Long time no see, am I right?
I'm a bad blogger and I will go to the naughty corner for my inability to keep up.
But in the mean time, I'm going to tell you about my month and my first Christmas with the Husband!
I may also try to summarize what I have been doing since May, but I highly doubt that since that's 7 months worth and MY GOODNESS we have done a lot!
After we go married and returned from our honeymoon in May, we didn't have the time (nor the resources) to have looked for a place to live. Luckily we have absolutely loving and amazing members in our ward that were going on holiday so they let us stay at their home for nearly a month and a half. During that time we tried our best to look for a place to rent, but since we were both brand new to renting our first place it was extremely difficult. In the month and a half, we didn't find any place to live. Our fervent prayers were answered when ANOTHER family in the ward, nearly to the very day that the first family came home, would leave for their holiday for 4 weeks. We packed everything up and moved into another person's home, beginning our search for a home anew again.
I can just tell you now, that when you're drawing near to the Lord and trying your best to keep the commandments, He will pour down blessings onto you. Just utterly pouring them down! We found a place, and just in time for us to leave the second family's home before they came back from holiday. It was one of the many moments where Heavenly Father was showing me that He was always going to be there to care for us, and that we shouldn't worry.
2. Moving into our new flat
Now, moving into our new flat was an entirely new adventure! We didn't have any trailers, or furniture (Except for my bed and my bookcase which were the only pieces of furniture that I owned and Christian only had his suitcases from Canada.) But, as Heavenly Father does, He blessed us with this crazy miracle.
I'm a huge OP shopper (Thrift stores for Americans) and so we frequent them quite regularly when we're in need of clothes or blankets or any little random items. We both knew that furniture at OP shops are significantly cheaper, and we weren't really looking for anything fancy, so we decided to head over to our regular store. Lo and behold, they were having a 50% off sale on all the furniture! Even the Store Manager was a miracle, as he listened to Christian tell him about our story of how we met and how we were newly married and looking for new furniture, he started lowering prices for us as he wanted the furniture gone for the new stock and we definitely needed new furniture. In one shop, we pretty much furnished our entire flat. And, due to the Vakalahi Family, my Dad, the missionaries, and Joseph Stubbs (A YSA friend of ours) from Church helping us with their trailers and moving all our furniture in, it was honestly less painful of an experience than I was expecting. Stressful, but it was over fairly quickly!
3. Got a job
After all the craziness of moving and starting up our new place, we both got back into working. I got hired at this amazing Childcare Centre that was super small and hands-on for one-on-one experiences with the kids. I loved it :) It was definitely terrifying starting back up on, since I hadn't worked in a Childcare Centre since my very first centre where I did my placement. I had to learn how to bus it there (I was also terrified of buses, but I actually overcame that fear!) It was a learning experience for me, as I think back on it now <3
4. Got called into Primary
Yes, you read that right. Little Ashleigh here got released as a Ward Missionary and was called to teach the Valiant 8s WITH my husband! :D The best part was that I actually knew most of the kids in that class from all the years I had babysat them, so when we got put into their class they adored us immediately. They especially love Christian as he turns into a big kid when he plays with them and is an amazing teacher :) i love watching him teach for ages, especially about the gospel.
It was a little trickier for me as I had never really taught a class setting before. Most of my teaching skills came in homes and teaching alongside the missionaries, which ended up with me mainly bearing testimony and the likes. I had never before had a manual where I had to teach out from, and especially for around an hour. So, it was difficult at the start, and it took a lot of practice and tears and prayers before I started feeling like I was any capable at it and had the Lord's help pretty much teaching it for me :D
5.. Monthly Temple Trips
This is one of those personal New Years Goals that my husband and I actually accomplished in 2016. Don't get me wrong, it was EXTREMELY hard at times when funds were low or we had too much booked and we realised until we made time for the Temple, we wouldn't be going. (For example, for our trip in December it was Lorena and Dion's sealing. We didn't actually have a regoed car at time and hadn't driven in a while 'cos the timing for it kept getting mistimed. But, we really wanted to go and support and also go to the Temple, so we made the decision to take a bus to Sydney and then take a train and another bus once we were there to make it to the Temple on time. It was really long, and we had to get up really early to make it on time, but it was so worth the entire experience :) We felt the power of the Temple in our life every single day, and I know that in the weeks that we hadn't been to the Temple in ages we noticed that temptations and distractions were a lot harder to deal with and we just needed that peace that comes from the Temple. We also found that either ON our trips to the Temple, or in the week after we attended, miracles would honestly happen. Things that shouldn't have, or just somehow when we needed something very specific it would come in the moment when we were ready to try alternative routes or give it up.
