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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from the MTC!

Beloved Friends and Family,

I hope you are all doing well and I are enjoying your last minute Christmas preparations! In the past week, we've gotten probably a good 8+ inches of snow (check out the weather cam link on the right side of my blog if you want a peek), so it looks like I will FINALLY get to experience a white Christmas! My family tells me it's been snowing like crazy up there too... what are the odds? I hope you all are safe in the snow up in Washington. Maybe you'll get a white Christmas too!

Yesterday was the first chance Hermana Blanco and I had to teach the first lesson in Spanish. Up until now we've been teaching in English, working on teaching techniques, learning the order of the lessons, etc., but since we're just past our halfway point, it's time to begin teaching in Spanish! We were both fairly nervous, but it went well, and the teacher we taught had lots of great feedback for us (we do SO many roleplays around here it's crazy). She was very positive about our spanish and our teaching techniques, even though it was only about half as good as our English lessons usually are. It will take practice and continued hard work, but hey, that's why we're here right? After we finished teaching, we went back to our class (there are 11 missionaries in our district... which is the same as our class) and everyone was discussing their experience. One of the elders said something particularly funny. He said, "The worst is when you ask them to read a scripture, but you don't even understand it [because it's in spanish]. Then you're like... 'So tell me... what does that mean to you?' hoping something they say will remind you what that scripture says..." Maybe you had to be there, but it was quite funny.

In addition, I couldn't possibly forget the birthday of my dear friend Marta whom I've known since I was 5! She turned 22 on the 17th of December. Happy Birthday, and Happy National Syrup Day, my dear!

Usually on P-day we go and do a session at the temple, but it's closed for a couple of weeks for maintenance and cleaning. At first I figured we'd probably just have extra time for writing letters and laundry and what not, and then I was told that nope... WE are going to go and do service at the temple and help them clean! So right after I send this email my district and I will be trudging up through the snow to help clean the inside of the temple! It should be interesting. I'll let you know how that goes.

Also, just an interesting note: Edward Herrman (Lorelai's dad on Gilmore Girls) was on Music and the Spoken Word a couple of weeks ago, as the narrator to one of the songs the choir sang! Crazy huh?

Finally, I am learning so much. I never thought that going on a mission could help me grow so much, but I can feel any walls that I had breaking down, and the truths of the gospel penetrating my heart. The sarcasm and skepticism that is so easy to feel under normal circumstances are slowly but surely being scrubbed away by the amazing spirit I feel everyday and the happiness I have at the opportunity to do so much to bring such wonderful happiness to any who may be looking for it. I am finding myself seeking the spiritual nourishment I have found through the scriptures... I am truly feastin on the word like I never have before. I love it.

Anyway, I hope to hear from all of you soon!

Love,

Hma. Austin Hollenbaugh

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Three Weeks and Counting...

Family and Friends!

I hope all of you are well!!! First off, I want to send out a birthday shout out to one of my best friends Caitlin Carroll! She officially turned 22 on December 5th. Happy Birthday Love! I hope you're doing well and hope to hear from you soon. Things are looking up, here at the MTC. Even though things are just as hard if not harder than they were before, I seem to be getting the hang of things... I must have built up an endurance to the busy days here. I think I'll start with a funny quote. One of my first days in the MTC, a teacher gave us a quote, that said, "People learn best by two means: traumatic experience, and repetition. The MTC provides both." Now, don't get nervous, I wouldn't say by any means that I've had a traumatic experience here, but I could see how it could possibly be traumatic to some people maybe. :)We've had some great opportunities this past week and the week before which I didn't get a chance to write about yet. Every week we have the opportunity to go and work in the Referral Center during one of our class periods. The Referral Center (or RC) is the place that receives the phone calls when an ad about getting a free Book of Mormon or one of our Christmas DVD's comes on TV. The place is operated almost entirely by missionaries, and it's a little nervewracking but such a great learning experience! It gives us all a feel for what it will be like in the field, answering the questions of people who don't yet know about our message, and to send them more information or a visit from the missionaries, etc. I have had several chances to send people Books of Mormon, Missionary Visits, etc. It's so exciting to spread the word to these people, even if all of them aren't as nice as we'd hope :). Sometimes, if all the phones are busy when people call in, they leave their information on a message, and then when we're not answering calls, we call them back. We try to bear our testimonies to them, and let them know how much happiness and joy the message of the restored gospel can bring them, and hopefully they believe us and let us send them more info. Next time you see an ad on TV, or see a card for a free Bible or BofM from us, you know that number leads to the MTC :).

Also, I wanted to let all of you know about a website called DearElder.com. At this site, you can send me an email, which the mail room receives, prints out, and will put in my mailbox. It's like sending speed letters! I really love getting handwritten letters, but if you're one that rarely has time to sit down and write a letter, find a stamp, etc., or you have some exciting news, send it via DearElder! I think all you need is my name (Sister Austin Hollenbaugh) my mission (Texas, Houston) and my reporting date (Nov. 19th). Feel free to contact me through this method and I will do my best to reply!

On a little bit of a different note, I want to mention that it's fun to be sister amongst tons of elders. It makes me feel like I stand out a bit more, and like I'm not just one of a huge mass of missionaries.

One of my teachers is absolutely amazing. His name is Brother Dallon, and he is only like a year off his mission but he's the oldest of five as well, and you can tell. He is very wise :). Anyway, he gave all of us some really great advice the other day. We were talking about mail and getting letters and what not, and a few of the Elders in our district have girlfriends at home. He told us about an experience when he was out on his mission.

I've been growing a ton, but one thing I've really noticed is how pronounced my bad habits and weaknesses are in the mission. They become very obvious. Which is, of course, good and bad. It is frustrating to have these things pop up and interfere with the work I'm trying to do, but at the same time, it gives me the chance to recognize them and pray or search the scriptures to find out what I can do to fix these problems. It is yet another thing that is difficult but worth it. The fixing part is a fight, but once I start to make progress in an area, the feeling of success and joy completely pushes away any frustrations.

Love,Austin

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I made it! My first week at the MTC

Dear Everyone!

It is so great to finally have the chance to email all of you and let you know what I've been up to! It was so strange the first few nights I was here to not be able to call or write anyone and let them know how I was. Luckily, they have mercy on us the first night and let us right a short letter home. Family, did you get it? Hope so.

Note: Caitlin was the winner for first to write me, followed closely by Mckenzie. Grandma, you got third. But I love all the letters anyway!!! You all are the best.

The first day I was here was great! I was so excited to finally get started after months of anticipating what being here might be like. We had innumerable orientations, introductions to teachers, etc. After our initial orientation with our families, we had "in-processing" (I know... like the military, right?). We had to wait in several lines to get our room keys, companion assignments, missionary handbook, schedule, spanish books, etc. Also part of this was a checkpoint where they check your immunization record, and if you're missing any shots, they poke you right then and there! They were going to give me a flu shot, but luckily I had the excuse of having a little bit of a sore throat and stuffy nose, so I managed to get out of it. After allllllllllll of that waiting in line, I finally got to go to my room and meet my companion. Her name is Camille Blanco, and she is from Maryland, in a city which is a suburb of Washington, D.C.. We're both headed to Houston, Spanish-speaking. It's been great to get to know her and talk about Houston and what we think it might be like. Later that night after dinner, we had the opportunity to go and meet our district, with whom we'd be in class for the rest of the 9 weeks we'll be here. They're all great missionaries... very mature and dedicated to the work. We were a little nervous to be in the minority amongst throngs of 19-year-old young men, but with the district we managed to get into, we should be just fine.

