Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 2010 was a rollercoaster ride of a year...  I had a blast and held on for dear life.  There's nothing like a few unpredictable loops to make things more exciting.  Over the course of the year, I managed to squeeze in some fun.  I took four trips to Utah (though they were mainly work related), four trips to Tennessee, headed overseas to Stockholm, and travelled up and down the east coast from Boston to Florida and everywhere in between.  While the year is ending with a bit of uncertainty as to what the new year holds for me, I remain optimistic that 2011 will be just as thrilling with more places to visit, more friends to see, and countless trips to the beach.  That pretty much sums up the equation to keeping me happy.      

Here's a look back at the 2010 with the Candrian family.  Enjoy!

I wish you a very happy 2011!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding the Words...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I've been thinking about this day a lot.  And I've been trying to come up with the right words that describe exactly how I feel.  I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I'm excited about what's next, because I love and crave new adventures.  But on the other hand, I'm absolutely dreading the day when Sen. Bennett's office doors close for good and our staff will have to say our goodbyes. It's just a few days away.  Mostly I think though, when it comes down to it, I just feel bummed.

While I like Washington, D.C. and all the history it has to offer, I've had a hard time loving it.  Brittany loved it here so much that I just figured I'd easily feel the same way too.  But I haven't.  With all the incredible monuments, and never ending historical sites, there's always something to see and do. Yet with all of those exciting things, the one thing that has made me completely happy and at ease here is my job.  I love going to work every day engaged in a good cause, working with people who know what I stand for, who have become my dear friends, and who "get it." I love my job because I represent a senator who is well-respected amongst his peers, completely honest to his belief system and represents Utah's values to the very core.  Simply put, I like going to work everyday because it feels like home.

Today my boss gave his farewell address to the Senate.  It was inspiring.  I was touched.  And there were tears.  More than fifty current and former staffers of Sen. Bennett came to listen.  We packed the Senate floor and gallery to show our support to our boss, the man we have all come to respect and admire more than anyone in our nation's capitol. Many of his colleagues from both sides of the isle sat in their desks and watched as well.  We all listened intently as he said his goodbyes and thanked his colleagues for their grace and friendship.

The content of his speech speaks volumes about the man's character. He called the Senate an "extraordinary place filled with extraordinary people." He said he learned over the years that there is a significant difference between Republicans and Democrats, but that both are necessary. "They're both right-- that's the thing I have come to understand here," he said. Republicans believe free markets will solve problems and Democrats believe that the government will, and both are right, but he explained that different circumstances necessitate different solutions. And then he said, "But let us understand in the debate, that as we go back and forth between these two concepts, that we do not question the motives or the patriotism of anyone on the other side or within our own caucuses."  Putting differences aside to accomplish what was best for America was the essence of his service.  You can tune in yourself to hear the rest... 

A few months ago I was trying to figure out the best way to wrap up my boss's legacy in a way that would be worth tackling and accurately capture what he's accomplished over his time in office.  Of course, as is customary of me, I decided to make a video, highlighting some of the things he has done over the last 18 years in the Senate, sort of like a little documentary. I decided that if it was going to paint the complete picture, then I needed to include his Senate colleagues in the video as well. I was overjoyed when nearly all of them I reached out to agreed, which was more than 30 Democrats and Republicans.  So, I set up shop in the Capitol one day, and they just kept pouring in.  I was incredibly impressed by their genuine thoughts and memories they shared of him, many who were touched by his tremendous example of what it's like to be a good Christian. It was clear, that he is incredibly admired and respected amongst his peers and has left a lasting impact.  I remember packing up my camcorder after my last interview in the Capitol building that day and walking away thinking, "This was the best day of work I have ever had." It was incredible.  I was blown away by the chance to interview some of the most powerful people in our country, and they were so willing to do it for my boss. And the video turned out alright too. (This is just the "mini" version)

Normally it bugs me when people publish their deepest feelings on a blog.  I always think, "Come on... save it for the journal!"  But, I just thought maybe someone else out there is feeling the same way. I can at least think of a few people.  And it's always nice to know someone can relate. When a chapter in our life ends, and we face the unknown, it has a way of bringing feelings close to the surface, and sometimes it feels therapeutic to share them.

