do what makes you happy. be with who makes you smile. laugh as much as you breathe. love as long as you live.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Kailin, you want eat?"

So I am now officially eating like a Russian all of the time. Okay, so I don't eat their nasty meat jello still, but I have picked up on a lot of other habits! For example, I don't eat cold cereal anymore. Somehow the logic of eating warm food in the morning will keep me warm all day has soaked into my brain and I've put it to use. I also never use regular size spoons, that's just weird. You eat cereal and soup with a freakin' ladle here. I mean, brownie batter stirring size spoons. If I try to use a tea-spoon I just get weird looks. Speaking of tea, I'm definitely hooked on my herbal, fruit tea goodness! It's a great way to end the day... and again, put some warmth back in me. Finally, since sauces don't exist here, I've learned that mayonnaise, ketchup, and cmetana (sour cream) can be put on anything and EVERYTHING and it will taste fine. Just shut up and eat it.
So it's been ridiculously long since I've last posted, but things are fabulous here in Russia! I can't believe that one month from today I'll be back in America! Time has flown and I'm not sure I'm ready to go back. Is this how missionaries feel as they near the end of their missions? Classes are going great, our primary kids are making leaps and bounds in their English. I'm always blown away with how much they understand me, especially one student: Masha. She truly picks up on everything I ask her, and although she's our biggest behavior problem, it's hard to be angry when she's also your most intelligent student. My elementary class continues to be a challenge, and one that is definitely beginning to wear on me. But I still love it and I know I'll miss those boys like crazy the second I'm in airport leaving St. Pete's. This really has become my home and it's going to be so hard to leave this city and the people I've met behind!
My most exciting stories right now are all from our weeklong vacation which we took the first week of this month. It was seriously the time of my life! Our first stop, after a 6 hour bus ride from St. Pete's, was Tallinn, Estonia! Which was pretty much a dream come true for me, I've wanted to go to Estonia since I was about 12. I never thought I would actually make it there though. It lived up to everything I wanted it to be though. We stayed in a hostel called Vana Tom which was conveniently located in the center of Old Town. Old Town is Tallinn's medieval village that dates back to the 1200's. Absolutely amazing. I've always loved medieval times, so walking around these beautiful cobblestone streets was candy to my soul. It was especially fun because we were actually in Tallinn on Halloween! We dressed up as best we could with what we'd brought in our backpacks and used what little make up we had to go wild. We then walked around to a haunted hotel and a haunted well. I didn't see any ghosts, but the ambiance made it the best Halloween I've ever had. From Estonia we took a 3 hour ferry ride to Finland! We had a few short hours to explore before taking a bus ride out to the LDS temple where we stayed in the patron housing. Since we stayed there, we had the opportunity to do baptisms for the dead each morning we were there. What a wonderful experience to have! Our confirmations were done in English, Finnish and Russian, then all baptisms were done in Russian. I know it's small, but I felt great being able to thank the brother baptizing us in Russian. It was funny too, all the names I did were from Pennsylvania! Go figure, eh? Another fun thing we did in Finlandia was go out to an island that was used as a fortress through many wars. It was absolutely gorgeous! All the hills and recesses made it look like The Shire. From Finland we took an overnight ferry to Stockholm! Unfortunately, there was a huge storm on the Baltic that night and since our rooms were on the 2nd floor of the boat... ugh. Seasickness to the max! A lot of our party went dancing which they said really helped because then you couldn't tell the boat was moving, but I was honestly so sick I couldn't even fathom getting out of bed. We arrived to a beautiful blue sky though when we landed in Stockholm. What an absolutely GORGEOUS city! I highly recommend that everyone make it a top priority in their life to get to Stockholm at some point in their lives. The first day we were there, we walked around for a bit, then after checking into our hostel (Hostel Acco) we took the free shuttle to the largest IKEA store in the world!!! Party on. I freaking love IKEA. We walked around the whole thing and then enjoyed some Swedish meatballs in the cafe. And at the end, get this, we topped it off by buying some Swedish Fish. Life complete. Haha :D The next day we went to Skansen, an outdoor museum of what Sweden was like way back when. It was really pretty, but most important to me... I got to eat Swedish meatballs AND Swedish pancakes there. Can this country get any better? What's that you say? ABBA?! It just got better. Don't worry, I definitely listened to ABBA a ton while I was there too. :) The last day we got to go to the Stockholm LDS Temple and do baptisms. This time, (since everyone in Sweden speaks English anyway) all ordinances were done in English. It was wonderful and I'm glad I got the opportunity to be there. After that we went to Gamla Stan and walked around. Gamla Stan is kind of Stockholm's Old Town. The buildings were beautiful, but more than anything I loved that practically everything just had a Christmas feeling to it. I think Sweden just celebrates Christmas all year long, because, it's awesome like that. The next day we flew back home to St. Pete's, our flight was delayed an hour, but other than that everything went 100% smoothly.
Needless to say, best vacation of my life. And I definitely needed the break from teaching too. I'm glad to be back though and I'm excited to make this last month great! (Last one, best one!!!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The North Pole