One of the biggest strengths to Christian and I this entire year was going to the Temple at least once a month.
This was a huge surprise for us, actually. One of Christian's bosses planned a trip for his family to go on a 16-day Cruise that would travel to Nuku'Alofa, Vavau, Drakuni Island, and New Caledonia. Christian and I were invited basically on a working holiday, so we'd be in charge of taking care of the kids so that the parents could have some fun and a break from their kids whenever they wanted to. We mainly cared for the little boy who was about 2 years old, while the older two girls would go to the little Kids Club that was on the cruise (Because the cruise was definitely not kids friendly. The pools were either too big or way too small for kids to swim in unless they had floaties or wanted to have water up to their knees to wad in. The kids Club had video games and more activities that were kid friendly and actually their interests)
I loved getting to spend time with the little 2 year old 'cos it gave me a vision of what it would be like in the future when Christian and I eventually have kids. I was terrified of the idea, believing that I couldn't possibly be a mum, but after the Cruise I could see it clearly and it finally went from something that was scary to something exciting.
I'll probably write a separate post for the Cruise on the Bucket List section of my blog, so look out for that :D
It seems absolutely so long ago, but around the start of the month of December we hosted a Primary Activity at the Chapel that was a really really intense Nerf gun battle. I didn't play, but I took the photos and videos of the activity and watched as my husband ran around, jumping behind the chair pillars, and shooting kids in the head with nerf bullets. The kids loved it, and as soon as it was over they asked for another activity of Nerf Wars.
2. Grandad's Funeral
This month, my Grandad on my Mum's side passed away from Cancer. It happened all very quickly, from the initial diagnose to his arrival home for care and then his passing away. I didn't know him too well, as we only really saw him at Christmas/New Year Parties, but he was always known for his words of wisdom that he'd love to sit everybody down to hear one by one. He was a buddhist and a very faithful one at that and was a wonderful example to me of living your beliefs even regardless of circumstances or personal reasons. He was a kind man, who humbly reached out to those around him without being in your face or loud. To me, he was the epitome of the word 'Simple'. He lived a simple life, with simple desires and wants, and simplified his life of unnecessary feelings or distractions. His greatest priorities were always family, serving others, and living his faith.
To me, though he was not of the same faith, he taught me so much about my own.
3. My Haircut
I went from lower back length hair to hair that only reached my collar bones. It was a big change, and one that I spent ages asking Chrisitan if it was a good decision and that I wasn't going to immediately regret it as soon as it was done. It was definitely a fun idea, and one that made me feel not only lighter physically but lighter mentally.
But is it bad that I now miss my long hair? D:
4. First Christmas as a Newly Married Couple!
I put this higher on the list even though it happened around the end of the month, but it was amazing and really odd! This was the first Christmas that I didn't wake up in my parent's house, but in my own place with my husband. We opened gifts together (which ended quick 'cos we only got one or two gifts for each other) and had a beautiful Christmas Eve Dinner and then Christmas Day Breakfast. I really loved buying all our Christmas decorations, and getting everything ready for our very first Christmas together. We spent Christmas Day with my family, and Christmas Eve skyping Christian's family :)
5. Mystery Date Night
One really fun thing that Christian and I did that I had NO idea was planned was that Christian had planned in a few weeks advance to go to this beautiful fancy restaurant that we had been eyeing to go to for ages. One time we even walked in thinking it would be fine since it looked empty, and then we got told that you definitely have to book in advance. He surprised me with this dinner and we got all fancy dressed up for it :) I'm not usually the one for fancy places or dinners, but it was a really fun mix of relaxed and formal/fancy.