So, what's next for me when Sen. Bennett's office closes for good next week?  I'm not sure yet.*  But whatever it is, I'm convinced it'll provide me with at least some level of satisfaction, just like being Sen. Bennett's press secretary has done. Every job I've had so far in my post-college life has boosted my character in some way, or strengthened talents I barely knew existed.  While part of my sense of "home" in Washington, D.C. will fade as I close the door to Dirksen 433 one last time next week, a new door will undoubtedly open that will provide new opportunities I never thought possible.  I love how it happens that way every time.  But for now, I'm grateful to have had this opportunity and I will always be proud to say I worked for Sen. Bennett.  My life has been forever enriched, even when it's hard to find the exact words to express it.

*In all seriousness though, I will hopefully have a job announcement in the next week or two. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday James

Happy birthday to one of the cutest one-year-olds I know.  I can't get enough of this kid...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I am thankful...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I'll be hopping on a plane Thanksgiving morning to Knoxville, Tennessee, where I get to spend the entire weekend with my sisters and JB. So, as I distract myself from packing (I hate packing), I thought I'd give a pictorial of some of the things (can't possibly list 'em all) I'm thankful for this year.   

To get the ball rolling... I'm grateful for all the opportunities living in Washington, D.C. has provided me, even though it's humid and I'm allergic to everything on the East Coast. 

But I'm thankful modern medicine can point out all the things I am allergic to...

 I am thankful for my family. It's a bummer we can't all get together more often. 

And I'm grateful for the cutest nephews an aunt could ask for...

For the convenience of visiting one pretty frequently...

And for the "inconvenience" of having to travel overseas to visit the other... 

I am grateful for a job that I have loved since day one...
(and have less than a month left to go. new job announcement hopefully coming soon)

And to work for a man who I can stand behind whole-heartedly. 

And for coworkers who have become very dear friends. 

And for living near so many cool places that I can visit (and see old friends) on any given weekend.  Like, Hershey, PA...

Boston, MA...

And Tallahassee, FL...

I'm grateful for my church responsibilities, where even teaching Relief Society can be a creative outlet.
(I made this for my lesson on Sunday. Feel free to watch.)

And last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful I have a solid knowledge of who blessed me with all these things and countless others.  Feel free to leave me a comment and share what you're most grateful for today. I'd love to hear about it.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wearing Blue in a Sea of Garnet and Gold

TALLAHASSEE, FL-- A few weeks ago I travelled south to Tallahassee to watch my beloved BYU Cougars battle it out in the intense heat and humidity with the Florida State 'noles. It was hot. It was humid. It was a bad game. But the company couldn't have been more revitalizing. I love my Florida friends and they made me feel so happy to be back in Tally with their "welcome home" signs they proudly displayed when we met up at our favorite hang out spot, the Waffle House. (yes, I know it's ghetto, but their buttermilk waffles are SOOOO good!).  Here's a picture of the crew (minus PVD):

The "Waffle House Committee" reunion
On Saturday we took our seats at Doak Campbell Stadium amidst the other intensely sweating fans. We only lasted until the third quarter. The heat and humidity was too intense (it was gross). No wonder the Cougs did so bad.  Poor guys.
Ryan, Melissa, me, Nicki
Later that night, once we finally cooled down, my buddy Melissa gave us a tour of the Florida House of Representatives, where she works. Obviously, it is not DC's Capitol Hill, so no one was around working 24-7 like in Washington, so we had the place to ourselves and practiced giving speeches at the Speaker's podium.  
Not the Speaker's podium, obviously. But I couldn't resist getting a shot of the Senate seal

We also swung by my old stomping grounds... WCTV.  For about 30 seconds I missed my reporting days. But my life is pretty good currently, so the longing for the past didn't last long.  

Melissa, made this video of our weekend. I hope she doesn't mind me posting it here. The weekend went by way too quick and I can't wait to come back again! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I Never Break Promises...