In other news, Hermana Blanco and I recently (as in yesterday) got moved up to the intermediate Spanish class. At first we were excited, but when we found out that we would have to switch districts, branches, bedrooms and everything, we weren't so sure about it. We loved our teachers and all of our district members (4 hermanas and 4 elders total). But yesterday (monday), a brother came and got us (and two other elders who were being moved up). He took us to our new class and we got new schedules, new room keys, new books, and new mailboxes.

Here at the MTC, there is never a shortage of things to do. They have you scheduled back to back. I feel like I'm rushing almost all the time (with the exception of the times that I'm sitting in class, of course), but it feels great to be so deeply involved in such a great cause. We received numerous discourses on using our time wisely, as well as the fact that we are now on the Lord's time, and we need to make sure we use it in His way, and thus Hermana Blanco and I have been very careful to make sure we are as obedient as we can be. Let me tell you... it is glorious to wear something that isn't a skirt! It hasn't been horrible wearing a skirt and nylons everyday, but wearing pants is most definitely more comfortable, and more my style.

I apologize for the choppy-ness of my writing. My clock is running out, so I have to go, but I hope you are all doing very, very well. Please feel free to write and I will do my best to reply.Love,Hermana Austin Hollenbaugh

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Farewell Talk

Chances are most of you weren't at church today to hear my farewell talk (although there was a great turn-out!). For those of you who weren't there, here is a copy. It won't be nearly as good without my voice inflections, of course. But this will just have to do.

Given on November 16, 2008

Good afternoon brothers and sisters! I can’t believe this day has come! First of all I’d like to say hello and welcome to all my friends and family that came to support me today! I hope this talk touches all of you in some way or another.

To begin, I would like to relate a story, which will lead into the main topic of my talk. As I have explained before, the road that has led me to this point has not been an easy one. I was in the midst of a year of teaching when I felt the first inklings that Heavenly Father might want to lead me somewhere I hadn’t planned to go. Eventually, these whisperings led to a more obvious discomfort with the plans I had, to remain teaching at the school at which I currently worked. Soon, it became clear that while being a teacher wasn’t a bad idea, Heavenly Father had a better idea for me. Thus, I quit my job, packed up my apartment, and moved home this summer.

Still, I had never had sure plans to serve a mission, so even when the papers were in, a part of me still complained at the thought of leaving my blue jeans, and cell phone alone for eighteen months.

Now, this is where all of you come in.

Throughout my preparations, many of you offered your services to me. Some offered simple gifts of service they probably didn’t even know they were giving, such as a listening ear, or a word of encouragement, and others offered larger services such as monetary help or teaching aids, among many other things. Slowly, because of the services you performed for me, my desire to serve increased. I feel confident in saying that it is partially through the many small acts of kindness you offered to me, that I have been further converted to the gospel, and to serving a mission. It is through this experience that I realize how large a part service can play in conversion. This is the topic that I will be addressing today: service and missionary work.

While considering how I should present my topic so that all of you would best understand it, I thought of several different options. At first, because I am a teacher, I kept thinking that I would need visual aids, and pictures, a chalkboard, etc. But I quickly realized that wasn’t really an option for a sacrament meeting talk. Then, for all you math buffs out there, I thought of a mathematical equation having to do with the commutative property. It went something like, service brings the spirit, the spirit bears testimony, and through testimony people are converted. Thus, service=conversion. Then I realized that if I used that, I would have nothing else to say, and since I’m supposed to speak for longer than a few seconds, I had to trash that idea. Finally, I decided that offering up stories and examples from my life or lives of others would probably be the best way to help you understand what I will be discussing, and keep to the standards of a talk in sacrament meeting.

So, let’s move on to a story.

During my freshman year of college, I was living in the dorms at Brigham Young University. On each floor of the building lived a resident assistant (or R.A.) to help the incoming freshman get acquainted with the way things run at BYU, and help with any roommate problems, etc., that might occur. My roommate and I were already acquainted having been on the same ballroom dance team here in Washington. We were both beyond excited to be there, and we showed it in our actions. We wanted to be friends with everyone. We set to work immediately memorizing everyone’s names, and practiced on a regular basis by calling anyone we saw by their name and saying hi. We were pretty sure some of the girls thought our exuberance to be a little odd, but hey, we were having fun, and what better way to make people feel comfortable than to call them by name. A week or two passed, and our R.A. called us to her room. She asked us if we would like to be the “SWAT” team for our floor. “SWAT” stood for “Service Without A Trace”. Of course we were happy and excited to participate in this secret operation, and readily agreed. We immediately began brainstorming what we could do to make each girl feel welcome and special on our floor, and quickly decided on leaving a note on the door of one girl each week, highlighting her special talents and positive characteristics. Then over the course of the week, we would leave little treats from the vending machine in the lobby, usually attached to a note with some sort of pun, such as “You make us Snicker” attached to a Snickers bar. Throughout the year we wrote the note every Sunday evening, and then, after everyone was asleep, we’d tip-toe down the hall as silently as we could, and tape the note to the girl’s door, hopefully without being seen. That week, if one of us happened to see the girl we were spotlighting sometime during our school day, we would always be sure to let the other roommate know if the girl looked happier, or more confident. This challenge of being the SWAT team was a great source of joy for my roommate and I, and over the course of the year we developed a great love for all the girls on our floor, and recognized the impact we were having on the girls to whom we left notes.

There is a story in Preach My Gospel that does a great job of illustrating how service can lead to a greater ability to reach the heart of anyone who may be investigating the gospel. It’s called Pablo’s Story (page 168 of PMG)….

Because the missionaries in this story were willing to be patient, and continue offering their service to Pablo, they were able to build up a trusting relationship with him. Then because Pablo knew he could trust the missionaries, he knew he could trust the things that they taught him. Through trusting hearts, the gospel can be shared.

Preach my gospel says, “When we are baptized, we covenant to give [loving] service [to others]. We are to become aware of others’ physical and spiritual needs. We then give of our time, talents, and means to help meet those needs. We follow the example of the Savior, who came to serve others. We are to do what Jesus did and become like Him.”
I went through a particularly rough patch at the beginning of this year. I was teaching school, and as much as I loved my fourth graders, dealing with twenty-five 9 and 10 year olds and all their problems everyday is just exhausting. I was also dealing with a few other personal problems. I began feeling trapped, as if there was no way to make things better. So I decided to go to a friend for advice. He reminded me of a story President Hinckley told regarding his youth that I’m sure many of you have heard before: (Way to Be pg. 91). I had heard this story, and when I realized that this was the advice he was giving me, I had to be completely honest, and tell him that that thought just stressed me out further! I don’t know how many of you have felt this before, but I always feel like, “How can I possibly worry about helping out other people, when I can hardly take care of myself!” Then, he gave me some advice that was magic to me: He told me that we are given this piece of advice because it is in the act of focusing outward, that we will find peace. “Forgetting ourselves” as Pres. Hinckley put it is not just another thing we need to add to our to-do list. It is the antidote for our aching souls. It will bring relief to anyone suffering from a troubled heart. Service is the medicine that our Father in Heaven prescribes.

