Monday, April 30, 2012

our story [part 2]

Read Part 1 here.

At age 18, I moved away to college at Arizona State University.  It was only two hours away, but it was the hardest transition of my life. 

New dorm.  New friends.  New life.
Exciting, yes, but also positively terrifying.

Time flew by, however, and I dated quite a few boys throughout the months away from home.  I didn’t date any of them very seriously except for one, and I got him ready and sent him off on a church mission, determined that I would be there when he got back two years later.

Sometimes I think about those times now and imagine Heavenly Father giving me his knowing smile and maybe even chuckling slightly, because my life wouldn’t turn out anything like I’d planned.

And I’m glad it didn’t.

During the summer before my senior year at ASU, though still faithfully writing that missionary I’d worked so hard to get out there, I started to have small inklings that maybe I should start dating again.  I pushed these feelings aside, bound and determined that I wasn’t going to date anybody right then.

The inklings came and went throughout the summer months, but I mostly managed to squelch them in the midst of all my letter-writing and adventure-having.

On one evening in June sometime, I went to go hang out with a group of my guy friends at their house.  I was having trouble finding the place in the dark, so I called my friend Jon.  He walked out to my car to show me inside.  As we were walking up to the front door, I saw a darkened figure sitting on the bed of a truck in the driveway, talking on the phone.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“Oh that’s just Tim, our roommate.”

I dismissed him without another thought.

A few minutes later, however, this “Tim” walked through the front door, and to my utter surprise, I recognized him.

“Hey don’t I know you?” I asked in shock.

“Oh yeah, you’re Jeff Sparks’s little sister, aren’t you?”

Of course, I thought.

He spent the rest of the night in the same room with my friends and me, but he didn’t say much.  A short sentence or two, here or there.  They showed me their band’s website.  To my surprise, they were pretty good.

“Who’s singing?” I asked.

“Oh that’s Tim,” Gary said.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yep,” Tim said.  And that was it.  So he’s the silent musician type, I thought.

As soon as I left their house, however, Tim exclaimed, “Well Katie Sparks sure has grown up a lot!”  After which his roommates all tried to discourage him by telling him I was waiting for a missionary.

When I got home, I asked Tim to be my friend on Facebook, and then quickly forgot about him.  Again.

Read Part 3 here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

chicken tortilla soup for the soul

I am always looking for easy peasy ways to make dinner.

Sound familiar?

The other day, I decided that I wanted to make chicken tortilla soup.  Yes, I realize that the temperatures have been reaching the triple digits.  But like I always say, there's nothing like chicken tortilla soup for the soul*.

So I started looking around online for quick and easy recipes.  I soon found this baby.  And while some of the ingredients may or may not sound appetizing [*cough*NACHOCHEESESOUP*cough*], let me tell you, this turned out amazing.

In fact, the finished product looked something like this picture:

Picture found here, though I did not use that particular recipe.

If you don't want to click on another link, I'll do you a favor and post the recipe here:

  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies
  • 2.75 cups milk
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves, cooked and diced
  • tortilla strips

I also added one can of pinto beans, some green onions, and a little extra milk [and some light sour cream right before we served it].

And all you have to do is mix all of those ingredients together in the crock pot, cover, and cook on low for 5-6 hours [except for the tortilla strips, which go in right before you serve it].  Aka, you can put everything in the crockpot and forget about it for 5-6 hours.

Final verdict: It was a big hit and I definitely plan to make it again!

*Confession: I have never said this before.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

our story [part 1]

My life collided with Tim’s at age six.  Two years later I had a teensy crush.  Six years later we moved away and I forgot about him.  And another ten years after that, he asked me to marry him.

Would you like to hear the story?

My family moved to Yuma, AZ in the record-hot summer of 1995, and my parents vaguely wondered what they had gotten themselves into.  The natives of Southern California just weren’t used to 122 degree weather, after all.

But kids are resilient, and before long, my brothers and I adapted to the scorching heat with no noticeable problems. 

My mom, however, was determined that we would only live in Yuma for five years – just long enough for my dad to get established in his job as a professor at the local community college.  She couldn’t stand the heat for any longer than it took to walk to the car, touch the blazing steering wheel, and turn on the seemingly heaven-sent A/C.

