Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ich bin ein Beliner! Wait... Ich bin Beliner! Besser.

Sidenote: For those who don't know, the first phrase in the entry title means "I am a jam doughnut." The second phrase, without the infinitive, means "I am a person from Berlin." President Kennedy stated the FIRST phrase years ago... I will not make the same mistake, but because I love Kennedy (as most Germans do), he is forgiven.

Plus, it was really funny... and meant to be really powerful.

Thus, ich bin Beliner, for a weekend...

So, this entry is not one of the "thankfulness memos!" I love writing those, but I have to also take time to update everyone on the real happenings in my life! What's the greatest is that even though this is not a "thankfulness memo," I am indeed thankful for all the events that have taken place in the last few weeks... I'm going to need a few entries to cover it all!

First, I went to Berlin with my friend Luise! She was a pretty amazing tour guide and hostess, if I do say so myself.... and I do. Haha... We had a great time hanging out with her family, and she showed me all around the city - very awesome!

Second, my family came to visit me! We went to the Netherlands together and visited extended family. We traveled all over this area of Germany as I showed them some of my favorite places, and as we explored some new sights together. We even had a traditional, American Thanksgiving at the Miller's home - a family from my ward here in Bonn - with a few American families and the missionaries! It was a fantastic week...

Now, I'm not going to write HUGE entries about everything, but I WILL have to break it up a bit to fit in even the basics. Haha! So, let's start with.... Berlin.

Three weekends back, I headed up on to Berlin on a Friday evening with Luise and a random guy (he drove us, and we paid him 30 bucks) that dropped us at her parent's home. I was so excited to see the city sights and live for a weekend in a place with so much history. I was most excited to see some of the WWII sights and the sights of the Berlin Wall. I had a feeling that I would have powerful emotions thorough-out the weekend, and I was right... It was SUCH a great experience!

On Saturday, after a traditional German breakfast with the family, Luise and I set out to see the sights of Berlin. The first place that she took me was Check-Point Charlie. We headed down the way to take signs by the old booth and sign reading, "You are now leaving the American sector..." Right next to the old booth and memorial was a history wall with facts about the wars and the Berlin Wall, how other countries helped in the crisis that followed each event, and all about Germany, and Berlin in particular, have helped reform themselves. It was really cool! I stood and read half the wall, walking slowly down to take in more and more, as Luise waited patiently for me to finish. Haha!

We continued down the street and came across to unknown highlights of Berlin. One, the mini-cooper store!!! It was totally cool - you could design your own mini-cooper and order it there to have it delivered anywhere. It was a BIT out of my price-range, but it was still fun to take pictures and see all the different kinds of minis.

Second, the Ritter-Sport Chocolate store. Can you say, HEAVEN? I can. Ritter-Sport Chocolate. That's right... BAM! In the store you can get all their chocolate for CHEAPER, AND you can have them create your very own chocolate bar right there in front of you. I picked Milk Chocolate with Jogurt Chips, Erdbeer pieces, and honey-roasted almonds (cause, I need more sugar, right?)... It was the most expansive and best-tasting chocolate bar ever... Totally worth it.

As the day went on, we headed toward other major sights like the Berliner Dom, Museum Quarters, Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, Reichstag, and even the spot where Hitler's Nazis actually burned books in 1933. There was a quote from Heinrich Heine printed there, which said, "Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too." It was really powerful and very cool... The sight had a large glass window over the ground, looking into the empty library shelves. It wasn't the most amazing-looking sight, but it was one of the coolest spots for me.

We headed on in the early evening to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a really cool design of different sized, rectangular pillars, and one must go underground to get into the actual museum. I thought there must be some specific reason for all the different sized pillars, but there is no specific reasoning... It's just what the architect chose to create. It's kinda random, but I loved it. We had fun walking through the pillars and taking pictures, and then had a sobering experience inside the actual museum.

After the memorial, we headed into a part of town where pieces of the original Berlin Wall stood... It was cool to see, but I was disappointed that some people had come along and drawn on them. YES, I know people did that back in the day, but people had written "2009" or "We Rock 2005!" in bold over parts of the wall... They had stick gum all over the sides... I wish they hadn't, but I guess it could be argued that it adds to what once was for the wall when it was in place. Still...