So after some deliberation, I've decided to share my story. Which, quite possibly, is my most embarrassing moment. I'm taking it in full stride though, and moving on with life. Here we go. Prepare yourselves...
As I have mentioned, I teach an elementary class of about 8 boys, ages 11-12. They are great kids and I love teaching them, even when they do have their crazy moments. Our last language arts unit was on a story about the first man to reach the North Pole. We had spent two days already reading and discussing the dangers this man and his crew might face, and we were nearing the point of the story where they finally would reach their destination. Now in my teacher's manual, one of the teaching aids suggests that you make clear to your students that the North Pole is only a place, not an actual candy-striped pole that Henson was going to bring back as a souvenier. In the middle of my class reading then, I stopped them to point this out and make sure that they understood this fact. As I started explaining to them, it dawned on me that I should draw a picture of "the classic North Pole" on the board to really drive home the point. So I set down my book and continued talking as I walked over to the board and picked up some chalk and began to draw. Now please, imagine to yourself the North Pole. It's tall, it's white, it's got lovely candy-colored stripes all over it, and a shiny, golden ball on top. Correct? I did my best to display this through my art, but as soon as I had finished, before I had even turned around, I heard my class erupt in fits of laughter. I didn't even have to turn around before I realized what I had just done. While trying to be such an excellent teacher to my students, it did not even cross my mind, that this pole, standing tall on the board, would only register as one thing to these pre-pubescent boys: Penis.


I was so embarrassed! I walked over to my book, picked it up and tried to continue teaching as best I could, but the damage had been done and the boys were losing control of themselves. Even my co-teacher, a 24 year old man, was in the corner dying of the giggles. Fortunately he was able to compose himself enough to rush to the board and erase my drawing, and within a minute I had my class back on track. I am fairly certain though that my face has never been that red in my entire life. I will, for the rest of these boys' lives, be the American English teacher who drew a phallic symbol on the chalk board. What a title to have achieved.

Moving on now, and following up on the ballet! It was absolutely amazing! Our seats were up close to the stage, on the third balcony, providing an excellent view of the performers, and the orchestra below. (Side Note: I will forever stand by my opinion that the sound of an orchestra tuning their instruments is one of the most beautiful sounds in this world). The performance was phenomenal though, the last time I saw a ballet was the 8th grade, and I don't think I quite appreciated the art then. This time, with all the ambiance and excitement, the experience was a million times more enjoyable. I kept thinking of my awesome cousin who does ballet and how I hope she'll be in a performance like this someday that i can come see!

This weekend, it finally hit me that Fall is coming... with the reminder that Winter is never far behind. On Friday, when we were done with teaching, we went to a beautiful park out in Staraya Derevnaya, which is a more posh area of St. Petersburg, also where the kindergarten is located that I teach in. The park was lovely though; so full of vibrant colors that I could not put my camera down for more than a few seconds it seemed. St. Pete's doesn't have any mountains, but they do Autumn just fine here.
This conclusion was further enforced when we went Petergoff the following day. Petergoff is the palace and surrounding park of Peter the Great, who founded St. Petersburg. Peter loved the water, so he placed his palace on the Gulf of Finland and filled the park with 115 water fountains, which in my opinion, were more beautiful and inspiring than any fountain I saw in Rome. (sorry Italy!) It took us a good 3 hours or so to walk around the park, and I'm certain I could have stayed for hours more. Again I was blown away by the bombardment of Fall colors and the leaves everywhere you looked. With the background of the sea, and the foreground of stellar palaces, I was catching my breath the whole time. Maybe this seems juvenile, but one of the most exciting things about yesterday, was something I learned from our cultural coordinator: Sveta. Everyone in the park was gathering leaves so we began to do the same. Sveta then grabbed some of the leaves and began weaving them into a crown. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen and I can't wait to try and make one! I'll post a picture when I do. I asked her how she learned this and she motioned she'd learned when she was young and just always knew. Somehow I feel I've been gipped of a real Autumn by not having this skill all my life. Good thing I've learned now!