We attended our local church’s congregation, and my older brother, Jeff, became acquainted with another eight-year-old boy named Timmy Devey.  I was vaguely aware of the boy named Timmy but my interest in Barbies and fear of the school bus largely drowned out any notice I would have taken of him.

Around age eight, however, I started to notice Timmy.  He went to a different school than I did, but I saw him at church.  I saw how he made the other kids laugh, how he seemed to be in the “cool kid” crowd, and how cute he looked in his church clothes.

Mind you, I was noticing those kinds of things about 90% of the other older boys, too.

But I always had a slight crush on the boy named Timmy.

The funny thing is, Tim tells me now that he remembers my little brother, Eric, better than he remembers me, because he was so loud and obnoxious.  In fact, he barely remembers me at all.  [Maybe I should have been more obnoxious.]

Here is a picture of Tim with his mouth stuffed full of marshmallows at my brother’s birthday party.  
And there I am two seats away from him.

Six years after moving to Yuma, my mom finally got her wish.  My dad had gotten another job in Prescott, AZ, and my brothers and I were [mostly] excited to move and start something new.

I said goodbye to all 36 of my crushes, and we packed up our things and moved in the summer of 2001.

I largely forgot about Timmy because there were just too many other cute boys to notice.

I do, however, remember thinking about him once at around age 16.  I bet if Timmy saw me now, all grown-up, he might actually notice me, I thought.

And then I quickly forgot about him again.

Continue on to Part 2.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

don't judge a [text]book by its cover

When I was in college, I always wanted to find ways to help the less fortunate.

There was only one problem.

I didn't have any time, and I didn't have any money.

[Ok, make that two problems.]

But, you guys.  I just found out something awesome.

Campus Book Rentals is an online store which rents textbooks out to students.  Which in and of itself is a revolutionary idea [and a much cheaper option], but Campus Book Rentals goes the extra mile.

They donate part of the money from every textbook rented to Operation Smile.  And if you're too lazy to click on that link [like I probably would be], I'll give you the rundown.

Operation Smile is an organization which provides surgeries for children born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate.  This surgery allows them to do everyday things that you and I don't even think about - eating, speaking, and smiling, to name a few.

That means that by simply renting a textbook - something you would have to do anyway - you can improve someone's quality of life.

Saving money on textbooks, and helping out the less fortunate.  Killing two birds with one stone.  Bam.

And if you're not sold by that alone, check out this textbook.  In red, you can see what the book would cost brand spankin' new.  And in the blue box over to the right, you can see how much it would cost to rent the book instead.

Go check out their website for even more perks!

Saving money and improving a child's life.  What could be better than that?

*This is a sponsored post, but the positive opinions are mine all mine!*

Monday, April 23, 2012

find you

Tim and I are famous!

Ok maybe not really.  But we did write a song together and we did post it on The Youtube.

And yes, ok, maybe Tim did write most of the song.  But I helped!  And I wrote my own harmonies.  [That counts for something, right?  ...Right?]

Take a listen and let us know what you think!

We love singing together.  It's so fun.  [And it's one of the reasons I fell in love with him.]

p.s. Speaking of falling in love with Tim, I've been writing down "our story" in detail, and I'm thinking about posting it [in segments, naturally, because I'm not even done and it's ridiculously long].  Hmm...yes yes.  I think I will do that soon.  [Now I just have to figure out whether to finish out our "Wedding Day" saga first or not.]

p.p.s. At church, Tim and I watch over about eight 3-year-olds for two hours.  And after church, Tim and I collapse on our couch for several hours from sheer exhaustion.  [And yes, I realize that telling you this doesn't have to do with anything.  I just wanted to tell you.]

p-cubed.s.  Kthxloveyoubye.

Friday, April 20, 2012

wedding day [part 4]

Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Eventually someone showed up to unlock the building, which allowed everyone to breathe a little easier.  [And sweat a little less.]

Tim's parents had an amazing lunch prepared.  There were all kinds of delicious things, but my favorite part was the tri-tip steak sandwiches.  ['s making me hungry just thinking about it.]

We talked and laughed with everyone and wondered when it was going to start feeling real.

After the luncheon, Tim and I had a stop to make before we headed up to Prescott for our reception.  Bahama Buck's.  We ate our delectable shaved ice as we drove and smiled ridiculous smiles at one another.

