Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Response Memo...

In response to THIS ARTICLE --> Click on "THIS ARTICLE" to read original...
If you don't read that article first, this entry won't make a lot of sense... if any.

Here's my take.  First point – I think what she is REALLY saying is that those who are bored need to #1 change their attitudes.  That was not reflected in my statement above, so I apologize.  I SO truly believe you get what you put in.  Honest to goodness, most Sundays I leave and feel incredible.  I have taken what I can and need to from the speakers and lessons... What she is saying is that we expect these big manifestations to happen and they don’t to everyone… well, not in those ways of old.  However, in my personal life, I've felt just as amazing and powerful manifestations in my heart – literally, JUST as powerful I’m sure.  I believe that for most people, it’s an individual thing – that’s the beauty of the gospel.  However, how I read her point is that most people EXPECT more than that and if we would just listen to the quiet manifestations, we would see God is ALREADY present in our meetings.  There’s that.

Second point – I agree and disagree with this point.  I think that some wards are spot on with having a balance about sharing facts about Christ and the church, and getting more at the why it matters.  However, many wards skip out on the WHY.  I am a BIG advocate of the WHY in everything.  What do I mean by that?  Well, why does it matter where Christ comes from and what he said in the lessons he taught?  Why does it matter what the Saints went through at the start of the restoration?  We have to teach more than “what happened” and teach why is matters to you as a Latter-day Saint.  How can your testimony grow and change from learning the importance of WHY we teach the doctrine?  If your ward is doing this, then I’m obviously not talk about the revamp in your ward.  If not, then perhaps trainings and ideas shared on how to talk or teach is appropriate, like in point #4. 

Third point – I learn through music best.  Sincerely, that is my “multiple intelligence” if you will… Everyone learns differently (visually, audibly, kinesthetically, etc.), and my main avenue is music.  When I’m at General Conference, I genuinely write down more notes from feelings I have during the songs than the speakers.  I LOVE MUSIC.  Knowing that, know that I love a lot of hymns from the hymn book.  However, we could have some revamp there.  Perhaps a good chunk of it is the tempo on songs needs to improve, but I think it’s more than that… We want to be respectful of the chapel and the place where one of the most sacred ordinances takes place, but we could still have music that a bit more joyful and even upbeat – I’m not talking going crazy to the point the spirit is driven out, but if done in the right tone and maturity from the congregation, there’s nothing wrong with a “worship” piece.  You can disagree – it’s fine – but I think that it would only enhance the service.  Also, what’s wrong with allowing the acoustic guitar into a service if it’s used reverently and can respectfully to worship… Just thoughts.

Fourth point – What is wrong with offering training to individuals and helping us all BE BETTER?  We are not just here on earth to grow spiritually, but in all manners of life.  That’s why we’re told to become educated –to study and learn from the best books – and those are not solely scriptural.  Thus, what is wrong with offering opportunities for growth in public speaking, teaching, and communication in general?  Especially when learning to communicate could only help us articulate and share the message of the gospel with greater comfort, accuracy, and passion, I believe this to be a wonderful idea for ALL individuals.  Even the BEST speakers could benefit from training on talking about the gospel.

Point five – Her language and point comes across slightly pompous, I admit.  Okay, her language through most of this comes across rather pompous.  However, I think her intentions are pure… Remember, Elder Utchdorf stated, “…it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment.”  I don’t believe her intentions to be malicious or impure by any means. 

Now - Like my friend Brook said, ordinary people doing extraordinary things is the beauty of the gospel.  We don’t need theologians giving all our talks and lessons – nope, we just need those with willing hearts.  We do not need a change in the people or our leadership.  Those called are inspired and called of God – I know that for myself.  So point five is where I disagree with her… However, I think as those in our generation are coming into leadership callings it is important to realize that we are there for a reason – not to keep things exactly the same, but to look for ways to constantly strive to make things better.  The GOSPEL it perfect, but the people aren't – I am FAR from it… Why not give me tools that I need personally?  For example, in regards to point four, I feel VERY confident in public speaking and teaching, and I know I’m good at it – I better be as it’s my profession.  Haha!  However, of course I could use more training on speaking about the gospel!  That’s just one example.

Point is, there is NOTHING wrong with sharing a new or different idea.  That gospel has provided a safe space that should encourage individuals to share thoughts and impressions.  They may or may not work, but who knows if you voice a thought what glorious program or slight change could come forth to benefit someone or many.  There’s my two…. ten cents.

I will support and go with what the brethren say – always.  I’m just giving my ideas… and as a future and current leader in the church, I think we are blessed with minds and opinions to share.  Things don’t change if no one says anything… and perhaps they don’t need to.  However, we are on this world to be heard and to share the inspiration and thoughts that come to our minds… that I precisely why God has given us the ability to think and be inspired.
*muah* 

Song of the Day: My friend, Sean recommended this band to me  and I am IN LOVE!  They are fabulous... Here is The Orbit Group with "Typical."  Take a listen and you will NOT regret it - Enjoy!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nicaragua Part V: Final Day, Final Thoughts


My final day in Nicaragua was more of a sight-seeing, relaxing adventure - similar to Saturday's trip to Masaya and Granada.  We had the opportunity to wake up a bit later that morning and have a chill morning till 10:30am... but a group of us (some LDS/Mormon and some not) opted to attend the local LDS services just a few blocks from the hotel.  Our bus driver, Alberto, was kind enough to drive us around to find the church bldg. and then even attended the service with us.  I didn't understand about 90% of the service, but the one thing I did understand was the spirit.  It sounds cheesy, but I just love how the gospel is the same wherever you go.  I knew exactly what was happening and why, and I could feel the overwhelming love that these members had for the gospel and for each other.  I was really grateful that Cami got all the information together to make it possible for us to attend sacrament meeting.


Sidenote:  It was fast and testimony meeting and they went a good few minutes over because people just kept getting up.  Again, not so different from the states. :)

After the church service we slipped out and headed back to the hotel to change and head to Lake Apoyo (volcano lake) for the afternoon.  If you ever want to experience a piece of paradise, check out Lake Apoyo... Oh my word.  It was gorgeous and SO peaceful!  I was so relaxed and just chill while there.  Don't get me wrong, after lunch I jumped in the lake for a little swim and then spent three and a half hours playing games on the water raft 30-40 feet off shore. It was a blast playing Ninja, Chilean children's games, and Down By the Banks on the river raft then taking a million "action shots!"  However, after that it was nice to just read and lay by the side of the lake for an hour or so... It was a little piece of Nicaraguan heaven.
 Me and Laura!
 Our MAT raft crew!
 HOOK inspired shot...
 Mermaid Dancing?!?

