Monday, November 8, 2010

Twenty and Teething

Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever have a moment in my life when I will no longer have things to do.

The answer?  Definitely not!

I will always have more and more to do.

So speaking of "To-Do"... here's my current list:

  • Pray
  • Scripture Study
  • Love my girls on 3100
  • Love Terra, and the rest of my family
  • Do homework
  • Complete Math 300 Take Home Exam
  • Complete two projects due tomorrow
  • Study for Stats exam later this week
  • Go to the dentist to check for cavities
  • Go to the dentist about wisdom teeth growing in
  • Go to the car doctor to fix the scion's poor little power problem...
  • Go to TechnaGlass to get a new windshield
  • Return Theory of Analysis textbook!!  Or burn it.  Either one is satisfactory, but I'd rather get money out of it =)
  • Cut my hair
  • Wash out the calcium build-up in my water-bottle.
  • Go to Bekah's to receive Bridesmaid's dress and flower
  • Get All-Sport Pass so that I can attend the basketball season opener...
  • Clean room... again
  • Fold laundry (this one will never go away.  I'm always wearing clothes!)
  • Fall in love.  And everything that happens after that.
And probably more.  But those are the ones I can think of.

Comments of the day:
Life is pretty good.  I am just ever-so-slightly disappointed that it rained today, but that is only because I feel like I only had one day of true fall-- Sunday.  Fall is supposed to be full of crunchy leaves and sunshine-on-your-back-but-the-air-is-chipper days.  While I got bits and pieces of that, really only Sunday was a crunchy day.

However, I heard from a General Authority yesterday, in person.  What more of a charmed life could I lead?*

*Note: My life usually works out better when I let the Lord lead instead.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Humility and Hope

It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He willnot forsake us. … If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers. - Gordon B. Hinckley
 I haven't posted for months because my life has been a whirlwind.  It's really simply been all over the place.  When I got back from London, some things that I were expecting to stay the same changed, and I completely forgot about the experiences I had in London in trying to move on.

Despite the fact that London may be the biggest city I've ever been to, life was slow there.  I loved it!  It was like my childhood again--slow, golden, and fresh.  I could soak everything in.  EVERYTHING.  And I forgot about that.

I came back to Provo, and got into what I'll call a "busy rut."  I simply had to keep going.  There were not any other options!  I had to do my homework, and I had to get good grades so that I could keep my scholarship, and I had to keep my scholarship so that I could go to school, and I had to go to school so that I could graduate... early.

Then, VOILA! Fall semester started.  It felt about that quick, too.

In retrospect, I'm shocked that it is November! What on earth did I do with all that time?
Oh wait... I was in a busy rut.  A busy busy busy rut.

And for the first time in my life, I was not handling it.  It felt impossible.  I'm  okay with not being the best, but I just can't justify not doing my best.  And I wasn't!  I WAS NOT DOING MY BEST.  I was not working to the fullest extent, I wasn't turning in all of my assignments, or spending enough time on them to actually understand the content.  I wasn't there as a friend, or a sister.  I just... wasn't.

Then, I failed my first exam.  Despite all of my high school beliefs, it didn't kill me! I was still passing the class, and I knew that I could still do semi-well if I just buckled down and studied.

But something was wrong.
I couldn't function.  I stopped talking to my friends, but even more weird, I stopped wanting to talk to my friends.  I couldn't eat more than half of each meal.  I couldn't sleep peacefully.  I couldn't think.

Luckily, this week was Missionary Week in Helaman Halls.  At first I resented it.  I mean, really?  The RA's already have soooo much going on, and to add a few more responsibilities? and to make us wear skirts in the COLD WINTER WEATHER!?  Seriously.

But I participated.  Arise at 6:30, be in bed by 10:30.  Prayer, Companionship Study, Personal Study, Fasting, etc.  I attended this week's devotional given by Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, and attended the Temple, and I received the greatest blessings in response.

Sometimes, it is necessary to prioritize.  Not just prioritize whether it's more important to do laundry or to eat dinner first, but to really decide what to cut out of your life, because you simply do not have the time to do everything important.  So I withdrew from that class that I received an F in.  It was hard.  It was hard recognizing the withdrawal not as a weakness, but as a strength.  I had to take responsibility for my future, but more importantly, I had to recognize that my will and my plans are not necessarily the most important.

I knew that my life was supposed to be slower.  I've received that impression before.  But I let it slip, and let myself get caught up in my busy, but beautiful, life.  Yet still something was wrong.  I was unsettled, and it wasn't until last night that I truly accepted God's will as my own.  Now, I feel a peace that I haven't felt since I attended the London England Temple.  I have been promised this peace for eternity.  Perhaps not from NOW until eternity, for I know that times will come in my life again when I will be confused, and alone, and hurt.  I still know, however, that the promise of eternal rest is real.  And I know that it will indeed all work out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Home Again

The last day in London was fantastic.
I ventured to the temple with three other fantastic people, and it was just beautiful.  (It's in the background of the picture at left.)

My whole soul was just in total turmoil because leaving  was heartbreaking and yet I missed home and my family like crazy.  Although really, once I stepped into the temple and my name was written down on a little slip of paper, I felt like I was home again and everything was okay.

And that's how it stayed.

The rest of the day, I went to the British Museum, and then to a concert (NOT choral for once--weird!).

Then commenced the never-ending day!  You would think my day would end at 10 PM... but oh NO you're wrong!  It had just started.  After packing, listening to Justin Bieber, talking to some of my beloved residents online, I made the executive decision to not sleep.