On the way up, we kept saying things like, "We're married!"

"You're my husband!"

"You're my wife!"

Once we got to Prescott, we briefly stopped at my parents' house so I could say a decent hello to my grandma and my aunt, knowing I wouldn't have much time to talk to them later.  And after about 10 minutes of talking, we were already out of time.  We headed over to the stake center [church building] where we would be having our reception.

I knew it would be beautiful, because Nicole Mangum was in charge of decorations.

But because I hadn't been there to help set up, I didn't know exactly how it would turn out.

Which was why when I walked in the doors to the cultural hall, my breath caught in my chest and I stopped dead in my tracks.

It was more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

I took a few minutes just to walk around and look at everything.  [And now I wish I'd spent even more time so that I could remember every single detail.]

our wishing tree guest book

pictures hanging on doors


 bunting and lights

[See what I mean?]

I started to get nervous, knowing that for the next few hours, Tim and I would be the center of everyone's attention.  I've never been very good at that.  Then I started to worry about making sure everything was perfect.

Then Tim did something he's done for me every day since.  Whenever I get worried about something, to this day, Tim changes modes.  It's the I-will-do-everything-in-my-power-to-make-sure-Katie-is-happy mode.  He calmed me down, took over everything I was worried about, and sent me to change into my wedding dress.

I hunted down my mom [which was no small task] and dragged her into the bathroom to help me change.  She and one of her friends fixed my hair and my make-up, and before I knew it, it was time for the reception to start.

I found Tim and he gave me one of his reassuring smiles.  He put his arm around my waist and led me back into the cultural hall.

I could already tell this was going to be a perfect night.

*Stay tuned for details about the reception!*

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

no sleep for the thoughtful

You've heard someone say, "I think best when I'm in the shower," right?

Or, "I do my best thinking when I'm running."

Orrr, "My head is clearest when I'm riding my bike."  

"When I'm swimming."  

"When I'm cooking."

Well, would you like to know when my best thinking is done?

As I'm falling asleep.

And I can't tell you how many superb blogs or papers or books I've written in my head that I can't remember now that I'm more fully awake.

It has occurred to me that maybe they aren't actually such great ideas - that I just think they are because I'm half asleep.  But, on the other hand, the times that I do remember them, they actually were pretty good ideas. [Judging by my own standards at least.  And that isn't saying much.]

Maybe I should just keep a pad of paper and a pencil nearby so that I can jot down whatever ideas I'm magically generating in my half-asleep, half-awake state.  But I value my sleep so much that this particular idea doesn't seem overwhelmingly appealing.  Because then I would wake myself up even further, and who knows?  It could become some horrible cycle where I start to fall asleep, have an inspirational idea, wake up enough to write down said idea, and then the wonderful/awful cycle starts all over again and I never fall asleep.

I should take the fact that this post is only semi-coherent as a sign that I would be completely lucid in my half-asleep state.

[Or maybe I should just remember that logic has never been my strong suit.]

When do you do your best thinking?

p.s.  Didn't you just love having Camille guest post yesterday?  She's a doll.

p.p.s.  Don't forget to read my secret here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

youtube dating - guest post

Today you get a very special treat.  My friend Camille is guest-posting for me, and I am guest-posting for her!  That means you get two posts for the price of one!  And we're both talking about how awesome dating is, so it's pretty much a win-win situation.

Aaand if you read my guest post, I'll let you in on a little secret.  Go check it out here!

Hello!  My name is Camille and I blog over at
I never thought I'd be blogging about some of the intimate details of love and marriage until I realized one day how much I believe in marriage and keeping love alive, not to mention I'm a believe in fun at any stage of life, and even a fairly private person like me can't deny the huge passion to share it!  My blog I share with my husband, (see, we're sharing so early, we're off to a great start!) where we take turns posting about our weekly date night.

We were lucky enough to take marriage classes with a former clergy leader before our marriage.  In one of those classes we were given the best advice- to go on a weekly date and not let anything get in the way of it.  We were told family obligations, work, church, school- (you name it) would try to get in the way, but to book a date on a calendar and not let anything stop it no matter what.  We giggled a little thinking we are fun people and would not have these problems.  We learned in our first month of marriage that even as newlyweds, both employed, with no kids we would still have to fight for time to have date night.  We do!  It's sacred to us and what we both look forward to each week.  We're up to over a year now, and some weeks we're lucky enough to go on multiple dates.