After the swim I realized my mistake of not having worn ear-plugs... I always forget that when swimming a lot in a day, but I get swimmer's ear fairly easily when in the water for an extended period of time.  That night made for a pretty nasty, tearful night (with only about 3 hours of sleep) because of plugged ear, but it's slowly healing now and there's no pain anymore - I can't quite hear out of it fully yet, but hopefully soon!

Going back to Nicaragua, we headed back to the hotel post swimming and relaxing to eat dinner and then meet up for a final reflection discussion.  We were all groaning a bit about having to have the final reflection, but I don't know why... I always end up loving those kind of discussions.  I love dissecting feelings and experiences and talking about them openly.  Is that weird?  Eh.  Oh well!

While we were discussing the events from this week we were asked a few different questions.  The first (worded more articulately that this): What was your favorite highlight from this trip and why?  We were often asked to expand upon that by sharing how that experience would influence us as a teacher in the future.  I talked about my experience with Father Cardenal and how I feel more shaped as an individual after hearing him speak - how I set goals for myself as a person and as a teacher while sitting right in his lecture.  Again, it was THAT good.  I kind of saw him as almost a Nelson Mandela figure of his country and purpose... For real - he was incredible.

Anyway, I wanted to take a second to reflect once more.  We were asked to ponder the following questions for our "final reflection" in class tomorrow.  Though I already feel I touched upon these things, I feel it might be good to regroup my ideas and just share some insight to my overall experience.  First, we were asked how the travel seminar influenced our ability to learn about another culture.  

Truthfully, I felt this seminar to be one of the most powerful things I could do to understand and learn about culture while here at Westminster.  We talk a lot about the different cultural backgrounds our students can and will come from, but I don't believe that I fully understood until my experience down in Nicaragua how culture can affect a student in and out of the classroom.  So many kids down there are excited about and love school, but only have the opportunity to go through 6-8th grade.  This is because they have to work after that so their families can make money to eat and survive.  So, as an educator I was thoughtful of the students I will have that might have to work to help their family make ends meet.  How can I help those students succeed and grow? How will I react when a student comes in and says they don't have their work done because mom needed them to run family errands or work extra hours?  I don't believe in allowing excuses to build and enable students to not have to do work.  However, I can be more understanding and work with them to come up with a plan that will work for them if things arise.  It is going to take more effort on my part as a teacher,  but I want to be the teacher that goes the extra mile when needed.  Some other students won't think it's fair, but I have realized that education and learning (just like parenting) isn't about giving every child the same thing, but giving each child what they need to be successful.  Education is about the individual.

The second question: How will you continue to learn about cultures as a practicing teacher?  My thoughts are coming out in THIS fashion:

1.  Be familiar with your surrounding.  As a teacher, I will be aware of the cultures and values represented in that area.  I want to make sure that I know as much as I can about the background of each student and where they are coming from so I can understand their situations and struggles.  I want to be understanding of the kids that fall out of the cultural norms of the area's population, and determine how I can make those students feel included without singling them (or others) out.
2.  Be familiar with what is happening around the world.  At times, kids from other backgrounds and cultures are effected by the things that are happening halfway across the world.  If I stay up-to-date on the important things that are happening around the world, I can relate to those students and hopefully know how to better help them through any tough experiences.  Also, I can use cultural events from around to world to bring in information or ideas that may represent that student without singling them out or making them uncomfortable.
3.  In regards to English or theater, why not bring in literature or theatrical pieces from other countries or cultures?  If there is a piece originally written in a different language, I could bring in translations for class members.  I can use pieces that dig into cultural or societal issues (which many and most do in some way), and do more than perform or read them, but discuss them.  I think this is a vital piece of theater and studying literature, regardless - dissecting and discussing the real meaning behind a piece.
4.  Travel.  I have NO problem with this idea... The more I travel and observe different cultures, asking questions and walking the non-touristy path, the more I can come to better understand a culture or life style.  I love traveling SO much and experiencing new places, so this idea is heaven to me... Yep - I'm going to travel like crazy during my summer months.  It's research, right? :)  Think I can get funding for that?  Yea - didn't think so.  It was worth a shot though! :)

All in all, my experience to Nicaragua was life changing and incredible.  I really was so happy with the people I was there with and how we influenced and taught one another, as well as the experiences the Center for Global Education had laid out for us.  It really was the PERFECT trip and learning experience.  Westminster, I love you even more now... and I already loved you a whole lot.
*muah*

Song of the Day:  I think I post this video EVERY Christmas, but it is THAT good.  Here is Vocal Point (Feat. Ryan Innes) singing "He Is Born."  He is insane good - they all are.  BLOWS MY MIND.  Check out both versions (one is only half, BUT it's a better version I believe)... Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nicaragua Part IV: Friday & Saturday!

I have much more of this trip to record and share!  I always struggle to get down everything I want to remember after the fact is a week or more behind me, so I hope I can do this justice.

FRIDAY...

On Friday we got up bright and early to make tortillas with the host family madre.  We really only learned to shape and cook them, but it was still a cool experience.  We ate breakfast (a egg pancake thing on the tortilla and fresh plantains)  with our little group of three and then headed to the end of the road to meet the bus so we could get everyone from their homes.  Leaving the home I stayed at, I merely wished there was more interaction between us and the host-family.  I know we didn't all speak Spanish, but we had one with the ability to translate (Marilee), and it would have been nice.  I'm sure it was a respect thing (perhaps a bit of a comfort thing as well), but I think you REALLY find out about a person's living situation and life/opinions from talking with them.  It was interesting also how we never saw the father figure in the home.  Regardless, we were thankful for all they did for us. As we walked to meet the bus, I noted what a beautiful morning was around us. I took some time to just relish in the beauty of the hills and plant-life around me... It's amazing how you can see the hand of God wherever you are in the world.  Tender mercies.