I know, that doesn't sound smart.  But when I thought more and more about it, nothing could seem more logical!  (Weird... I just accidentally typed "musical" instead of "logical."  I guess that could work!)  Anyway, I was basically shaking up my internal body clock to the point of utter confusion.  I stayed up with my friend Elena, giggling and watching clips of Winning London in which the backgrounds were all places we had been.  THEN, woo hoo! Taxi to Heathrow, train to the other terminal, through security, and WAITING.  Then... flying! Then waiting, customs, security, waiting... FLYING!  and home.
I really ended up with no jetlag.  I stayed up until about 10pm that night, which would normally be 6 am for me, and woke up without an alarm around 8 am the next day!  Of course, I slept in the middle of the day on Saturday, but it's really just because I wanted to rid myself of my allergies, with the excuse of jetlag.

So now I'm home, and loving it all again.  It feels so circular.  James is dancing with his shirt off singing "Gotta Shake, Baby Shake!!" and Terra was playing one-person tetherball again today.  I just LOVE being home!! It's like taking a breath after swimming under water for a while.  Swimming is wonderful and lovely feeling, but breaths are incredibly necessary.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Swan Lake

I love the ballet.

I don't even know if I can write more.  It was that amazing.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Second-to-Last Week

So when time is cramped and you still have so much to do, everyone goes into Hyper-Crabby Mode. As well as the Get-Sick Mode.

On Monday, I attended a REAL DEAL Cricket game!  It was the fifth day of the game (Americans would not like the patience required for that game!!), England v. Bangladesh, and when we arrived, we thought we weren't even going to get into the stadium.  It took us 15 minutes, of speed-walking/light jogging to get to the end of the line.  YES, the end.  Then we were required (in a way) to stand in that line for another 45 minutes as everyone purchased their tickets.

As we stood in line two new friends, Steve and Dave, explained to us the rules of Cricket.  A Wicket is an out, but a wicket is also one of the little wooden things they're trying to knock off the stumps.  When you're batting, you're defensive in the way that you're protecting the wickets, but offensive because you're the only one who can score runs.  When we finally arrived in the stadium and sat down, though, we realized it was way simpler than the rules make it seem.

The next day was long.  But fantastic.  We'll leave it at that =).  It was a day of class forever.

WEDNESDAY we visited the Royal Courts of Justice, only to sit in on the shortest court case ever.  Honestly.  I'm pretty sure this post will take longer for you to read than it did for us to sit in on the case.  One of the judges laughed silently through her hands at the irony of it all.

So then, we decided to venture to the CANDY SHOP!  Which I love.  I don't have any photos of it, so I will have to bum those off of my friends and then post them to my web album!

Next, we arrived at the National Gallery.  Oh my stars.  Da Vinci, Monet, Manet, Gainsborough, Turner, Rembrandt, Boucher, Van Gogh, ... and hundreds more that I either didn't recognize or I can't remember.  It was outstanding! And a maze.  We definitely allll got lost.   From there, we visited Covent Garden, and then went home for the OPERA!

Oh man! The opera was definitely over-the-top dramatic.  But what else is to be expected?  I loved it, although I don't think I'll be seeing any more operas during my stay here in London.

Thursday? CANTERBURY!!!  It is SO pretty there.  We got a personalized tour of the cathedral (shown left) and it was probably the best tour I've had this whole trip.  I learned so much and was totally interested the whole time!  The best part about that cathedral is the Chapter House.  It's this big open room with AMAZING acoustics.  I went back in later with a small group of friends, and we hummed hymns.  HAHAA not because we were trying to avoid thoughts, but because if we were singing them it probably would have been super messy with ALL THE ECHO.

Quite a few people stopped and listened as we hummed, and smiled at us or mouthed, "That was very good!" as we left.  But it wasn't the crowd that we were humming for; it was for us.

We also went punting, which was beautiful and took my breath away!  Literally.  I had a huge asthma attack while on the little boat.  But I just relaxed and focused on breathing, and the rest of the trip was JUST fine.



Left: Canterbury Abbey Ruins       Right: The Punting trip





Then... Poppy Day!  I don't even know how to write about it.
Okay, so we had class focused on the war.  In the beginning of the week, they told us our assignment was to research the causes of the wars, which I'm pretty sure everybody did.  Haha such good students we have here!

So we discussed the wars in class, and listened to music connected to them.  The tone was very reverent, and everybody was reflecting on the hardships that many had to go through.  It was almost like a slap on the wrist!  We all grew very grateful.
And then we visited the war museum.  Everyone left with swollen eyes and slightly sore throats from crying.  It was very moving.  My resolution?  To remember the wars and their effect on me

Then...
Saturday is a special day it's the day that you go to... ABBEY ROAD!
It was VERY COOL being there.  We were able to cross a couple of times, trying to get ideal shots.  The whole time we were just giddy.  "We're where the Beatles walked!!!"

We spent the rest of the day shopping and attending concerts.  Family, I bought something individually for each of you.  London souvenirs, per say, but not ones that SCREAM London.  They more-so scream YOU.

Then how did we end the night?  Watching Mary-Kate and Ashley's extremely educational 'Winning London.'  
I have decided that when I get home, I will have a powerpoint slideshow for my family of my adventures, and then we will watch that film so that I can show them everywhere I've been.  YAY!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

And the sun shines again in London :)

Despite the beautiful sunshine, it's not amazingly warm.  Why?  Because there is this absolutely unruly wind that finds ways to lodge dirt in your left eye.  It's always the left eye.  Every day.


I don't really have any pictures, or any anything, so I'll tell a story.


I have this darling friend, Elder Hiram Lee Jacob.  I first met him at a dance, and then saw him later at the Malt Shoppe in October of my freshman year.  The next day, we joined with friends, Teri Allen (note her last name), Jacob Swain, and Jacob Mortensen (note their first names) at a football game.  I loved them all.


