Saturday, October 15, 2011


Michigan is like my home away from home. Sounds odd, but when we start driving around the familiar neighborhoods, there is something comforting about it. I grew up coming here several times every year and spending weeks with family and friends, making it feel like home.

Michigan in the fall is BEAUTIFUL! Yes, it may be a bit "gloomier" than a Utah fall with more clouds and more rain, but Michigan also has more trees and lakes which make up for it. The leaves turning here are picture perfect (I would photograph them, but it's raining currently). Lake life in itself makes up for just about anything. How beautiful to have a constant view through yellow and red leaves at a peaceful lake - truly, there's nothing like it.

My family and I are here this weekend for a close family friend's wedding. It's like a mirror of last year when we came for another October Michigan wedding. Who doesn't love a fall wedding? Since I was a little girl, old enough to actually think about my own wedding, I decided I too wanted a fall wedding. I was asked if next October it would be my turn? I said.... probably not. Sweet Tony will pick the timeline :)

Last night we had the rehearsal dinner and it was SO MUCH FUN! The bride and her mom own a catering company and so the food was fabulous. We spent a lot of time catching up and eating, then after the family announcements and stories, the group broke up into "game time". Really it was a riot. They had a separate room full of tables for games as well as a pre-bracketed euchre tournament! What Michigan family wasn't thrilled?

Truly, nothing beats weekends filed with family, friends, excitement and LOVE.

I'll post pics eventually!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Do You Have a Routine?

I love a good routine. As much as it's been excellent for me to step away, take a deep breath, and actually sleep a little, I am excited to get back into my routine. I like to wake up at 5:05 am for a 5:30 work out, then walk into work before most people are awake. I like to prep my dinners and have my Tuesday meetings, Wednesday bible studies, Saturday life group and Sunday church. It's amazing how much the little things add up to make for a splendid routine.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE it in Hawaii and am not complaining or anxious to leave. It's actually been very timely and needed for me to step away and catch a breath of fresh ocean air. I haven't taken a real vacation for over a year and a half. This coming from someone who travels like crazy! I'm so thrilled to have a week of relaxation under my belt as pressures are ever-building. But, if you're anything like me, you know the comfort in having a great routine.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pick Your Battles

I, like most people (I think), tend to believe I'm always right. Actually, that's not necessarily true. I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm right, and admitting when I'm wrong. I do however, think that my way of doing things is probably always the best way. This is the real root of most of my problems. I'm probably more efficient and organized than some people, but that doesn't always mean I'm "right". Needless to say, I don't always have this perspective when I am watching other people go about their way. I am a type A - OCD personality. I just am. Blessing or curse, God made me this way.

Tonight, as I sat in a beautiful home in beautiful Hawaii, I quickly became agitated at the inefficient, chaotic way my dad began to organize dinner. When I cook dinner, I like to time everything to come off oven/grill/stove precisely at the exact time that everything can be served hot. Does it always work out? No. Usually? Yes. This is a skill of the hyper-organized person. My dad's method was not lining up quite as well.

Friendly reminder: I am an only child, and a daddy's girl. It's truly a deadly combination. (Sorry, Tony - you have your work cut out for you.)

Rather than taking over and orchestrating the grill and oven in perfect symphony as is my natural tendency to do, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Sounds like a nice, non-bulldozing solution. I failed. My assigned task was not going to lead to my desired outcome. Like a child, I rolled my eyes, completed my task, and retreated to my room until dinner was completed so I wouldn't have to watch potential chaos ensue. Does chaos actually happen when I'm not in control of dinner? Generally NOT.

I called my sweet Tony to vent. Not only does he empathize with a controlling only child, he loves me so he'll listen and set me straight much more gently than my mother or any other bystander.

Set me straight he did.... The lesson of the night is gained only by having perspective (or a sweet Tony of your own). My instructions? Pick your battles. "Babe, you are in Hawaii, with a family that loves you. Of course things are going to happen.. You need to just pick your battles."

And how right he is... again.

Thinking that I know the best way to do something generally leads me into multiple battles to win the war of dinner, packing, planning, etc. Why should I spend so much time fighting these battles to get my way? It's unnecessary and harmful to the relationships I value so much.

I will never be able to control every situation or fix everything I see as a potential problem or ineffective way of doing something. And in all honesty, that's probably for the better. However, some things will be worth fighting for. For these I will fight. Thanks to simple words of wisdom from the right mouth at the right time, I will simply pick my battles. With that perspective, a grilled fish dinner in Hawaii looks noting like a battlefield to me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


One reason I get to blog again is I am currently on my first real vacation in a year and a half. I finally took more than one day off of work and flew to Hawaii for a family vacation! It's a miracle... Though I stress far more than I should, work is still getting done and I'm stepping away from the blackberry.

After many visits to Maui and Kauai, this is my first visit to "The Big Island" of Hawaii. We are staying in Kona during the week of the famous Ironman Triathlon. There are athletes everywhere!! The Ironman is a race that consists of swimming 2.4 miles in the wavy ocean, then biking 112 miles on windy lava, and if that's not enough, after that little bike ride, run a marathon! The competition is clearly fierce as I watch the most fit people I've ever seen running, biking, and swimming this week to prepare for the competition this Saturday. It's been fun to see so many people and hopefully we'll get to watch a little of the race. On the main highway, there are signs to watch out for bikers as they keep themselves ready for the 112 miles later this week...