KNOXVILLE, TN -- There's no way I'd let anyone down with my claim of "video coming soon" on my last blog entry, since I'm sure you were all holding your breath waiting for it. And while it wasn't really a promise either... I had to fulfill my word.  Given the topic of some of my most recent blog entries, I'm starting to feel like this is turning into a "mommy blog." Forgive me. I hope the cuteness of this video makes up for it. So, without further adieu, here is my Labor Day weekend in Knoxville... multi-media style...  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Laborless Weekend in Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, TN-- Over Labor Day weekend I headed down south to visit the Richmans in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I hadn't seen little James since Amy's wedding in July, and two months without seeing this cute face is far too long.
Brittany and Brian were nice enough to show us around town, including this scenic park along the Tennessee River.  Lovely!  
Apparently the World's Fair was held in Knoxville (pronounced Knox-vull by the locals) back in the 80's. This water fountain was near the World's Fair park.
Knoxville is also home to the world's largest rubix cube. I bet you didn't know such a thing existed. Here is proof:
My dear friend, Nicki, also came along for the Labor Day weekend fun. I'm not sure James knew quite what to think of her though... 
While Brittany may be unsure of her new life in Tennessee, I have a hunch James seems to think being a southerner is alright... for now.  As long as he can pull off the Orange "Vols" gear, he'll be just fine. 
James didn't say it in so many words, but I know he was excited to see me. Those grins, and that gibberish let me know I was right. Video coming soon. (sorry, I'm a busy person)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Little Buddy

Happy first birthday Michael!  
Thanks for making me an aunt! 
And he just keeps getting cuter every time I see him.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Airplanes in the Night Sky...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you just need to get away? I'm not talking about a full-on vacation. But just a little escape from reality to contemplate life? Everywhere I've lived during my post-college life, I've always had an "Andrea place" to escape, get away, chill and meditate. In the Tri-Cities it was along the Columbia River, at a spot similar to this one...
In Tallahassee, it was at the Miccosukee Canopy Road Greenway, amongst the live oak trees with their wispy willows dangling over the branches, and where much of this video was filmed:
I haven't felt like I had one of those places in D.C. (besides mine and Amy's "Abe Therapy" spot at the back of the Lincoln Memorial, but really that is "mine and Amy's spot," so it doesn't count), at least I thought I didn't have my own spot until it hit me this week. But, before you read any further... please press play on the following music clip (you can ignore the actual video, but just listen to the chorus)... it's now officially the theme song of my newly declared D.C. "Andrea place." (there might be a bad word in this song, so please put on your mental filter)

This spot is one of the first places I visited when I moved to our nation's capitol two years ago. It's called, "Gravelly Point" and it's incredible! It's a park located directly at the end of the Ronald Reagan National Airport runway. Depending on the direction of the wind, you can either watch airplanes take off or land. Watching them land is my favorite... but really I'm fascinated by either. There's just something about watching the airplanes... and hearing their thunderous sounds echoing through the sky... that puts me in my own tranquil world. I love it. I have been twice in the last four days. Both times with friends I consider dear. And every time I am completely mesmerized; by the airplanes in the night sky, with the lights glowing on the tarmac. And it feels like, if you just reach up high enough, you might be able to touch them as they fly overhead. Every one needs their own little place to get away sometimes. By ourselves, or with friends. And it's kind of a fun idea, to go along with this new theme song of mine, to pretend that they're like shooting stars. Because, let's face it, I bet we all have moments when we feel we could really use a wish right now...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scholarly Cougs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - I liked this BYU Harold B. Lee Library commerical too much not to share. It's a twist off the Old Spice commercials. You've got to hand it to them, they are about as creative as they come...

The guy who stars in it just happens to be an old friend* from my Tallahassee days.

*I actually am better friends with his older brother, but whatever...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Congratulations Amy & John

SALT LAKE CITY -- Congratulations to Amy & John! They got married in Manti, Utah yesterday, and things couldn't have been better or more beautiful! I will post some outstanding pictures later. In the meantime, if you're not familiar with their story... this video I made will fill you in:

Monday, July 5, 2010

There Ain't No Doubt I Love this Land...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- There's something about celebrating Independence Day in our nation's capital that makes it seem a little more exciting than it would probably be otherwise, especially when you get a four day weekend to top it off. This 4th of July I headed to the Jefferson Memorial to get in on the action and thanks to a dear friend we got there with plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of time to spare. That meant before the fireworks show kicked off there was ample time to sport a colonial hat and sign a Declaration of Independence with a feather pen...
And play a special version of Uno while seeking refuge in the shade on the Jefferson steps...
All whilst in the company of good friends, old and new.
Much to the amazement of us all, the fireworks started with a bang before the sky even turned completely dark (I guess the stimulus funds didn't get spread to the capital fireworks crew... so the show had to start early and run short)
But nonetheless, it was of course spectacular. How could it not be? Look at that view over the Tidal Basin! When DC's show finished, other firework shows kicked off all across the valley... we had a panoramic view. I love this holiday!
The trip home was just as adventurous. We had thousands of these guys to keep us company on the trek back into Virginia...
To top the night off, we had homemade apple pie (made by yours truly)