After picking everyone up we headed back to the city of Matagalpa for a short stop at a local cathedral (Parraoula San Pedro Apostol – Catedral) and park in the city so we could see a bit of a different city.  We were only there for about 20 minutes and then had to get back on the bus and then headed out to a dry-mill for the coffee production process.  We got to walk around the mill and see just how it's taken care of all the way to packaging - drying, raking, setting, roasting, and even tasting to see what flavors are good enough to be sold.  It was really cool, but took a bit longer than anticipated or appreciated.  So many people were not feeling well that day and we were all hot and feeling pretty nasty - really we were in need of showers.  Haha!

After the drive back to Managua, we checked back into our original hotel and had time to freshen up and grab lunch.  We were really excited about both of those things - haha!  Honestly, I was straight-up starvin', but also in dire need of refreshing... It was a toss up to see which would win out, but food won.

We grabbed our travel bags and headed over to the University for a lecture from a Jesuit Priest named Father Fernando Cardenal.  He was involved in the revolution of Nicaragua in the 1970's and the literacy campaign there in the 1980's.  None of us were particularly looking forward to this lecture and many of us even jokingly debated way to ditch without being noticed. First, that would have been impossible.  Second, it would have been HIGHLY regretted... For MANY of us on the trip, this lecture was our favorite part of the stay in Nicaragua.  It was life-changing, and rejuvenating... I felt so amazingly moved educationally, spiritually, personally... I made goals for myself while sitting there and listening to him lecture.  I took notes and basked in his presence.  It's truly remarkable how one indvidual and his life could have such an impact on another human being, not to mention the entire group of us MAT students.


Following the lecture, we headed out to grab dinner at a local, authentic Nicaraguan restaurant called Cocina de Dina Haydee.  It was pretty bomb!  We ordered drinks, appetizers, main courses, and desserts, and stuffed ourselves silly.  We were all sharing, so it wasn't as much as it sounded... but it was still a lot!  Haha...  I had some appetizer with Indio Vejio (Jacob from freshman year served his mission there and suggested I try that out) which was fabulous, and a sampler of many different things.... Then, there was the tres leche.  TO. DIE. FOR.  Seriously - incredible.


A group of us felt the need to work off all that food after, so we went dancing at a local disco techa.  Haha!  It was awesome... It was smokey and there were dirty videos on the screens, which was NOT my thing, but the music was reggaton and we had a good time dancing.  Something that was odd - none of the guys made moves on us really, but they would stare at us and pretty much eye-rape us as we danced.... kinda creepy.  I kept hearing them say, "gringas, gringas....," but would just creepily check us out.  That was pretty ICK too....


We only stayed for about an hour when half the group decided to go onto another club, and the rest of us grabbed a cab to head home.  Turns out we had gotten into an illegal cab... Good thing someone was watching out for us, because that would have been pretty bad.  We got home safe though and decided to call it a night.  I stayed up to read and blog a bit, but let me tell you... I was ZONKED!

SATURDAY...

Saturday was a lot of fun in that it was more the sight-seeing part of our trip.  We hopped on the bus bright and early, had a different guide for the day, and headed first to a local grocery market.  It's pretty similar to our Smith's or Macey's... but we all got to try some new treats and grab some things to take home for treats.  Then, we headed to Masaya Volcano National Park.  It's a live volcano (though simmering and not exploding) we could go around to see and take pictures.  It was neat... no more on that.  Haha!





Our next stop was the Masaya Craft Marketplace... I could have used more time there - haha!  It was a shopping dream.  Hand-made crafts and for very little money - I was loving it!  Haha... I went around with Laura (Cami and Katelyn were with us some of the time) and she helped me when I was struggling to understand Spanish, but I felt I was doing alright with talking to people and bartering.  I didn't do a ton of bartering because I know that this market is where these people make their money and stuff was already pretty inexpensive.  I mostly waited for people to lower the prices themselves as I stood there long enough looking. :)  It was fine by me if they wanted to go lower, and then I was able to knock of three or four dollars on the big items.  I found a beautiful white stone nativity and an elephant in the same stone (I try to get an elephant from every country I go to), and got a carved and hand-painted mask for my theater classroom. It was fun... I must admit, I do love shopping.


We hit up a local "buffet" for lunch, where some older guys came and played our table a song on the marimba.  It was beautiful and a total highlight for me - I love music.  It just makes me happy to see others use the gift of music... It's the true universal language.


Post-lunch we headed to the city Granada, the oldest known European settlement that still exists today, were we saw some of the city center, a beautiful Catholic cathedral, and took an amazing boat ride on Nicaragua Lake.  We went around the islands (thoughts to be exactly 365 of them) on that HUGE lake - second biggest in the bottom hemisphere - and saw gorgeous homes, amazing plant-life and views, and even stumbled across monkey island.  YES - monkey island.  This is a place where a vet placed 12 monkeys to live in the "wild" safely.... incredible.  Don't believe me?  See the video below for proof... Yep.




We headed back to the hotel afterward and got dinner, chilled, and just had a good night back at the hotel... Katie and I had a good chat in our room about life - rooming with her was great cause she's so easy to talk with about anything.  I never feel like I can't ask her something or bring up any topic.  It's fabulous... :)

I'll have to write about the last day later... For now, this little girl has to get some sleep.  It seems I may (or may not) have contracted a tape-worm or some stomach illness post-trip.  Yep - yuck.  Silver lining: I'm down seven pounds!  Yippee!  Haha.... I'm almost to my Germany weight.  BOOM.
*muah*

Song of the Day: Cheesy song award goes to the following song.... but I adore it!  Here is One Direction with "They Don't Know About Us," off their newest album.  I love the whole album - no lie.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nicaragua Part III - Keeps Gettin' Better!

I have SO much to write about and I'm not sure where to begin.  Let's just begin by saying that Nicaragua has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life - no exaggeration.  It's incredible how in one week you can take in so much, learn so much about yourself and others, and reevaluate goals and your heart.  I'm consistently impressed by the actions of others and all that they do to become better people - to help serve and love others around them.  It could be something small, like getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning everyday to make tortillas for your family.  It could be getting a soda for the bus driver because we're so thankful for all he's done for us.  It could be the hug an old man gives each individual who attended his lecture in hopes to change their hearts and refocus their minds on service... It's all of the things and so many more that I have seen this week, which have changed my life in one way or another.  I feel revitalized and rejuvenated.  I feel more on track and driven... I already feel more joy.

Now, the specifics...