Pres. Hinckley also said it another way: “Do you want to be happy? Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause. Lend your efforts to helping people… Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down. Live the gospel of Jesus Christ”.

Sometimes, however, even if we have gone out of our way to perform many acts of service and kindness, some people may never come around. At a moment such as this, it is important to remember as PMG puts it, that “No Effort is Wasted”. At times it can be easy to think that what you’ve done or the efforts you make don’t result in anything worthwhile. Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father would have us remember that everything that we put in to helping others will not be forgotten. The person who received the service will not soon forget it, and it is a surety that our Heavenly Father will not forget it. Preach My Gospel says, “When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you”.

Now, while keeping all of this in mind, I want to point out one important fact. While all service is worthwhile, I believe that the greatest service missionaries perform for investigators is the act of teaching them the truths of the universe, and bringing all saving ordinances within their reach. It is this flame of hope that missionaries all over the world willingly sacrifice 18 months, 2 years, or sometimes more, to the cause of heaven. I myself have felt this flame, and it is this flame that has allowed me the opportunity to respond to the call that Heavenly Father has extended to me. It is this flame that has led me to stand before you today.

I would like to close with one final story. About forty years ago, in Anchorage, Alaska, two sister missionaries knocked on the door of a small mobile home. A woman with short dark hair answered. A ribbon of steam rose from the woman’s coffee cup, and the sisters could smell cigarette smoke. Still, the sisters introduced themselves, and asked if the woman at the door would be interested in hearing a brief message about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Normally the woman at the door wouldn’t have let strangers in, but because the people on her doorstep were female, and because the woman thought she would enjoy some company, she let the sisters in. The three women got to know each other, and the missionaries shared their message. The sisters were invited back, and the woman in the mobile home found that the messages the two missionaries shared struck her as truth. The woman learned of the restored gospel. She learned of our Savior Jesus Christ. She learned of God’s love for all of his children, and she learned of eternal families. All three women continued to visit, teach, learn, and be edified and uplifted together. Eventually the investigating woman was baptized, and began bringing her two-and-a-half year old daughter to church. The woman’s young daughter grew. She attended primary, young womens, and then began attending relief society. This daughter soon had a daughter of her own. Throughout the years, she did her best through many struggles and hardships to make sure her daughter and other children knew how important it was, and is, to keep themselves clean and to be worthy of the Lord’s spirit. Now, what does this have to do with today you ask? Well, the woman in the mobile home was and is my grandmother, and her daughter is of course, my mother. Because these sisters decided to knock on the door of a young mother, in Anchorage, Alaska my grandmother was able to join the church, her daughter was raised up in the church, and I have the privilege of standing before you today, about to embark on one of the great adventures of my life.

I am so grateful to my mother and grandmother as well as all my other teachers, for teaching me to stay close to the spirit… with allowed me to hear his prompting to leave the things that I love behind for the greater cause of spreading the gospel.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Let the Festivities Begin

Yesterday, my brother Coy flew in from Utah, so he could be here for my farewell. Tomorrow I'm giving my farewell talk at church. We're having an open house tomorrow evening. On Monday, we're all going out to dinner at one of my favorites, Red Robin. My mom and grandma are making Coy and I some of our favorite Thanksgiving food (since we won't be here to celebrate the real Thanksgiving). Then later that night, the stake president and his wife will be here to set me apart, along with my bishop and his wife.

It's actually happening.

One word: Surreal.

I'm trying to put the finishing touches on my farewell talk, but I'm having a hard time! One minute I'm excited about what an awesome adventure this whole thing is going to be, then the next I'm feeling nervous because all attention is going to be on me for the next few days. Then I feel a little twinge of sadness (or at least that maybe I should feel sad) that I'm leaving everything for eighteen months, and then I wonder why I'm feeling sad because I was just fine a couple seconds ago. Ah the plight of a missionary-to-be.

But most of all, I'm excited for all the partying to start, because the sooner it starts, the sooner it'll all be over, and the sooner I can get on that Salt Lake City bound plane at 11:22 Tuesday morning, and begin my eighteen month journey.

Cheers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Celebrating in the Rain!

These are, of course, Caitlin's wedding! KK (furthest to the left) had them on her camera and just uploaded them to facebook. I seriously LOVE them!


I didn't get the memo about not posing in this one :)
Caitlin had the most gorgeous dress, and even went barefoot and splashed around in the puddles some! All of us had an awesome time.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Because who doesn't love to read the box?

While savoring a delectable bowl of Annie's Completely Natural Macaroni and Cheese, I was reading the box, and noticed an ad on the side, endorsing being green. Apparently if you send them a self-addressed stamped envelope, they'll send you a free "Be Green" bumper sticker. Well, I'm all about free stuff.

So I did it!

Send your own self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

BE GREEN
564 Gateway Drive
Napa, CA 94558

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting the Jitters

One week from this moment, I will be in Utah, less than 24 hours away from entering the MTC.
I'm officially getting a little nervous.

I didn't think I would, but there is still so much left to do! I'm getting sort of panicky just thinking about it all. My farewell and open house are this Sunday, then I fly out on the 18th. AH!

Oh, and here's me looking very missionary-esque. This is the photo that will be on my plaque, along with 2 Nephi 31:20.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Poems from an Ashram in India

I promised more quotes from one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love.

In the book, the author spends four months in India at an ashram doing yoga and eating vegetarian food and meditating on a previous divorce, and another failed relationship, etc. There are two poems. The first was written after being at the ashram for only a month, the second after almost 4 months.

First

All this talk of nectar and bliss is starting to piss me off.
I don't know about you, my friend,
but my path to God ain't no sweet waft of incense.
It's a cat set loose in a pigeon pen,
and I'm the cat-but also them who yell like hell when they get pinned.

My path to God is a worker's uprising,
won't be peace till they unionize.
Their picket is so fearsome
the National Guard won't go near them.

My path was beaten unconscious before me,
by a small brown man I never got to see,
who chased God through India, shin-deep in mud,
barefoot and famined, malarial blood,
sleeping in doorways, under bridges-a hobo.
(Which is short for "homeward bound," you know)
And he now chases me, saying: "Got it yet, Liz?
What HOMEWARD means? What BOUND really is?"

Second

However.
If they'd let me wear pants made out of the
fresh-mown grass from this place,
I'd do it.

If they'd let me make out
with every single Eucalyptus tree in Ganesh's Grove,
I swear, I'd do it.