As the year went by, I didn't see Hiram so often... and then BAM!  He showed up on the first day of my religion class for Winter Semester, just to test it out.  Totally unplanned and wonderfully, the Jacobs had also signed up for that same religion class.  We convinced Hiram to join, and life was golden from there on.  Most days, I would simply just steal his black pen and make him write in my purple one, or we'd swap gum.  Often we'd all go to eat at the Pendulum Court or the CougarEat, where I spent time eating laughing and talking.


Even one day, Hiram stole my identity.  I had my social security card for job purposes (man, I would totally include a picture on here to show you how cute it is... but then that'd be probably the worst thing I could ever do), and he snatched it.  Because I was so flustered, I also lost my phone to the Jacobs.  Hiram proceeded to answer my phone and pretend he was me for the rest of the day.


So I absolutely adore him.


I've only been to his house on one occasion, and it was to hear the opening of his LDS mission call.  I guessed "America" because there are about 50,000 missions there.  I lost.


Where did he get called? The England London Mission. Oh.
Where am I at the moment?  London, England.


Do I want to see him?  No.  Because missions are like PAUSES on friendships--and then you feel bad for distracting from their work.  Oh heavens.


So... on Friday in between seeing Peter Pan and then... seeing Peter Pan, Debbie and I stopped by the Hyde Park LDS Chapel to find Heather who was doing her family history.


We walked inside, walked down the first corridor, and I stopped walking, stopped breathing, and started to turn around.


Filling up the whole foyer were I would say about 30 19-21 year olds, ranging from maybe 5'3" to 6'5", and all wearing white suits and ties.  And jackets.


I looked at Debbie, who looked at me, and we collectively took a large breath, and set forward.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS! (it's a song.)


Somehow managing to not look at their faces (for fear of recognition) and still being able to notice their shoulders so as to not run into any stripling young men, Debbie and I braved our way to the next door.


I was shaking by then.  BAHAHAHAHA It was an adrenaline rush!  Do I get an adrenaline rush when I'm jay-walking (which is not illegal here as far as I know) and almost get hit by a ferrari? No.  But I do when I'm avoiding a best friend.


I focused on the door ahead of us, and we safely arrived to the stairwell.  At the bottom... WERE MORE ELDERS! What in the world?  Same method, shoulders, no eyes.  Success.


Once in the haven I like to call the Family History Center, I sat down, drank some water, and let my heart rate settle again.  Then after that the Hyde Park Chapel was quite pleasant.  ... Except for the anxiety of going back upstairs.


later---------------------------------------------------
And the cliffhanger was, like most cliffhangers, not well-received.  So I'll tell the story.


We went upstairs, but nothing happened! There were maybe 10 elders in the foyer, but I didn't see him.  We then proceeded on our way to purchase our not-actually-Peter Pan tickets.


Then today, as we were leaving church, an Elder stopped me and let me know that he gave Elder Jacob my note.  And what did he tell me?  Oh, Hiram was in the building on Saturday.  He wasn't even in there when I went in!  So much for adrenaline rushes being when you need them.  


That's why I made the blog a cliffhanger.  The story wasn't super fulfilling.  But enjoy, Mom and Dad!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Peter Pan and Debbie Day!

How could my day be any better?
Wake up for a walk in Hyde Park.
OH MY HEAVENS, beautiful.  Visit Kensington Palace where Princess Di loved to live, and walk through the Flower Walk, where ever single colored flower existed, all in search for the lost boy who never grew up.

Oh, Peter.

Debbie and I walked ALL over Hyde Park, following signs which pointed us in the wrong direction, but still soaking it all in forever and ever.  We saw about a million birds: Canada geese (geese is SUCH a weird word!), ducks of every kind, these cute little baby black fuzzy things, finches, and herons.  Lexie, I included a heron for you =)

It was beautiful.  After walking back and forth, and to and fro (fro? what is that?) we FINALLY decided to look at a map at the entrance which showed us our way to PETER!  (NeverLand?)  We also ran into about 100 men and 4 women who were running SOMETHING.

Then... PETER!  (wonderful sidenote, that skirt has POCKETS!)  He didn't want to grow up, and neither do I.  But I think I'm much more logical in the way I go about it.

After Peter, we high-tailed it back to our flats to do what?  Oh, look online for tickets to a showing of Peter Pan!  There were tickets ranging from 10 pounds all the way up to... well, I'm not quite sure.  I don't look at the higher prices.  Anyway, they were all in the Stalls--aka the FLOOR.

So, we arrived at Debbie's flat (two floors above mine) which is a LABYRINTH!  We ate lunch (avocado, lettuce, ham sandwich, cheese sticks, chocolate mousse) and then I decided to go off and read.  Apparently Debbie thought I went home, but nope!  I was just in her flat.  Doing what I looooove to do!

Well, she found me, and we set off! for the ticket office.  It took about an hour to get there, and once we were there, we purchased our tickets.  It was the oddest thing, though. The man told us there were seats up in the Balcony, and that the cheapest price was 25 pounds.  Doesn't that seem a tad inconsistent?

But we thought, "Hey! Whatev!" and purchased four tickets, row G, seats 1-4.

We FINALLLLLY got home when it was time to leave!  I had told Debbie, "Let's leave at 6:00." and what time was it? oh, 6:01.  So, we rushed and ate dinner, and then set out.  Unluckily, we took about 57 thousand wrong turns... which seemed oddly de ja vu-like.  I mean, didn't I go every wrong direction to find Peter Pan this morning?  And by wrong turns I mean we took the wrong tubes to get there.  

SO, we got off the tube, and RAN to the theatre, burst through the doors, and stood in line to ask questions.  Debbie had forgotten her ticket, and we were going to sit with Sarah and Heather.  Heather was with us, Sarah... we had lost.  They told us to go down, in which an usher said, "You're late!" (she's right, we were...) and brought us down to our door, letting Debbie in without a ticket.

Flustered and glistening with perspiration, we quietly opened the G door, ONLY TO SEE PEOPLE IN OUR SEATS!
What?