Anyway, we walked around downtown, saw some of the sight, had a GREAT dinner at Maredo's, and then headed back to Luise's house. The next day I went to church in her ward, which was different... Here in Bonn, most people speak English, but there it was not as common. However, Luise translated during Sunday School and RS, and they had their Primary program during sacrament meeting, which was universal... Little kids are clearly hilarious everywhere. LOVE IT.

That afternoon, we went on a walk by Luise's house where she took me on the path of the wall. She remembers playing on it as a child, where she was when it fell, and feeling like it was too loud after it came down - haha! In the picture to the right, I am straddling the line right next to her home. We walked by the memorial to the last person who gave his life trying to cross the wall - right next to her home. It was really cool to see, and crazy to think it was all in her backyard. The walk around the area made me think of 9/11 and it's effects... Interesting.

So, after dinner and hilariously trying to play games in German with the family, we headed home to Bonn... It was a good, fulfilling trip. I am SO glad I had the chance to visit Berlin before I left Germany. I would have greatly regretted not doing so before I left. Berlin, I think I kinda love you.

Song of the Day: I was debating between two or three different songs, but today's song is going to be one that my sister introduced me to. I am in love with it... Here is Brandon Flowers (the lead singer for The Killers) with his song, Crossfire.

Day Fourteen - The Best Friends I Have Are the BEST!

Day 14, and I still have so many names on my list of people to thank. However, today I just need to thank someone who has become one of my BEST and CLOSEST friends in the past six years. I am SO grateful for the person that she is, and how much she has taught me about life, and about myself. She has helped me see the potential I have inside of me, and encouraged me to dream big... She really cares about me and my success. She wants me to be happy. I know that I can talk to her about anything, and everything, and she will never turn her back on me. As I have watched her testimony grow and develop, mine has done the same. I am compelled forward by the momentum of her being... Sounds intense, but it's true. I just mean that she helps me see the bigger picture and work toward bettering myself. She makes me, and has made me, a better person. I am SO grateful to have her in my life, and to know that I will always have her in my life.

Today, I need to make this thankfulness note for Sarah Ray!

Sarah, you are an inspiration to me. You have helped me through some of the darkest times in my life, and taught me more about myself than almost anyone else has. You have stood as an example to me when I most needed one. I am a better member of the gospel because of your influence and heart. You have a spirit about you that is SO pure and good. I am impressed by how GOOD you are... and you can deny it and roll your eyes all you want, but it's the truth. SO many others would agree with me.

You are amazing. You are SO amazing, and you don't even know it... It's incredible how the best people in your life don't often realize the impact that they have had on you, and how much they really mean to you. In the words of a over-quoted (but still so good) musical, "Because I knew you, I have been changed FOR GOOD." I love you, Sarah - you're amazing. Thanks for being you... Today, I am thankful for YOU, Sarah!

Song of the Day: There are a MILLION songs I could say remind me of Sarah - really. "Love Again" from the Perfect Man soundtrack, "Ocean Avenue," "Bring on the Rain," "Way I Are," Rascal Flatts songs... SO many others. However, this one is a classic for us and I dedicate it to her. Here is "For Good," from the musical Wicked - sung by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel (A cool video too!). Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ich bin ser dankbar vor EFY... & the Men I Met There!

Thirteen is suppose to be the unlucky number, so I hear, but today it's a number to celebrate! Okay, that was dripping with cheese, but it is what it is. Today's thankfulness note has to go to a group of people that have really helped form a piece of who I am today. I am grouping some of these boys together because we all came together in the same place...

Alright! Alright! Alright, Alright, Alright - HEY! *clap, clap, clap clap clap* *clap, clap, clap clap clap* *clap clap clap* *clap clap clap* EFY!!!!!!!!!

Haha! Yep - this entry it dedicated to some of the greatest guys that I know from the EFY teams and sessions I have worked at over three summers. I apologize if anyone feels as though they are being "lumped together" with others. That is not my intention. I just thought it would make the entry more fun, and let everyone know that I am not only thankful for you men, but for the program of EFY itself.

First, Donny McClellan. This guy is one of the FUNNIEST guys that I know. He has a good heart and really lets people know how much he cares. He is a fabulous individual and has always is willing to lend a hand to help out. He also makes the BEST funny faces I have ever seen - including "Blue Steel," which is quite classic. I LOVE this kid! He is an amazing person, and I am bless to know him.

