Friday, November 30, 2012

How Far We've Come

Thanksgiving this year was a wonderful and much-appreciated break from work and school; it also turned out to be a déjà vu experience.  A year ago, Caitlin and I had been dating just over two months when she came to spend Thanksgiving in Kaysville, Utah, with my extended family from my mom's side.  It was a real test of love to see if Caitlin would still want to date me (despite penetrating questions from strangers and even a 7-month-premature Stake President's interview on Celestial Marriage) after being thrown into the mayhem headfirst.  Against all odds, Caitlin survived.

Caitlin and I making the famous Orange Jello Fluff (Thanksgiving 2011)
Stake President Uncle Ray peering deep into our souls (Thanksgiving 2011)

Similarly, this year Caitlin endured another crash course--this time on the more literal 'Francis family.'   Grandpa Francis rented a cabin in the mountains outside of Heber City, Utah; all five Francis brothers, and their children and grandchildren, came.  It was a new experience even for me to be under one roof with 50-60 people--90% of whom have the last name 'Francis.'   (The phrase "Francis kids in the car!" lost all value.) The cabin was equipped with anything you could want though--hot tub, big screen projector room, air hockey table, pool table, board games, etc--and we had a great time!

Saturday evening, after leaving the cabin, we went with my immediate family to see the lights on Temple Square--furthering the repeated memories, as Caitlin and I had done the same thing as a date a year before.   The additional company this year was nice, and we had a great time!

Josh and Darcy's family had to leave early, but the rest of us bundled up and enjoyed the Temple grounds
(Temple Square, 2012)
In the end, it was fun to think back and remember what our lives were like just one year before.  "Our lives" is now simply "our life," "our apartments" now "our apartment," "our families" now "our family."  We are still doing the same things, but it is incredible how many wonderful changes have occurred between these two Thanksgiving holidays.

Temple Square, 2011
Temple Square, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving is Coming!

For Family Home Evening tonight, we set a timer for 5 minutes and made individual lists of things we were thankful for.  Then, at the end of 5 minutes, we compared our lists.  We combined our lists and added a few more; here is what we came up with!

101 Things We Are Thankful For…
1.         Each Other
2.         Loving Parents
3.         Family & Family Gatherings
4.         Friends
5.         Prayer
6.         The Gospel
7.         Jesus Christ
8.         The Plan of Happiness
9.         Temples
10.     Marriage for Eternity
11.     The Scriptures
12.     The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
13.     Missionaries
14.     Friendly Strangers
15.     A Reliable Car (even if it burns oil and its dashboard doesn't light up)
16.     Financial Stability
17.     A Place to Live
18.     A Job
19.     Days Off and Vacations
20.     The Warmth of the Sunshine
21.     Sun Rays through the Clouds
22.     Pretty Flowers
23.     Mountains
24.     Beaches
25.     Grain Fields
26.     Snowmen
27.     Hot Chocolate
28.     All Other Forms of Chocolate
29.     Blankets to Keep Us Warm
30.     The Dollar Theater
31.     Redbox
32.     Walks in the Snow
33.     Walks not in the Snow
34.     Babies with Goofy Grins
35.     Fun Animals that make Us Smile (especially baby ones)
36.     Our Bed and Pillows
37.     Dancing, Running, & Hiking
38.     Cookies
39.     Brownies
40.     Blueberry Muffins
41.     Airplanes
42.     Bubbles
43.     Warm Showers
44.     Orthodontia
45.     Insurance
46.     Smiles
47.     Chapstick
48.     Olive Garden
49.     McDonald’s
50.     Arby’s
51.     Wedding Pictures
52.     The Last Name of ‘Francis’ (so glad it isn’t a crazy weird one)
53.     Brigham Young University
54.     Scholarship Money
55.     FAFSA
56.     Our Matching Bathroom Decor
57.     The Internet (used responsibly)
58.     Our Wedding Rings
59.     Personal Computers
60.     Padding Under Carpets
61.     Our Couch
62.     Our Waffle Maker
63.     Running Water
64.     Electricity
65.     A Refrigerator
66.     A Microwave
67.     Macaroni and Cheese
68.     Happy Music
69.     Christmas & Holidays
70.     Living Apostles and Prophets
71.     A Television (even if we don’t get cable on it)
72.     Board Games
73.     Frosty’s
74.     Chicken Nuggets
75.     Berry Smoothies
76.     Costco
77.     Papa John’s Pizza
78.     Little Kids Waving
79.     The Cutest Trick-or-Treater Ever
80.     Blogs
81.     Slippers
82.     An Education
83.     Opportunity to Succeed
84.     Tall Buildings
85.     Bicycles
86.     Exciting Public Transportation
87.     Gmail
88.     Clothes to Wear
89.     Warm Towels Fresh out of the Wash
90.     Movies
91.     Reusable Water Bottles
92.     Pasta Roni
93.     Good Health
94.     Traditions
95.     Jokes & Laughing
96.     Lots of Colors
97.     Paper Airplane Competitions
98.     Laying in the Grass
99.     The BYU Duck Pond
100.Road Trips & Audiobooks
101.Counting Blessings