I've sweated out dew these days,
worked out the dregs,
rubbed my chin on tree bark,
mistaking it for my master's leg.

I can't get far enough in.

If they'd let me eat the soil of this place
served on a bed of birds' nests,
I'd finish only half my plate,
Then sleep all night on the rest.

I love love LOVE the second poem. Someday I'm going to escape to a place much less civilized for awhile so I can revel in nature.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fraud

My sister Emily has this uncanny ability to remember the birthday of any person she meets. Sometimes we tease her about it, other times it comes in very handy! The other day I needed my grandma's birthday and so I went and checked her calendar. September 4th. Because Emily has always been very, very right in the birthday arena, that is the birthday I used. Later, I came across a book which noted that same grandma's birthday as being on September 12th. This book should have had more credibility than my 17-year-old sister, but still I questioned it based on Emily's history of flawlessly remembering birthdays. BUT... after checking yet another more reliable source, this grandma's birthday was indeed September 12th.

Me: "Emily! You wrote Grandma Hollenbaugh's birthday down wrong! It's really September 12th!"
Emily: "... What??? OOOOOOOOH NO! I'm a FRAUD!!!"

We (me and all my siblings, which had spontaneously appeared at the mention of Emily's birthday error) looked at each other for a moment, before erupting into rioutous laughter.

She really has a great talent for using just the right saying at just the right moment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sleep Talking

My sister Katie and I have been sharing her double bed since I've been home. On school nights she's always in bed before me because she has to wake up for seminary. Usually when I get in bed she moves around a little bit, or I might have to move her arms or legs back over to her side of the bed, but she doesn't say anything.

On the contrary, this is what happened last night.

11pm-I crawl into bed for the night

Katie: (sits up and looks around the room, and says, in a sleepy voice) "What are we supposed to be doing?"
Me: Uh... sleeping...
Katie: Huh?
Me: Just sleeping.

Then she layed back down and went to sleep again.

Weirdo.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Photo Practice

Can I just say I LOVE photography?

A family friend has been teaching me a little bit about taking pictures over the past week, and I'm so thrilled, because I've been wanting to learn more about photography for years! She runs a photography studio out of her home, used to be in our ward (before we moved), and is just about the nicest person you could meet. I've been babysitting her darling 19-month-old daughter Jade (see bottom picture) on occasion for the past few weeks, and I asked if she would mind if I watched her edit her pictures for a bit so I could glean a little bit of knowledge from all her know-how... and she didn't. SO I got to watch her edit some pictures and see how some of the tools worked on her computer programs... etc. It's been great! Below are some of my beginner attempts. Let me know what you think :).




Voting Day!!!

Well friends, I am off to vote. I'm excited to get my "I Voted" sticker!

And finally, after much thought and consideration,

this blog will endorse:

Senator Barack Obama

FOR PRESIDENT!

May the best candidate win... in all areas of our government!

Great Wolf Lodge

A couple weekends ago my dad took my sisters and I to the new Great Wolf Lodge which was just built in our area. Dad's girlfriend works for a local news station, and got us free passes to stay for a night. It was amazing how much there was to do! The place was definitely built with kids in mind.

We got there at about 3pm. The first thing I noticed is that it's HUGE inside. I knew that there was supposedly a waterpark in there somewhere, but I couldn't even see anything might lead to a waterpark from the front lobby. After checking in, we made our way up to our room. Half the people we walked past were in their swimsuits. We were all kind of hungry, but it was too early to eat, so we went to the waterpark instead. They have a wave pool, a kiddie pool, several waterslides, water basketball, and numerous other water games. The slides start inside, then the tubes travel around outside the building before dumping you out in a pool which is back inside the building. One of our favorites was the Howling Tornado (pictured below). It starts like a normal slide (with the exception of being on a four person tube--you have to have at least two people per ride), then you go down a steep drop and slosh around in that big cone shaped thing before sliding through the rest of the tube and into a pool which is again back inside the building. It was even better in the dark! The tube was pitch black until you get to the cone and there are neon flashing lights inside it!



When we went to hit the waterpark later that night to go on the Howling Tornado in the dark, we noticed that in the lobby they were having a dance. There was a DJ, flashing lights, and loud music, and the room was filled with about one hundred pajama-wearing children, who were dancing like there was no tomorrow. We stood on the balcony and admired their dance moves for a good ten minutes... because where else are you going to see something like that? I'm only sorry I didn't get any pictures.

In addition to all that, they have the most fabulous buffet/cafeteria with just about any kind of delicious food you can think of, unlimited! We were all wishing our stomachs were bigger. As it was I had two plates of dinner and a couple plates of dessert, but I definitely would've had more if I could've fit it :).

They also had this cool scavenger hunt sort of game, called MagiQuest. You purchase a wand and activate it, then you run around the whole first five floors of the lodge waving your wand at various objects to see if they will give you the next clue to what you need to find (well, it's a little more organized than that...)


And if that's not enough, they also have a huge arcade, a spa (one for kids and one for adults), a teen room with the video game Rockband and other video games, plus storytime, tons of places to eat, a starbucks downstairs, a big gift shop, etc. etc. etc. We were there a week or two before Halloween, and so they even had a Dr. Seuss themed trick-or-treating/scavenger hunt activity going on. Seriously, you could bring kids of any age to this place, and they'd be entertained for days. They probably wouldn't even remember you were there (except when they needed money for the arcade, or food :)) It was crazy. I would definitely go again. In our short 16 hours there, we simply did not have enough time to experience everything they had to offer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Younger Generation

You know it's election year when the 10 year olds at soccer practice are discussing, "Obama or McCain?"

They also took a vote, and FYI: Obama is winning by a landslide amongst the youngsters.

Back in my day, we played house. And MASH. And "Miss Mary Mack".

Goodness gracious.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Piano, on a dock, at dusk.

I love this song, but when I saw the video, the opening scene is really what struck me the most! I'll take a boy playing piano on a dock at the lake any day!

Crush by David Archuleta

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Love of My Life

This:
is my dog, Malcolm.
He's eight years old. Fifty-six in dog years. He ages well.

He likes to wear his bow.
He has a ticklish spot.

He actually smells good (most of the time)!

He used to walk on the back of the couch like a cat.
Sometimes he has asthma attacks.

He is very photogenic. Obviously.
He howls when he hears a siren.

He always leaves his back end out when he sleeps under the bed.

Malcolm loves:

Celebrating his birthday
Being wrapped in a blanket and held like a baby
or just being wrapped in a blanket, period.
When we leave our laundry piles out so he can sleep on them.

Getting his head, back, or tummy scratched, rubbed, or petted.

(He refuses to keep his legs closed when he lays on his back.)

And of course, snuggling.

He also loves:

Playing soccer
Chewing soccer balls
Cleaning up the floor after dinner
Barking at the neighbor's cat at all hours of the day or night
Barking at the squirrel that likes to hang out on our fence
Barking for no reason at all
Grapes (and any other fruit)
Playing ball until he can hardly breathe
Going for walks
Riding in the car with his head out the window

Malcolm hates:
Being left home alone
Fleas
Physical violence (such as hugging, piggy back rides, etc.)
Loud noises
Wearing his cone
Swimming. Because his legs are too short. He tends to flip over.
What would we do without our little Malcolm.

