a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Monday, December 21, 2015

Costa Rica: Pura Vida!

Since it's practically impossible to recount just how awesome, fun, and beautiful this trip was as a whole, I'm just going to go over some highlights:

The breathtaking scenery

Driving from Monteverde toward Jaco, we had to stop a couple times because these 
views were unbelievable. A photo lens can't do it justice.

Me and Jeff's first international trip together

The sunsets

Jungle canopy and beach for as long as the eye could see. 

The activities

Ziplinging! We went on the longest zipline in Latin America, a cable longer than a mile! And we went Superman style. What a thrill!

Hanging bridges through the jungle canopy. Our first glance at some monkeys!

At the end of our first day, we found the local hot springs usually frequented by the natives and found a perfectly warm river that we relaxed in for a long time. The warm water felt so good and it was fun watching other people arrive and wade in the river. I could have stayed there for hours. 

Banana boating on our last morning. We didn't know how fun this was going to be being pulled by a wave runner, but I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Our driver was so much fun and we had an absolute blast. Perfect way to end our trip!

The cool places we stayed

I have had nothing but awesome experiences with Air Bnb. This trip was no different. We stayed at two places (seen above) and both were perfect in their own way. The top picture was probably my favorite Air BnB to date. It had the balcony where we took the sunset photos, brand new furnishings, and was the perfect space for our group. If I were to go back to Costa Rica I would head directly to that teal house in Manuel Antonio. I was in love!

The classy people

Our first day in Costa Rica we took the time to drive to the town of Naranjo and drop off a care package for a friend of a friend. It felt like being on the mission again! They let us into their home, we chatted for a while, they bought us cold Cokes and cookies, and we were able to help them with some needed clothes. It was awesome!

Thanksgiving Day with these wonderful people. 

So many incredible memories in The Beast. 

 The cool restaurant called El Avion where we ate Thanksgiving Dinner. It was perfect. 

One of our last meals. We loved the owner of this little Soda and she loved us.

What a trip of a lifetime! 

Costa Rica, you charmer you. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

My BFF Jimmy

As of a week ago I had 8 different things on my Life Bucket List. 

Now I have 7. 

See Jimmy Fallon live on The Tonight Show: CHECK!

Do other people have Life Bucket Lists like me? I surely hope so! There is something so fun about dreaming big, figuring out how to make those dreams happen, and then crossing those items off one by one. Although my Life Bucket List may not be long like some of my friends, it has some serious dreams on it and I intend to make every one of them happen. 

The story.

Wednesday, November 4th: A gasp followed by a another huge "NO WAY!!!!!" I've been trying to get tickets for almost a year. Months of waiting anxiously on the days the tickets are released trying to be fast enough to be waitlisted at least. Several sad emails notifying me that my wait list request was denied. But not today! Two tickets reserved JUST FOR ME! I ran downstairs and called Jeff. "What are you doing next Wednesday because you need to clear your schedule?!" He happily obliged and we immediately started looking for bus tickets. 

Wednesday, November 11th: I feel more giddy than I ever have been for a Christmas morning. Jeff and I meet at his house, walk to the metro, arrive at Union Station, find our seats on the MegaBus, and we're off! The adventure is just about to begin. 

10:40 am - We're 40 few minutes outside of Baltimore and our bus breaks down. No. Please. Not today. My heart immediately sinks and I begin to calculate minutes in my head. We only have an hour and a half buffer. When our bus driver is a moron and the most unhelpful human on the planet, a few feisty bus patrons start calling customer service. Things only get more feisty from there. Inside I'm incredibly frustrated but trying to stay hopeful. We can still make it at this point. 

Things become more dire as the minutes wear on. I'm not actually sure if Jeff could tell how heartsick I was at this point but I hoped against all hope. We might not be getting lunch after the bus ride but we still had time to make it. 

12:15 pm - We're FINALLY back on the road. Everyone calms down and Jeff and I start running through options. We're going to arrive in NYC around 3 pm. We have to check in at 3:15 at Rockefeller Center but we'll be 22 blocks away. Do we run? Cab? Subway? Bike? We thought of every option. It looked like staying on foot would beat trying to get through traffic in a cab. 