Second, Ben Bailey. He was my EFY muse in many ways - someone who has helped me grow in my comfort in public singing and being willing to be myself. He is a free spirit who teaches others to be comfortable in their own skin, and builds all those around him... He brings a spirit with him wherever he goes, and is such an example of Christ-like love and selflessness. He is incredible, and I love this guy. I am thankful to know him.

Third, Jon Halladay. He is a true leader, and has taught me a lot about how to disciple with love. He is SUCH an example of how to look ahead and see a situation before it becomes a problem. He has a joy about him, and brings that to others... He is our giant teddy-bear! I love Jon, and feel blessed to have learned so much from him... I feel more prepared for life and all it has to challenge me with, because of him.

Fourth, Dru Brown. Dru is AWESOME! He makes me smile because his happiness is infectious. He has a pure heart, and is SO focused on the right things in life... He's an example to all those around him. He makes me want to be a better person. When I am stressed out, I think of how he would handle a situation and it brings a smile to my face... because I know that is what HE would wear on his face. He is an amazing man, and I am blessed to know him.

Fifth, Chuck Donaldson. Chuck is HILARIOUS! He always makes me laugh and always wears a smile. He knows how to ease tension in the room, and has SUCH a great heart and spirit. He brings comfort to those around him... and he is a great example of a positive attitude in all things. I am SO thankful to know him, and to have sung "Love Today" with him in the car... many times! Haha...

Sixth, Tyler Goodspeed. WOW - this guy is one of my closest confidants over the years. Even though we have not seen each other in quite some time, I know that I could always turn to him in ANYTHING. He is a fabulous conversationalist, and always knows how to help someone out - is always willing. He cares about others, and puts others before himself always. He is one of the most thoughtful people that I know. I am SO thankful to have him as a friend - he's one to keep. (Note: NOT an attractive picture of me... HAHA!)

Seventh, Mike Lundberg. This boy does not realize how amazing he really is... He is one of my favorite people on the planet, and I do not see him enough. I have learned SO much from him about being a great teacher and leader. My testimony is stronger from hearing his testimony. I know that others feel the same... He's fun and one of the greatest dancers! I am so thankful to know him, and to be able to call him a friend.

Eighth, and last (yet, not last), is Turell Woodbury. Turell is on amazing person who has become one of my best friends over these past few years. He is one of the most fun individuals that I know, always willing to dance around and find me the best new jam. He has his heart focused on the right things, and is never afraid to share his testimony. He has taught me how to be a better missionary, and a better person. He is a smart, talented guy who has helped me grow and improve in SO many ways. I am blessed and thankful to have him as a friend.

To all of these men, and the many others who have been a part of my life through the EFY stages of my life, thank you. I am a better person and have a more full life because of you all. I am eternally indebted. Thanks so much for all you have taught me, and I love you each dearly like brothers. Today, I am thankful for YOU!

Song of the Day: If anyone does NOT know what song I am about to write down, you are SO out of the loop. Today's song is the Vengaboys' classic EFY jam, We Like To Party. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day Twelve is a Blast From the Past!

Day twelve of the thankfulness memos is for a person that was there for me when I most needed, and didn't know that I needed it. She taught me right from wrong. She dared me to be a little better, and stand a little taller... and she led by example. She is talented in SO many areas and one of the most beautiful girls that I know. I see her now, with her kids and family, and am in awe how much we have grown up... She was my best friend in sixth and seventh grade. I know that she truly cares about others, and always had a way of making me laugh. We shared some pretty epic memories - camping with her family and in her backyard, school dances and first boyfriends, volleyball and gymnastics, long bike rides and Friday night football games...

Today, I dedicate my thankfulness entry to, Kendra Bryant Ware!

She was a light for me in tough times, and shared the trials of youth with me - as dramatic as that sounds. Haha! She never let me fall to the wayside even though I was a little awkward sometimes, and she truly did tell me when I wasn't being the best person that I could be. In real terms, she was a real friend, and a true example. I am thankful for YOU, Kendra!

Song of the Day: Wannabe, Spice Girls.... ENJOY! :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And on the Eleventh Day... We thank, Sherstin!

Day number eleven on the thankfulness road is going out to a girl who has always impressed me with the kindness and genuine attitude she gives to all those around her. She has a good heart, and knows how to let others know how special they are to her, and as an individual. She reaches out to help in a moments notice, and always knows how to solve a problem or give amazing advice. She is an incredible example of Christ-like love and living. I am constantly impressed with her and the person that she has helped me become, without even knowing she has done so... I look to her for an example in a lot of things through my life in these past.