After hitting up a GORGEOUS, new hotel in Matagalpa, we spent the morning looking at the gardens and eating a nice breakfast with some amazing fried plantains.  I'm positive those are my favorite things in the world right now... They're half good for you and half terrible for you, but I love them regardless.  Anyway, we had a bunch of mini-photo shoots around the hotel, in the gardens, and overlooking the mountains surrounding the city, then hopped on the bus and headed for the hills.

We headed to a small co-op in La Reyna (in San Ramon) where they live a modified version of the law of consecration (everyone gets what they need and has nothing set as theirs specifically) as they harvest and prep coffee to be sold.  It was SUCH a cool place to visit.  We had the opportunity to pick some of the coffee "pods," which I had no idea previously were bright red and hid the coffee bean (originally white) inside, and stay with local families.

We visited the school there first and saw how the teachers and students have no technology and do everything by hand, but seem to have a lot in common material-wise as to what they are learning.  It was fascinating to me in many ways... They had two students do traditional dancing for us and then turned to us and said, "You're turn!"  Haha!  We had NO idea and had prepared nothing, so everyone turned to me and said, "Sing for them or dance!"  I guess I am the performer... but awkward!

Fun fact #837 - I HATE being put on the spot to perform.  It's not cause I don't like to perform (I love it!), or because I'm unprepared.  I can typically whip something out quickly, but I feel really awkward because it feels like showing off to me... and my brain just freezes.

Anyway, I had everyone join me in singing Jingle Bells for them and then Camille, Leigh, and I got up to do the "Boot-Scootin'-Boogie" for everyone!  Haha... It was simple, but they thought it was fun and it was cultural - esp. in Utah and the surrounding UT states.  We talked with teachers about the challenges they face and opportunities they've been given, as well as the training they have received and their style of teaching.  It was amazing how teachers are starting to become more progressive and lining up in our style and catering to the learner and exploring different ways to assess or teach information.  I love that...

Sidenote:  I was making faces at one of the little boys and one of the teachers caught me and we started laughing pretty hard... no one knew why at first and it was a good moment. :)

After the visit to the school we headed down to the little "village center" (a little covered hangout) to eat lunch and chill out for a bit.  One of the little boys was there and we played tag for about 45 minutes eventually ending in high-fives and hugs... very adorable. I have four different people ask me, "Why aren't you teaching elementary again?!"  Haha - What can I say?  I adore my teenagers. Truth is - I like the application level of thinking and the deeper level of learning the "why" behind something.  The initial light-bulb turning on is cool, but it's going beyond that which really fascinates me.

Lunch was incredible and authentic - amazing meat/veggie mix, rice, tortillas, veggies, and orange juice - and afterward we were ready to put on stomach baskets and head out to pick some coffee beans.  I had a slightly, unfortunate accident stepping in a HUGE puddle of foot deep mud and completely running my sneakers, but otherwise it was an amazing experience.  Haha!  And that crappy moment didn't slow me down - I went on to pick coffee and learn the ins-and-outs of the process with a smile on my face.  The sneakers I brought had holes and were already going to be left behind in Nicaragua, but it was good to leave them in the mountains rather than the city because they'll probably be used.  I washed them off and gave them to a leader of the co-op.

After picking the beans, we took them to the plant processing building to watch how they're shucked, washed, dried, and prepared to send to a sellers plant.  What's really cool is that the beans producing something called "honey water," which can be used to make methane gas!  Meaning, homes in the co-op now have a source of electricity.  How amazing is that?!  I think these people are just so inventive, intuitive, and hard-working to create new things.  It's pretty amazing to see...

We split up shortly after with our host-families and headed to their homes.  We had a great time visiting with the 21 year-old son about his religious views (he brought it up again and again), and loved how in-sync our ideas and values were in reality.  I think he was coming into the situation looking for an argument to defend his faith and was slightly shocked when we agreed with all his points.  We do need repentance and the Savior in our lives.  We do know the second coming is just around the bend, and the natural disasters testify to that point.  We do know that faith is not enough, but that they must use works to reach salvation to it's fullest end.  We agreed on every point... Haha!  It was kind of cool to see our religions inter-weaving.

The mama of the family made us a great dinner of fresh eggs (some of the best I've ever eaten), rice and bean mix, and thin, fried plantains (my favorite thing I've eaten so far), but they didn't eat with us... It's a respect thing, but it was a bit bizarre to me.  They gave us the best of what they had and then ate in the other room - what they ate, I don't know.  We were left to visit for about an hour as we ate and then the 11 year old came in to chat with us for about an hour.  I got a bit brave and tried to use more Spanish, and though it was pretty bad, I realized I know more than I thought I did.  I should be willing to try using languages more... it's how you really learn them.  I kept talking in Germish - half German, half Spanish.  Haha!  It's just natural to go to the language you know that's foreign outside of English.  I would say, "Yo es viente sieben.... viente siete!"  or "Yo liebe... Mi gusta..."  Haha!  It's funny how that works, but those who visited with me were super patient.

We got ready for bed, climbed under our mosquito nets and sleep-sacks, and chatted for a bit before I dozed off rather quickly....

That was day #3 - get ready for day #4 (plus pictures) tomorrow! :)
*muah*

Song of the Day: I'm lovin' on this song right now and since it's December 1st, I felt a Christmas song was completely appropriate. Thus, here is Dave Barnes with "Family Tree."  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Day in Pictures! Nicaragua: Part II

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  
Well, how about a slew of them?

 Lauren and I on the plane to Managua!
 MAT Group at the airport after customs - we're a good-lookin' bunch!
 Squeezin' in hardcore on the bus to the hotel...
 Making lunch for the kids at school #1...
 Part of their playground...
 Classrooms in school #1
 Making lunch and then servin' it up!
 Walking to the University...
Art murals in the city of Managua...
 SO GOOD!
 The #2 school we went to see - SUCH a contrast!  This is basically a charter school...
 Second school playground area #1....
 With some of the students...
 Dimelo Cinco!


 Coke Zero at the Market? Yes, please!
 Market Scavenger Hunt Success...
With Daniel and Katelyn at Hotel #2 in Matagalpa!
 Last day of preschool celebration!
The younger kids at school #2!

Hope your enjoy... To read more about day two, click HERE to see the blog I wrote for my class today!
*muah*

Song of the Day: Senseless by James Fauntleroy = AMAZING.  There's also a version by David A.... just FYI.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Siesta, Fiesta!!! Nicaragua: Part 1

Just sing the entry title above to the tune of R Kelly and Jay Z's "Fiesta" and you'll get a flavor for my first day in Nicaragua...