Independence Day always makes me reflect on why I love America so much. It's hard for me to describe my feelings for this great country of ours. I've had a different vantage point over the last few years on the inner workings of our government that have instilled a sense of hope in me that our country will keep surviving and become even better and stronger than it ever has been, because that's what it has always done throughout its short history. Yet at the same time it has opened up an entirely new world to me. One of feelings of frustration and discouragement and even sometimes anger, that I never knew were in me. But despite whether we agree with those who lead our country, or even with those who vote, God has His hand in it all. That is one thing that remains very clear to me. I see it when I walk past the Capitol building every day on my way to and from work. There's something about it that is awe inspiring. It makes me want to work harder and be better. And I feel it when I walk down its mighty hallways, where I sometimes have to force myself to slow down and soak it all in to remember so many of our country's great leaders have walked in this same spot. And I feel it over and over again when I gaze up at the majestic American flag waving in the shadows of the Capitol Dome. It gives me the chills every time. There's just something special about this place. And I love it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Sunday Adventures" and Good Friends

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I've made a lot of good friend over the years. Some have come and gone, and others have stuck around for a long time, for which I am most grateful. One such friendship began years ago in Provo at BYU. I dated Brandon Erickson's roommate, and long after that relationship ended, Brandon and I still remained friends. I think our friendship was finally solidified though when we were bored on Sunday afternoon during the summer of 2004. He and his roommate, another good friend, came up with the idea of "Sunday adventures." We piled in his roommate's (and my friend's) SUV and took off for a rocky, bumpy drive through (literally) Provo canyon... all the way to the other side. "Sunday adventures" stuck. At least the concept stuck. And so did the friendship.
Me, Nicki Dittemore, Jordan Muhlestein and Brandon Erickson on our first Sunday adventure in 2004

After our BYU days, Brandon left for Arizona, and I left for Washington and Florida. It seems funny to think about now, but I think most of our "chatting"/catching up times were via MSN Messenger. Brandon soon moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he was accepted to dental school at VCU. In his class was Brian Richman, who Brandon introduced to my twin sister Brittany, on a weekend visit to Washington, D.C. Less than a year later, Brian and Brittany were married. What a good friend, eh?!

Since then, I have made the move to D.C., (just an hour and a half north of Richmond). On my way to D.C., I stopped in Richmond and Brandon and I took a "Sunday adventure" through University of Richmond's campus and Brandon gave me the grand tour of Richmond. Brandon still frequents our nation's capitol on any given weekend. We're still buddies, just like we have always been. And at times when I take the trek down to Richmond, Brandon and I will get together too. He's just one of those people you know who will always be there. Well, Brandon (and Brian) graduated from dental school a few weeks ago. And now Brandon is moving across the country again to his home state of California. We had one last "Sunday adventure" together before he left... though it was on a Wednesday. It's nice to have good friends stick around... especially when they can teach you a lesson or two about what it really means to kick back and have an "adventure" every one in a while. Brandon is a living example of that.
Brandon and I, May 2010 in Alexandria, VA

Good luck Dr. Erickson! Rest assured I'll be visiting the Golden State for some adventures!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

OBX: A Memorial Day Tradition

OUTERBANKS, NC- It's a yearly tradition on the East Coast for all the single Mormons to head to the Outerbanks of North Carolina for some fun in the sun at a place called Duck Beach. Hundreds and hundreds of YSA's flock to the coast from all over the country to get in on the action...