Today, I dedicate my thankfulness entry to, Sherstin Creamer!

She is just a GOOD person! She shares an incredible light with the world. She is someone who always lifts others, and brings joy into every situation. She makes me laugh - I'm realizing how important that is in a friend for me. Haha! She and I have not always spent a ton of time together, and yet, I know that if I needed anything I could ask her and she'd be there for me. If the world had more people like her, the world would be a much more celestial place. I am thankful for YOU, Sherstin!

Song of the Day: This might not make sense to her, but I remember dancing around to this song with her and Britt, at a birthday party... and I think of her each time I hear it... :) Here is Natalie Cole with This Will Be. Enjoy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ten is for Ben!

Day number ten of thankfulness is for a guy I have known the past six years, and grown to love like a brother. He and I somehow became good friends through complete randomness, and it just stuck. I got to know him better as we wrote over his mission, and I learned that's he has got one of the BEST sarcastic whits I have ever encountered. He is one of the hardest workers I know, and yet seems to be the most laid-back, chill individual I know. What I really love about him is his ability to be serious when needed and funny, stupid when appropriate. He's pretty much fantastic!

Day ten of my thankfulness notes is dedicated to, Ben Gardner!

Thank you for being such a great friend to me over the years and always being there when I most needed you. I know that I can always turn to you, and that means a lot. Thanks for teaching me a bit more about how to relax, and go with the flow. You are someone I have had some of my BEST conversations with, and I'm grateful to know you. I am thankful for YOU, Ben!

P.S. I think Rosa is pretty dang great, too! :)

Song of the Day: Big Pimpin', Jay-Z... It was this or Trick Daddy's, I'm a Thug! Haha... Enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day Nine is Family Time!

Day number nine, and I'm still at it... I'm trying really hard not to miss a day!

Day number nine had to go to someone really special in my life, because it's the actual day of THANKSGIVING! So, I decided that day nine is for family time! Cute rhyme, eh?

These TWO individuals in my life have meant SO much to me in my life. One of them, I have known, well, my entire life. The second person I met just a few short years ago... They are both of great importance to me. Both of these people are funny and SO much fun to be around. I prefer spending time with them over almost anyone else - sorry, it's true. They're great examples to me of people who live right and enjoy the journey every step of the way, even through the hard times. We are constantly laughing and joking about something. They are an amazing example of a good couple in a very positive relationship. They care about me, and I'm SO thankful to have them in my life.

Day nine on my thankfulness agenda belongs to, Derek and Cami Struiksma!

I am so thankful for the people that you are and how much I know you care. I know that my brother might not always be the best at showing me he cares traditionally, but he does show it. I'm thankful for all you've helped me become, and for helping me learn to laugh at myself in life. I am thankful for YOU both!

Song of the Day: Today's song is more of a video short/SONG... It's pretty much amazing. Here is Andy Samburg's Throw It On the Ground! Haha.... ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day Eight is For Adam the Great!

On my eighth day, I want to use this thankfulness to note to mention a friend who has taught me SO much. I feel like I more prepared to "conquer the world" because of him. He is hilarious and makes everything fun. No one can be around him and suppress a smile... He has a real gift to create happiness in everything. He has an AMAZING voice, and though I know it's not his life-ambition, I hope he records a CD someday - a little R&B action to jam to in the car would be fantastic. He has an amazing heart and truly cares about others... I don't know how he allows his heart to open so wide and fit so many inside. He makes those around him feel good about themselves. He's a mentor and a friend, and he has taught me in both capacities. I am so thankful for his ability to make me think about things and improve myself and my relationships with those around me.

Today, this thankfulness note is dedicated to Adam Ruri!

I think that more people should be as fun and hard-working as Adam. He does both with what appears to be little or no effort. He's a fastastic friend and example, and I feel blessed to know him and call him more than a "facebook friend." Haha! I am thankful for YOU, Adam!

Song of the Day: We Built This City, by Starship. Feel free to dance, Adam... and get video-taped by a bunch of Asian tourists. Enjoy!

Jefferson Starship - We Built This City
Hochgeladen von jpierrev. - Entdecke weitere Musik Videos.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day Seven in Nanny Heaven - Thanks Anya!

