Friday, December 30, 2011


In my time in Atlanta, I was fortunate to become friends with three Maycocks, and tonight, I got to see them all in one place!

I met Emily first -- about 6 years ago. Emily is very tall and thin and beautiful. She is quiet, but not shy, and she is so, so smart. I miss her.

I met Walter next. The first time I met him, he had flopsy, curly hair, and all the girls in my YSA ward loved him for it. I didn't, though; I loved him for that navy and green shirt shown above.* (That's right; he wore it especially for me.) Like Emily, Walter is very tall and thin, but he looks just like his dad. He has perhaps the most interesting laugh I've ever heard. He is a slow-talker, but a fast thinker. I like Walter a lot.

*This picture is not the most flattering one of Walter, but it was the most flattering one of me. And since Walter nearly always looks good in pictures, I figured it was my turn.

I met Carrie when she came home from BYU for a summer. We didn't get to know each other very well, but then somehow we found each other through blogging. It's an online relationship I don't intend on ending any time soon. Carrie is shorter than Emily and Walter, but she is just as thin and attractive. She is so funny and caring, and from her blog, I can tell she is a very good mom. Her daughter has wonderfully chubby cheeks and bright eyes.

If I had to characterize the Maycocks in one sentence, I would say they remind me of Tolkien's elves. They are tall, smart, and beautiful, and everyone wants to be them.

Thing I'm thankful for: chocolate mint brownies and wassail

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As at Thanksgiving, nearly every blogger who celebrates Christmas posts something about Christmas. I have done the same for the last 5 or 6 years. Well, this year I'm doing something just a bit different.

I was going to just slap a picture of my tree up. Then I thought about only posting the words "Merry Christmas." I considered attaching a breaking photo of my brother-in-law dressed in Santa pajamas. Instead, I'll share a picture of cooked Snow crab.

This is before:

This is after:

About every other year, my family eats Snow crab and steak fingers for Christmas Eve dinner. For the alternating years, we order Chinese take-out. I don't know why my mom started this tradition, but it stuck. And on the Snow crab/steak finger years -- boy, am I glad. Everyone likes the steak fingers, but I mostly look forward to the crab. Maybe it has something to do with working for my food and maybe it has something to do with my love of food from the sea. All I know is that I love a good crab dinner. In fact, tonight I was the last one at the dinner table, still working on those crab legs. I finally called it quits after I created that beautiful pile of empty crab legs you see above.

In about 4 hours, I will watch my nieces unwrap their pretty packages that now sit underneath the tree. Within an hour or two of that, the things that took so long to choose and buy and wrap will be strewn across the floor, and Christmas will almost be over. We'll still have most of the day, though, to enjoy each others' company and continue our family traditions, and that makes me happy. Traditions and family and food make up a large and wonderful part of Christmas, and I hope you and yours are able to enjoy those things as much as me this year. Merry Christmas. :)

And okay, okay. Here is the breaking photo of Clay in his Santa jammies:

Hahaha! Merry Christmas, indeed. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: Jesus Christ, his birth and his life

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Oh, Atlanta Airport -- How I've Missed You!

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the entire world. In 2010, it accommodated 89 million passengers and nearly one million flights. (The second busiest airport is Beijing Capital International Airport. In 2010, it accommodated a measly 74 million passengers.)

You would think this airport would be inefficient. You would think it takes forever to get through security or to get to the right terminal. You would think it would be confusing to find your ride at the curbside pickup. You would be wrong.

Not only is the Atlanta Airport efficient, it's welcoming, too. The photo collage shown above greets every passenger who visits Atlanta. It captures the images of children at play in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. I love it. I look forward to seeing it every time I land in my beloved "Jaw-juh." It's good to be home.

Thing I'm thankful for: Nikki! And Carrie! And Mike's bread!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The UT Tower

The first time I heard the bells in the UT Tower strike the time, my mind flipped through the memories of my childhood to 301 South Orchard Street, the place I knew as home for most of my life, even after my family moved to Georgia. It was only a few blocks away from the Oklahoma State University campus, and every hour, on the hour, I could always count on the bells from the library clock to play their melody and mark the time.

I didn't even remember that that regular occurrence had such a place in my memory, but as soon as I heard the UT Tower bells my first day on campus, lots of other memories replayed themselves: feeding the ducks at Theta Pond, looking at the homecoming floats, walking up the many steps to my dad's old office, and tagging along with my brother and his friends when they played tennis on the campus courts. Of course there are non-campus memories, too, and they typically involved trips to Braum's Ice Cream and candy runs to Quick Trip.

Mostly, though, I remember always being surrounded by books and learning. My dad is a professor, so my family always lived in university towns. I had the advantage of growing up in places where people were, for the most part, fairly educated, and if not, they at least saw the benefit of education. I am thankful for that. I'd like to always live near a university, if at all possible.