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Highly Recommended

We rented Arthur Christmas last night (focusing on Christmas is the only way that Caitlin can avoid emotional distress and cope with the recent snow), and it was really good!  We awarded it the coveted 'Francis Five Stars' (first production to be endowed with such an honor--possibly because I just made it up).  But it was surprisingly funny and very family-friendly, so we wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for a good way to kickoff the upcoming Christmas season!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good News!

We have good news!  After a month or two of interviews, I received an offer from Goldman Sachs!  I will be working in the Finance Division of the Salt Lake City branch.

This is the '222 building' that will be my new home for the next few years!  We are so excited to have received an offer.  Shortly after the on-campus interview, Caitlin and I decided that it would probably be best to delay graduation a semester and aim for quality summer internship to boost my resume.  I honestly didn't even think I would get an on-site interview!  When I got a call-back to come in and interview in SLC, my thoughts were, 'Great!  This way I can see what it is like so I will be prepared for next year!'  Never did I think that I would get an offer and save myself an extra year with no income!

Probably the coolest thing about Goldman Sachs is the building (only half joking)!  First off, I am from Montana and love any building that has more than four stories.  Honestly though, you cannot help but feel important inside.  You go through the big, spinning doors to the main lobby.  Then, since I was just interviewing and not an employee, I had to go to the main desk and check in.  They printed off a card for me (with my name and a barcode on it) that I had to slide into machines to enter anything from the elevator room to the bathrooms.  (Employees have the barcode on their actual Employee ID card.)  Once I was in the elevator room, there were six different elevators--each set of two accesses a different set of floors!  I didn't even know that existed (although it makes sense, and I am sure I will love that feature when going to the 20th floor every day).  The desk below alerted the desk on the floor that I was going to of my arrival, so when the elevator opened there was a man in a suit waiting for me who greeted me by name!  (That feature probably won't exist daily as an employee unfortunately.)  Best of all though, there were several TV's on the walls playing ESPN.  It seems they are no amateurs when it comes to recruiting!  They know exactly how to impress a 23 year-old college kid! 

So now I will graduate this coming April, and Caitlin and I will be off to Salt Lake City!  We are happy about the location too--still within driving distance of both of our families.  While it certainly would have been an adventure to head back East, we aren't too sure we are ready for all that change at once...maybe in a few years!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween & Pumpkin Fun

For Family Home Evening this week, Caitlin and I created pumpkin masterpieces!  Despite the fact that we forgot to buy a pumpkin carving kit (highly recommended by the way - the mini carving saw makes life so much easier), we still managed to muster vaguely recognizable pumpkins: a kitty and a jolly gourd head.

Unfortunately, Caitlin's pumpkin had been abused before purchase.  The mushy bruise on the side (approximately the shape and size of Africa) developed about a day after we picked out our favorite ones.  This called for a last-minute design adjustment due to the predetermined optimal carving angle now being compromised.  Luckily the pumpkin's innards were still intact!

My pumpkin, however, was unblemished.

The stem is Caitlin's favorite part of a pumpkin.  I kept finding really good ones for her...but the stems just never seemed to be adequate.  In the end, though, we had two very fine-stemmed pumpkins! 

Here we are showing off our creations!  (This is where it is nice to have a 5 year-old child to pose with the pumpkins...otherwise, it turns out, you just look like a 5 year-old.) 

And the final product!  Our two new pumpkins out on the porch with our giant, light-up friend from Deseret Industries.  Apparently our decorations were enough to convince the neighbor children we were fun, because we had our first trick-or-treat'ers as an old, married couple!

Our favorite little trick-or-treat'er was so cute.  He had the stature of a mighty 2 year-old, but he was surprisingly articulate.  He was dressed in an extremely padded superhero suit--I want one.  I have no idea where his parents were (hopefully at the bottom of the stairs or something), but he was flying completely solo.  He knocked really softly--twice before we heard him--and when Caitlin opened the door, he asked in the most timid voice, "May I trick-or-treat, please?"  Caitlin bent down and asked if he would like to choose his own favorite candy.  "Yes."  Then, after getting his 3 Musketeers (good choice, might I add), he backed away slowly and gave us a little thumbs-up, saying, "Thank you very much.  Have a nice Halloween."