Feel free to join us anytime to check out some date ideas, share ideas with us, and spread the love over at  

And just so we don't leave you hanging, here's one of our most popular dates:

YouTube Video Date (aka 2.5 hours of free laughter)

It's hard to go out with friends or family in our age demographic and not have someone say
"did you see that funny movie on YouTube?"  Followed by laughs, acting it out, or loading it
on a laptop or phone to watch instantly.  Whenever we have a bad day or need a laugh we
turn to certain videos.  
So we had this idea about 7 months ago to build a collection of hilarious YouTube videos that
we always turn to for a guaranteed laugh.  We figured if we could get to about an hour and
half we could have a solid date that we could do at home for free.  We've been building for
months asking some of our funniest and most media-centric friends for ideas beyond the
ones we already had.  I must say we did it with some criterion: 
1. It had to be PG-13 rated or better, we wanted to watch it without being offended  
2. It had to be laugh out loud funny to both of us 

When we added a few more this past week we decided to total the time of the video
channel we created- we had over 2 and a half hours of hilarity!  We knew it was time
to enjoy this date that was 7 months in the making!  

We made sure to start the night out right with some Cafe Rio.  

If you live in the Southwest put this on your list!  It started in Provo, Utah and has
expanded greatly.  Good thing, because Camille grew up near the Cafe Rio and went
many times during BYU days and probably would be making trips to Utah to have it
regularly if it wasn't in the Phoenix Metro.  
He recommends the Pork Barbacoa Burrito, green enchilada style

She recommends the Chicken Salad with cilantro ranch dressing

It was a great way to start of the night- and we can always be sure we'll run into
at least 1 person we know.  This night brought 4 long-lost friends.  

After dinner we stopped off at Camille's favorite food store, Trader Joe's to get
their ridiculously amazing kettle corn.  You can't beat this popcorn, trust us
(and it's low calorie)!   

We headed home and fired up the laptop with the special channel we've been creating
and laughed and laughed until we were ready for bed.  
     (we're enjoying our new camera with remote, can you tell?) 
I know what you're thinking, "That sounds like fun, but I'm not sure I have the patience
to spend 7 months building a collection of YouTube clips."  Don't worry friends, we made
 our station public and you are more than welcome to recreate this at home, for free,
and with no effort except maybe obtaining your own treat to eat while watching!  

Warnings in Advance
1. We have a quirky sense of humor, so hopefully you find these funny like we do, but
 it's okay and we're not offended if you don't.  
2. We went PG-13 but there are a few with some swear words.  If you're ultra sensitive
 you may want to skip "Mad TV's Can I Have Your Number," "SNL's Lazy Sunday," and there
is some mature content in "The Bed Intruder Song."   We promise they are funny and pretty
appropriate, but if you can't stand one word don't watch those.  
3. Movie #7 is 1 hour long.  It's a whose line is it anyway and the time flies watching it,
but if you're short on time or attention you may want to save it for last
4. They are all funny, but the first ones added are funniest (to us anyway) and ended up
being last on the list, that just means we saved the best for last!  

Enjoy the fruits of our labor and one funny, free, creative date courtesy of the Whitings!  


Happy DATING friends!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

my trial's harder than your trial

This morning I woke up and didn't feel like running.

At all.

For a few minutes I considered not going.  After all, my throat was hurting, and I'd been running pretty regularly up till now.  What was one day off?

Eventually I talked myself back into going, but five minutes in, I considered stopping and just walking the rest of the way.  Maybe five minutes is enough today, I thought.  I kept going.  But literally every minute I considered stopping to walk.

By the end of my 15 minutes of running, I felt like a champion.  I may have also felt like hyperventilating, but I still felt like a champion.

Then I remembered a blog I read yesterday, where this awesome chica talked about running a half marathon without any training at all.  For her, running 15 minutes after a whole month of training might seem like nothing.  But some of you reading my blog right now might be thinking, I can't even walk 15 minutes let alone run 15 minutes!

As silly as it sounds, remembering that blog and comparing it to my own situation got me thinking.  And by the time I got out of the shower today, I just knew I had to share my thoughts with you.