Saturday Soccer

Went to my little sister's soccer game on Saturday, and took a few pictures. They won, 4 to 3!





So i totally cut their heads off. And the lighting sucks. But if it weren't for those two things it'd be reasonable, yes?

I like this because the uniforms are in focus, then Mckenzie is blurry in the background. It was actually an accident, but artsy, right?

I've been thinking about learning more about photography for a long time, I just never actually do it. I have an eye for artsy prints that other people have taken, I just can't seem to produce them myself! Does anyone know of any good beginner's photography sites or info that might be helpful?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Here it is... the official footage of the opening of my mission call. Caitlin was on my cell phone (you can't really hear her), my grandma and step-grandpa were on our home phone, and Katie was videotaping. You may notice some slight (or not so slight) disappointment. Don't be alarmed. The contents were just slightly different from what I was expecting.

Lesson: Don't expect anything (good or bad) when opening your mission call. It's all about serving the Lord wherever he deems is necessary, or best, for you.

Also, after some research, thought, and prayer on the matter, I'm glad to say that I feel without a doubt, that this place (I'll let you find out in the video... if you don't already know) is where the Lord wants me to be for the upcoming 18 months. I'm beyond excited. I know there will be hard times, but the hard times are always worth it for better times in the future. I feel like I have SO much to look forward to... not only during my mission, but after as well! Life feels great, and I feel like I'm finally headed in the direction that is meant for me.

Enjoy.

video

Meet Virginia

Just recently rediscovered this song. The woman in it is so perfectly imperfect. I love it.

She doesn't own a dress
Her hair is always a mess,
You catch her stealin' she won't confess
She's Beautiful.

Smokes a pack a day, oh wait,
That's me, but anyway
She doesn't care a thing
About that, hey,
She thinks I'm beautiful
Meet Virginia

She never comprimises,
Loves babies and surprises,
wears high heels when
she exercises
Ain't it beautiful
Meet Virginia

Well she wants to be the Queen
Then she thinks about her scene
Pulls her hair back as she screams
"I don't really wanna be the Queen"

Daddy wrestles alligators
Mama works on carborators
Her brother is a fine mediator
For the president
And here she is again on the phone
just like me hates to be alone
we just like to sit home
and rip on the President
Meet Virginia, alright

Well she wants to live her life
Then she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back, as she screams
"I don't really wanna live this life"

She only drinks coffee at midnight
When the moment is not right
Her timing is quite, unusual
You see her confidence is tragic,
but her intuitions magic,
and the shape of her body, Unusual
Meet Virginia

I can't wait to
Meet Virginia, yeah e yeah hey hey hey
Well she wants to be the queen
and then she thinks about her scene
Well she wants to live her lifethen she thinks about her life
Pulls her hair back as she screams
"I don't really wanna be the queen
I, I don't really wanna be the queen
I, I don't really wanna be the queen
I, I don't really wanna live this"

Meet Virginia by Train

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Find Your Spot

Since I'll be getting back from my mission in May (after application deadlines to apply for colleges) I'll have quite the block of time until I'll be able to apply and attend any one of the schools I mentioned in my previous post. Thus, I'm considering the idea of moving to a central point in the area of all the schools I mentioned. I was thinking Hartford or New Haven, Connecticut (and no, not just because I'm obsessed with Gilmore Girls). It's actually pretty central to five out of the ten schools. I was trying to think of a way to get insider information on some cities, and I remembered a quiz I've taken before at a site called FindYourSpot.com. It asks you various questions about the characteristics of your ideal city or town, and then pinpoints about 25 of the top places you should live according to your answers. On your results list, each town or city name is a link, which leads you to tons of very specific information about the city's culture, weather patterns, cost of living, etc. So I took the quiz again. Here is a list of my results:
  1. Portland, Oregon
  2. Little Rock, Arkansas
  3. Brattleboro, Vermont
  4. Eugene, Oregon
  5. Baltimore, Maryland
  6. Fayetteville, Arkansas
  7. Alexandria, Louisiana
  8. Corvallis, Oregon
  9. Charleston, West Virginia
  10. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  11. Frederick, Maryland
  12. Providence, Rhode Island
  13. Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
  14. Hartford, Connecticut
  15. Seattle, Washington
  16. Knoxville, Tennessee
  17. Salem, Oregon
  18. Charleston, South Carolina
  19. Norfolk, Virginia
  20. New Haven, Connecticut
  21. Jacksonville, Florida
  22. Boston, Massachusetts
  23. Greenville, South Carolina
  24. Chattanooga, Tennessee
I'm not sure if these come out in order of most-fitting to least-fitting, but I thought it was an interesting conglomeration. I also thought it was interesting that my hometown, and a few towns in Oregon came up. I guess I got lucky and was just born in the right place. Unfortunately you have to sign in to review your results (so I can't show you the fancy version they gave me) but you should take the quiz yourself! It's actually pretty fun to see where the site thinks you should end up, and it has tons of great info.

Based on this list, expect to be writing me letters in Rhode Island, because Providence sounds like the best thing since indoor plumbing! New Haven and Hartford were a couple of my favorites as well.

Post Mission Plans

I've been throwing around ideas for my after-mission plans, and I've considered several different options. I initially had the idea to go to grad school, but after a little more thought, I've settled on the idea of going to one of the awesome liberal arts schools in the New England (and surrounding) area and get a second bachelor's degree instead. I love the idea of spending some time in a smaller, more intellectual and open-minded environment to study something I'm more passionate about than my previous degree. Not many schools allow students to get second bachelor's degrees, but after some extensive research (thanks to Princeton Review's Best 368 Schools, and US News and World Reports National College Rankings) and numerous pro-con lists, I've narrowed it down to a loose ten schools:

If you've heard anything or know anything about any of these schools, I'd love your feedback. As of this moment, my favorites are Wellesley, Bennington, Mt. Holyoke, and Warren Wilson. Colby, College of the Atlantic, and Bates are close to falling off the bottom of the list (based on what I've read and what I'm looking for), but in the spirit of keeping my options open, I've decided not to cross them off just yet.

I even made a map using GoogleMaps, to mark each of these schools so I could get an overhead view of the locations of these schools! Click here to see it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spending Some Time in Seattle

I mentioned at the bottom of one of my posts that I needed to blog about spending a couple of nights with my dad in Seattle... partly because I want to keep a record of these experiences, and partly because I want to practice my sequential writing. So, here it is. Another attempt to capture a couple of days of my life in writing (if anyone has any tips to make these posts a little more interesting... besides doing something more interesting... please share! These posts always make me feel like a lame writer).

Just before the kids went back to school (I think it was the weekend before labor day weekend), my dad called our house (this happens rarely. in fact Katie and I were surprised when he actually remembered our birthday's this year and called us on them :)). He is currently dating a girl who works for a major news station in Seattle, and thus they often get free tickets or coupons for new events taking place in the area. He had a couple of options, but after taking schedules, etc. into account, we decided that going to a showing of Shrek the Musical at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle would be our best option. The musical was written for Broadway, but ran a test run here in Seattle to see how it would go over. It was exciting to be able to witness the beginning!