So we played, "Open the door!" for a while, trying to find seats, and finally settled in row M.  Downgrade, eh? 

Oh, but it gets better.  At interval, Sarah told us to look at our tickets.  Well, the tickets said the show started at 7:45, not 7:15.  Also, the tickets were for ANOTHER SHOW.  Also, they were for June 3rd.  I mean, I know that sometimes people can mis-hear things.  I do it frequently.  But how in the world does "Tonight's viewing of Peter Pan" sound like " BLAH BLAH BLAH June Third" ?  Really. =)

I knew it was suspicious that there were seats in the balcony...

Anyway, the theater had the most comfortable seats on the face of the planet, we settled into row L seats at the interval, and enjoyed the show!

It blew my mind.

It's a new version, set in Scotland, and rather dark but SO intriguing.  I gasped, laughed, CRIED (what? I never cry in shows!), and at the end, just held my eyes open wide as if that would broaden my comprehension.  

All I know is, now I have to read the book!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summary in a Song




This may be a bit out of order as my memories all run together...



*ahem* to the tune of "Do Your Ears Hang Low"


Oh did you all know
that I love avocado?
If you were not sure by now,
then this picture sure should show!


They were purchased o'er at Cambridge
Where on the river we did row.
It's called punting, it is awesome,
and we sang as we did go :)

On the coach ride o'er to Cambridge
we took a little break,
At a memorial of US Soldiers
and some pictures I did take...

But overall that visit changed me
for my little heart did ache,
as I thought about those young men
and what they did for my sake.


Then next came the couple musicals
which were fun, quite a success!
We first attended Jersey Boys,
where they loved our group the best :)

We were in the front row of the show,
and I will confess,
the actors could see us and laughed at us,
and we were quite obsessed!


Then the next day we went to Wicked,
and of course, some evensongs!
Don't forget fantastic concerts,
which are not quite sing-alongs (like this :) )

Let's not forget Lion King,
where I KNEW that I belonged,
but our seats were slightly blocked...
and I knew that we were wronged. : /

Off to Buckingham to see the change
of the Queen's royal guards.
We sat along the street,
next to bicycles and cars.

At platform nine and three-quarters,
we got bruised and scraped and scars,
and we rode the London Eye
on which the whole world seemed OURS.



Thank you.

London Calling

As I promised =) Click.

A Predicament

I have come to realize a problem.

Blogging is one of the most fantastic things I can ever do... but not while I'm in London!

Our time is so ... SHORT! We wake up, make delicious breakfasts, run around wearing skirts and taking pictures so as to please those back home... and 13 hours later, we're finally home.

Haha and what do we do? FACEBOOK! Hulu. Skype with friends and family.

Oh wait, did I forget blogging?
Yes.

Dear anyone who ever looks at this, I am sorry. I am most definitely in every way including a link that goes to my PICASA web-albums, so if you're sincerely desperate for some news on my London trip, you can try to piece it together by the pictures.

Otherwise, I'll try very quickly to sum up in a not-quite-boring way my wonderful times I've been having.

Oh heavens! Okay, I've talked about Oxford--but not about Brasenose. I may have mentioned that we split into groups to sing evensongs (a nightly devotional with songs and scripture reading in the Anglican church). Of course, mine was Brasenose. If it wasn't, why would I mention it?

Wellll, singing was a BLAST. We walked in, and it was a small but still ornate chapel. We were wet, cold, and slightly embarrassed, but those singers welcomed us in. In fact, a lady that looks quite a bit like Terri Vodden "adopted" Anna and I. We practiced through the songs, with me making every mistake possible, and then it was... TEA TIME!

Tea was interesting. We went up into someone's dormitory, ate chocolate and BLUEBERRIES and many wonderful things. Our directors had told us to be social, so I sunk down into a SUPER comfortable chair situated in the best place possible-- IN FRONT OF THE FOOD!
A boy leaned over and asked about where we were from, and after I said, "Utah." he responded with, "Oh. Don't they have prohibition there?"

That sparked an interesting conversation.
Then, QUICK! Back to the chapel for the evensong! It was lovely. It's nice to sing in a place with such great acoustics. AFTER the evensong, it was time for "drinks." Of course, I only accepted Orange Juice, and as a boy handed us our dinner tickets we were, "American 6, American 5 [that's me!], American Pie, American Idiot..." Yup, creative. I conversed (in other words, cheerfully argued) with Ben and Ben about Harry Potter and Jane Austen.

Then, AHH! Dinner! I was led to the Hall. Not the GREAT Hall, which I do have pictures of, by the way, but the Hall nonethelesss. BUT IT WAS SO MUCH LIKE HARRY POTTER I WAS GOING INSANE ON THE INSIDE! Because of my conversation with the Bens, I was late to dinner, so instead of sitting next to the other Americans at the right end of the table by the doors, I was placed at the very end of the left end RIGHT NEXT TO ALL THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE. Intimidating? yes.

We were dressed formally-- I was wearing all black, and everyone else was wearing ROBES, the tables were candle-lit, and the servers were so quick at bringing our courses I could almost pretend they appeared by magic.
It. Was. So. Cool. And the food was FANTASTIC, by the way. Sadly, I was full before it started... and kept eating.

Overall, it was a fantastic day. We sang in the Oxford ward and ate with all o' their kids, then sang with Oxford students, and ate with them. Eating and singing? I can't complain!
... Or maybe I can.
Four sandwiches, a sausage croissant thing, a mini-pizza, chips, potatoes, carrots, strawberries, grapes, chocolate creme cookie, chocolate rice crispie treat, chocolate mousse pie, water. Bread, curry soup (HUGE BOWL!), potatoes, broccoli and carrots (cooked), LAMB, chocolate cake (which I only had one huge bite of). I barely could eat for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

OXFORD

Okay, if you don't like Harry Potter, you may as well stop reading this post RIGHT NOW.