Yep.  I'm in freakin' Nicaragua.  Nicaragua!!!

It's painfully beautiful.  It's dirty.  It's busy and loud.  It's still and quiet.  It's a mix of emotions as your drive through the streets.  I was pleasantly surprised in some ways by things that I saw and am still in a mild state of shock by other things.  I would like to preach that I'm not naive, but in some ways... I am.  When it comes to foreign countries that are poor and on the third-world spectrum, I am somewhat naive.  I believe that most are until they see things for themselves and experience a piece of the third-world culture.

Today we went to help at the schools sponsored by the NicaHope foundation.  Well, help is probably an overstatement, because we merely were helping hands in serving the kids lunch and cleaning the kitchen/cafeteria a bit and they didn't exactly need us there to make that happen.  We were more present to observe and take note of the resources available and the culture surrounding the school.  We're visiting two more schools tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to compare and contrast.

Taking a step back, breakfast was rice and beans fried up together, eggs with peppers, onions, and tomatoes (amazing!), mixed fruit (fresh watermelon, pineapple, and the best papaya ever) and toast with melon jelly - surprisingly good.  It was pretty bomb.... Back to the important stuff.

After our visit to the schools we went back to the homestead for NicaHope and talked more in depth about their organization and what they have done for Nicaraguans and their schooling opportunities.  They began in 2008 and have grown from 5 workers to 24 since then, and TONS of kids.  We also had the opportunity to buy jewelery from their after-school program, made from "trash" found in Nicaragua - i.e. soda cans, wire, paper, stones, etc. They have gone from 10 kids to 100 in two year's time!  I spent a bit more there than planned, as it was more expensive than things I would even typically buy in the US, but I justified it by saying it was for a very good cause - and rightfully so, as it goes to help these kids and the foundation.  We aren't suppose to give money out to kids or people on the street, so I figure it's my way to give back.  There is literally only so much I'm allowed to do, so buying gorgeous "trash" jewelery sounded pretty amazing to me.

After NicaHope stuff we came back to the hotel for lunch and a mini-siesta.  Lunch was rice and the smoothest, best re-fried beans of my life, steak with pico de gallo salsa, some rice/pineapple drink (not my thing - I tend to not be fond of rice drinks), and bread... well, they had fresh tortillas, but I was last to the table and they were gone by then.... Tomorrow I'm gettin' my hands on one of those.  Haha! 

In the afternoon we headed to the Universidad (University) de Nicaragua for a lecture series on the history of Nicaragua.... Now, usually I'd be bored out of my mind because half lecture style learning is not my thing.  It's not the information, but the presentation of the information.  However, this guy has a great style to him and was an exceptional giver of information... 90% I was highly engaged in what he was saying.

Highlight Notes from Lecture:
 - Traditional clothes and behavior has faded out because it's not in "self-interest" to be IDed as indigenous.  Example --> Two people could speak the Rama dialect (originated in Nicaragua) two years ago and now it's unknown if more learned or the language has died... The Sumos language is likewise almost gone.
 - Some indigenous people (on the Atlantic side) are still trying to succeed from time to time.
 - On the pacific side, the shores are full of creoles, garifonas, and mestizos - black, slave trade individuals who either escaped from slavery or overthrew their boats.
 - They are self-dependent with rice and pretty much beans. They have coffee being exported all the time, and also grow cotton, corn, sesame seeds, and have amazing fishing up North. The surplus corn the US kept giving then Nicaraguans to sell in the 80s actually caused a million issues because they could no longer get money for their own goods and it hurt their economy.  Sometimes I wonder how much America is helping when they think they are...?  Not everywhere, but sometimes...
 - Conservatives are loyal to Spanish traditions of political culture and trade, and liberals will buy from anyone.  That's what defines them generally.
 - In 1856, an American by the name of Filibuster burned a city in the South and declared himself President and English the official language.  This did NOT stick- obviously.
 - Almost 80% are living below the poverty line....
 - The Literacy Campaign in the 80's brought the illiteracy level from 50% to 12.9% in 5 months!!!
 - The presidents of the past are automatically on the supreme court, and they are immune from everything... To vote them out it takes a ridiculously high number of votes.
 - 98% of kids fail the college entry exam now...
 - 1.3% birthrate and life expectancy around 72% - There are more dependents working now, but in 3-4 decades they fear this will not be the case.

QUESTION TO THINK ON: Do you think corruption in politics is possible more readily because media is not as accessible, and the media there is is only run by one side  -the Sandistas? 

Following the lecture on campus, we all walked back to our hotel (about 5-10 minutes away), taking pictures of some murals along the walls as we went... The graffiti here is typically in mural form and carried some deeper political or social meaning.  I believe that's what a great majority of ALL graffiti in mural form is about... it's the crap words spray-painted here or there that I detest.  Mural art (graffiti or not) is simply gorgeous to me.  They use rather bright colors and poignant messages - I enjoy art in all forms.  On that note, I plan to look for some piece of art to bring home at the market tomorrow... here's to hopin' I find a good one.

We went on a bus tour of Managua after we arrived back at the hotel, but it was fairly dark by the time we reached downtown area.  Thus, we'll be going back to do some walking around and picture taking another day.  Well, in the safer parts... It was interesting because we weren't allowed to have our windows open on the bus for safety reasons (along with people trying to sell us a million and one goods - especially since we're white) and we are really visible to people here.  We just have to be cautious and smart.  Anyway, we saw some amazing statues, a giant cathedral, a Nicaraguan fair, and the slum areas... It was really cool, and highly humbling. 

We came back to the hotel eat dinner (rice, fish, papas fritas (fries - with ketchup!), and cooked veggie mix that was pretty bomb.  I tell you what, I don't care what anyone else says, I'm lovin' the food... might just be me, but I'm a happy girl in the stomach department.  After dinner I chilled for about an hour and then did the "unthinkable" in this hot, humid city... I went running.  I know, I know... I do it a lot - still hate it.  I've determined I'll never love it, even if there are MOMENTS of small enjoyment in the process.  I just prefer other forms of exersise.  I love dancing, Zumba, lifting weights, and the elliptical... I just hate pure running or jogging.  HOWEVER, I did it - and felt great after.  Sweating like mad makes my skin clear and feel really nice...  I did some jump stuff, squats, and lunges after, and then took an amazing shower.  Haha!

