eighteen months later

As of Saturday, Hannah is home from her mission, safe and sound. It sounds like she did a great job and had a wonderful experience in Buenos Aires. We look forward to seeing her in person (hopefully soon and optimally before fall). Today is the first Monday in almost three years that we haven’t had a missionary to write, and that feels a little strange.
(I’m sure it’s not as strange as returning home after an extended stay in a foreign country, though.)


heard in primary: miscellaneous

ME: Okay children, let’s open our scriptures…
KID: I’m no child, woman! I’m a man!

ME: It was harder to cook and clean back when Joseph Smith was alive because they didn’t have electricity in their house.
KID 1: Yeah, because Benjamin Franklin wasn’t born yet!
ME: No, he had been–
KID 2: He wouldn’t be born for two hundred more years!
ME: No guys, he actually…(and this was when I realized it was a lost cause and moved on).

[The Primary General President came to visit our ward a few months ago.]
ME: …and we can all prepare now to go on missions.
KID: You know what? That primary lady, the one who is the most powerful one in the church, she said I’d be a really good missionary!
ME: I’m sure you will.

west desert monday

I knocked out a five mile test run on my parents’ new treadmill on Monday morning, interrupted midway through when Hannah’s email for the week came in and I remembered I hadn’t written her. I usually get to it first thing Monday morning, but the shift from Eastern to Mountain time made me think I had more time than I did. Oops!

My mom and I had oatmeal and a banana for breakfast and my dad took the afternoon off. We headed out to the West Desert, which is remote and beautiful and rejuvenating.20121206-094509.jpg

Wallace Stegner said of appreciating the west, “You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale.” It’s absolutely true of this place that I love. Though it may be brown and dry and spare, it is also perfectly simple and awesome (and I mean that in the sense that it inspires awe, though the landscape is also “awesome, dude”).20121206-094534.jpg
We did spot some wildlife: deer jumping over a fence…
and a massive herd of sheep someone had brought to graze.

We drove home in the waning light and picked up my brothers and went to Sam Hawk. The pictures on the walls have been winnowed down and moved to a few panels and the walls have been painted and now most of the chairs match. We were able to find my graduation picture, which apparently made the cut.

Picture of a picture

 It’s right above one of my dad and Reed. Once I think I wrote a post about Sam Hawk’s significance to the Pullan fam but I can’t find it.

Highlight of the evening: the waitress kept bringing out dish after dish of the cold potatoes. So good. She also took a new picture of us to put on the Wall of Fame.

After dinner we drove past the apartments where Jason and I lived, a red house my dad lived in, and Heritage Halls to make sure my dorm (Carroll Hall) hadn’t been torn down yet during the renovation. It’s still standing, but that whole area looks so different without DT and with the addition of, in Hannah’s words, the new barn-cathedral Heritage Housing. We also drove past the new Tabernacle Temple (which will be known in the Pullan fam as El Templo de Los Tres Amigos, in honor of our once-favorite Mexican restaurant demolished to make way for the grounds).

unsolicited thoughts on not serving a mission

I didn’t go on a mission, which is the answer to probably the second most common question I get from non-Mormons.  The first most frequently asked question, at least right now, is “So, you love Mitt Romney, right?”

Usually I follow up the mission question with “because girls don’t go until they are twenty-one and I met Jason when I was nineteen and was married just before I turned twenty-one”. This response often prompts awkward glances as the asker realizes how very young I am. My rote answer leaves me unsettled because it doesn’t capture the nuance of my decision.

I wanted to go on a mission. I always did. My mom served in Peru and I felt like her experiences there made her a more effective mom. She had great mission stories and knew the scriptures and spoke Spanish. She married my dad at twenty-five, which seemed to be the perfect getting-married age to me.

Jason and I met when he’d been home from his mission for two months, but didn’t go on our first date until we’d known each other an entire semester (and he could speak English again). In the course of our friendship-turned-courtship (even though I think that is a ridiculous word), I learned that his mom had served a mission in Belgium, which confirmed for me even more that going on a mission was A Thing I Should Do. On my twentieth birthday–when we had been dating for seven months–Jason took me to Tucano’s and sent me flowers and bought me a Bob Dylan CD and The Kite Runner and guitar picks, and I went to the BYU Bookstore and bought my own copy of Preach My Gospel and the conference Ensign.  I was going to study a chapter every month in preparation for my mission the next year.

I had informed Jason of my intent to serve a mission, and joked (and I am not making this up) that I would serve in Kentucky. My reason for this was twofold: 1. It would let him know that I was absolutely not one of those get-married-young girls and 2. Kentucky seemed like the least glamorous place on the planet, and you never want to say where you actually want to go on a mission lest you jinx your call.

I obviously didn’t end up going. The thought of doing so lost all its allure some months later when the thought of leaving Jason at all–much less for eighteen months–made me sick to my stomach; however, the decision wasn’t an easy one. I worried I wouldn’t know the gospel as well as my mom and my mother-in-law, and that I would miss out on life-changing experiences. I wondered if I’d ever be as mature or interesting or polished as other girls who had gone. In a small way, I thought  I might disappoint myself and others by not taking the opportunity.