This Sunday was great. I'm blown away that every week when I walk into the church building I feel a physical difference in my heart and I know that's where I need to be. It's absolutely amazing.

We've also started planning our vacation for the first week of November. We will be going to Estonia, Finland, and Sweden and I can't wait! Everything is going swimmingly :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Russians have R.B.B.O. REALLY BAD BODY ODOR. Oh my heavenly days, riding the metro is great and all, but these people have got to learn how to shower. And will the deodorant market please show up here?! They could make a killing with the right selling strategy. For real though, this madness must end. My nose is begging the Dove, Secret, Axe, etc.

There was my rant from the Motherland. Everything else is going great! This week I was able to attend Family Home Evening at the Institute Center about 30 minutes from my apartment. It was mostly missionaries there, and a few members, but what mattered was that I got to go and I had such a great time! On Tuesday, Audra and I trekked back to attempt to make it to the English institute class, which started at 7:30... which is also when we finished teaching. So when we showed up at 8:30, the closing hymn was being sung. Oh well, we stuck around after to talk to people and find out what kind of fun things there are to do on the weekends here. We also practiced piano a little bit so that we can trade off playing on Sunday with another volunteer in our group. I'm not the best pianist by any means, but I'm grateful I know at least a few hymns to contribute.

Teaching in the private kindergarten is getting better I think. The kids are getting more excited to come and are getting much better at refocusing after a rambunctious activity. Things at the elementary school... will be an adventure I will never forget. These boys are wild and I know they will test my patience to the edge of my capabilities, but in the end, it will be for the best. They are all so smart and really are excited about learning English, I think if I challenge them more in class it might bring in their focus slightly. Hopefully that works, if not, it's on to the next teaching tactic! Wish me luck!

This weekend we will be sight-seeing at St. Isaac's Cathedral, followed by attending the Russian Ballet performance of Swan Lake. I am so excited for this opportunity! Here is some info. on Swan Lake that I looked up to educate myself: Swan Lake was composed by none other than Pyotr Tchaikovsky in the years 1875-76. The story line itself is made up of Russian folk tales, with influence by a German legend. It was first performed in 1877 in Moscow, however most of the time when it is performed today, ballet companies base their staging and such off the performance in 1895 in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Mariinsky just happens to also be the theatre I will be watching this masterpiece at in only 2 short days. Needless to say, I am overwhelmingly stoked about this. If no one could tell...

That's all for now I think. I'm so glad I'm here. I know without a doubt this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my life right now and I'm so grateful to be here. Thanks to my friends and family who gave me the encouragement and support I needed to make this dream a reality!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Russia, There is Only One Garbage Can

It's true. I swear the Russians DO NOT believe in garbage cans, and it's really starting to drive me bonkers. There is ONE garbage can in my entire house! In public places you have to look for one for nearly 10 minutes before seeing one 100 yards away. It's ridiculous.

Other than that though...

Russia is still awesome :D This week was my first full week of teaching my primary and elementary kids. It started out really rough, but I think I'm getting the hang of things and my lessons are starting to go much smoother. It's just a matter of changing your mindset into that of a teacher and buckling under and just doing it! At this point, I'd like to tribute my mother: Mom- I find that especially in my Level 5 class, I just have to pretend to be you and things go much smoother. As weird as that sounds, I'll forever be grateful for the opportunity of having you as my teacher and for all the times I got to watch you teach. It is truly amazing to me that you do this everyday for 3/4ths of the year and are still sane! I'm loving this, but it has definitely made clear to me that teaching is not a career option for me. But thinking of how you handle situations in the classroom definitely helps me handle the kids in my classes. Thanks. :)

Anyway, my Level 5 kids are great. Today our class had 7, 10 year old boys. They are wild and crazy, but they love to speak English and as long as the activity is engaging, they are fairly well behaved. Mostly we struggle getting them to speak English the entire 2 and 1/2 hours, but things will get better. They are all great kids and I look forward to getting to know their personalities better throughout the semester.
My primary kids are adorable! I have a harder time getting them to speak as much English though, lots of times they just look at me confused, haha. But again, things are getting better and hopefully I can get them to understand me and a little more fun!