We are all in different places.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  We all have different trials.  And that's ok.  That's how it's supposed to be.  At the end of our lives, we are all trying to get back to the same place, and our loving Heavenly Father is trying to help us get there through our differing circumstances. Because we might not make it back to him given someone else's circumstances.

Boyd K. Packer said, "Some are tested by poor health, some by a body that is deformed or homely. Others are tested by handsome and healthy bodies; some by the passion of youth; others by the erosions of age.  Some suffer disappointment in marriage, family problems; others live in poverty and obscurity. Some (perhaps this is the hardest test) find ease and luxury.  All are part of the test, and there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect."

One of my old bishops told us that if we treated everyone we met as if they were going through a hard trial, we'd be right a majority of the time.  A majority!

And even though it might seem like Tiffany or Michael or Peggy Sue have perfect lives, with no trials at all, the chances are high that they are struggling with something, too, and we just can't see it.  That means that comparing circumstances isn't going to do any good, because nobody is exempt from having trials.

Plato said:

What might be really hard for me might be a piece of cake to you.  And what seems like the end of the world to you might seem like an opportunity to me.  The good news is that we have these trials for a reason - and a good one at that.  Each of our individual trials is exactly what we need to get back to our very loving Father in Heaven.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Ezra Taft Benson.  He said:

Isn't that beautiful?  But they left out my favorite part.  The last line says, "Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life."

No matter what our trials are, no matter what our circumstances may be - the answer is the same.  We need to turn our lives over to God.  Who better to help us change our weaknesses into strengths?

And just remember to be never know what someone else might be going through.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

easter fun

Right before Easter, Tim and I went to the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant.

As we were walking to our seats, we saw a girl that Tim grew up with.  She was with her husband and her baby.  After the initial pleasantries, the following exchange took place about her baby:

Me: Oh how old is he?
Tim's friend: She is 10 months.
Me: Oh haha sorry, bald babies, you know...

I then looked down to see that "he" was wearing a dress with little purple flowers all over it.

I sure know how to make a good impression on the right people, let me tell you.

In other news, we decorated some eggs for Easter with Tim's sister, Melissa:

Marriage has really helped us to mature, as you can see:

If you look carefully, you will see that one of the eggs says "your mom," thanks to Tim.

And this egg was my pride and joy:

My endless wit astounds even me.

Special Mention: We also spent some time with Tim's sister, Brigette, and her family [even though we weren't invited...Brigette].  Brigette's daughter, Chloee, made the pageant even more exciting with her insightful commentary about chickens, donkeys, and death.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Guys, if you didn't know, last week was the lucky week which housed the anniversary of the day of my birth.

And Tim cooked up a special little day trip to Sedona to celebrate!

It was a pretty great day, let's be honest.

First I woke up to this:

[I think we'll all be happier if you can just ignore my shirt-button-malfunction.]

The balloon is a tribute to the fact that we just might be infatuated with the show Once Upon a Time.  [And because I'm a princess, of course.]

The drive up to Sedona felt like sweet freedom.  As we drove, we talked and giggled and held hands and incessantly remarked on the beautiful scenery.  Once we got there, we talked and giggled and held hands and incessantly remarked on the beautiful scenery.

We went into one-too-many gift shops and particularly enjoyed the ones that sold rocks which professed to change things like "energies" and "auras."

Then we went for a hike which ended up lasting about 20 minutes.  [It was a little too hot for what we were wearing.]

But it was long enough to explore the creek.

[Sidenote: Tim's brother Billy commented on this picture on Facebook, "My name is Timmy.  I like facial hair and long walks by the river."  Still giggling about this.]

Tim was ecstatic about this specialty beef jerky store.  He even got to try some alligator meat.  [I told him I'd pass, thankyouverymuch.]

And we finished out the day by eating at the Javelina Cantina.

I made sure to take as many pictures as possible of the javelina art for my mom.  [She used to think they were so interesting...until they dug up and ate all of her bulbs in our front yard.  Now she hates them.  But I pretend she loves them.  And take pictures of them for her.  I'm such a good daughter.]

It was an amazing birthday.

Certainly the best 23rd birthday I've ever had.  [Or will ever have.]

Moral of the story?  If you haven't had the chance, go to Sedona.  On your birthday, if you wish. [Just make sure to not take my sweet husband with you.  Only I get to do that.]