You may remember my video summation from two years ago (it's still pretty accurate):

I start with our daily bike rides along the beach and to breathtaking views of lighthouses. Yes, our beach mansion, named Ocean's Grace, came equipped with bikes. It was pure bliss. (And yes, I am aware that I am in need of some major arm definition. I'm working on it. Back off.)
Next, we have some good, quality beach time. Wish I would have gotten a wide shot of the entire beach, or at least filmed a video clip, so you could see the sun bathing/football throwing/frisbee chasing/ocean soaking/fool making pandemonium unfold. It's entertaining just sitting back and watching it all. There's nothing quite like hundreds of LDS singles strutting their stuff in the sand. This particular picture is with my good friends, Amanda and Melissa. Melissa is one of my favorite Florida friends who made the trek to Duck. I will be forever grateful that she risked her life to come.
Next up we have a little BYU reunion of sorts. My senior year, I constantly hung out with the same crew... Justin Smith, Joe Burton and Nicki Dittemore, to name a few (The group used to be bigger, but the others are now married, of course). Here we are, meeting up on the east coast, seven years later. Nicki and I via DC, Justin via California, and Joe via England. It sure was good hanging out with them! There were also others from the BYU 61st Ward who stayed in our house for Duck, but they didn't make the cut in these pictures. Maybe next year.
And lastly, on our way back to DC, we made a stop in Richmond to visit this little guy... he sure is cute! And the perfect way to end a fantastic weekend:
(Disclaimer: This video was actually taken a few weeks ago. But my camera died at the beach, so this is the most current video I have of Mr. JB)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It Took a Month to Stop an Oil Leak?

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I've had a hard time fully grasping how it could take so long to stop this oil leak in the Gulf Coast. Seriously, I know there's a lot to it, but no one could come up with a quicker method to stop millions of galloons of oil from leaking into our ocean and onto our lands?!

Today officials finally claim the "Top Kill" method successfully stopped the leak... at least for now. I have been wondering how exactly the whole thing works or what made it stop that hasn't worked with their other methods? Maybe no one else finds this fascinating, and perhaps I'm the only one who is completely enthralled by all this... but FINALLY someone broke it all down today and put it in simple terms that made sense. Thank you Bill Nye "the Science Guy" for making it sound so easy. (But then again, if it was so easy, why couldn't they have stopped it sooner????)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Happy Mother's Day to my mom who is celebrating her first Mother's Day as a grandma. I know she couldn't be more proud of her family. And we couldn't ask for a more loving mother. She has been telling me repeatedly for months that all she wanted me to do for her today was make her a video of her two grandkids... So, mom, here it is... Enjoy! They sure are cute little stinkers...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Last One Standing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It has finally come to this. I am, once again, living life officially by myself. No more family around. It's just me. (On the count of three... pooooooor Andreaaaa) Life is a funny thing. I moved here to be closer to my siblings. And now... they've done it... they've all moved away and left me in their dust. (Britt leaves next month!).

Amy has been my sidekick for the last two years. As much of a pain in the butt sisters can be to each other sometimes (and we know it) I don't think I'll ever miss anyone more than I'm going to miss her.
I'll be honest, it took awhile to adjust having family nearby again after I had lived away from them for so long. I had been flying solo for several years, and I just got used to it. It was just me, and I loved the independence. But now I've gotten used to having them around again, and I prefer it that way. I may have shed a tear or two when the little Maizer packed her bags and left. There'll be no more baseball games, no more random shopping trips (maybe that's a good thing), and no more Abe therapy. I'm going to miss this kid. She's become one of my best friends. And I guess that's the way it ought to be.

Thanks John for the fantastic photography :)

I officially hand over my duties of watching out for her to this guy... and I wish him luck (lots of it)! :) He's a lucky guy to get a girl as magnificent as Amy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Trip to Sweden: Check!

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - I feel like I just left for Sweden yesterday, and yet I've already returned. Vacations are never long enough. But I had a great time! It was a fun trip, filled with lots of time with a cute, energetic nephew...

Good company... (yes, that is Michael "superman style" in his stroller. Hey, the kid needs some diversity to stay happy.)

Old buildings in the oldest city in Sweden... Sigtuna.

More time with a cute kid...

Good food (yes, that is a Belgium waffle covered in chocolate and whipped cream, and yes, it was amazing)

More time with a cute, rambunctious kid...

...and great views all over a spectacular city!

And finally... a little video for your viewing pleasure, illustrating one of the innovative ways Rob and Lorena have found to keep Michael happy... you've got to love this kid!

Why is it that vacations always seem to
go by too quickly? Who wants to go on the next one?

Thanks Rob and Lorena for a great week!