Otherwise, you can BASK in the parallels.

At Hogwarts, there are Houses- Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff...
At Oxford, there are COLLEGES: Christ Church, New College, Maudelin, Corpus Christi, Hertford, Brasenose...

I ATTENDED A COLLEGE!

So the story is this. Ruth, an American who attended BYU but transferred to Oxford and sounds oddly like a Brit now, worked her magic and made it possible for us Americans to sing at separate college evensongs! But prior to that, we toured Oxford for TWO DAYS!

Day 1:
We split off into three or four groups, and I was in the group attending The Dragon School. OOOOOOOO. After a long trek through the rain (I had an umbrella) and a couple wrong turns, we found it! EUREKA!
They led us from the office to a classroom that was obviously built for choir. It was stadium seating, but only two rows, with maybe 5 people in each row.
Britain's "Public" schools are much like our private schools. They are very expensive, and almost always have boarders. However, the Dragon was a happy place to be, as I hope is shown in the video above. These children were 9-10 years old.

It was a blast singing with them! Although, I have to admit it was HILARIOUS when they sang a beautiful song about turtles that ended up... GUESS WHAT MOM... to be a song about SAVING THE PLANET! I guess the British culture isn't so different than Humboldt county after all!

I'm trying to upload a video, but it's not working. I'll make my posts shorter, so GOOODBYE! Hopefully the video works, and I'll tell you more about Brasenose and MUSICALS later!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Les Mis in London and Piccadilly Circus!

Goodness.
These past two days have been FANTASTIC!

We're singing at Oxford this weekend.  Both in Sacrament meeting, and at their evensongs.
We've split into "Houses" or "colleges" for the evensong--I'm in Brasenose.  Can I just say we're rocking it?  We sound great!  Although I definitely feel a bit... inexperienced.
So today the only class we had was practicing that.
BUT BACK TO YESTERDAY...
Yesterday, we practiced, and analyzed three different masses.  Have you ever analyzed music with Dr. Staheli?  I thought not.  It's extremely intense!  I feel so musically inadequate, but it's enthralling.

Anyway, we attended the TALLIS SCHOLARS concert.  They're like the ultimate rockstars of renaissance music.  We arrived, sat in the second row of the balcony, and were AMAZED.  Now, my roommates and I did NOT want to fall asleep during this, and so we took a preparatory nap.  Then, all night through we wrote in our journals about the music.  IT WAS AMAZING!

OH MY STARS!
it was amazing.  I tried to explain it to my class as swimming... but most people know how BAD I am at expressing my ... feelings about things.  Anyway, they were beautiful.

Then back to today :) 
Practice, fun.
THEN PICCADILLY CIRCUS!  It's really not a circus.  It's a section of London which has a WHOLE BUNCH of shops.  I bought shoes.  Tennis shoes for 11 pounds that have leather upper annnnnnd they're usually 55 pounds so ACTUALLY I got them, what, 80% off?  YEAH. Amazing.  Almost $80 shoes, for maybe $15.

That's us below.
Elena, Me, Haley, Anna.  We wore hats and felt SO classy.
We then went to a chinese ALL YOU CAN EAT buffet, which was probably the most fantastic food I've had this whole trip.  Besides the night that I was so hungry I ate a half of a pizza, and then some. 
The food was amazing.  And Jonny (a boy in my study abroad) could speak Chinese so he negotiated EVERYTHING always.  We sat on the upper floor and sang Prince of Egypt and Sara Bareilles and Adele and practically every song ever. 

The best part (maybe) about this study abroad is everywhere I go, if I sing a song like "Come Go With Me" by the Beach Boys or songs from the Sister Act soundtrack, everyone joins in... AND HARMONIZES!  

We're considering buying a permit and singing in a tunnel down by the tube.   

But alas, we have to focus.  So what do we do?  Go to...
LES MISERABLES!
Could life be any better tonight?  I submit that it CANNOT.  Everyone cried.  Even the boys. ... Or at least one of them.  We got discounted tickets for being students, on the second row of the balcony!  It was AWESOME!

We could basically see the freckles on the actor's faces  ... If they had them.  And if they weren't wearing stage make-up.

I can't even express how that made me feel.  Overwhelmed?
Yes.
We got onto the bus going home, and we were all giddy and laughing.  I'm surprised the quiet Londoners didn't kick us off!

We got home, shared our joy with practically the entire world, and then proceeded to blog and facebook.  It's like a nice sigh to the end of a very very exciting day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Westminster Abbey

More pictures! But first, stories.
Today, I woke up at... we'll say 8:30.  My roommate Haley said, "Cebre! We have to leave at 9 for Westminster!"
So we ran to the kitchen, made our lunches for the day (ohh how precious) and ran back to get dresses.  The straightener was turned on, we were brushing our teeth, tights and legs were EVERYWHERE, and voila! we were ready!

But was anyone else?  No...

Well, we finally left, with 6 other girls.  Honestly, we're supposed to have a man with us at all times, but THEY WERE NOT EVEN AWAKE! oh my STARS...
So, confident and empowered, we braved the tube.  We finally arrived at Westminster, only to find out that a prayer service was going on and we had to roam for about an hour before we could enter.  So what did we do?  MODEL SHOTS!  Ethan Watts, if you ever read this, Westminster Abbey (well, London in general) has the best bricks EVER.
 
After our model shots, we entered the Abbey.  Ushers led Anna and me to these benches RIGHT NEXT TO the choirs.  Sadly, I didn't take any pictures, because it was a sung worship.
I loved it.  The choirs were outstanding.  The boys were probably aged 5-10, and the men were simply marvelous.  Perhaps the most impressive was how still those boys sit, though.  They hardly moved!