Other Notes:
 - The ants here are HUGE with massive bums... it's slightly intimidating.
 - The first night riding here from the airport we all crowded on this tiny bus with all our luggage and barely fit, which was pretty entertaining... At least it was air-conditioned!  (As are our hotel rooms - thank goodness!)
 - Trash is everywhere in the streets.  Everywhere.  It's pretty weird thinking about actually just littering like that without a second thought - bizarre to me.
 - The dogs remind me of how Nicole and Amber described them in Argentina - ridiculously skinny, starving, running wild in the streets with no particular owner, flee-biting, and full of disease... It's VERY sad to me.
 - People not only try to sell you things on the side of the road, but IN the road.  They walk down the middle like it's nothing, trying to sell nuts, fruit, water pouches, flowers, or even wash your window.  I've seen all these things before, but not in the MASSIV hoards of people trying to live off of doing those jobs.  EVERY intersection was PACKED with people and handcarts (of donkey-pulled carts) full of items to sell.
 - The whole city is prepping for Dec. 7th celebration "La GriterĂ­a" - a religious event where thousands come to sing to 7 different alters carrying replicas of the virgin Mary and will be rewarded with food, sweets, and small presents from the government.  I wish we were here for it, but it's still cool to see them prep for the event.  It's insane how much is going into the alters decorations...

Day one was a good one here in Managua... I even used a little Spanish!  Muy pequno... but still.  Really, I can not stop thinking in GERMAN!  Weird - huh? I need to hit the sack, because I kinda can't wait for tomorrow... :) 

I'LL POST PICTURES TOMORROW!
*muah*

Song of the Day:  The song within this video is pretty powerful (I think it's called "Hope is Coming," but I have no clue who it's by...), but this also shows a bit more about who NicaHope is trying to help...  Enjoy.

Nica HOPE from Nica HOPE on Vimeo.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shiz My Friends Say...

Title courtesy of Spencer... :)

It's that time again - get ready for some amazingness to ensue below.

OLD QUOTES (aka: last year):
"That bedazzled Jesus... that's six minutes of my life I can't get back." - Cami

"Knock, Knock..." - Linze
"I don't even open the door!" - Derek

"I'm use to saying it's sacrilegious, Cami..." - Linze

"Then we're gonna flip em' off!" - Cami

"Are we having a special needs Christmas?" - Derek (I think...)

"Your nickname is Panda Express..." - Sue Sylvester
"But I'm not Chinese."
"Neither is the food at Panda Express.  Now, Panda... make it happen." - Sue Sylvester

NEW QUOTES (aka: ones I remember a bit more):
"Right or wrong don't matter in the woods!" - ITW with Kortni...

"Siri, are you gay?" - Kylee, to her phone
"We are talking about you, not me." - Siri
"Are you a lesbian?" - Kylee
"No comment." - Siri

"I think I have herpes..." - Kylee to Siri (her phone)
"Don't apologize." - Siri

"I just said that in the chapel on Sunday!" - Linze

"The last one I always have trouble with and that's thinking..." - Michelle

"If you hurt her, I'll crush your scones." - Aria (from PLL)

"You're like a bad Edward Cullen." - Michelle

"I'm a little wet." - Linze

"I think we're gonna be great friends." - Spence
"Because we'd be gay!" - Kylee

"Here it is - 'Shiz my friends say!'" - Spence

"My eyes are all blotty." - Kylee
"It's a lesbian thing." - Linze

In regards to her instagram name, "It's kkk.... I set myself up for failure all the time." - Kylee

"That's what happens when you're friends with Spencer and a dyke." - Linze

"Thanks for coming!" - Spencer to my mother... at my own house.

"I've heard you have a really pretty... Nice voice." - Kylee
*SUNG* "Thank you!" - Spencer

"God listens to the prayers of lesbians." - Spencer
"He works hard on us." - Kylee (see how quick she is... that's why we're friends.)

"Put it under your crackle." - Lindsey

"I need a knife." - Meech
"Tottie's kids have one." - Karin

"I edit drinking, you edit sex." - Linze

"He really is more attractive eating an apple." - Meech
"I'm gonna practice on the way to work." - Linze

"She needs pinterest." - Linze
"That's really what it comes down to." - Lindsey

"Linze, something bad! A Utes truck!"
- Eliza

"I guess red bull really does give you wings..." - David

"I've never texted a black before..." - Annonymus
"Wow.  First, don't text him that...." - Linze

"No. That one's not funny!" - Linze
"Cause you said it." - Kylee

"Is that how you... you know?" - Lindsey

"If you had some whit sunglasses you could." - Ryan

"Are you bating?" - Spence

"He uses the word toolier..." - Kortni

"If I could just birth a four year old, that would be great... but it would have to just walk out, cause there's no way I'm pushin' that thing!" - Linze

"It had a HUGE rack!" - Linze (about a deer!)

"Brinna is to hot as Linze is to smokin' - check that analogy!" - Yours truly.

*muah*

Song of the Day:  Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks."  I adore this song and this band... Love the new find. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

CUTE BLOG = CASH

"I'm sorry that people are so jealous of my blog... but I can't help it that it's so popular..."

 Okay, okay - that's not the EXACT quote.  I changed it up a bit... My friends and I quote Mean Girls WAY too much.  Well, CAN you quote Mean Girls too much?  Perhaps not.

Point is, I'm entering a contest called "Rate My Blog" from thecutestblogontheblock.com and I'm pretty sure mine is the cutest blog on the blog... Thus, I thought I'd humbly say so right off the bat.  I mean, I'd be stoked to win because - CUTE BLOG=CASH.  Yep... and I could definitely use some more of that for my last semester of Grad School.

Anyway, I'll be putting the link up shortly to vote if I "make the cut."  For now... just enjoy sifting through the most recent entries and the AMAZING song below!
*muah*

Song of the Day: Here is Colton Dixon's single "You Are."  LOVE this! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 2012 General Conference: Part I

I adore General Conference.

I love the advice and the guidance given.  I love the spirit felt with each talk and speaker.  I love the reaffirmation that we have a living prophet who gives us a clearer view of our personal road map.  I love the chastisement or critique presented that helps me know where I need to make improvements in my life.

I love General Conference.