My host family is still amazing, my mom always interrogates me at the end of the day, making sure I'm eating enough. And she always packs me a snack to take to school each day. She is just adorable! As Yurislav learns more English, he also warms up to having me in the house more. Yesterday when I got home he came running up to me to show me a little card with his name written in Latin letters. This is a huge improvement from him just shyly smiling at me and then running out of the room :) Again, hopefully things get better there. My dad is so funny, he doesn't speak much English, but he's always nice to me and has a smile. He loves to say hello and goodbye, and to pull out his computer and show me pictures of the family's dacha (essentially their weekend getaway house) He showed me a picture of him there, mowing the lawn, and proudly announced to me: "Look! I do like American!" I nearly died laughing!

Last Saturday we went further into St. Petersburg to explore. We saw the Church on Spilled Blood and also the Hermitage. This Saturday we plan on going into the Hermitage and I am so excited! It's going to be amazing, and I can't wait. On Sunday we got to go to church. We searched for the building for nearly two hours, and just as we were about to give up, three of the volunteers called saying they had found it! How grateful I was that they did. Church has never been such an amazing experience for me. Three missionaries sat on the row behind our group and translated all of Sacrament meeting for us. On top of hearing all the wonderful testimonies, I especially loved how everyone there actually smiled at us. It was amazing to see these people, who are usually so quiet, stern, and private, open up to us and share smiles and handshakes with us all. It was such an incredible feeling that touched all our hearts and has kept me going all this week. I sincerely can't wait to go back this coming Sunday again.

We also started our Russian classes on Tuesday. Our teacher, Stass, is very... interesting. Perhaps more details later. Thankfully though, he speaks excellent English and is a fantastic Russian teacher. I've learned the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet and can now read and pronounce most of the signs I see on the street. Too bad I still don't know what any of it means! A lot of the words sound almost exactly like the English words, which is great. Hopefully I continue to learn more at a fairly quick pace. My host family loves it when I try to use my limited Russian, they laugh and smile and tell me "Haroshow" (sp?) which means good. Which is a great confidence boost to me, I'm lovin' it! I've also got my numbers 1-10 down (go me!) and each time I'm in the elevator by myself I practice the numbers as I pass each floor. Don't make fun, it works :)

So that's life from the motherland! Still on cloud nine :D

Friday, September 3, 2010

I can see Alaska from my house!!!

Okay, so maybe I can't see Alaska from my apartment, but I can DEFINITELY see Russia!!! crazy-ness!!! Here's an summary of my first four days in St. Petersburg: The airplane rides were fairly uneventful, thank goodness. I sat next to a Russian lady from Frankfurt to St. Pete's and at first she started talking to me in Russian, but when I looked at her with a bleary eyed, confused look, she quickly understood I did not speaka her language. :) We landed in St. Pete's and it only took about 5 minutes for me to understand that really, NO ONE smiles here. It's been the hardest thing to adjust to, I'm used to at least half smiling at anyone I meet eyes with, but you don't even do that here! It's super weird. Anyway, I then met my host dad: Roman. He doesn't speak much English, and he wants me to correct him when he tries and makes mistakes. Mostly he just mutters in Russian to me, calls to his wife and then he ends up typing into a translator on his computer. I am so grateful for technology, I would be lost here without it. My host mom is Julia, but the longest time I thought it was "U-la" because that's how they pronounce it. It wasn't until they gave me a cell phone so I could be in touch with them that I realized her real name. They also have a song, Yurislav, but he goes by Yurik. He is 5 and super adorable, too bad he is way too shy to talk around me still. The first time we met his mom told him to say hello and he popped up and did say it in English to me, which melted my heart, but now whenever I talk to him he just looks at me. Haha :D I hope he warms up to me soon though, he's got one of those rugs that have roads all over it for your toy cars and pretty sure I wanna play on it with him. My host mom is also pregnant and just starting to show her baby bump!

Our first day, we had to ride the metro about 15 minutes into the city in order to get more pictures taken for our new multiple entry visas. Meaning, we can travel outside of Russia, and not be stuck outside of Russia, which would be a big bummer. It's rude to smile with your teeth for official documents here, so all of our pictures are mug shots... not attractive. We also stopped at the institute (not religious, academic) where we will be taking Russia lessons for 4 hours every Tuesday morning. Should be really fun! This language is beautiful, but so hard. I hope I can at least master some basics so I can have a simple conversation in Russian. We also ate blini, which is basically just Russian crepes, they're really good though :) The rest of the day was spent planning because....