Yesterday, we drove to the top of the volcano that erupted back in 2008. It's still active today as you can see below. There is no lava flowing currently but the steam/smoke is still coming up in several places. We hiked from one rim of the crater, down into the crater, across the crater, and up the other rim. It was a surreal experience watching the landscape change so much as we changed elevation and proximity to the crater's mouth.

The highlight of my hiking experience was around mile 5. We passed a couple wearing Mackinac Island t-shirts so naturally, I asked if they were from Michigan. They were not... They were actually from Wisconsin. This was not the highlight of the hike. The departing comment of the husband, as we were walking away, left me feeling particularly fit. After 5 miles of hiking, Mr. Mackinac asked ME if I was here "to compete in the Ironman". No.. No sir.. Never in one million years could I successfully complete even ONE leg of the triathlon. However, THANK YOU for asking. I'm flattered. Boot camp must be paying off...

Other than hiking volcanoes and training for our own triathlon of eating, drinking, and playing cards, we've been spending time shopping, cooking, and snorkeling. The views are great and the sea turtles are EVERYWHERE. It's fabulous. I can't thank God enough for being so inspired to make a little dollop of land here in the middle of the Pacific with such wonders. We're definitely enjoying ourselves.

Too Long Again

It seems it's always too long between blogs for me... I suppose it's easy to get distracted with the thousands of other things I seem to be doing all the time.. But when I sit down to talk about what I've been doing, it turns out... I haven't been doing anything...

Okay that's not necessarily true. I've had a busy and wonderful few months since my last post. I also am truly going to make an effort to post more.

The highlights of the last few months honestly revolve around work and my amazing Life Group. Work has been time-consuming as always but I love what I do, who I work with, and am SO blessed to have a job in these times.

My Life Group is incredible. We are so different and so similar at the same time. I love what I learn from journeying with my amazing friends. Over the summer we had the joy of being a part of Ben and Nicole's Wedding. They did a fantastic job with a GIANT 40's themed wedding. I know everyone had a blast and the details were SO THEM! Every little bit screamed Ben and Nicole - from the style, to Ben writing and performing a song, to their vows... How fabulous. Thanks for letting us be part of such a special day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Second (and Indian) Christmas!

A few weeks ago, (early January.. because I'm so bad a updating my blog) Tony and I were lucky enough to spend a weekend with his family in Ames. We had a second Christmas (because one just isn't enough these days!)

Anyway, it's only natural when you get all the Bal Indians together that a wonderful and entertaining time is had. And naturally when celebrating, pictures will be taken. The family decided this year they wanted to take a family photo. When this group requires organization no one should worry, there will not be any problems or challenges, everyone is a take-charge leader.... However, this in itself can be the challenge....

Picture prep:
Angleing to get ahead of any potential confusion or mishaps the day before the photos, Jyoti made a complete list of every picture that needed to be taken. "Grandpa and Biji. All grandkids. All of the family. All of the family with girlfriends. Just the girlfriends. Just the boys. Just the girls. Just the boys with girlfriends. All the couples. All parents with their kids. All the parents with their kids and grandpa and biji. All the middle kids. All the young kids. Etc." This gave us all significant reassurance things would run smoothy the day of the photos.

The other piece of prep work was finding sari's for all the girls. Biji, Tony's grandmother, had seemingly thousands of colors and patterns of saris to choose from since she is also the former queen of India (if you didn't know, she is the beautiful woman after whom the Taj Mahal was designed and built.... Wait... No that's..Bina Rai... Wait no, she is from the original Taj Mahal Bollywood movie -which of course we watched after opening Christmas presents and ham dinner... Naturally...

Anyway! Finding the saris was entertaining as well. Luckily for everyone, Jyoti knows colors very well and let us know who was an "autumn" and who is "winter" thus the beautiful dark green Sari was stunning on Carol and would have made me look like burned spinach soup. Ciera and I, the token white, blonde girlfriends, just observed and held colors up to our faces for the selection process. Before this day, a "sari" for us was a form of apology. Eventually after an explosion of the Indian color palate, we all had a traditional dress for the next day.

The day was almost glitch-free.... almost.. but the pictures turned out well and we all had a LOT of fun :) Enjoy!

And the best for last....

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Harvest Halloween

Fall is definitely my favorite season. The leaves turning, crisp air, good food, and football - what more could you ask for?! Ah yes pumpkins.. I love them. I love to paint them, look at them, and cook with them - pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cake.. the list goes on.. but what I haven't done for so long is carve a pumpkin. This year I tried again!

Tony and I decided to carve pumpkins on a beautiful fall afternoon. He is such an artist and SO detail oriented, his pumpkin turned out AMAZING! Mine... is simple.. and took about half the time of his.

Gutting the pumpkin was definitely the worst part of the endeavor. It was extremely slimy, stringy, and overall rather revolting. For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to separate the seeds and try roasting them. That changed my slimy hands and arms to slimy hands, arms, and fingernails.... gross. The seeds did turn out well though and you can find the recipe for them on my g-free blog.

Enjoy a few pictures of the day :) Happy Halloween!