The mass was moving, but also really sad.  A reverand spoke on John 14, and her sermon was fantastic!  She spoke as the Holy Ghost as our Advocate.  But I remembered the verses in the King James' Version saying that he will be sent as our Comforter... Anyway the prayers and the verses read were just sad.  The music was top notch, but perhaps it's because the scriptures were modernized, or that the prayers prayed for things that I don't necessarily think they can receive.  All of it was elaborate and beautiful, but something was missing.  I think that's where the sadness came from.

Then we walked into the simple LDS chapel.  OHHHHH HOW I LOVE SIMPLICITY!  The talks given were on Obedience, Repentance, and Forgiveness.  They just kept getting better and better!  The whole time I was simply at peace.  We attended Sunday School, which was about the Israelites and their frontlets.  I realized that I have many frontlets in my life--just maybe not so embarrassing as one between my eyes.  I'm SO grateful for them!
Then there was Relief Society.  The RSP then discussed... what but John 14!  She asked us what the Holy Ghost was to us.  My favorite analogy was a comparison of him with the sun.  The sun is only in one place, yet it can touch millions at once.

All in all, the LDS services were maybe not so educated, not so extravagant, but were just right.  There is a peace and truth to simplicity that I've always loved, and it was definitely there.

Just a taste of Westminster Abbey.  It was the most intricate ... ever.

We had time before the Mass, so we took "Model Shots"
Anna (roommate #2) and I in front of Westminster Abbey
MY LOVELY ROOMMATES! We didn't plan our outfits.
Oh dear, another "model shot"

The Wimmer Walk

With my Oyster Card, I'm braving the buses and the tubes.  Double-decker buses are not only fun because they're so ... different, but you can SEE SO MUCH!  I'm afraid, however, that the actual residents of this city may be a bit annoyed by the loud, LOUD American students.

Did I mention we were loud?  British people are sarcastic, but not loud.  So everywhere we go, it's loud Americans laughing their way around, and everyone else giving us the oddest looks.

Best piece of British sarcasm yet?
(At a concert, over the loudspeaker after announcing that cameras cannot be used)
"There are toilets available." pause... "Except now it's too late to use them."
THEN WHY EVEN TELL US?

Gosh, so restrooms are NOT restrooms or bathrooms here.  They are toilets.  The funniest thing is, all over London are signs saying "TO LET," which means "to rent."  However, everytime we see one, we think that the "I" just dropped out.

Now... it's picture time! (yay!)  My creative juices are ... currently gone.  So since a picture is worth a thousand words... this will be my longest post ever :)


Haley (roommate) and I in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

This is the bridge that twists all over the place in Harry Potter!! aka The Millenium Bridge
Our Wimmer Walk group! That's the Tower Bridge (in Kate & Leopold)
One of my roommates Haley and I in front of the London Eye

Friday, May 7, 2010

London's like a Lost home :)... literally.

Well, first off, I'd like to thank Eddie, my young Irish gentleman friend for listening to my chatter over the 10-hour plane flight.  Before the plane even took off, I'm pretty sure he understood that I wouldn't (or is it couldn't?) stop.  As I explained that I thought of the flight as traveling towards the future, he chuckled.

Later, he took off his watch and as he was resetting the time, said (somewhat sarcastically) in his Dublin accent, "OOOO look! Traveling to the future!"

I will say that I reserved my question of how fast the plane could get from 0-60, though.  At least I did that.

The flight over to London was enjoyable.  I watched Invictus and Monsters Inc.  Over and over again--but pieces of them.  I kept dozing off... the meals were fine, but I could never understand what the stewardess was asking.  And Eddie couldn't understand my mumbling.  

The man kitty corner to me ordered at least 3 beers-- that's at least what I saw while I was awake.  He wasn't allowed to leave the plane when we all were due to his high alcohol intake.  Also, someone was arrested while on the flight.  I'm not sure if she had possession of drugs, was DOING drugs, or was trying to sell drugs, but it had to do with drugs, and she was three rows behind me.  Quite a flight!

But really, it was gorgeous.  Today I watched the sun rise, then set, and then rise again.  I have been awake for 24 hours, now, and ... I'm losing it.

SOOOO I'm in London!
I got off the plane, went through Customs, ran down to get my baggage... and it got SENT TO DENVER! COLORADOOOOOO... aka NOT London!  Oh dear...

Did I really just call it baggage? I meant luggage.  Anyway, I still had two bags on me.  I have henceforth decided that it was an extreme blessing that the LAX baggers are dyslexic, for I got extremely lost on my way to my flats. 

  View Larger Map
So um, all of those points are Hyde Park.  Everyone kept giving me different directions.  I initially started going in the ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT direction, but after about 10 minutes of that, I turned around.  Oh my word.

I was ready to cry, until I saw, "LDS FAMILY HISTORY CENTER."  Yeah, are you kidding me?  They didn't really help so much, but just the fact that I remembered again that I wasn't alone did enough.  After that, it wasn't so bad.  

I mean, it kind of was.  I went from Prince's Gate to 37 Queen's Gate, but from there FINALLY found 37 Hyde Park Gate.  It's adorable.  But also completely hidden!  I walked in, and Sister Hall was in front of me.  I gave her a hug, let her know how AMAZING it was to see somebody I knew, and then we set down to get everything ready.  We decided to make a sign so that others could find the flats easier.  So I made a sign saying "BYU," and we chewed Peppermint Gum that Mom gave to me for Sticky Tac.  So innovative in London! HAHA

I'll post later pictures of the flat, and me looking happy and wonderful.  Until then... AU REVOIR! or something.

Still in the USA


At right is a picture of bread that my momma made last Saturday/ Sunday.  OH MY WORD it was delicious!!

Soo....Last night after our closing prayer, Lexie gave me a hug saying, “I’ll never let go ever!” 