The next day I had to teach!!! Me, and two of the other volunteers were asked to teach at a private kindergarten about an hour away from us. So every Mon, Wed, and Fri morning the 3 of us hop on the metro, transfer about 6 stops down to the purple line, 5 more stops from there we get onto bus K-232 (which is more like a van) and then walk down the road to the school. Quite the adventure, to be sure. The first day there were only 2 girls in our class, but they were adorable! Their names were: Maria and Leeda. We taught them how to say our names and Maria loved mine. She kept coming up to me and holding my hand and giving me hugs, then she would look up at me and just say my name. Completely stole my heart!!! It was hard to keep the lesson going because I just wanted to play with them so badly! By then end of the time though they were modeling full sentences and telling us "I want blue (or whatever color)" when they wanted a marker. It was so cute. We also sang Popcorn Popping and 5 Little Ducks with them, while they couldn't get all the words, Leeda at least tried by mumbling. Both loved all the hand actions though and followed us to a T.

Not all of my lessons will be like this though, when I go to the school next week, I'll be teaching young kids like that 3 days a week, and then an Elementary Level 5 on Tuesday and Thursday nights with another volunteer. Level 5 kids are age 11 and are doing more advanced language skills including spelling tests and homework assignments. It's not as much playing, but I think it will be a lot of fun since the kids will be able to communicate with us much more.

Last night, our cultural coordinator, Sveta, came over to our head teacher's apartment to teach us how to make blini. It was so much fun! We were all crammed into the small kitchen trying to cover the blini in as much peanut butter and nutella as possible. Delicioso! Hahaha :D I love all the people I volunteer with, they are all so nice and absolutely hilarious. A few of us went to the Okay store yesterday (like a Russian Wal-Mart) and we were all laughing so hard about the silliest things! It makes us stand out a little more, but so far we haven't had any problems with that. I actually feel pretty safe here. Nothing too crazy yet, but it hasn't even been a week :)

Okay, FOOD. Something I was so nervous about! So far the worst thing I've had was buckwheat, it tasted burnt and dirty all at once. I ate it so as not to be rude, but man was it nasty! Mostly I get a lot of pasta from my host family, with make-shift meatballs. There is never sauce on the pasta though, they eat it plain.. which is weird. At my home, my mom serves it with ketchup and mayonnaise so I usually put some ketchup on there for flavoring. That's the biggest thing: NOTHING HAS ANY FLAVOR. We finally had some soup yesterday that did, and we tried to douse all of our food in it so that it would all taste good. Too bad that she only brought a small pot of the soup :( Other than that, everything has been pretty decent. Haven't had to revert to McDonalds yet!

I forgot to talk about my living situation a little more. I live on the 9th floor of a pretty nice apartment building. I was nervous at first because the buildings around it, not gonna lie, look soooo super sketchy. There is a door you have to have a computer key to open, and then you get on the elevators (in a pink and green room like the 50's) up to floor 9. Then there is a huge door you have to have another key for, then you lock it behind you. That puts you in the hallway to a whole bunch of apartments, mine is the first on the right. Two more keys to unlock 2 more locks and I'm finally in my apartment. I think all the doors serve as extra protection, both from crazy people and the cold :) My apartment is really nice though! I was surprised. haha. It is small though too. Two bedrooms a TV room, kitchen and 1 and 1/2 baths. I share a room with Yarik, but at least I have my own comfortable bed, with big blanket and honkin' pillow. The first few nights I COULD NOT for the life of me sleep through the night. The 2nd night I woke up at 4:00 am and was up until 7:30. The next night I woke up at 3:30 and fell asleep again at 8. Last night though! I finally went to bed at 11:45 pm and woke up to my alarm at 8AM. Oh happy day :) It felt so good! I also got a hairdryer yesterday so I finally got to actually do my hair today :)

That's all for now! I'll update again soon :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Here's to you!