3:02 pm - The bus pulls into its pit stop. Jeff and I are waiting at the front of the bus and as soon as the doors open we're off! Half speed walking/ half running (dating a guy that's 6'5 and has long legs makes keeping up with him interesting). 

3:10 pm - My purse strap breaks and the purse falls to the group in the middle of the street. Are you kidding me? I scoop it up and continue speed walking. Nothing is going to stop us. 

3:22 pm - We arrive at 30 Rock! Jeff runs upstairs to drop off his laptop bag at the Deloitte offices and I wait in the lobby. I have sweat dripping down my back. I scour the floor looking for the entrance to the NBC Studios and find two well-dressed men that look official letting people go up a flight of stairs. That must be it! Jeff comes back downstairs and hustles over to me. We show the two guys our tickets and they let us up the stairs. We made it! 

3:45 - 4:30 pm - After going through a serious of lines, showing our tickets, walking through security, etc., we're finally ushered into the Peacock Lounge and find our friends, Allie and Ryan, who also happened to get tickets the same day as us. We relax on the sofas and cool down. Finally, the anxiety of the morning starts to fade and the anticipation for the show starts to build. 

4:30 pm - We're led into Studio 6B. STUDIO 6B! This is where the magic happens. This is where Jimmy works every day. It's where Nicole Kidman shared her story about how she almost dated Jimmy. It's where all the Lip Sync Battles happen. It's where Blake Shelton made fun of Jimmy for buying a small truck. It's where Justin Timberlake and Jimmy talk in Hashtags. It's where Ryan Reynolds soaked Jimmy in Water Wars. It's where Ariana Grande killed it in Wheel of Musical Impressions. This is really it!!! Jeff and I are led to seats smack dab in the middle of the middle section and I'm about as happy as I've ever been. 

5 - 6:15 pm - Can I say this was the best hour and fifteen minutes of my life? Because it was. James McAvoy, Sam Smith, The Undertaker, The Roots Band, Kurt Braunohler, and JIMMY FALLON. I'm not sure if I've ever felt the feeling I felt when Jimmy walked on stage. It was transcendent. So many laughs. So many smiles. So much fun. 

6:30 pm - It's over and I can officially cross that bucket list item off my list. We meander through the NBC gift shop, take some pictures, grab a slice of pizza (we hadn't really eaten in 12 hours so that pizza was pretty heavenly), grabbed Allie and Ryan's car, and made our way home.

11:30 pm - We arrive back in Crystal City, exhausted but extremely pleased.

What a crazy day! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

My heart has wings of gratitude

I left work at 5 pm last night, in the deep darkness that daylight savings brings, and headed up to the temple. Just after crossing the 14th Street Bridge I hit some major traffic due to some important road in front of some important building being blocked off and had to sit in traffic for an additional 45 minutes.

I was exhausted once I arrived at the temple an hour and a half later. I had a headache, I was hungry, and I walked a little halfheartedly through the front doors wondering how I was going to make it through the night when I knew I was assigned to be in the 8 pm session. It was going to be a hard night. I was going to be leaving late and was already envisioning falling into my bed hours later, exhausted and ready to sleep.

But I knew I had to trudge on. The temple is important to me and because of my work schedule I hadn’t been able to attend the three Thursdays previous. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of not going and making that more of a routine that the opposite.

So I walked in. I handed them my recommend. I lifted my head to look at the mural that greets patrons as they cross the bridge. I tried to pry my eyes open as I entered the study lounge to grab my schedule. And I lumbered down to get dressed, eat a quick dinner, and head to our preparation meeting.

Sister Colton grabbed me just as preparation meeting ended and had at her side a new temple worker.

“Sister Redford, this is Sister Reategui, our new Spanish speaking worker on this shift. You are the only other Spanish speaker on this shift. Could you please interpret for me?”

Speak Spanish? Right now? My shoulders may have sagged a little. Speaking Spanish was perhaps the last thing I wanted to do in that moment.

“Of course, Sister Colton.”

What transpired in the next three hours left me with a surety that Heavenly Father knows me so very well.