Day Seven of my thankfulness notes has to belong to a girl who taught me a lot about what the heck I am doing over here in Germany. She gave me key guiding advice that I'm sure she didn't even realize was so crucial at the time of being spoken. Many times, this girl helped me feel confident in what I was doing, and oddly enough, in who I was becoming. She is smart and insanely talented with matters of organization and attention to detail. She's always got an encouraging word and sweet thing to say to those around her... I've just been SO impressed with the person that she is and how willing she was to reach out and help me, without even knowing me. I'm sure that time will only expand our friendship, and I am thankful for that too... I look up to her a lot.

Today my thankfulness note goes out to Anya May - the Au Pair before me here in Germany!

She truly has been an inspiration to me and taught me a lot - even from a far. She's been a comfort, and someone I know that I can turn to if I need advice or help. She's a good example and an AMAZING mother- potentially. Haha! I also thank her for the work she has done with these two boys I care for right now - they are MUCH better people because of you. I am thankful for YOU, Anya!

Song of the Day: I don't really have a song to associate with her, but this song is FOR her. Here is Boyz II Men, Thank You. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day Six Needs a Chad Fix!

Day six is upon us and I have yet another person to be thankful for... I really could go on for forever with these, I believe. Today's person is someone who always makes me laugh, and often makes me roll my eyes. I wouldn't have it any other way. Out of sheer randomness and a love for music, we ended up starting our late night phone conversations and weekly hang-outs. Together, we've taken road trips, gone to concerts, and lamented over Hollywood gossip. He's hilarious in his own right, and ultra creative. He has a LOT going for him - he's incredibly talented and knowledgeable. He has always been there for me when I really needed him, and I know that he cares about me. He makes me laugh/ He shocks me - sometimes for good... other times, no so much. Haha! From campaigning against each other in college elections, we crossed paths... and now he is one of my best friends. He is someone I am ridiculously thankful to have in my life.

Today, I dedicate this thankfulness message to, Chad Johnson!

I love how he is into the same things that I am and we can talk about things of non-importance with no worry about what the other will think. He has real opinions and I feel like I have learned a lot from him, and formed some of my own drive because of his words and encouragement. I am thankful that we somehow fell into each other's lives... I am thankful for YOU, Chad!

Song of the Day: My Life Would Suck Without You, by Kelly Clarkson - His queen. This one goes out to you... :) Enjoy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day Five = My Favorite Teacher!

On the fifth day of my thankfulness memos, I have to dedicate this entry to a woman who perhaps has no idea what an impact she has had on my life. When I was in seventh grade, I was quite the awkward little youth. We all go through it, and though I didn't hate my life or really have a bad time in middle school, it was still hard to get through sometimes. I also was just discovering my love for acting and the theater, and for writing poetry and song lyrics. I was in my creative element, and I just needed some encouragement to push me inside of this element. I needed someone who cared about me and what I was becoming, and wanted me to succeed... someone I knew that I could turn to in all things. Everyone needs that, especially in the middle school.

For that reason, today my dedicated memo of thankfulness goes to Wende Jenness - my seventh grade English teacher!

She is one of the best teachers and mentors that I have ever had, and I know she is still that person. I told her that the first time I got a Grammy or Academy Award, I would thank her in my speech. I maintain that I will do that. She is a person that has stuck with me, and she means a lot to me. She was ALWAYS there for her students, and for some reason found a special spot for my awkward self. She's a class-act. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from her, and believe that part of my future success will belong to her... I am thankful for YOU, Mrs. Jenness!

Song of the Day: At the Beginning, from the movie Anastasia. I'm sure she'll remember why this song if for her, and I STILL think of her whenever I hear this song. Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day Four: Thanks Galore, to Sarina!

Day Four is for someone who has been a huge part of my life the last few years... We were roommates for a short time at one point, as she took my first out of country trip with me (not including Canada). We found ourselves walking the streets of London together, writing papers and seeing plays, and having way too much fun sometimes... We tend to have a lot of luck when we have traveled together. We took a trip to the American Idol Finale and got into the second day with no tickets, sitting in the 6th and 10th rows, next to celebrities. We went to Hawaii, which is awesome within itself, and then got an unexpected upgrade to drive around a Spyder 2010 Convertible. We've spent hours playing "people watching" games with our eyes and Ipods, and played "name that tune" on airplane rides. We have sung and danced together... We have laughed more together than I have with many of my friends, and yet we can still have serious conversations too. She is the perfect friend to me.