Ethan Gregory and Brett Lee!
Daniel, Adam, and Steven "G Unit" :D
(Steve, Peter, John, and Blair)

Here's a post for my dear friends who are out there serving LDS missions! I am so proud of all of them that made this decision to serve our Heavenly Father for two years. I'm super excited right now because my best friends just hit their half-way marks!!!! Woot woot! :D Congratulations guys :) I miss you and love you all tons!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Winds of Change

Today I'm thinking of how quickly life can change... The other day in church some guy quoted Mike Tyson saying something to the effect of "Everyone has a plan in life... until they get punched in the face." It got everyone laughing, but it also hit home to me on so many levels. How many times have I had a plan for my life? And how many times has that plan been destroyed? Pretty sure it's 99% of the time I've planned. For so long I planned on swimming in college on a full-ride scholarship, and much to everyone's surprise, for a long time I did plan on doing that at BYU. I planned on going to college in Sport Medicine or Sports Psychology. I planned on doing as much school as possible and still getting a 4.0 (on top of swimming mind you). I planned on graduating in the spring and then getting my dream job right away.
Obviously this isn't where I am or where I'm heading.
But! I don't think I've ever been happier with life. There are still ridiculous things happening every day, and I still ask myself sometimes if this is what life is going to be like forever. Sometimes the truth of that question scares me, but somehow I'll be prepared for it! That is one comforting thing about the past. Does anyone else feel like an absolute champion when they look back on their life and fully acknowledge exactly what they went through to be where they are? I think we all should feel that way. Nobody has it easy and we should be proud of ourselves for making it, but also humbled knowing that it was only with help from our Heavenly Father.
Anyway, enough deep, philosophical crap. I've come to terms with where I'm going with life and I'm excited for my adventures! Here's what's going on: This summer I've been working like a mad woman for a swim store out here in Salt Lake. It has been the time of my life. I absolutely love the people I work with, it's like we're all part of a family. At my old job I constantly felt like I could work better, but I never had the motivation to because my boss never treated me with respect. I was working under constant threats to be fired or punished if I did anything wrong (which I often did since they never trained me). But here, I feel respected and valued which makes me want to work even harder to prove myself. I love being in the store surrounded by swimming gear, and more than that I love the smell of the store when I walk in each morning. It's a familiar scent of polyester, lycra, spandex, and chlorine. Can anything else smell better? I submit that nothing can! Because of my wonderful job, I was able to pay for my trip to Russia!!! Which is a huge accomplishment for me. I feel like even more now I'll appreciate the experiences I am going to have there. I've also met (via facebook) all the kids in my group that are going with me to St. Pete's. They all seem great and I'm excited to meet them all in person. Some of us already have a plan to do a temple trip in Eastern Europe while we have some vacation time over there. The Kiev, Ukraine temple is being dedicated August 29, and I fly out of SLC Aug. 30th. So the plan is to hit up the Kiev temple, Helsinki, Finland Temple, and Stockholm, Sweden Temple. There are my 3 new temples for the year-which knocks off one of my new years resolutions! Go me! :D I officially leave to Russia now in 39 days!!! I really can't believe I'm doing this. It started out as an idea and something I'd love to do, and now I have my flight schedule. The time to travel and explore really is now I think, and if you want to do it, go for it. I've been blessed to keep my scholarship so I am still debt free in school. I couldn't be more excited about that! And that fact really is a huge deal when planning a trip like this, but I still believe that if you want something in your life-go for it. No one is going to hand it to you on a silver platter, trust me.
In other news of life, I met with my academic advisor and got everything I need to apply to the BSW again. (2nd times a charm right?) Here's hoping! I got my letters of recommendation passed out, and I think these one's will speak better to my ability as a Social Worker. I also discovered that I am now officially more than halfway done with my Bachelor's degree!!! Super excited :D Even so, I still have 2 years ahead of me of intense diversity, culture, writing and statistics classes. My last semester is a 12 credit practicum that I know nothing about.. but it sounds intesne. Here goes nothing! I can't wait to be a legit social worker, out there "doing something for others of what Christ has done for me." -Charles Loring Brace. Lately I've been thinking that I would want to work with International Adoptions instead of just local. I realize this would be a lot more challenging and often more risky and heart-breaking, but it's something I feel like I need to consider. I'm hoping I would be able to do some volunteer work in St. Pete's at a local orphanage, I think that would be an awesome experience to have.
Well, those are the biggest bits of news in my life! In other areas, I've had two family reunions this summer and it is quickly becoming apparent that I am going to be the shortest cousin on BOTH sides of the family. What happened?! I used to be the tallest! Oh well, I like my height, and it is safe to say that is not going to be changing anytime soon. ;) Also, I'm going through a wardrobe revamping stage. I have to dress nice in Russia and it's stressing me out! I like my sweatpants and t-shirts, but maybe it is time to start learning how to actually dress smart and classy. Here goes nothing!!! :D

Monday, March 29, 2010

Goodbye Teenage Years!