Sidenote:  For those friends who don't know what General Conference is, let me give you a little definition.  General Conference is when leaders from the LDS church speak to members, investigators, and anyone who want to listen about the teachings and principles of our gospel.  If you're looking to find out more about the LDS faith, or just Jesus Christ in general, check out some of the talks by clicking HERE

 **My favorite speakers are Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Thomas S. Monson, but Marcus B. Nash gave a favorite talk for me this time too!

Here are a few of quotes and notes from this last Saturday session (October 6) in case you missed it...
 
Quentin L. Cook
 - When you feel disillusioned evaluate where you are in life.  You have enlisted to serve God - you left the neutral ground... Don't go back to that ground.
 - "The foundation for kindness begins in the home... Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes."

Ann N. Dibb
 - "I am a Mormon. I know it.  I live it.  I love it!"
 - Are we as well-versed in gospel truths and how they fit into your life?  Knowledge is the power of God and salvation. As our gospel knowledge increases we can more fully live the gospel.

Craig C. Christensen
 - As a parent (future for me), take advantage of the questions from our children, and opportunities to share the gospel.  When your children feel something, tap into that and let them know when you feel the spirit.
 - Our blessings and the spirit are given upon our desires to receive them.... what desirest thou?

Russel M. Nelson
 - We keep all that is good and true from all religions and then add unto it with fervor. 
 - Families can be together forever, but it takes WORK.
 [My own thought - People keep telling me what's "normal" for a young adult my age... but LDS young adults aren't normal.  Haha!  We have to try and cut above the curve completely.]

Dieter F. Uchtdorf
 - Do you have any regrets?  Apply the gospel!  The blessings and teachings of the gospel prevent us from having regret.
 - "We often wear our business as a badge of honor..."  Moderation in ALL things.
 - God knows things about us that we do not know about ourselves - trust Him.
 - Don't focus on the trivial or fleeting - follow the Savior!
 - "Discipleship is a perusal of holiness and happiness - it is the path to our best and happiest self."
 - "When it comes to living the gospel, we should not be like the boy who dipped his toe in the water and then claimed he went swimming... we are capable of so much more."
 -  Listen to all the promptings that come to you!
 - It's not a race, it's a journey - enjoy the moment!  Don't focus to hard on the finish line.  Example: "Do we say our prayers with only the "amen" in mind?"  Happiness is available all the time - there's something in each day to bring excitement.
 -  "General conference is always a good time for both hearing and doing. Therefore, let us 'be … doers of the word, and not hearers only.''
 -  "I pray we will not wait until we are ready to die before we truly learn to live."

L. Tom Perry
 - Set values and expectations from the gospel.  
 - Teaching in the home is the most sacred calling - make the home come first... Pray, eat, and read the scriptures together.  Have Family Home Evenings each week.  Utilize church leaders, share your testimony often, organize clear expectations, and let family know you love them.
 - Teach them by example as well as precept- teach them to love and serve.

Robert C. Gay
 - Follow all promptings and listen to the spirit --> This was mentioned a LOT!
 - It is not enough just to avoid evil.  Able men who sit as sophisticated neutrals are a large part of Satan's plan.
 - Don't sell your soul for the candy bars and trophies of the world...

Scott D. Whiting
 - God sees all parts of you - do not undertake to cover up your sins... work to fix them.  Give 100% of your efforts 100% of the time. You are divine material.

Niel A. Andersen
 - When you have trials, don't step away from the gospel and what's holding you up.  Protect your faith by being close to it...
 - When you want to ask, "How can you ask so much?" of God, remember that His ways are higher than ours.
 - "A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another."
 -  Quoting Ezra Taft Benson, "Every [person] eventually is backed up to the wall of faith, and there … must make his stand.” --> Love this!
- "Hold on and fear not, for God shall be with you."

Dallin H. Oaks
 - Take a stand against that which you know to be wrong.
 - Making a child feel useless or unwanted is the worst of transgressions.  (Being a teacher and a nanny, I can completely see this to be the case - children are so fragile, and it's our job to build them up -not break them down.)
 -  "We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless."
- "Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests."

More on the Sunday session to come soon... :)
*muah*

Song of the Day: This is one of my faovrite songs that MoTab sang during these sessions... I adore the line that says, "Fear not. I am with thee."  I also love, "I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes!"  So powerful.  Here is The Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing, "How Firm a Foundation."  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shakespeare Said it Best

I've been recently creating a school unit based around Shakespeare.  I'm planning to teach English or Theater and I figured that this is a subject that could be used in both.  I wanna talk about his life, time era and the culture.  I wanna talk about his writing structure and word creation and how that relates to Dr. Seuss.  I wanna talk about his plays and sonnets and modern adaptations - i.e. She's the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo + Juliet.  I get a bit excited thinking about it, and even more so when creating a good lesson plan...

With that, I admit fully that I am a Shakespeare Nerd!  If you asked me in High School I would have claimed that would never be the case, but... I guess some great teacher in college for to me. It's a good thing too - because now I'm forming my own ways to get to students.  Who knows?  Someone might walk out of my classroom loving Shakespeare - or at least not thinking he sucketh.

I can dare to dream, right? :)

Here are some of my favorite quotes as of late....

 Twelfth Night

Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better - Olivia

This fellow is wise enough to play the fool And to do that well craves a kind of wit - Viola

Nay, let me alone for swearing - Sir Andrew
(I think this often... :P)

Taming of the Shrew

Who woo'd in haste and means to wed at leisure. - Petruchio

Julius Caesar

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once- Caesar

Midsummer Night's Dream

The course of true love never did run smooth. - Lysander

O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd! She was a vixen when she went to school; And though she be but little, she is fierce. - Helena

If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumbered here While these visions did appear. - Puck

*muah*

Song of the Day: I was watching my daily allotment of PLL as I sit here sick and Mona sings this song... It's called "In the Eye Abides the Heart."  Say what you will about it being "old school," but I fell in love.  It's gonna be a new favorite for now.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dating Advice from a Single Gal - In Case You Needed More.

I was reading an article about dating tonight entitled "If You want to Date Someone Great, Be Someone Great."  A friend posted it on their wall awhile back and I book marked it with all intention of reading it later.  Well, a few weeks later is how that turned out... Haha!

The article got me thinking about a few things.
1 - Am I who I really want to be?  Better yet, am I becoming who I really want to become?
2 - How much control do I really have over meeting "the one" (if you believe in a "one," that is)?