I pass the UT Tower every day I walk to work. From my office desk, I can faintly hear the bells peal the time or the student carillonneurs practice new music. Each sound reminds me of every good memory from my childhood and the curiosity that motivated me to read and learn and wonder.

Thing I'm thankful for: Fricano's!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thing I'm Thankful For: Austin

Remember when I said I was thankful for being in Austin? And that I'd share the particulars with you later? Well, it's later, and my post about Texas is long overdue.

I'll start by saying that I almost didn't stay here. Most people probably know this by now, but as of August 2011, I was supposed to be in Indiana. After an incredible scholarship and job offer from Indiana University, I had decided to move. I was going to transfer my 9 measly UT credits to the School of Information at IU—Bloomington and start over. I had planned it all—from the apartment to the roommate to the departure date. All that was left to do was sell my large furniture, pack up, and move out.

But I couldn't do it.

I had finally made friends here in Austin. I made friends at church and friends at school. I started having fun and relaxing a bit. I went on dates. I didn't want to go through another painful 6 months of getting used to a place and overcoming my shyness.

So I prayed. I wanted Heavenly Father to tell me what to do, but he didn’t. And I knew he wouldn’t because it was my decision. I went to him in prayer and said something like, “I don’t really know what to do, but I want to stay in Texas, so I’m staying in Texas. Please just somehow make it easier for me to afford my program.”

Then, during the second week of school, a classmate told me about an open graduate research assistant position that would be perfect for me. I applied, had an interview, and got the job by the third week of the semester. It wasn’t until that week that I felt Heavenly Father’s ratifying seal—not that I had made the correct choice—because I think Indiana would have been a good choice, too. He ratified and sanctified my decision. He said, “Okay, Sara. I left you alone on this one. You used the brain I gave you to make a decision and move forward. Now, I approve and I’m going to help you out after this trial of your faith and bless you with a way to ease your stress a bit."

Sometimes I think about what I'm missing in Indiana—leaves changing color, snow, Midwest accents, and a world-class music scene. I think about how I traded cream and crimson for burnt orange—gross. But every day I think about the things I am starting to love in Texas:
  • Sunny weather
  • Kayaking
  • Ridiculously prideful Texans
  • Breakfast tacos
  • Nerds (Austin is filled with them.)
  • A large and active Institute
  • Lots of other Mormon graduate students
  • Being halfway to Utah
Despite the difficulty that is grad school and the extreme lack of sleep and constant insecurity that goes along with it, I'm glad I came to Texas, and I'm glad I stayed.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Forgotten Carols

Since I'm on the topic of Christmas music, I have something else to say. That is, I don't like The Forgotten Carols. I know that's probably shocking to a lot of Christians out there, but it's true.

It wasn't until last year that I even knew what they were. People at church gushed about them, and my friend Rob played them in his car seemingly nonstop. "Listen to Joseph's song," he'd say excitedly. He loved Joseph's song. I tried to get into it, and maybe I even said it was good. But . . . I lied. Or maybe I didn't lie because they are good songs to a lot of people, just not to me. I don't feel anything close to excitement when I listen to Michael McLean's ideas of what he thinks the innkeeper's, the shepherd's, or Joseph's carols are.

Perhaps it's the broadway-like style of the music that I don't like. That talk-sing stuff. I like the standard Christmas fare that everyone is born knowing the words to. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: Pandora Christmas stations at work!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Top Three Christmas Albums

Yep. This is the best the world has to offer at Christmastime. Don't even try to disagree.
  1. Bing Crosby, White Christmas
    I'd like to meet someone who doesn't walk with a little pep in their step while they listen to Mele Kalikimaka . . .

  2. Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas
    It's wonderful in the foreground, but it's also nice as background music for a Christmas party. It also exactly captures that melancholy feeling I sometimes get during the holidays. You know, the one where you sort of wish you could be a kid again. No? Just me???

  3. Nat King Cole, The Christmas Album
    I am of the opinion that Nat King Cole had the best voice on the planet, and no one has had as good a voice since. It's so smooth and relaxing. To think, his parents thought he was making a mistake by singing professionally. (I'm glad they lost that argument!)

Thing I'm thankful for: Christmas music, of course!

"I'm a Mormon" Ad Campaign, Take 2

The media division of the Church must've read my blog last month ("I'm a Mormon" Ad Campaign) because they sent me an e-mail about it. See?

That's only part of the e-mail. The rest of it was very personalized, so I know they heard me. ;)

Anyway, I thought it was such a timely e-mail. Providential, even. :)

Thing I'm thankful for: being in Austin, the particulars of which I will post about soon