Wow. What a week!!! I am completely exhausted right now, from Sunday the 21st to Sunday the 28th I was going non-stop and now I seriously have to crash! Let me chronicle my adventures during my last week of being a teenager.
Sunday, March 21st- I left my house at 6:55 at picked up Talisha at 7 AM at her apartment. We then hit the road on our way to California. We stopped briefly in AF to get one final hug from my mom, who was a trooper for letting me go on this trip in the first place! We stopped again in St. George, and one last time in Baker, CA before finally landing in Huntington Beach, CA to stay with my mom's best friend. I am pleased to report, that we did not get lost ONCE on this entire journey! :D Yes, most of it was just I-15 South, BUT, the freeways (and drivers) in California are nuts. So I was proud :)
Monday- We headed out around 9AM to spend an absolutely fantastic day at the happiest place on earth: DISNEYLAND!!! It was an absolutely great day. While eating lunch in Carnation Plaza we watched an epic duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Peter was climbing through bushes and taunting the Captain while he stood lamely on the side with sword drawn. Thoroughly entertaining. Next we decided to hit up Toon-Town. Which is a good thing we did! We went to the place with the rubber jail bars to get some pics and as we stood waiting for our turn, I noticed a man in a blue blazer slowly walking by us. I thought this odd... but seconds later Talish grabbed my elbow with a death grab and muttered something to me. I missed it the first time, but she then leaned in and whispered to me, "That's Christian Bale!!!" Sure enough, the man in the blue blazer was a security guard, and right behind him was Christian Bale, his and his daughter. We nearly died!!! He was fairly well disguised in all black, sun glasses, and goatee/mustache get-up. We followed him for a good 10 minutes though until they all boarded the monorail. We were amazed that we appeared to be the only ones who recognized him!!! Thank you Talisha for being so super good with face :D The rest of the day was just another fun day at Disney.
Tuesday- We decided to go to Knott's Berry Farm, which for the longest time I actually thought was Knotsbury Farm... silly me! Anyway, there were practically no people there so every ride we went on had about a 0-5 min wait. The rides were pretty great! Two of the bigger ones were shut down, kind of a bummer, but we contented ourselves. We rode the tallest free-fall drop in the world (it was kind of like the Rocket at Lagoon, but SOOOO much higher!) We also went on the steepest, fastest, water ride in the world. We were absolutely soaked after that and the rafting ride, so after eating the famous Knott's fried chicken we headed home. That night we went to Downtown Huntington to see the street festival, but ended up walking the 1/2 mile to the end of the pier and then down onto the beach. I love the beach so much, but I won't lie, at night, it scares the living daylights outta me!!! Standing on the very edge of the pier with nothing but black behind me was almost too unnerving to handle. It was all great fun though :)
Wednesday- We slept in a bit, had some breakfast, packed some lunch, and then hit up the beach!!!! The people we stayed with (Doug and Debbie) let us borrow some boogie-boards to play with. They also had a good laugh at me for not knowing exactly what a boogie board was.. is it my fault I had to grow up in a landlocked state? I think not. Anyway, boogie boarding proved to be the most fun I've had in a long time! Especially since the waves were gigantic that day!! After about 20 minutes of consistently catching and riding waves to the shore Talish and I may have gotten just a little too confident... A huge wave was coming up on us and we looked at each other excitedly posing ourselves to catch it just right. Well it came, and I don't know what happened to Talish, but here's what happened to me! I felt myself get pulled up on the board inside the wave. I could tell that only the back of my board was in the water and the rest was sticking out into the air. Obviously that didn't last long! My board took a nose dive into the ocean with me on it and the force of the wave behind us. I got slammed into the bottom of the ocean and the board came back and gave me a nice bruise on my leg. After years of being under water though, I just blew bubbles out my nose until I stopped spinning and then pushed back up to the surface searching for Talisha. When we finally saw each other again we were both laughing and smiling, yelling "Too big! Too big!" between gasps for air. We headed to the shore and laid out for a little bit after that. We went out boarding once more after that and then just went out to swim. When we got back home that night we were thoroughly sun-burned, but based on the fun we had, the smell and feel of aloe all night was totally worth it!!! :D
Thursday-Back to Disneyland!!! This time we went around 11 and hit up Downtown Disney first where I bought a few more dishes to add to my Disney kitchen collection. I am so excited for the day when I have my very own house/apartment so I can really work on my kitchen!! This day we also found the Mickey and Friends parking structure too! (Previously, on Monday, we had gotten way turned around on our way there and our way back. One thing I don't like about CA is that nobody seems to care which way is North, south, East or West! It was driving me insane!!!) We spent all day on rides and also saw the Aladdin show in California Adventure. There is also a place there were you can superimpose your voice into Disney movies, so much fun! I highly recommend you all try that the next time you're there. We stayed til the park closed that night knowing it was our last day in CA. Because we stayed so late, we got to see Disney's Electrical Parade, which was flippin' sweet! I'm so happy that they brought it all back :D We also finally got on the Nemo ride in Fantasyland since the line died down after all the fireworks and parades were over. When we got in the submarine on the ride though, I heard a guy about 2 seats down begin to freak out and mutter "claustrophobia" under his breath. Next thing we know, he's pounding on the side of the submarine and yelling: "Captain! Captain!... Can I get off?" A little sad, but somewhat humorous too, just the way he asked if he could leave.. *sigh*... Oh! We also rode the Matterhorn about 3 times in a row, I totally love that ride! We also rediscovered that the left track of that ride is infinitely more fun than the right side!! Just for future reference :)
Friday- We drove back to Utah :( When we got to St. George there was a storm warning for Cedar City to Filmore, so we almost spent the night with some family down there. But we wanted to get home so we toughed it out and made it home just fine. We really only hit some hail on the way home! Although the wind was pretty strong.
Saturday- 3 words for ya'll: FESTIVAL OF COLORS. If you haven't been before, make all the effort you can to go next year. It was so much fun!!!! :D I definitely felt like a hippie there with all the moshing, chanting, loud music, and psychadelic colors. We were way glad that we made it in time for the actual throwing of colors. There was so much chalk that it blocked out the sky!!! After partying it up there and being sufficiently doused in chalk powder, we walked back to our cars and headed to SLC. Once home, we went to the Gateway to walk around (still in chalk) and then to eat dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen. mmm... :) We got lots of strange looks and tons of people asking us what on earth we had done. It was great to see everyone's reactions. Dinner was great, and I got a free ice cream (with candle! haha) for my birthday. After dinner, Talisha, Charlene and I all ran through the fountains (oh so cold) to get some of the chalk off, but mostly just to be crazy and have fun. It was super hilarious!
Sunday- I woke up and took a picture of myself, my first one as a 20 year old. Wow, it's a beautie!!! Let me tell ya ;) I got ready and waited for my mom to come pick me up to take me to my aunt's house where most of my extended family was so we could all have dinner together, celebrate mine and my uncle's birthday's, and also a little bit of Easter since it's coming up and all. It was much fun to see everybody, I have some of the greatest family in the world, ain't no doubt about it! :D When I got home from that, I uploaded my pictures from the week and hung out with my roomies who had baked me cake :) They are so great :D Then we all watched 27 Dresses together and chatted for a bit before heading off to bed. A most excellent 20th birthday :)
Well there you have it folks! The best week of my life in a nut-shell! It seriously could not have been better, I loved every second of it :) Thank you to my family and friends who made it the great week it was!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Summer Fever