Day four of my thankfulness is dedicated to, Sarina Thomas!

She is a true friend, and an amazing example to me. I look up to her in MANY ways, and admire the choices she has made in her life and the person that she has become. I aspire to be more like her in most things that I do. She is thoughtful of others, creative, quirky, spiritually in-tune, hilarious, and one of my best friends. I am SO thankful for YOU, Sarina.

Song of the Day: Thriller, Michael Jackson... Girl, dance your heart out! Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day Three: Give It Up for Mama Kay!

Onto day number three among my thankfulness messages! This day must go to one of the most fabulous girls that I know. She has a heart of gold, truly cares about others and how to make them know they're loved. She has a passion for the gospel that radiates. She certainly knows how to break it down on the dance floor, and move her saucy Latina hips! Haha... Because of her, I am more confident in who I am. She makes me laugh all the time, and I always know that I can count on her for a comforting word or some needed encouragement. She looks past all my faults and takes me for who I am, and I am SO thankful for that. I enjoy her bluntness. She is not afraid to tell you what she thinks or how she feels, but she knows I'll dish it right back if needed... She is one of my dearest confidants, and I truly appreciate her and all she has helped me become.

Day three is dedicated to, Kay Figueroa.

Thank you, Kay, for being who you are, and thus, helping me know that it's okay to shine. I love you a lot, girl. I am thankful for YOU, Kay.

Song of the Day: Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body) by Three 6 Mafia! This is for you, Carmel Lolli! Love, White Chocolate Lolli... (Warning: For those who would be offended, the video has scantily-clad girls. There is no swearing or anything worse.) ENJOY!

Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two Goes To Drew!

Day two on the thankfulness front will be dedicated to a friend of mine who has always been there to make me laugh, and to make me think. We have had some of the best conversations... conversations that make me want to change for the better, to work hard and to grow as a person. I am better because I know this person. He has one of the best laughs I have ever heard - gets me goin' every time - and the best facial expressions. If he could HOLD those facial expressions just a LITTLE longer before laughing, he could be an actor - and a good one at that. He's one of the best people I know, and I feel blessed to have him as a piece of my life...

The second day is dedicated to, Drew Chapman.

I am thankful for you, Drew. Thanks for being a close friend, confidant, and mentor. I look up to you a lot, and you make all those around you better. I am thankful for YOU.

Song of the Day: So Much To Say, Dave Matthews Band... Enjoy, Drew!

Dave Matthews Band - So much to say

Rob | Myspace Video

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Best Way to Be Thankful is to Say Thank You!

I was thinking about how I could focus more on the spirit of Thanksgiving throughout this month, and show my gratitude to others. As I was riding my bike this morning, dropping Nico at school, I came up with a plan... a plan to share my gratitude with the friends and family around me. I came up with a plan to post a blog each day that will be dedicated to a person, or a few people, who have influenced my life for good in some way. The person may or may not ever read their entry, but I hope all the same that they know how much they mean to me. The song of the day will be one that reminds me of that person in one way or another...

Since I was late on the uptake, I have decided that I will continue this until the end of the year. So, with that said, let us begin.

The first day of thankfulness is dedicated to...

Natalie Struiksma!

My younger sister is one of the BEST individuals that I know. She has a tender heart and really cares about other people and about animals. She is an incredible artist and we share a passion for theater and the arts. She's one of my closest friends and I love her SO much. I am thankful for, Natalie.

Song of the Day: All I Can Do by Jump 5. She knows why... Enjoy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Quarter-Century Club!

I am a fourth of a way through my life... considering the fact that I might live to be 100 years old. Now, if I only live to be 70 or 80 years then I should have written this post long before this blog was invented. Just sayin'. I am also now considered a "menace to society," in case you believe that still... I think I'm over that.

I am 25 year old now.

I'm waiting for a big change to happen. I'm waiting to feel different. In fact, I've been waiting for over a week now.

Nope. The change isn't coming. The only time I felt weird was when I thought, "In five year, I'll be thirty..." but that thought fled quickly and was replaced with what to eat for breakfast.

My birthday weekend was a great one - simple, but fun. It was filled with friends and my current "family" here in Germany, good food, thoughtful gifts, lots of laughter, and plenty of dancing. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

This picture to the right represents the power of me being 25 finally... Okay, really I just wanted to take a picture with this funny-looking statue.