6. Beach Trips (One year anniversary)
In the photo that I included of Christian and I at the beach, we went to the Mollymook beach nearly to the day that Christian arrived to Australia to live. We went with my family for our New Years celebration and had a really crazy experience of the Shark alarm going off! I have never, in my entire life of living in Australia, heard the shark alarm. We were on the rock pool area watching crabs run around and eat when we heard this loud siren going off and we ran over to the edge to see what was going on. Everybody raced out onto the shore and watched a couple of lifeguards take a boat out to have a look at these things that were swimming around. It turns out that it wasn't Sharks, but a really large group of dolphins. We were squealing and jumping at the rocks edge trying to get a better view of the dolphins, which was such a cool experience :D
7. Lorena & Dion's Sealing
Lorena and Dion's sealing was such an experience for us. Over the course of the Christmas Holidays, we didn't have the car. My parents released ownership of the car, and rego was due, and we didn't have enough money to pay it whenever it came around :P It was such a stupid experience, but one that teaches us to DO THINGS WHEN IT COMES AROUND! No procrastinating :P
But, because of having no car, we got the invitation to their sealing and with no way of possibly driving there ourselves. I've never gotten to go to a sealing besides my own sealings (Family and to Christian) and so I really wanted to go to theirs for the first time. My husband, being the absolute positivity filled and never knowing when to quit sweetheart that he is, went ahead and planned what our options were. We ended up taking a bus to Sydney at 5am, and then we arrived to Sydney and took a tram and then one more bus before we arrived to the Sydney Temple just on time to make it to the sealing. Luckily Brother Baker who came to the sealing took us home after the sealing because we didn't really think about it, we mainly though about just getting there!
The sealing was so beautiful, and I can out so filled with love and the Spirit and just being so grateful for the gospel and the ordinances that we get to receive for all time and eternity. The entire trip also for me testified of how much Christian and I were willing to go to the Temple, and to show Heavenly Father that money wasn't really an issue and neither was our time when it came to the Temple, we would get there.
8. New Year's Eve Celebration and Goal-Making
For our actual New Year's Eve celebration, Christian and I stayed at home and just cuddled heaps as we reminisced about the year that had passed :) It was amazing, and honestly everything I could have ever imagined. I never really enjoyed the big parties or going out and seeing the Fireworks because often there were too many drunk people and the traffic getting back home would often render me into a nap, so I'd end up sleeping on New Years Eve night!
But Christian and I spent it at home, laughing and cuddling and even starting to work on our little New Years Resolutions Booklets together.
To me, it was everything I've ever wanted and more :)
9. D&D Nights
This is one thing that I've loved about December. Christian played Dungeons and Dragons with his family when he was a kid/teenager, whereas this is my very first time ever playing. Initially it freaked me out and I was like, 'I love watching, but no way in hell would I ever play...' and then sure enough I made a character and now I'm playing and watching a show called Critical Role online of Voice Actors play a campaign of D&D. It's been so fun, and it's even gotten to the point where we're playing two campaigns as two members of our 8 person group wanted to DM.
1. Our Christmas Tree
Christmas tree shopping for us was so much fun! We went to Target and tried to have a look at other shops, but my mum recommended Target and she's had her christmas tree since my older brother was born until this most recent Christmas, so that's 23+ years old!
decorating our tree was also fun, but my goodness...I never realized that those baubles don't COME already tied up. I had to sit there for about an hour tying those all up by myself while Christian has to do some paperwork, and I was so ready to throw them all down the stairs and leave it. Just have a bare tree! CHRISTMAS!
(And yes, I did get themed colours of red and blue which are my favourite, thank you.)
2. Bras & Things
If there's any shop that I love so dearly, it's Bras and Things. Some may say that this is too much information, but if you ask ANY girl if they like having matching underwear and bra and if it makes them feel like they have their life together, they will definitely tell you that it is sometimes the source of peace in a chaotic life. I love going in there and knowing that I've come out with beautiful secrets that while I'm talking to someone I'm actually smiling because my under garments are matching <3
I got some new ones that will slowly let me replace my generic Bonds black/whites/and neutrals that I bought for my mission when I was preparing :D
4. Lush Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
I can thank Savannah for this one, but ever since I bought a Lush Shampoo Bar, my hair has never been the same. It's so soft, so airy, and rarely do I ever use heaps of it! I had bought one when we were in Canada after our Honeymoon (May) and it lasted me until we moved into the flat that we're living in now (July). And that's with washing maybe every 3rd day? :)
5. Concert Tickets for Twenty One Pilots Concert in March 2017
THIS WAS MY CHRISTMAS PRESENT AND OH MY GOSH I AM SO EXCITED. For Christmas, I made Christian a 'Open When...' Box of letters and he bought us concert tickets for Twenty One Pilots Concert in March that is a combined Christmas/Birthdayish present :D It's so exciting for me, and honestly I still don't even believe it's real. I won't believe it even when we're walking into the concert and I'm seeing them alive in front of me. I'll probably pass out while singing the lyrics by screaming them.