I just got back from the pool, can I just say how much I love the smell of chlorine and hemp lotion? Oh my. Anyway, of course those smells would remind me of summer! The weather is finally starting to change, and in true form, March is coming in like a lion. It's been pretty rainy and windy, but thankfully there has been no more snow. Everyone keeps telling me we need more snow so that our water levels aren't so low in the summer, but quite honestly, I've grown up most of my life in a drought, and I like it that way. So if it's all the same, I think the Lord can keep the snow somewhere else for the time being. : )
I'm still trying to lay out my plans for this summer. Mostly I think I'll just be working, which is fine by me! I absolutely adore my job. I work for a local swim store selling swimming equipment. What more could I ask for? I get to spend my work shifts talking to people about one of my favorite things in the world and helping them start their ways into the swimming world. Along with work, I believe I have a family reunion to attend as well! Par-tay! :D My cousins freaking rock and I can't wait to see them all this summer, we're going to have a blast. Look out Zions, here I come! I think I may need to hit up Moab and Bear Lake this summer too. Gotta get in all of my favorite camping/hiking locations before I leave the state for 5 months!
Well, as the sun goes down now the temperature drops. At least I'm not scraping ice off my car in the morning and sliding all the way down the hills as I attempt to get to school. I'm so grateful that day-light savings is coming up. Even if it means I'll lose an hour of sleep. The extra sunlight and warmth will totally be worth the small adjustment : )
Prayin' for daylight!