I awoke on the morning of Saturday, November 6th, to children and adults running up the stairs in my house, bursting open my door, and singing me happy birthday. I sat up, smiling, but a bit confused... many of you can recall how I am when I first wake up from a random accord. The kids quickly forgave my awkwardness and handed me what Nico called, "The Main Gift." I smiled as I opened the paper to reveal... a mini, mini cooper! Haha... The past few weeks, whenever the parents asked me what I would like for my birthday, I dodged the question by saying, "A car. I want a mini cooper." I have done this in past years of my life too. I told them about the times my parents bought me collector hot wheels cars - especially, this little red one - as a joke. They decided to carry on the tradition. Haha! Classic.

That afternoon, Koko and the boys (Patrick had to work) took me out to lunch at this little place downtown - very good food! We ate lunch, walked around the city, and got a Starbucks hot chocolate. Mom, you would have been proud. Haha! Koko also handed me my actual "Main Gift," while we were out and about.

First, she handed me a beautiful, little, gold bag. Inside was a sterling silver and amber ring. It's this cool swirly design... I love it! The only I have is my fingers swell often (I know, I should drink more water), so it can't be too tight... and it can't be loose either. The only finger it fits really well on is my ring finger on the left hand. Now, in Germany this is no issue, because people often don't wear wedding rings, OR half of people wear them on the right hand. It's just a different culture, and different traditions. Plus, no one assumes you are married or taken from a ring on your finger. However, in Utah...

In Utah, I have to be slightly more careful if I ever want to be asked out when I get home. People can obviously tell it's not an engagement ring, but people read into things and make assumptions from something as small as wearing a ring on the "wrong finger." Bizarre, I think, but it's the culture. So, we'll see... but I might have to ditch the ring when I get home and wear it as a necklace. I haven't decided if I care enough, yet.

The second thing Koko handed me was a ticket - a concert ticket... the see Jamie Cullum. JAMIE CULLUM. I was ecstatic! I have fallen in love with his music over the past year and own all his records. If you don't know him, he's a British, Jazz singer - like Michael Buble - but he writes all his own stuff and plays piano. The concert was that following Tuesday night, in Dusseldorf, and I could not wait! Below, you can catch some videos and pictures of the concert... INCREDIBLE. He sounded great live, his band was SO talented, and he made things fun. He had the crowd sing in this chorus round on one song, and it was SO beautiful. I just stood there in awe. It was also cool to see how different it was from in the states... part of it might have been who I was seeing (a jazz singer out of Britain), but I don't think it was completely so. The were older people on the standing floor seats, and people weren't really singing along unless we were encouraged to sing. There was more, but there's the jist of it all. Below are the links for the three videos I recorded while there!

Back to the actual day of birth celebration.

After lunch and gift giving, we headed back to the house, where we met up with a group of my friends from church to go ice skating. We ate cake first, made by Koko (chocolate and raspberry -YUM!), and then headed out. We got there and everyone kinda changed their minds. The place was more crowded than planned and more expensive than people thought. I was a bit annoyed because in my mind I was thinking, "This was everyone else's idea for my birthday - not mine. Did no one think to check prices and such before coming here? Is a crowded rink really going to stop people?" It was what it was, but we turned around and headed back to my place. I was surprised with myself, because I was actually in such a good mood, that I just let it roll off my skin. I was smiling and laughing, and just ready to do SOMETHING. Haha!

We went back to the house to order pizza, listen to music, and play Dutch Blitz! For those who don't know, Dutch Blitz is a card game I've grown up with. I've only met one or two other people in my life who know the game and play it with their families. It was a Sunday tradition in my house - a staple activity. I LOVE this game!

Sidenote: There's a game like Dutch Blitz here in Germany that's really popular, but I haven't played it before. However, because of this game, teaching everyone Dutch Blitz was easy, and people were really good at it really quickly. My brother, Derek, could still have slaughtered everyone on the table though... He is SO fast!

After pizza and card games, I left with Luise, Glenn, and Rahel to go bowling and get cocktails with a group of their friends in Bad Honnef. It was a lot of fun! We had a nice group and I got to use a bit more German... I'm trying to, anyway. Haha! Following cocktails, our group of four went to a little club next to the bowling alley, and the rest went back in to bowl another game. It was a blast! When I first got in, I was surprised by how stiff everyone was dancing. I asked Luise about it and she said, "They haven't had enough to drink yet." I said I didn't care, went into the middle of the dance floor (which was inside an old swimming pool floor) and broke it down. Some people thought I was a bit crazy... really. I just didn't care what anyone thought and was having fun! After awhile others started to loosen up and the atmosphere improved, which was nice.