Sister Reategui and I were able to do sealings, one of my favorite things. Then we headed to the Hostess position where I got to speak with her for a full hour and get to know her in a very personal way. I was reassured that I can actually speak Spanish still and that after a little practice it starts coming naturally and without hesitation. The last hour we spent in the Celestial Room where I got to sit in perfect silence, watch an almost-married couple come through the veil together for the first time before their wedding this weekend, and see a friend who was downtrodden and depressed weep in a far corner and then be able to comfort her in her moment of weakness. I thought of my mission and how badly I had wanted to be called Spanish speaking. When my call came and my desire fulfilled, I felt impressed that God was going to use me, not just during my mission, but in the years afterward. Him allowing me to learn Spanish was so I could be His instrument. And here I was sitting in that room, feeling comforted that even through my exhaustion, He was using me and the skills He let me learn. 

By the time I left the temple I was still tired, but not exhausted. My feet were not trudging across the pavement. My headache had disappeared. And to quote a friend, “My heart had wings of gratitude.”

If there’s anything I believe in it’s the tender mercies from a loving Heavenly Father who blesses us simply because He’s good to His very core.

“Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful.” –Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A few autumnal favorites

1. My birthday surprise

What does a girl even say when she gets showered with so much love and affection on her birthday? I woke up on a regular Wednesday morning knowing Jeff had something planned for us to do after work, but never in a million years expecting what he actually had planned for us. It was too kind, too good, and too much of a surprise that I was left speechless and overwhelmed with the kindness that was showed me.

Breakfast breads and cupcakes, and a desk decorated so lovely as I walked into work
The kindest Facebook and text messages
Personalized video messages from the most adorable niece and nephew in the world
My favorite meal from Design Cuisine picked up and assembled, ready to consume at Jeff's house
The two most adorable pairs of flats picked out by the boyfriend. With extra pairs in extra sizes just in case one didn't fit.
What I thought was going to be a nice bike ride around the monuments at sunset
What actually turned into a bike gang with friend joining us at every stop
Another group of darling friends waiting at the Lincoln with cookies and milk and a final rendition of "Happy Birthday!"
Cards with sweet words that have gone straight into my heart and are never leaving

I am the luckiest.

2. Noosa yogurt

Yogurt is a big part of my life, like, really big. I think I've tried just about every flavor and brand out there and was recently introduced to Noosa. Guys, this is a game changer in the yogurt department. It's Australian-style but produced in Colorado and it's the perfect combination of tangy and sweet. I'm not gonna lie, it's also crazy expensive, but since my company pays for my lunch every day I figure I can spend an additional $1.50 on my yogurt every morning. Plus, yogurt is good for my digestive system and the flavor is good for my taste buds. The lemon is to die for, the raspberry too, and add some frozen fruit like blueberries or raspberries and you have a killer breakfast.

3. Sophisticated sweaters

I'm trying to get some more sophistication into my wardrobe this winter and these sweaters are going to do it, I think. Plus, who doesn't like 60% of clearance?

Primary Image of Animal Spot Sweater

4. New movies

Fall means new movies. "The Walk," "Spectre," and "Burnt" are all movies I am dying to see.

5. Breaking my sugar addiction

I decided after my birthday that things were getting a little ridiculous in the sugar department and that something needed to change. I had a full flown addiction and had to have something sweet after every meal, including breakfast. So I decided to see if I could go a month without any baked goods, candy, chocolate, or soda. I'm not going to tell you it's been easy, but it's doing wonders. I'm sleeping better and I don't feel that nasty gross feeling inside. Now I'm just going to have to figure out how to reintroduce it to my diet come November so I can enjoy a little chocolate every once in a while without overdosing.

6. Berry picking

I'm proud that I have spent two Saturday mornings in the great outdoors enjoying the crisp, fall air and getting to know new friends. The first Saturday was spent at Butler's Orchard in Maryland, attending a fall festival meant for little children (No wonder the lady that we paid looked in our car and asked if he had any children with us!) and berry picking. We got there in perfect raspberry picking season so the bushes were full and our bowls even fuller by the end. I truly feel that berries and fruit are two of the evidences that God loves us. I could probably eat an entire bushel of raspberries in one sitting without trying too hard. Not mad about my berry stained fingertips by the end.

7. Planning Thanksgiving vacation in Costa Rica

We're down to 39 days till we leave for Central America. Most of the Air Bnb's are booked, there's a 12 passenger van awaiting our arrival at the airport, I bought adventure pants AND adventure shorts for the trip, and as the weather gets a little bit crispier, I can't wait to get some sand between my toes one day and fly through the rain forest on a zipline the next day.