I have to be honest. I was a little skeptical. I mean seriously... who watches Shrek, and immediately thinks "I'm going to make this into a musical!" It really doesn't seem to lend itself well to that sort of atmosphere. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. The costumes, sets, and music were very engaging and interesting, and the acting itself was also excellent. They were selling Shrek ears in the lobby (think bunny ears, but smaller and greener), and although we didn't buy any, it was quite entertaining watching the people who did choose to christen themselves with said ears.

The show took place on a Friday, and we arrived at dad's on Thursday afternoon (he's living about 10 minutes out of downtown Seattle currently). When I woke up Friday morning I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and Katie went downstairs. Dad promptly told Katie that he had some bad news (a comment that of course, I heard. I think ears are especially attuned to the words "bad news"). He said that work had called and he had to go in... thus he would not be able to make it to the play, and our time spent with dad on this visit was over. He said he would do what he could, but he might have to go in anyway, so we decided we'd take the bus into downtown and spend the day at the Pike Place Market (I've been several times, but it never loses it's charm) and all of the wonderfully artsy shops and bookstores that dot downtown.

We had to take the bus because my dad needed his car, so we looked up the bus schedules online and found out that there was a bus stop about 2 blocks from where we were. It was great! I found myself wishing I could live that close to all the bustle and wonder of Seattle all the time. Anyway, the four of us (Me, Emily, Katie, Kenzie) caught the bus and enjoyed the twenty minute ride to downtown (which is another thing you can do to go green). When we got there we took a stroll through the market admiring the beautiful flower arrangements and handmade jewelry and clothing, and enjoying the endless food samples! It was super busy when we first arrived, and we had to make a little train to make sure we didn't lose anyone (we didn't). Soon we decided we were hungry and we found a man who was selling roasted corn with all sorts of different seasonings. We helped ourselves, and then took a seat at one of the open benches near his stand (he just so happened to be parked at the end of the market, in a little park that has an amazing view of Elliot Bay, and the ferries and cruise ships that come in and out through that area). While we were eating we saw a man ride by with a basket on his bike. In his basket was a miniature dachshund who just happened to be wearing a top hat and cape, and who was standing with his feet on the front of the basket as if to be saying, "ONWARD!" We enjoyed the park so much that we stayed for awhile even after we were finished eating. Turns out Emily is crazy scared of pigeons. There are tons of pigeons in that area (think people, food, free bird snacks), and anytime one would start inching in our direction, or even walk past, Emily would scream and cry! It was worse if one happened to swoop in our direction at all. We knew she was afraid of birds, but we had no idea she was that afraid. For this reason, we left sooner than we really wanted to.

It was about this time when dad texted us and told us that he had managed to get out of having to go to work, and so we decided to head home and meet up with him (he did get to go to the play with us after all :))

Though the play was fun, Seattle was probably the most enjoyable thing (for me) that we did on this trip. Seriously, the more time I spend in Seattle, the more I love it. If you ever have the chance to go, do it.

Clarification

After posting the previous post regarding a forward that I received in my email a little while back, I received a couple of comments that clear things up considerably:

From a good friend named Gordon:

"In short, False.

You might check out these links:
http://www.factcheck.org/specialreports/that_chain_e-mail_your_friend_sent_to.html
and especially http://snopes.com/politics/obama/money.asp. These are both from non-partisan websites, which I think can probably be trusted."

From a very politically aware best friend Caitlin:

"Agreed with Gordon. Absolute rubbish :) Obama is not a Muslim, nor is he a terrorist or associated with them. And that money for his house came from the fact he had two best-selling books out at the time, I'm sure."

Both of these people have proven to be trustworthy (previous to this), and they offer great logic (which has always been my strongpoint). Thus, I trust them. And their information.

*Note: This blog does not endorse either presidential candidate as of yet. This author is still in the investigation stage of coming to a decision. Stay tuned for my formal decision. ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True or False?

I am slightly ashamed to say that I haven't been keeping up particularly well with the election this year. It's been so back and forth with everyone... I've kind of decided to step out of it and wait until I can get a clearer view on getting info that is as non-biased as I can find.

However I got this forward in my email a few days ago, and I'm not sure whether to believe it or not.

"Subject: Where is the money coming from?

This election has me very worried. So many things to consider. About a year ago I would have voted for Obama. I have changed my mind three times since than. I watch all the news channels, jumping from one to another. I must say this drives my husband crazy. But, I feel if you view MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, you might get some middle ground to work with. About six months ago, I started thinking 'where did the money come from for Obama'. I have four daughters who went to College, and we were middle class, and money was tight. We (including my girls) worked hard and there were lots of student loans.

I started looking into Obama's life.

Around 1979 Obama started college at Occidental in California He is very open about his two years at Occidental, he tried all kinds of drugs and was wasting his time but, even though he had a brilliant mind, did not apply himself to his studies. 'Barry' (that was the name he used all his life) during this time had two roommates, Muhammad Hasan Chandoo and Wahid Hamid, both from Pakistan . During the summer of 1981, after his second year in college, he made a 'round the world' trip. Stopping to see his mother in Indonesia , next Hyderabad in India , three weeks in Karachi , Pakistan where he stayed with his roommate's family, then off to Africa to visit his father's family. My question - Where did he get the money for this trip? Nether I, nor any one of my children would have had money for a trip like this when they where in college. When he came back he started school at Columbia University in New York . It is at this time he wants everyone to call him Barack - not Barry. Do you know what the tuition is at Columbia ? It's not cheap! to say the least. Where did he get money for tuition? Student Loans? Maybe. After Columbia , he went to Chicago to work as a Community Organizer for $12,000. a year. Why Chicago ? Why not New York ? He was already living in New York .

By 'chance' he met Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, born in Aleppo Syria , and a real estate developer in Chicago . Rezko has been convicted of fraud and bribery this year. Rezko, was named 'Entrepreneur of the Decade' by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association'. About two years later, Obama entered Harvard Law School . Do you have any idea what tuition is for Harvard Law School ? Where did he get the money for Law School ? More student loans? After Law school, he went back to Chicago . Rezko offered him a job, which he turned down. But, he did take a job with Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Guess what? They represented 'Rezar' which is Rezko's firm. Rezko was one of Obama's first major financial contributors when he ran for office in Chicago . In 2003, Rezko threw an early fundraiser for Obama which Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendelland claims was instrumental in providing Obama with 'seed money' for his U.S. Senate race. In 2005, Obama purchased a new home in the Kenwoood District of Chicago for $1.65 million (less than asking price). With ALL those Student Loans - Where did he get the money for the property? On the same day Rezko's wife, Rita, purchased the adjoining empty lot for full price. The London Times reported that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born Billionaire loaned Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before Obama's new home was purchased. Obama met Nadhmi Auchi many times with Rezko.