I think it took a year off the time Caitlin is willing to wait before having children.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Game Time

Caitlin has been working like crazy for the last couple weeks to fulfill the Seven Peaks' Jazz ticket promotion, and it finally paid off--for me, at least--with free Utah Jazz tickets!  (No, Caitlin enjoyed it too.  It was the first time she could associate the words 'Utah Jazz' with anything other than crazy people yelling at her.)  We had really good seats too!

It was Utah versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, so despite the fact we cheered for the Jazz, the most exciting part for me (other than trying to find parking) was probably seeing Kevin Durant.  Caitlin's favorite part was seeing Little Bear--the miniature sidekick of the Jazz Bear mascot.

We had a great time and the Jazz won!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Work, School, PLAY!

Although work and school have been going pretty well, we still prefer the "play," so here is an update on our recent playing...

(Matthew's post-publish inserts will be in blue.)   :) 

Times Square!
We went to New York for Kirsten and Wil's wedding! It was a little rainy at times, but beautiful! (It rained the entire morning of the wedding, and then stopped exactly before we left to go to the Temple.  Rained during the sealing, and then stopped again for pictures.  It was such amazing timing the whole day!) Also, there were 7 girls in one tiny apartment all getting ready for a WEDDING at the same time. The power went out in the middle of blow-drying hair and we almost lost it. Oh, and apparently sleeping on an air mattress that is slowly deflating all night is not comfortable...especially when you wake up and your body is literally in the shape of a "V". Sorry Mary and Gretchen! Good times though!

Super creepy Pooh Bear.  (Agreed.)

Gretchen took this for us and said, "I got Pooh's back side in it for you." Thanks G-Dawg! (Yes, my wife thinks she is gangster. You are not the only one who thinks it's weird.) 

Matthew was overjoyed that he spotted the Montana State flag at Rockefeller Center. ("It was a corner flag. Very important positioning!")  (Like 100 flags and only 4 corners...big deal, right? Montana is the only thing keeping this nation together!)

We stopped for lunch at Pronto Pizza and Beef! I promise it doesn't say 'beer'... Seriously, the best pizza I have ever had! (It was pretty amazing.) And it had the nicest owner- Dad got a free refill of soda which totally made his trip. Not even joking, he was SOOO happy! (PS- the owner said rent for this little place was like $24,000 a month, or something crazy like that! And he said it is double that if you are closer to Times Square! How many pizzas does it take to break even?)

Pronto Pizza!

We found Kitty Paw Paw! Who knew she would make it all the way to stardom as the Poster Kitty for American Girl on 5th Avenue? (If you are not a Dekker, just move along. It would take too long to bring you up to speed!)

Had to stop at the Apple Store! It was super crowded, but we got to play with the new iPhone so it was totally worth it :) Matthew was in heaven. (Giant glass cube with a glass spiral staircase going down to a completely underground cutting-edge electronics cathedral...everyone was in heaven!)

Don't worry, we have like 400 pictures of tall buildings. Matthew really likes tall buildings. (Believe it or not, there are only like five 3+ story buildings in Bozeman, Montana, okay?)

Central Park was gorgeous! Such a beautiful day! Shortly after this we watched some sweet street performers break dance. 

And finally, we made it to the one thing Matthew had been waiting for allllll day...the Empire State Building! It is very tall and very difficult to take pictures of (especially at night). Here is one of our better shots:

The sky looks pretty awesome. We finished the day off with some coffee-free drinks from the Starbucks inside the ginormous Macy's. (PS- I then rode the subway back to upper Manhattan all by myself...I'm pretty cool.) And then we had to fly back to Provo. It was so fun to be in New York with the WHOLE Dekker clan, but it went by way too fast! Let's do it again next summer, ok guys? 
Super fun!!

The Hike from Heck

 Forgive us, this post is a little overdue.  While home in Montana for our second wedding reception, Mom convinced us that we should all go on a fun little day hike... 

(Caitlin's comments are in green..)

The weather report assured a warm, sunny day in the 70's.  (Who needs a jacket or long pants in the Montana summer heat?) (Warm is clearly a relative term. I was cold before we got out of the car with the heater on.) We drove to the trail head, just the 6 of us--3 people and 3 dogs.  The morning was gorgeous!  We saw 4 or so waterfalls in the first 2 miles, hadn't run out of candy yet, Caitlin hadn't tripped or anything, all was truly going perfectly!

We even stopped and took some time to add our own little rock formation to the sea of balancing acts!  It was a fun Montana-y adventure for Caitlin! (Except my rock formation was awful! I have zero architectural skills, unless it is building sand castles.)

There are no more pictures from this hike.

Let me tell you exactly why there are no more pictures. (This is where the "heck" part comes in! haha) There are no more pictures because we decided we wanted to hike off the main trail--on a very steep, narrow single-track--to see a waterfall to which we had never before ventured.  (Totally not my idea!) We had made it almost to the top of this mountain side (we could hear the waterfall somewhere near the top), when the weather conspired against us!  Out of nowhere, the hardest, coldest rain ever began pelting us!  We sought shelter under a small pine tree, but the broad (yeah right!) pine needles just weren't getting the protective job done for us!  