8. Buying Christmas airfare for cheap!

Bless Jeff's mom's heart, she gave us the tip that Christmas airfare might be the cheapest it's going to get last Friday so we jumped on it. And she was right! I had been tracking flights and not finding anything cheaper than $700 but last Friday I bought my airfare for $514. Wahoo!

9. Not having the air conditioner or heater on

It's that blessed time in the fall when we don't have to air conditioner nor the heater on. Low utility bills are the bomb.

10. General Conference...

...ROCKED! Seriously, mega spiritual feasting happened. My favorites were President Uchtdorf, Elder Stanfill, and Elder Bednar. But really, my favorites were all of them. We got three new Apostles which is something to yell from the rooftops and I think they are going to be awesome in every way. Can't wait to hear from them more in April. I just wish I could help the world understand how cool it is that we have Prophets and Apostles. The world listened with baited breath to every thing the Pope said when he came to DC a couple weeks ago which was really cool and I love how Catholics revere and respect their Pope. He's definitely an inspired and God-fearing man. But what's even cooler is that there are actual Prophets and Apostles on the earth today and they speak to us! I wish the world would pay closer attention because it could probably learn a thing or two.

11. Amazing Race and Scandal are back on TV

I watch very minimal TV, not for any "I'm against TV" reason, I just always seem to be doing something else. I put all of those other things aside to watch Scandal and The Amazing Race, however. Lazy Saturday mornings catching up on my shows can't be beat.

12. Trips to Annapolis on perfect fall afternoons

Falling in love with this city and it's quaint charm.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

28 highlights for year 28

In celebration of turning 10,592 days old this week, here's a list of 28 highlights from year 28.

1. My trip to New England to see the fall colors

2. My trip to NYC where we did everything from eat amazing food, go to the Top of the Rock, and see two plays (Les Mis and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder)

3. First concert at the 9:30 Club to see Dan + Shay

4. Costco started accepting debit cards and life got exponentially better

5. Kevin and his conversion

6. Paid off all my debt so now I can go places like this (Costa Rica) for Thanksgiving. Wahoo!

7. Carson came home from his mission in Carlsbad, CA

8. Our only family tradition is conducting taste tests when we're all together. This year we finally got around to taste testing french fries (Wendy's won) and we also did a smell test of men's colognes. I'm obsessed with Paco Rabanne 1 Million and John Varvatos Artisan.

9. Night skiing with Spence. One of the best nights of skiing in my entire life and watching Spence ski for the first time in 13 years = priceless. 

(Spence after eating the worst onion rings in the history of onion rings)

10. Started dating this handsome guy

11. Attended our CCA staff retreat in Phoenix, AZ; Spent time with my dad and stepmom who came down afterward to hang out for a few days; and went to one of my favorite places on earth, Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Farm

 (Me and my dad at the Mexican market we went to each day where I would get a gigantic Agua de Melon)

12. Jimmy Fallon came out with his own Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor, Tonight Dough. 
Bless Jimmy for everything he does is GOLD.

13. March Madness in Pittsburgh. Two awesome games in one day!

14. After four years I left the Colon Cancer Alliance and started my dream job at Design Cuisine

15. Bought a kitchen torch and made my fave dessert, Creme Brulee

16. Chic-Fil-A came out with Diet Frozen Lemonades

17. My first niece, Ivy Amelia Redford, was born

18. Met the Niumatalolo family from "Meet the Mormons" after conducting a fireside where they were the guests speakers

19. Went to Iceland and bought a selfie stick

(Very first shot with the selfie stick) 

(But then I got the hang of it) 

20. Celebrated 10 years graduated from high school. 

21. Ran theWipeout 5K Run

22. Carson got married!

23. Worked at the Citi Open and had a ball

24. Went to Jim Gaffigan at Wolftrap

25. Went to Cedar Point Amusement Park for the 3rd time in 5 summers

26. Organized my 3rd Duck Beach house (this time with Jeff) for Labor Day 
and got to hang with all these homies

27. Three Apostles passed away (not that this was necessarily a highlight,
but it's definitely something to remember)

27. Celebrated my 20 year anniversary of being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Fingers crossed I will celebrate another 20 years of remission.

Bring it on, 29!