Now, we have Obama running for President. Valerie Jarrett, was Michele Obama's boss. She is now Obama's chief advisor and he does not make any major decisions without talking to her first. Where was Jarrett born? Ready for this? Shiraz , Iran ! Do we see a pattern here? Or am I going crazy?

On May 10, 2008 The Times reported, Robert Malley advisor to Obama was 'sacked' after the press found out he was having regular contacts with 'Hamas', which controls Gaza and is connected with Iran . This past week, buried in the back part of the papers, Iraqi newspapers reported that during Obama's visit to Iraq , he asked their leaders to do nothing about the war until after he is elected, and he will 'Take care of things'.

Oh, and by the way, remember the college roommates that were born in Pakistan ? They are in charge of all those 'small' Internet campaign contributions for Obama. Where is that money coming from? The poor and middle class in this country? Or could it be from the Middle East ?

And the final bit of news. On September 7, 2008, The Washington Times posted a verbal slip that was made on 'This Week' with George Stephanapoulos. Obama on talking about his religion said, 'My Muslim faith'. When questioned, 'he make a mistake'. Some mistake!

All of the above information I got on line. If you would like to check it - Wikipedia, encyclopedia, Barack Obama; Tony Rezko; Valerie Jarrett: Daily Times - Obama visited Pakistan in 1981; The Washington Times - September 7, 2008; The Times May 10, 2008.

Now the BIG question - If I found out all this information on my own, Why haven't all of our 'intelligent' members of the press been reporting this?

A phrase that keeps ringing in my ear - 'Beware of the enemy from within'!!!"


I had been leaning in Obama's general direction, and I think it's ridiculous to get so caught up in the fact that he isn't white, but this message is making me think twice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Going Green: Saving the Planet and Saving Ourselves

In the June/July issue of Travelgirl magazine there are some great tips for going green one step at a time. Most of the five steps below are quoted directly from the magazine.

1. Research green hotels and resorts. The Green Hotels Association is a good place to start. The International Ecotourism Society and Sustainable Travel International also have lists of eco-friendly accommodations. No matter where you're staying, ask questions. For example, find out if you can opt-out of having towels and sheets changed daily. If the hotel doesn't provide and eco-friendly card to leave on your bed regarding when to change the sheets and towels, download a travelgirl eco-card. Just print it out and carry it in your suitcase. Then put it on your hotel bed to alert the staff that you will reuse your sheets during your stay.

2. Offset your impact. Plenty of programs allow you to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of your frequent flier miles and other travel-related actions. Make a donation for carbon-reducing projects, such as planting trees or installing solar panels. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation website is a great resource for offsetting, and green travel in general. Another option is http://www.carbonfund.org/.

3. Reduce unnecessary business trips. Teleconferencing is always a great option. IT saves money and often turns out to be a more effective use of time.

4. Investigate the natural world. Choose sailing, instead of cruises. Go snorkeling, instead of jet skiing. Thinking about your impact not only helps save the planet, but also can save you money.

5. Drop in on Green Drinks. Check the Green Drinks website and find out when the next meeting is where you live, or in the places you're visiting. Then, whenever possible, drop in for a cocktail. It's a great way to socialize and connect with like-minded people.

Also, if you own your own home, check out the Pegasus Cottage Chair-Height All-In-One Elongated Toilet. "Each 1.28 gallon water-efficient flush uses 63% less water then a 3.5 GPF toilet!" Cut your water bill and save the environment! And apparently some counties offer rebates for families who install these commodes :) Go to www.homedepot.com/ecooptions.com for more information.

Need a new waterbottle? The CamelBak Tritan Better Bottle with Classic Cap is only $9, dishwasher safe, no after-taste, and BPA free! It is very highly recommended by all users at REI.com. Use a reusable waterbottle instead of buying 24 packs and keep all that plastic from ending up in our landfills!

My friend Caitlin is an eco-pro! For more ideas check out this post.

I've been working on going green myself and have made some very worthwhile changes! I've been a vegetarian now for almost two months and I feel great! I've lost a few pounds and I have way more energy. According to Cait, going vegetarian or vegan is one of the best things you can do to help save the environment (and rid your body of yucky waste!). If you're not up to going completely vegetarian yet, just cut back on your meat consumption, and inform yourself! The Word of Wisdom Food Plan by Kenneth E. Johnson has tons of GREAT info (I got it at a used bookstore for cheap, or you can find it at amazon.com), or you can check out this website with 20 FAQ's about vegetarianism, or this article about vegetarianism and it's effect on the planet and our bodies.

I also consciously try to use fewer paper products and try not to waste water by running it while I'm brushing my teeth or continuously while I'm doing the dishes. I have found that not only is going green better for the environment, it also saves money, and is better for you and your body! I bought the book, The Naturally Clean Home, and it has TONS of useful tips for cutting back on the chemicals and toxins in your air and those that are created by what you use to clean your home. I have tried some of the recipes in it and I LOVE it (we made some together as a family home evening activity and my family thought it was great!).

In short, remember that everything we do has an impact on our physical bodies, and on the earth and the rest of the people inhabiting it. It's the least we can do to be mindful of our activities and what we're doing to make a difference!

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Finally!

Somebody who doesn't hate on our beliefs!

This article discusses baptism for the dead, and reasons why it might NOT be such a bad idea! Check it out!

For more information on baptism for the dead, visit lds.org, or click here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Best Friend's Wedding

Last weekend I flew down to Utah for Caitlin's wedding. Me and Kaitlyn Pruitt (KK) arrived at the airport about the same time Friday afternoon, Caitlin picked us up, and we went to Whole Foods to eat. We got a fabulous vegetarian salad, organic pizza with spinach and tomatoes, and an interesting sort of juice... which upon further examination had tons of health benefits, but also had a tendency to ferment (we referred to this drink as the "wine" the rest of the time :)). After we ate we decided to go shopping! We ended up at The Gateway (which is a beautiful outdoor mall in Salt Lake) and hit Anthropologie (which all three of us loved to death... KK suggested we just move in), Victoria's Secret to outfit Cait with a few extra goodies, and we did a little window shopping. The weather was great, the sun was out, we had an awesome time.

The three of us were staying together in an awesome hotel/timeshare up at snowbird that Cait's parents own for the night before the wedding, and so we decided to go and touch base about when we'd be heading up, etc. We met them at Caitlin's aunt's house in Salt Lake, and I FINALLY met Cait's family, whom I've been hearing about forever, but I've never actually met, and we headed up to the resort.

It was absolutely beautiful, with mountain views, a spa, an outdoor pool and hot tub, not to mention our room which had a king sized bed, a fold out sofa, laundry, and big bathroom and extra vanity. We stayed in the same room Cait and Tim had plans to stay in the night after their wedding, so we got to reap the benefits of their celebration and christen the room before they had a chance to enjoy it. We had an awesome time, all three of us in the king bed, goofing off, making jokes, and giving last minute advice. In the morning we all woke up around 7:30am and hit the outdoor hot tub. We had just barely gotten in when we noticed big ugly storm clouds closing in on us, so we took a few pictures, lingered for a bit, and then we started hearing thunder and seeing lightning we decided that electrocution on the wedding day probably wasn't the best idea and we excused ourselves and went inside.