Sidenote: I think I've turned off my "like button." I mean, there have been a few cute guys here in Germany that I've been interested in or liked, but not really very many... and it has not in one ounce been a focus. I don't know how, but I think I just turned my mind off to it all and focused on the little boys I care for right now. That's why I'm here, and I haven't let other things be a huge center to my life. The girl here tease me, saying, "How are you going to turn that button back on when you get home?" Haha... I'm sure that will come naturally. :)

(I wrote the above "sidenote" because I was told boys were coming up and trying to dance with me here and there, and in all honesty, I didn't even recognize it. Not one ounce. I've always been a bit oblivious, but yea... Haha!)

We got home that night right before 3am, and after a shower I was out in an instant... It was a long, tiring, really great day, and I was thankful I had great people around me to share it with me. I really missed some of my friends and family from home, and couldn't help but think about my "Thuggin' and 80s Lovin'" party from last year, but this year (though much more chill) was just as good, in a different way.

Yep, that was the day that I turned 25. I am now, 25.

Song of the Day: I should just use one of the ones posted above as my song of the day, but I REALLY want to post one that is on no Jamie Cullum album, that he performed at the concert. I didn't record it, and that makes me monster sad... The one I am posting is a good copy from someone else at the concert that I found on YouTube, but the first few seconds are missing... Eh! It's still AMAZING. Here is Jamie Cullum's song, Lost. It's a new favorite song of mine - so good. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A German Halloween!

This past weekend was Halloween. No news-flash there. However, in Germany things are just a bit different on this holiday. It is only in the past few years that this holiday has really begun to "take off," and it still hasn't expanded to the level of that in the United States. Carnival in Germany is more like what are Halloween is... except even more crazy and immoral. Sorry, but it's the truth. As far as dressing up and getting candy go though, Carnival is rather similar to the US's Halloween holiday.

Well, our family decided to spice things up here in Germany and do a Halloween party. Fourteen kids and costumes, twelve painted pumpkins, three games, four bahn-rides, one bonfire, twenty-four sausages, three apples, lots of sand, and even more screaming later... we had completed a rousing Halloween party in the Rheinaue.

It was CRAZY! Seriously, there were so many kids and they were everywhere and anywhere at times, but it turned out great and the kids had a lot of fun. I was glad I had offered to help out though, because there is no way that Patrick and Koko would be able to have done it alone... We were fine, but even for three of us there were a lot of kinder. However, I have to say, the three of us make a good team. On the way to the park, I often led the way as she made sure people in the back of the group were keeping up. Then, during the games we switched roles. Patrick rode ahead and got the pumpkins set up and the fire going strong on the beach. It went well, and it was fun!

Anyway, this weekend was a busy one, full of candy and children. However, it was also a good one. The picture on the side is of Nico in his cowboy costume, and it was just too classic of a picture to pass up... The lone-rider chillin' on the side of the road? Haha...

Seeing Finn in his skeleton and power ranger costumes, and Nico in his Cowboy and Ninga costumes (different ones for Saturday and Sunday) was hilarious... as it always is. Those two play dress-up more than any other kids I know... besides drama nerds. Love it! I even gave it a spin and dressed-up Saturday. What was I, you ask?

Hint: Answers may vary. Not enough? I'm usually black... and answers may vary. STILL not enough? I'm usually black, you can COUNT on me, and... answers may vary!

I was a Magic 8 Ball.
Haha! I walked around and when people asked questions, I said things like, "Ask again later," or "Can not predict now." It was fairly classic... and simple. Lest you believe that I was the creative genius, let me give credit where credit is due. Thank you, google search. Thank you.


Song of the Day: I am diggin' on this jam after watching Charlie St. Cloud. A decent film, with some good camera work. It was definitely a tear-jerker! Anyway, this song is at the end of the film and I instantly looked it up and downloaded it. LOVE IT! Here is Jack Penate's song, Pull My Heart Away. I need to check out MORE of his stuff, cause this song is THAT good. Cami and Derek, if you are reading this - I thought of you when I heard this - dig it? Enjoy!