Guess what? I didn’t miss out. I went to Kentucky for eighteen months after all.  I learned to be independent and to rely on the Lord, but also to work as a team with my husband. We’ve done difficult things and fun things and seen new places and met new people. Getting married to Jason at 20.83 years of age was the right decision for me, and I have not once regretted it.  Not being a missionary has in no way stunted my personal growth.

I’m excited that more girls can serve missions and I’m especially excited that they’ll be going at a more convenient age. For my sister Hannah, being a missionary has been the best thing in the world. Judging from her letters, she is the happiest she’s ever been, working the hardest she’s ever worked, and learning more than ever before.

Do I think I would’ve gone at nineteen had the option been available to me?  I don’t know. I hope not, if going then meant missing out on meeting Jason and our two years of friendship before we married. My best hope for this policy change is that the option to serve will still be completely in the hands of the sister, and that no undue pressure be applied to a woman for whom it really isn’t the right decision the second she turns nineteen.

the pullans go to virginia

After the very-early-morning BYU pseudo-victory over Utah State (I can’t call a 6-3 field-goal-disaster, potentially-quarterback-injuring game an all-out victory), Jason and I got up super early on Saturday to accomplish Many Big and Important Things in anticipation of my family’s arrival that evening.

We went down to IKEA, where we picked up four MARTINs, two JEFFs, an OLUNDA, a package of BUMERANGs, four VIKA ADILs, a FJÄDRAR, and a BJORHLOKA (a.k.a. four kitchen chairs, two folding chairs, a Matisse print, some wooden coathangers, four black table legs, and a throw pillow + sham). We were sorely tempted by the FROST, but resisted.


We got home just in time for the first session of General Conference, during which we ate deliwiches and built the MARTINs and gasped collectively with the rest of Mormondom re: revised missionary age limits.  In between sessions, I made bechemel sauce and constructed a lasagna while Jason cleaned. We also hung the new print, which I think ups the ante in our hallway.

The fam hit traffic on 495, so they arrived at our place around 7:45 PM. The boys and Dad changed for the Priesthood Session and headed over with Jason. My mom and I stayed home, ate a leisurely dinner, and ate chocolate chip cookies on our new couch.

The next day, we woke up sufficiently early to shuttle six people through our shower, then drove down to Leonardtown by way of the Jefferson Memorial.


The weirdest thing about having my family in town is that my brothers have grown. It’s been fourteen months since I last saw them, in which time they’ve both gotten tall and manly looking and have low voices. Grant especially looks really different to me (in a good way), and it is mind-boggling that Adam will be a licensed driver/dater in less than a month. I seek comfort in still being the tallest Pullan daughter.


We watched the Sunday sessions of General Conference down in Maryland with Mark and Amy and their fam, taking a break between sessions for sandwiches and a walk down to the bay.

On the way back, Scout the dog started tracking something in the woods, which turned out to be a mole. He caught it, and my cousin rescued it. Moles are gross looking little creatures. Current wildlife report: one crab and one mole.


We returned home late after a great dinner and pleasant evening with the fam.

dave’s homecoming talk


Sunday was Dave’s non-homecoming speaking assignment (as the Pullans call the post-mission recap talk). His assigned topic was charity, and he did a most excellent job. It is obvious from the way he talks about the Philippino people that he had a really phenomenal experience.

Mom and 2/3 of her boys.

Dave’s pink tie is from the Philippines and reversible. I think Jason was coveting it.

The Frost men.

More posing for the camera. I swear I didn’t wear my Georgetown shirt to church.

We had slow-cooked barbecue pork, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, and ciabatta rolls for an early supper. Dave left around 6:30 PM with Mom to teach a missionary fireside, and we stayed home and watched the Olympics. Have I mentioned on here that I love the Olympics? I really do.

When Mom and Dave returned, we had strawberry shortcakes and cheese and crackers, and some of my leftover Franklin Grinder. All around great day.

living in my apron

It was a Sunday of much baking.

Pictured in towel-draped bowls above: pizza dough, sandwich bread dough, breadstick dough. Not shown: empanada crust and chocolate chip cookie dough in freezer.  We’re having the missionaries over for dinner tomorrow and if I don’t prepare in advance, Jason and I end up scurrying around the kitchen trying to finish off the meal while the elders wait awkwardly in our living room. This wouldn’t be a problem if they kept commuter eating hours (i.e. 7 PM dinner).

We eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, which means we eat a lot of bread. While Safeway-brand wheat isn’t the worst, it’s also not my favorite (Macey’s ranch bread. So delicious. Macey’s also brought me my flaxseed bagel obsession, but that’s a tale for another time). I’ve wanted to bake my own bread for a while now, but my loaves always come out dense and flat. Fortuitously, I found a pretty great recipe for sandwich-ready dough online, and tonight baked up my second-week-in-a-row loaf. Granted, baking bread for our two-person fam is easy, but it makes me feel mildly domestic.

Speaking of food, we had some excellent twice-baked sweet potatoes tonight.  Highly recommend.