Well James didn’t like that—not being able to hug me himself, so he said, “I’ll get her back!” and hugged me from behind.  So it was basically a Cebre sandwich.  Except from that point, my dad said, “I’ll get her arm!” and covered up the last remaining part of my body open to air. 

I’m ticklish, though, and so my neck was DYING with all the little fingers around it.  I kept trying to adjust, but that just made it worse.

I fell asleep last night hearing James coughing.   Poor little dear.  I think it’s very interesting how I could tell his cough from the other 7 that could have potentially been ringing through the house.  Of course, he does have the highest pitched voice.  Crazy child.    For my family, “WHaaaaat??”  Oh, James.

Anyway, I LOVE flying.  I love airports, I love airplanes, I love how the ground looks fake!

As we ascended, I practically giggled.  Okay, I get a little plane sick (UGH) but I LOVED seeing how tiny everything was!  California is beautiful.  I’m SO incredibly grateful for Physical Science 100 for it taught me about all the formations that I gazed at today.  I recognized where two plates must have been converging, and decided that a glacier must has passed through a certain part of two mountains. 

During this, though, I got distracted by my window.  I was right next to the propeller on the TINY plane, and little glittery dots were splattering across my windowsill.  I wondered if they were tiny drops of water, or maybe little chips… but after thinking about it, they were definitely drops of water.  Also, there was some type of albino bug living in my window.  I couldn’t decide what it was, I’ll call it a spidant.  I couldn’t count all of its legs…

I've decided the plane sizes definitely correlate to their classiness.  The smallest plane had bugs in the windows and moldy lights.  The next plane had legitimate life vests! YAY!

It was such a beautiful flight!   A perfectly clear day until we got to LA—which was due to the smog.  As we descended into San Francisco, I decided San Francisco is like a HUGE mosaic.  Beautiful.  Dad, you’ll be happy to know that I checked the bay for sailing conditions.  WAY TOO WINDY!  I watched the sunrise on my flight to SFO, and as it shone on the water, it looked dull—like it was shining on the stuff that gertie balls are made out of.  Weird…

I could have spent about $4,000,000 in the San Francisco airport.  I tried on sunglasses that look JUST LIKE LEXIE's that cost I think $116.  Wooo! I also tried on a pair that looked pretty similar to mine, before I realized that they were $160 and I probably shouldn't be touching them with my luck and grace.  The swatches were just beautiful, too.  I practically giggled as I looked at all of them.  They were so colorful and happy!

Soooo I went to the food court.  That's really where I would have spent all my money.  Let's be honest, here.  I spend the majority of my money on food.  Always have.

I settled on a breakfast consisting of sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, four pieces of french toast, and a lump of hashbrowns as big as... if I connect all my fingers together to make an oval.   MAN I was full!  But what did I want?

Bread, and avocados.  I have no idea where she got it, but a lady next to be had an avocado.  I LOVE those.  I took a picture of a rotting avocado at home :), shown below.  I still ate most of it, haha!

I met a "Christian" :)  She informed me that God loved me.  I smiled big and told her thank you.

As I told her about my trip, I explained that I would be singing at masses.  I explained that I’d never been to a mass before, because my religion was slightly different.  She asked what mine was, and as I told her I was LDS, she smiled and said, “Well, I’m talking differently than you usually hear, huh?”

She then told me that Jesus was madly in love with me.  Yup, definitely different use of words!

She told me God had great things in store for me, and again I thanked her, and told her that I, too, believe in miracles.  I left smiling.  I’m glad she wanted to share her joy with me.

Mom, I also thought I should tell you that I eavesdropped and then discussed a topic with the people behind me.  This super cheerful man was asking the woman next to her if she ever got tired when she had kids carrying them around ALLLL the time.  He said he understood that she probably grew stronger as her kids had grown heavier, but he was still wondering.  Well, I told him that hips really help.  Because I remember when I was 9 and I would try to carry Lexie, I would look like I was doing the “I’m a little teapot” dance, but as I got older, it was about 50,000 times easier to carry littler children.

So now I’m in LAX—I’ll refrain trying to repeat “Party In the USA.”  think she flies into LAX… but I know if I started typing what I think the lyrics are I’d become just like my wonderful mom, who thought instead of “You walk like an ACE, now” in the Beach Boy’s “Fun Fun Fun” song, it was, “You walk like an APE.”  Oh gosh, or maybe sweet Lexie who’s always singing the wrong words.  Let me just say I think Miley Cyrus is singing about cardigans.  Is she?

BOARDING TIME!!

Next stop?

London :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Grade

Thumb wars, Rock-Paper-Scissors, Miss Mary Mack, and I-Spy...

just a taste of what first grade for a day is like.

I joined James for a fieldtrip today!  But because I was early, I joined them in gym time.  What were they playing?  Oh yeah, that Doctor Dodgeball game.  Greeaaaat idea.  Give a whole bunch of 7 year olds soft-ish balls, tell them to chuck them at each other, and then sit through it as they allll get mad when they get hit.  

James's team was up on the middle line, being offensive and daring, while the other side hid back underneath the basketball hoop protecting their doctor.  Interesting...
In reality, it was super cute to see the kids throw as hard as they could.

Once we got on the bus, my little buddy Jacob (kind of like a miniature Rupert Grint--super cute) said,  "Wouldn't it be funny if a Siberian Tiger ran all the way from Asia?" 
... Yup... 
"And ran all the way to our school just to say Hello?  Wouldn't that be funny?"
 Haha, yeah... I would be laughing...

Ohhh, I guess I should also say that I educated James and Jacob on proper positioning of their fingers.  I informed them to NEVER ever ever ever only hold up the middle one, as that was very rude and very bad.  They both looked at my with their eyes big and said, "What does it MEAN?"  I didn't tell them.  I just told them that if anyone did that to them to tell the teacher.