Getting ready for the wedding was a huge blur. Cait is hilariously low maintenance and so we were rushing around trying to make sure she didn't forget to do anything important... because honestly, she could've cared less! We convinced her to at least get her hair straightened at the local supercuts, and KK helped her with her makeup while I took the chipped red toenail polish off her toes. She took off for the temple with her parents while KK and I finished getting ready, only to call us and ask us to bring her her toothbrush and toothpaste (only Caitlin would forget to brush her teeth on her wedding day :)).

Anyway after a little waiting on the part of the bridesmaids and some swapping bridesmaid dresses, Cait and Tim came out the temple doors just as it started to downpour. We all huddled in the crevices of the temple, and waited for cloud breaks to take pictures... it was actually fun. I enjoyed mingling with all the family and friends during picture time, and Caitlin was just glowing. The reception was great too... at a park in Sugarhouse (just south of Salt Lake). The turn out was good but thankfully small, and the food was unlimited ice cream sundaes! I made sure I had two... with extra hot fudge. Cait's sister Lauren played the guitar while the bridesmaids sang "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson for the couples first dance, and when we ran out of people to talk to, we had a little bridesmaid game of four square and volleyball.

I loved it, Cait and Tim loved it. We all had an awesome time!

*note: while we were in Anthropologie I found bottles of lotion with whimsical sort of quotes on the backs of the bottles. Here's one that I particularly liked:

"Every morning she rose with the sun--a ritual punctually followed by peach-blossom tea and grapefruit. For refreshment she walked through the woods. There was life to be lived."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

I just recently read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and it is officially one of the most difficult-to-put-down books I have ever read. I just finished it today, and after reading the last page I had no qualms whatsoever about flipping back to the first page and beginning again. I folded down the corners of so many pages and underlined so many sections... because they applied very accurately to my life presently. All I could think about was sharing the wonder with all of you! Here is one that I'm really enjoying today.

"I walked home to my apartment and soft-boiled a pair of fresh brown eggs for my lunch. I peeled the eggs and arranged them on a plate beside the seven stalks of asparagus... I put some olives on the plate, too, and the four knobs of goat cheese I'd picked up yesterday from the formaggeria down the street, and two slices of pink, oily salmon. For dessert--a lovely peach, which the woman at the market had given to me for free and which was still warm from the Roman sunlight. For the longest time I couldn't even touch this food because it was such a masterpiece of lunch, a true expression of the art of making something out of nothing. Finally, when I had fully absorbed the prettiness of my meal, I went and sat in a patch of sunbeam on my clean wooden floor and ate every bite of it, with my fingers, while reading my daily newspaper article in Italian. Happiness inhabited my every molecule."

Doesn't that sound absolutely exquisite? At this very moment, I tend toward feelings of guilt when I have little moments like that. BUT... I am trying with all my might to smother them! There is no need to feel guilty taking pleasure in simple things. Especially when I LOVE them so much. I would be happy to just have a simple life... I wouldn't need to be famous, or rich, or beautiful if I could just have a life filled with moments such as that.

by the way: this is a book you will need to purchase. i considered checking it out from the library, but I'm so glad I bought it... otherwise marking and dog-earing the pages would yield obviously negative consequences :)

ps. i've been quite busy lately and have participated in several blogworthy events which I have not yet blogged about! I'm going to make a note here so I don't forget to record them. So... these events are: Two nights at dad's (Pike Place and Shrek the Musical), the Puyallup Fair, Cait's wedding (lotion bottle quote).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shout Out

Since moving back home beginning of July in preparation for my mission, I've been thinking about my years as a college student, and how they're over, and how I'm sad about it. As stressful and crazy and unhealthy as those years were, I can't forget about the relationships I had with the girls who were there living through all of it with me. Living at home is great, but there's no way I could ever forget all the drama and boyfriends and all-nighters and weird food and wearing only underwear around the apartment and screaming because someone just got engaged or kissed that boy she'd been dreaming about for months. I can't forget about going on runs with Katie while belting Kelly Clarksen at the top of our lungs. There were the times we took showers all together in our swimsuits like 5 year olds, and laughed until our stomach's hurt and ate cookie dough or ice cream or cake until our stomach's rebelled. We built forts, snuggled two to a twin bed because someone had a bad dream or a bad day, had late night talks laying in blankets on the floor in the hallway, numerous movie marathons, did ballet in the living room at midnight, and shared everything from drinks to dinner to makeup to clothes to maybe somethings that shouldn't be shared. It was a time of just plain being 18 or 19 or 20, and loving everything about life.
So shout out to all 26 of my roommates (once a roommate, always a roommate) for putting up with me, and helping me make loads of unforgettable memories.
Heather and Austin


When you don't have time to actually do the dishes...

Never too old for dress up

The famous quote wall (and -er list, to the right)

"Random" date night

nothing's better than a cake fight

Caitlin and me

5 girls, 5 spoons, 1/2 gallon cookie dough ice cream...


...gone in less than 10 minutes :)

Don't try to do recipes from memory... unless you want to eat your weight in cookie dough


Dog pile on the closest bed you can find! which happens to be none of ours... love you Rachel!

Glamour shots in the early a.m.



Best fort ever! (sorry to those who had places to be in the morning and couldn't get out...)

fighting over the car bed

Why we're all standing on the same chair together? Couldn't tell you.

Al (right), one of my only roommates who understood the plight of a teacher

Lauri, Anna and I out supporting our ballerinas :)

Those who weren't exactly roommates but we were in and out of each other's rooms so much it should have counted:

Becca and Andrea
Those I had so many classes with they became like sisters:

Ashley, Sheri, Natalia

Group Eureka (minus our Natalia of course)


We're all growing up and moving on to do all sorts of good in the world (my girls wouldn't ever do any less), but I want you to know that I'll never forget you, my lovely ladies <3

[cue cheesy reminiscent music]

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Small towns

I've been watching so much Gilmore Girls lately, I can't help but think about how much I would like to try living in a small town. I grew up on Anderson Island (which definitely fits in the small town category... if there was a teeny tiny town category, it'd fit there), and loved it as a kid, so I'd hope that I'd still love it as an adult (of course minus the whole "you can only get off the island when the ferry's running" deal).

I've thought about doing an internet search for small towns, but had ignored the idea since obviously deciding where I'm going to live for the rest of my life isn't exactly in the near future for me. But oddly enough, when I logged onto my Yahoo account, this article on small towns was up as a news story for the night.

America's 10 Coolest Small Towns

I'd seriously consider checking out the New York, Maine or California locations, but they all sound great!

What I'm In For...

I've been keeping up a little on the Hurricane Ike situation, and according to the weather reports I've seen and this picture (below) it appears that it's headed straight for Houston. Oh how I'm excited to experience my first hurricane! :) Hopefully the gulf can get all of its super hurricane energy out of its system before next summer when I'll be there :)