description of our picture. This officially makes us simply "married."

P.S. Our marriage has been--and continues to be!--wonderful.

pickled asparagus

When Matt posted about his birthday dinner, we had a few questions about pickled asparagus. Here is the recipe:

Boil together for 15 minutes and then strain:
3 quarts water
2 quarts white vinegar
10 T. pickling salt (Kosher)
1 T. pickling spice with the cloves removed

In each jar put 1 sliced clove garlic, 3/4 - 1 T. dill seed, and 1 dried 1" red chili pepper. Pack jar with asparagus. Pour brine over asparagus. Boil in hot water bath for 15 minutes. (Makes enough brine for 9 quarts packed tight using about one 2 lb. bunch of asparagus per quart.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tigers and Dons

Tonight Trish and I got into a friendly debate over dinner--which city had more square miles: Spanish Fork (to our south) or Orem (my hometown, to our north)? After a bit of googling, we found the answer: Orem has 18.4 square miles, while Spanish Fork has 13.2 (at least according to the 2000 census).

We also found out that Orem is the third most densely populated city in Utah! Any guesses for the first and second most densely populated cities?

Tricia's tag

FAVORITE PAIR OF SHOES: A pair of black Born sandals; it's getting that time of year!

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: Read the scriptures more. I can't say I've increased my study, but I've definitely been more consistent.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: The "whir" of my laptop (I usually like to work in silence and the listen to music while I eat lunch or clean).

IF YOU HAD $200 TO SPEND ON YOURSELF WHAT WOULD IT BE: Something practical like an external hard drive so I could make a back-up of all my documents and re-install Windows (I am already on the Mac bandwagon for our next computer purchase).

RANDOM THOUGHT: At what point in the spring do crocuses stop blooming?

FAVORITE PLACE TO GO IN THE CITY YOU LIVE IN: Outside of home, I really like the museum and walking around the neighborhoods. They have a lot of distinct flavor to them.

THE BOOK YOU ARE READING: The Lord's Way by Dallin H. Oaks (with Matt) and the autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, a blind Frenchman who helped with the underground efforts during World War II. I am fascinated by this book because Jacques became blind at the age of 8 or 10 when a kid behind him got ancy to get out the door and pushed him down. Jacques' face hit the corner of a desk, and his glasses penetrated deep into his right eye. It was such a violent intrusion that the left eye was ruined as well. Jacques does not describe the incident with ANY hint of blame or anger toward the boy hurrying out the door. Rather, he focuses entirely on all the advantages his new situation brought him. I would love to follow this example better in my own life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Bec tagged me (and you, too, Trish--I'll let you fill out your own answers!)

FAVORITE PAIR OF SHOES-my new basketball shoes

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION- hm, I can't remember off the top of my head. That can't be a good sign...

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW- stillness. It's 11:24 PM, Trish is asleep, and I'm not quite tired enough yet

IF YOU HAD $200 TO SPEND ON YOURSELF WHAT WOULD IT BE- clothes or a ticket to Minnesota to visit my grandparents

RANDOM THOUGHT- How far will BYU go in the NCAAs this year?

FAVORITE PLACE TO GO IN THE CITY YOU LIVE IN-home. OR the Springville Museum of Art.

THE BOOK YOU ARE READING - The Lord's Way by Dallin H. Oaks and Truman by David McCullough

TAG THREE BLOGS: Daniel & Katie (this means you need to start blogging!), Brandon & Julie, Dave N.


Last night, Trish and I celebrated our six month wedding "anniversary," albeit two days late. Saturday I had promised Trish a date, but then ended up working so long on a funding proposal for my business that our "date" turned out to be spending time together on the couch while she edited my proposal (and did a great job). (BTW I guess the word "anniversary" can't be used to mark something that's not annual, but I'm not sure what is a better word to use. Ideas? (Bec?))

So after I submitted it on Monday, we chose to have our date later that evening. We watched The Pursuit of Happyness, (sic) the 2006 film with Will Smith. We both found this movie to be thought-provoking, and even throughout today it's been running through my mind.

In the film, Will Smith is a young father whose wife leaves him at the start of the film because he's not pulling his load as a breadwinner. He maintains custody of their preschooler, and gets an unpaid internship at Dean Whitter to try to get a jump start on his career. The internship lasts six months, and at the end, only one person out of the twenty in the program will get a job--everyone else gets nothing. In the meantime, he can't pay for their apartment anymore, so he and his son end up staying at a homeless shelter. It's a fascinating juxtaposition as Will Smith spends half his day trying to earn a job as a stockbroker, talking with white shirts who have too much money, then needs to leave early to pick up his boy from daycare and get a good place in line at the homeless shelter so they don't have to spend the night on the street. No one at the office realizes how poor he is--he's the only one who knows, and he hides it well, without feeling sorry for himself.

I found myself being more sensitive today as I interacted with other people, being more aware that probably everyone has heavy burdens they are carrying that they don't feel they could ever share in a socially responsible way. I believe that if we were truly aware of everything going on in the lives of those around us, we'd be amazed at how well they're managing and much more eager to lend a helping hand.

Pay by weight?

I ordered a sandwich for lunch today at the office cafeteria. I could get whatever I wanted on it, but the price was determined by the ounce of total sandwich.

My whole life I've ordered everything on my sandwich at Subway and favored supreme pizzas because I was always hungry and wanted to get the most food possible per dollar. If this "pay by the ounce" trend catches on, it could break the pocketbooks of hungry young men and teenage boys everywhere! Thank goodness I'm trying to watch my weight now--perhaps having my food weighed will both make me more aware of how much I'm imbibing AND encourage me to not eat as much.

(BTW the sandwich had grilled peppers and squash on it--yum!)

"Many young eyes are prematurely old"

Tricia and I decided that we'll mainly use this blog for sharing personal stories, but I just love this quote that came in the email a few weeks ago, and thought it fit better here than on my languishing "professional" blog:

"Paul Harvey, a famous news commentator, visited one of our Church school campuses some years ago. Later he observed: 'Each . . . young face mirrored a sort of . . . sublime assurance. These days many young eyes are prematurely old from countless compromises with conscience. But [these young people] have that enviable headstart which derives from discipline, dedication, and consecration' (news broadcast, Dec. 8, 1967, typescript, 1)."

(James E. Faust, "The Light in Their Eyes," Ensign, Nov. 2005, 20)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Birthday Month

Last month, I joined Tricia at 27 years old (my sister Maria reminded me a few times that this means we are both perfect cubes). I felt lucky to be married, because this meant I got to celebrate my birthday with both my parents' family and my in-laws, at least this year.

My favorite Newman family food (and birthday request): pickled asperagus.

Tricia cooking my Sederberg birthday meal with Angela.

Tricia making a valentine for her special someone.

Introducing the Newmans to the Sederberg genealogy.