Have I ever mentioned how much I love adult Spring Break? Because I LOVE adult Spring Break!
Dan has never been to Palm Springs (our destination of choice), so I was eager to show him around. I have 20+ years of memories down there and it was time to go from telling him all about it to showing him all of it.
Palm Springs is also completely interwoven with my sweet Grandpa Noland who passed away 11 years ago. Dan may never get to meet him in this life, but the best way for Dan to get to know who he was is to take him to Palm Springs.
Our week was filled with playing tennis, playing pickle ball, playing golf, lounging by the pool, and going to the BNP Paribas tennis tournament.
We landed right when the heat really settled in, so we were hanging in a 90+ degree temperature every day. I love warm weather, so you won't hear me complaining, but it was HOT.
Another first for Dan was going to a professional tennis tournament. Tennis quickly became a big part of our life together (thank goodness!) and he couldn't wait to see the pros in action. I don't think it disappointed. He even got to cheer on Monfils (his favorite Frenchman). And while we missed cheering on Federer, we proudly sported his new shirts to remind Djokovic where our loyalty lies.
My sisters and brother-in-law headed home on Thursday, so we spent our last few days hanging with my parents. As usual we were doing our best just to keep up with them. They managed to beat us in tennis most mornings, and showed us a thing or two about golf in the afternoons. Dan and I are both very much a work in progress in that department, but we had a lot of fun and I wouldn't mind improving my golf game this Summer.
As usual, the trip went by far too quickly and I was sad to see our week in Palm Springs come to an end. It truly is the land where the sun always shines.
Last week Dan and I made my annual trip down to Laguna Beach for President's Day weekend. It's one of my favorite traditions, and I look forward to it every year. In the past I always went down with girlfriends, so this year was a little different because it was just Dan and I, and it was our first married Valentine's Day. The trip always goes by too fast, but we did our best to really make the most of it this year.
We were up bright and early on Friday and Saturday so we could get a couple rounds of tennis in.
We sat at the beach, read books, and relaxed.
We had friends come and stay with us! Scott is one of Dan's best friends. He and his wife Julie have lived in LA for almost two years and have a baby girl coming in April. We loved getting to spend some time with them. Thanks for coming and hanging out with us, guys!
Dan and Scott did some surfing, while Julie and I did some watching.
We picked up hippo cookies on Balboa Island and donuts at Seaside Donuts in Newport and sat in the sun some more.
Dan and I made dinner on Valentine's day, and exchanged homemade Valentine's. Every card Dan has ever given me has been homemade with love. I cherish them and look forward to opening them every holiday. I decided it was time for me to make him something too!
On Monday morning we cleaned and packed, took a nice long stroll on the beach, and were able to sit in the sun and soak it all in for a couple hours.
And before we knew it, we were back in the car driving back to Utah.
It really was the perfect weekend. So grateful to have a such a beautiful place to stay (thanks grandma and grandpa), a fun, adventurous husband to go with, and wonderful friends to visit!
A couple weekends ago Dan, my parents, and I traded in the Hawaiian sunshine for some snowy Sun Valley.
I must admit, although I'm no fan of Winter, Sun Valley is the one place I welcome snow--the more snow the better, in fact. And this year is the first year in a while that it's transformed into a real life snow globe up there. Out with the light dusting of a few inches of snow, and in with the 3-4 feet of snow!
We took full advantage of our time in winter wonderland. We skied on Saturday and then again on fresh, glorious powder on Monday. We spent an afternoon wearing the dogs (and ourselves) out playing in the snow in our backyard. We cross-country skied (one of our favorites), and we took lots of walks down Fairway.
Dan and I had so much fun with my parents. They are the best example to me of what I hope to be when I'm their age. Nothing stops them, and it's awesome. I really cherish this time of life with my family. I know this newlywed/no grandkids/everyone is an adult now life is fleeting, and I just want to take it all in before a new, equally wonderful chapter begins.
For most people Christmas comes on December 25th. For my family, Christmas came on December 26th. At noon on the 26th my family was on a plane to Hawaii.
We've been fortunate enough to go to Hawaii the past 5 years around Christmastime and it truly is a slice of paradise.
This year tops the list because it was my first year there with my husband. Last year Dan and I weren't even engaged yet. So much really can happen in 365 days.
Hawaii could not have been more beautiful. The sun did nothing but shine on (and brown up) our wintery, pale faces, and the water did nothing but sparkle apart from the occasional (fabulous) whale breach.
We went whale watching and snorkeling on a catamaran, we went scuba diving early one morning, we played tennis every day, and we jumped off of black rock on New Year's Day.
We also spent every day digging our toes in the sand, reading books, playing paddle ball, and taking dips in the ocean whenever we wanted.
It's such a simple life over there. You wake up, put on your swimsuit, sit on the beach until the sun goes down, eat fresh fish for dinner, and usually fall asleep by 9pm. I just love it.
I love spending those 10 days with my family. I truly do look at them as my very best friends. I also love to see how well Dan fits in. It feels like he's always been there, and I love it.
As always, it's like I blink and the trip is over. Suddenly I'm shivering at my desk at work dreaming of being back in paradise.
Hawaii, you were wonderful. We'll see you soon, but never soon enough.
Last week Dan and I brought home our first Christmas tree. We went to Cummings Tree Farm (a longstanding tradition in my family) and found her within 15 minutes. She's a bushy, lovely farm tree, and now she sits in our family room and happily glows as people pass by.
I loved unwrapping our small collection of ornaments and finding the perfect places to hang them on the tree. Dan and I have started collecting ornaments from all the new places we travel to. We got one in Disney World on our honeymoon and one from Boston when we were there in October. I can't wait to see our collection grow as we add new adventures to our list and continue creating new memories.
AND Bonus! As of yesterday we've officially been married for 6 months! Every day I love our little life a little more and I really can't believe I get to be with Dan for this Christmas and the one after that, and the one after that, and the one after that forever more. Life is sweet.
Well, it's official. All my friends are married.
Saturday, October 24th was the happiest day because LeAnn Paulsen became Mrs. N8 Nielsen.
We have all been waiting impatiently for this day, and it finally came!
Ann and Nate started dating shortly after Dan and I did and they got engaged two weeks after we got married. And then Nate moved to San Francisco! So when I say we've all been waiting impatiently for this day to arrive (especially Ann), I really mean it.
Their wedding day was perfect. They were sealed in the Draper temple and marched out of those golden doors with the most genuine, beaming smiles. There is no joy that compares to that of a newly married couple. And Nate and Ann were just oozing love. Ann was the most stunning, gorgeous bride there has ever been!
They followed their sealing with an intimate luncheon that suited them perfectly. We got to hear from those that are closest to them, and watch them cut the cake and share a dance. I consider myself so extremely blessed to call myself one of those people for Ann. She has been my best friend, roommate, and person for the last six years. She is the most kind, caring, giving, loving person, and I know that Nate will treat her right. I wouldn't have let her go to anything less.
While it was the happiest day, it was also a little bittersweet for me because they now live in San Francisco. I lived with Ann for six years and now she lives in a different state. And while I selfishly would like her to please get back here ASAP because I miss her constantly, I am so excited for their new adventure and know that a little distance will not harm our friendship at all. (And now we have more excuses to plan fabulous girls trips to get us all together!)
From September 2014-October 2015 four of my best friends, and I got married. I can't think of a better way to lose all your friends to their new husbands, than to do it all at once. It has been the best 13 months. I've been able to share the happiest time of my life with those who I love most. No bride left behind!