We proceeded to watch ArcheDream for Humankind: a six-man (well, 4 women) show with black lights and the COOLEST costumes.  Their little ad is: 
ArcheDream for Humankind
April 28, 2010
Vibrant 6-Member Black Light Theater Company 

Utilizing hand-painted masks & costumes, mesmerizing puppetry, and contemporary dance and pantomime, 

"Deep Blue" is ArcheDream for HUMANKIND's magical journey through the elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Audiences watch this production in awe as wild, 

remarkably agile characters create captivating stories full of adventure and suspense. A non-profit organization focused on uplifting humanity, ADHK's numerous shows in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America are currently working to benefit children, the homeless and HIV positive patients in the US and abroad. The brilliant sounds, colors and stories of Archedream for HUMANKIND do more than enchant - they literally change the world.

They rocked.  It was simply beautiful!  ... and maybe a little weird.  I must say, that there was a moment where I was slightly scared for my life.  Two dancers were, well, dancing, it was the "fire" portion of the performance, and all 1700 children in the theater started clapping, shouting, and stomping their feet in rhythm.  All I could remember was Lord of the Flies.   Luckily, it calmed down as the "spirit" dancer came out and glided (glowingly) across the stage.

So-o-ooo we rode the bus back home, grabbed our sack lunches, and headed to the cafeteria.  We weren't aloud to enter until the bell rang, so all the kids stood outside in anticipation.  Then, YAY!!!, the bell rang and everyone stormed inside, grabbing their "spots."
It smelled like balogna and that weird plastic cheese.  And maybe mayonnaise, too.  JUST like a cafeteria should.  

People don't know this, but first-graders are experts in trade.  They know that a bag of cheerios is equal to a Capri Sun, and that a Go-gurt is equal to one chicken strip.  I should attend lunch in the cafeteria more often to become a master of trade myself.

I finished my lunch early, and was about to leave when James told me, "No, just wait 35 more seconds."  So I waited, to hear the bell ring once more, and see a sea of hands (all different sizes and colors) pop up eager to be excused.  Luckily, the lunch man excused me as well as the little people.

So I will end today's post with a series of first grade jokes:

Q: What's a pirate's favorite letter?
A: (We all know this one....) Rrrrrr!

Q: What's a pirate's favorite movie?
A: Carrrrrrs!

Q: What's a pirate's favorite game?
A: Carrrrds!

Q: What's a pirate's favorite planet?
A: Marrrrrs!

and

"There was a man so tall he could touch the ceiling.  A boy asked him how many feet he was, and he said, 'Two!'"

Shoot.  I forgot the knock-knock one. 


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"You're just a problem solver, aren't you?" "Mom! I'm not a problem!"

Realization of the day: I don't trust anything with my photos.  If I print them out, they can be burned.  If I put them on CD's or DVD's, they can break, if I put them on a hard-drive, it can crash.  Same with my computer.  If I put them on the internet, the system could die and then I'd have no access!  Oh shoot.

So this boy at right?
He looks cute and sweet and contained. OH WHAT LIES PICTURES CAN BE! He's the most out of control power-house I've ever met. I've been feeling a little sick since finals, and I think, "Oh great, now that I have absolutely nothing to do, I can rest."

Then what do I hear? "HUG CEBRE!!!"

About every 3 minutes. And I mean, I know, I'm his favorite. He tells me that every day. And it's wonderful to have a cute four-foot-tall forty-something-pounded boy throw his arms around you and adore you.

BUT EVERY THREE MINUTES?

Let's just say I'm not getting much rest.
Terra will hate me for this, but I went out and played tetherball with Lexie and Racer and James. When I was playing with Racer, James decided to "help." Ya right!! His "helping" fed Racer the ball every time. Needless to say (why say it, then?), Racer was
almost beating me the whole time.

News of Allen creations of late--James won third place in a writing contest for PBS. As soon as he received the email, his energy level multiplied by about seven. I hid.

Lexie also created a new creature--called the "KEY-BRA" aka the Zebra with a body of piano 
keys. A picture is included.

Also included is Lexie's science project. They smelled SOOOO good. Shall I go off on THAT tangent? What is the point of science projects? It's just a chance for families to TRULY pull together because there's no way in heck that the child is doing it on his or her own. 
So the parents (or in my case the older sister) end up doing the project with them, if not entirely. Hassle?

There is not a quiet moment in the Allen home, whether it's Terra talking to herself, Racer saying the oddest things, Drake singing or playing his uke, James making game noises, or Lexie being sweet... there is not a quiet moment in the Allen home.

Let's just say when my mom got home after helping out at Terra's musical dress rehearsal, I said sweetly, "I'm so glad you're home!" then laughed maniacally and yelled, "SO ALL OF HIS ATTENTION CAN BE FOCUSED ON
YOU !!!" and ran out of the room.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Start of Something New

As I watch my sister playing one-person tetherball I laugh at what I can remember from yesterday.

They call him "Ice."  

James: "Racer, what's your favorite thing that you did yesterday?"
Lexie: "He's only asking Racer first so he can copy exactly what he says..."
Racer: "I liked playing tetherball with Ice."
James: "I liked playing tetherball with Ice."
Racer: "James! You didn't play tetherball with DAD..."

It's so good to be home.  I'm able to belt, with Terra and my mom harmonizing,
 and my dad being okay as long as I'm doing the dishes at the same time.  Of course, there are daddy-long-legs in the shower (I'll post a picture of THAT later), and I've already gotten bit about 70 times by mosquitos, but it's home. 

It's not my cute ginger-bready home, but I accept it.  I feel like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White or maybe Giselle, for the tudor-
ish style makes it the most adorable thing ever. I kept trying to take pictures, but James and Lexie were running around, and the Denali was parked in the way.  Oh well!   Off for a new day.