Drenched to our undergarments, we decide we have to move down the mountain, despite the rain, when we see the mud sliding down the mountain side above us.  Just as we begin moving, however, it begins hailing.  At this point you think I am embellishing the story, but I assure you there have been zero exaggerations so far! (I can confirm this. He is not exaggerating, unfortunately.) Next, the mountain lion dropped on Caitlin from the ridge above, snarling viciously!  (Okay, that part was fabricated.)  The dogs are now utterly uneasy though from the hail and water, and we try to collect them all under another tree.  The hail was breaking off small branches at this point, diminishing the overhead coverage, and leaving us as the unimpeded destination for the icy bullets.

We were wet, welted, and freezing after over a half hour of this!  There was no visible end in sight for the weather, and I know that at least one of us was beginning to really not enjoy the hike (and legitimately worry for our safety as well, as the entire mountain surface was sliding down around our feet).  Finally, Mom suggested that we say a prayer for help. (Moms always know what to do!) Within 5 minutes of the prayer, the weather calmed enough for us to slide back down to the main trail (after crossing several shallow rivers that did not exist on the way up).  Relieved, we hiked the 3 or so miles back down to the car (thank goodness we still had some of those chewy peanut butter candies or I would not have made it) , toweled off the disgusting puppies, and drove home.

Caitlin will never go hiking again.  :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Our First Apartment

Since getting back from Mexico, we have successfully moved into our family's first apartment: Wymount Terrace!  We love it here--the white cinder block walls leave you satisfied with an overwhelming air of security...much like a maximum-security prison would!  Honestly though, we really are happy here.  It is right across the street from BYU and full of nice neighbors!  (Each of the 17 Wymount complexes is its own ward.)  The apartment is about the size of Shaquille O'Neal's left shoe, so decorating didn't take long, but it felt like an eternity of unpacking things and washing new dishes, etc!  We are finally all settled in now though!

This picture is taken from our front door.  This is our kitchen, dining room, and living room.  We went the first few weeks with a folding table and a single chair--thank you so much, Cindy, for the table and chair set!  

From our bedroom doorway, you can see the other half of our living room.  That couch weighs like 600 lbs, it is ridiculous!  (It has a hide-away bed inside if anyone wants to come visit us though!)

The bathroom is a bit of a tight fit, but we found this over-the-toilet shelving unit that is perfect!  We also, of course, have our lucky cow picture.

Our bedroom is proportionate to the rest of our apartment, but it fits our bed, so we are happy!

We love our bed set!  We found it at Macy's the day before our registry discount expired.  It retailed for $340, but was 50% off at the time, then 20% off store-wide, and then 20% off because we registered there--$108 final price!  Most beautiful transaction ever!

Now that we have finished moving in, this is our new life.  Caitlin and I spend hours each day applying to jobs--Caitlin for local positions for this next year, and me all across the U.S. for post-graduation.  It is exciting to think that in less than a year we could be moving anywhere!  We can only wait and see where!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Honeymoon to Paradise

The cruise to Mexico was amazing!  We signed up for the cheapest (that is merely a relative term when it comes to cruise fares) room in the inner bottom of the boat, but they moved us up to a nice room with a huge window at the front of the ship.

A picture from our window when we arrived in Cabo San Lucas, MX.
The cruise was 7 nights, with two full days in Cabo San Lucas and one in Puerto Vallarta.  We went parasailing and rode wave runners while there which was amazing!  At one point, we were jet skiing around Lover's Beach on the far side of the cruise ship when a manta ray flew out of the water and did a backflip before sliding back into the water, just 20 feet in front of us!  It did it a total of 3 times all around us--coolest thing ever!  Caitlin--who was almost too terrified to take a turn driving the wave runner the first time--ended up being a maniac on waves!  She almost bucked us both off several times!  I must say, I didn't see it coming.

We may or may not have burned ourselves pretty badly as well while there.  Definitely worth it though!  There is nothing better, by the way, than eating away the pain at all-you-can-eat buffets with unlimited ice cream bar access.  

Another necessary detail, despite intense wind on our days at sea, Caitlin and I still managed the accomplishment of hole-in-one's on 5 of the 9 mini golf holes and 2-putts on the remaining holes!  Crazy skill!  These were par 3 holes, mind you!

We're Married!

We were married July 14th, 2012, in the Newport Beach Temple!  Happy day!  It was so much fun and great to have so many from both of our families come together in one place!  The weather was beautiful, although there were a few small gusts of wind at times.

We wouldn't change a thing though, and we are so grateful for everyone who helped make it such a perfect day!