The first quote that got me thinking:

"Someone once told me that if you want to attract a certain type of person, you should become the person you want to date. This is silly advice, because then we’d all date ourselves and Seinfeld already explained what a bad idea that is."

I use to be really into being with someone exactly like me... Someone who loved all the things I loved, thought everything I thought was funny was funny, had all the same life experiences as me...  I wanted some BYU fanatic, musical prodigy (okay, I'm no prodigy, but you know what I'm sayin'), moved and traveled a lot, liked all the same bands and movies, and never argued or disagreed with my opinions or ideas.  First off, the last one is dangerous... I have some pretty dumb ideas sometimes.  I need someone willing to bring me "back to reality" at times.  Really, I grew up.

I love having similarities and things in common (who doesn't?!), but I don't wanna date myself.  I don't wanna date my clone.  I wanna date someone who has common interests and ideals, and the same core values and life direction.  However, it's okay if they aren't musical or can't dance.  It's okay if they don't bleed blue and they happen to love The Beatles (I'm sorry. I like their songs - but I don't love their music...).  It's okay if they like McDonald's (yuck) and hate Cafe Rio (okay- that one's a bit crazy).  It's okay if they LOVE running... and though I do it, I believe "...running is wrong unless professionally or as a child. I think as an adult you should only run if you're near a train station and look at your watch first. I mean... galloping is more fun isn't it? That's something I'd like to see more of..." I adore Miranda Hart.  It's okay if my counter-part doesn't.  We can be different and still connect - and I've found, it's better.  I tend to enjoy the witty banter that comes from difference.

The next quote that got me thinking:


"The thing that makes her feel strong is being strong — making good choices, knowing that she deserves to be treated well by the person she’s with and being loved and respected in the right ways."

You're not suddenly going to feel like a "full person" because you're dating someone.  You have to feel comfortable with who you are alone.  I truly believe that part of the reason I am here on this earth is to find someone to be with for forever - eternity.  However, I think we have to be happy with who we are as individuals and then realize that being with someone only makes the already amazing version of ourselves better.  Making good choices, knowing the way I should be treated, and being loved and respected is what makes me strong.  Add a significant other to the mix that does those things, and it just makes it all the sweeter.

Sidenote:  You naturally attract what you're puttin' out... Just sayin'.

Next quote I enjoyed:

"So, instead of worrying about The One, forget about that and be The One You Would Want To Be With. Go running every night, smile at every person you meet, pick up that James Joyce novel you’ve been putting off, start writing again, join a support group to work out your issues, go back to get another degree, help old ladies cross the street, work on forgiving your parents, take Tai Chi to learn to let go, get involved at the local community center and/or take a cooking class. Push yourself to get out and be better; you can’t control who you meet, but you can control the person you are when you meet them."

This one is a big one.  It's hard not to focus on what you're doing "right" or "wrong" to meet someone, or worry about being single when a lot of your close friends are getting married.  I feel very blessed in that I have kept myself very busy these past few years and 90% don't even think about it.  I believe that's the majority of people.  However that 10% can be rather brutal if you're focused on it.  So, instead of being focused on being single or unmarried do the things it lists above, or find other things that bring you real happiness. 

In the past year and a half I have started a Graduate Program, started learning the guitar, joined and faithfully attend a gym, taken care of some personal issues in my life, run a 5k, forgiven some for big things I needed to let go of, traveled to a new city, took on stage managing Stadium of Fire for the first time, made my first "music video," and checked a few things off my bucket list.  In the past six years, I've lived in two other countries, traveled to 14 different countries and three new states, graduated college, worked as a paraeducator in Special Education, learned basic German, performed at BYU and the Utah Valley numerous times, recorded on three different albums, helped on two election teams, read over a hundred new books, been to over 50 concerts, been to the American Idol finale TWICE, met a slew of interesting people, and just really learned to love myself. 

It was this past Sunday that I really recognized that I'm comfortable with who I am.  I like how I look, how I talk, the way I think, my talent and skills, my interests and strengths...  I've been comfortable with myself for awhile, but still struggle with comparison.  I'm not perfect, but for the first time I'm only comparing myself to what I'm intended to be - not who someone else is or will be.  I've always been happy, but this is a new emotion.  It came from realizing the power of bettering myself.  I am amazing, and as I continue to better myself, the right people will recognize that too.  Will Smith said the following:


Oh, I love him... He's spot on.  Be you.  Be the BEST you.  People who really are suppose to be there in your life will see that person and will be drawn to you.  Worry does nothing to serve you, but will merely bring you down and stunt your progression.

My father recently said something to me when I was freaking out about school, work, boys, church, and just everything being crazy... He said, "Don't worry about it - pray about it."
*muah*

Song of the Day: I spent the day home sick (Blech.).  So, that meant soup, toast, and series re-runs... This song was on an episode of West Wing and I remember listening to it a bit growing up.  It's also how I currently feel about life in some ways, so take a listen.  Here are The Eagles with "New York Minute."  Enjoy!


The Eagles - New York Minute by 0Ztaylovic0

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Bucket List 2012!

First, I ADORE Bucket Lists... Really, I love making lists in general.  However, seasonal bucket lists are quite possibly a favorite of mine.

It's time to start doing these...

FALL BUCKET LIST 2012

-          Visit a pumpkin patch
-          Jump in the leaves
-          Make and eat caramel apples
-          Make Zupas tomato basil soup
-          Drink hot cider
-          Go to the corn maze
-          Carve or paint pumpkins
-          Take Eliza on a leaf hunt!
-          Bonfire w/ smores
-          Go on at least 2 dates
-          Make Halloween goodies for E!
-          Go to the state fair
-          Take Eliza to the zoo!
-          Drive up the canyon and see the changing leaves - FAVORITE.
-          Take a lot of pictures
-          Go to a football game!
-          Go running outside at least three times (once it gets chillier)
-          Thanksgiving crafts with Eliza
-          Watch a scary movie for Halloween (Should I really put this? I know I'll regret it once alone at night.  Haha!)
-          Watch Nightmare Before Christmas for Halloween!
-          Make a Thanksgiving pie
-          Visit the Madeleine
-          Picnic! 

Anyone care to join me in any of these things?  Haha... Wish me luck! Here it goes...
*muah*

Song of the Day: I saw this on Labor Day and since then... it's been EVERYWHERE!  I love that - it's
catchy and hilariously awesome.  Enjoy Psy's "Gangnam Style!"  I know I do...