1. Goner Cover by Dodie Clark
When Dodie was getting famous on Youtube, I wasn't a huge fan. I thought she was like every other Indie singer, and I didn't really listen to any of her songs.
Until I found Goner, a cover of the Twenty One Pilots song on the Blurryface album. It's so delicate, emotional, and it takes away from the angst that 21P puts into their songs, but I love them both just as equally!
2. I Feel It Coming by The Weeknd (ft Daft Punk)
I love the beat of this song, and especially the fact that it has Daft Punk in it! :)
3. 24K Magic by Bruno Mars
Oh gosh, Bruno Mars...you're just destroying my love for Funk with how much I'm playing his new album. It's going to be the death of me.
4. Fresh Eyes by Andy Grammar
This song took me by surprise, but I actually really love it. It's about a couple, from the perspective of the guy, who is talking about seeing his girlfriend/wife with new eyes and realizing he was taking her for granted. It's kinda sweet, and it's got a good tune :P
1. Christmas with my MooMee
My favourite memory was spending Christmas with Christian, as it was our first one in person! Last year, we were spending Christmas together over Skype and it wasn't the same at all. We began our first traditions as our little family, and it was really interesting to see what things we wished we did (Make it more orientated towards Jesus Christ and family, letting it be a time to relax and be on HOLIDAY instead of just a different kind of work stress) and the things we wish we didn't do (Like not get so stressed out over gifts and end up compensating by spending huge amounts of money
2. Lorena and Dion's Sealing
I loved sitting in their sealing room, quite possibly in the very same sealing room that we were in (For some reason I don't remember that very important detail of my own sealing with Christian..) and holding hands with my own sweetheart. It made me think of the journey that we've made together, are making together, and will continue making together in the future. The temple really is a place where families can be brought together for all time and Eternity, and to me that is beyond beautiful.
3. Seeing my Grandad before he passed.
I won't particularly share the details of the experience, but the last time I saw my Grandad was probably one of the sweetest experiences for me with him. It was sacred to me, and for a moment I felt his immense love for me in a few simple words. I wrote it down in my journal, and for the first time since he passed I cried for him and missed him. He will definitely be missed, regardless of his own personal beliefs of not wanting to be missed so he can be reincarnated :) He'll just have to deal with that!
I LOOOOOVE CHRIIIISTMASSSSS!! [That's why in February 2017, our Christmas Tree is STILL UP FOLKS. ONE PART LAZINESS, ONE PART I LIKE KEEPING THAT CHRISTMAS SPIRIT YEAR ROUND COS GOODNESS KNOWS I NEED THAT KIND OF CHIRPINESS IN MY LIFE EVERY DAY!]
I love the spirit of giving (and not the commercialised version of giving, I got so sick of presents and being so panicked over it. I'm definitely not going to be doing that this coming Christmas. I learnt my lesson.), I love the kindness and love that everybody feels universally during Christmas, and it brings people together. That's what is important when it comes to Christmas; It's not what you get, but what you can give in love and time and thoughtfulness!
I also love the idea of a white christmas, though in Australia you don't really get that. You get a white christmas in the way that the sun is so blistering hot that it turns anything white into red? So I guess in a way it's kind of festive...
'Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come From A Store" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Jeffrey R. Holland just ruins my life in the best way. The way that exercise makes you feel like you're dying, but a good kind of dying. The dying that says, "This hurts but hurts so good."
After reading this talk, it made me realize where my own focus was and how much I did not like it at all. I lost the spirit of what Christmas was about, and it helped me to really turn it around in the last weeks of Christmas.
Here's my favourite quote from the talk.
"Perhaps this provides an important distinction we should remember in our own holiday season. Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating—those delightfully generous and important expressions of our love at Christmas—should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.
As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
Christian and I have been studying together from the Old Testament probably since we got married, but my goodness it is hard to get through and not because it is hard to understand or BORING! It's so hard to get through because there is so much symbolism, and you really do need to take your time with it if you're going to understand it. In Leviticus, we've been learning about all the Temple ordinances, the ways that they 'repented' through sacrifices and how it had to be done, and it's truly inspirational. There have been so many times that Christian and I have just turned towards each other and just said, "Wow." because we had no idea that the Old Testament had this kind of stuff!
We've been loving it so far, and we definitely need all the help we can get when we read it, so we read it alongside the Institute Old Testament Commentary (HIGHLY RECOMMEND as it contains a lot of the historical and cultural background information that makes the Old Testament a thousand times easier to understand)