New Years Eve

Yes, I spent New Year's Eve with my mom and dad and sister, watching a wicked old Godzilla movie On Demand and eating bread and nommy oil dips. We're laughing our butts off as mom imitates the actors and repeatidly asks Godzilla if he's constipated. It's quite, just us four, but it's perfect.
 I wouldn't have it any other way.

Peace out, 2011.

Being Home


-Mama Bear

2011 in review

On the last day of the year, I go through every blog entry I've written and relive every high and low moment I experienced over the last 12 months. As I was doing this today, I realized that 2011 was a huge year. a HUGE year. Here is a recap:

I said the hardest goodbye to my best friend and love of my life as he left to serve a mission in Mexico.
I drove across the country with my dad in 42 hours. straight. 
Dustin was reassigned to the New Hampshire, Manchester Mission and we had to stop writing.
I got my knee totally replaced and my life slowly, but surely, back.
I got accepted to teach English in China for spring of 2012.
My parents were called to be service missionaries at Zion's Camp and I spent every day serving there with them. 
I purchased a DSLR and learned how to view the world through a lens.
I healed faster then thought and decided to go back to school.
Hurricane Irene hit New England.
I became an official five-year cancer survivor!
I met Sebasthian and Elysha (Dustin's trainer and his lovely girlfriend) and got to photograph them!
I dyed my hair red.
I became a lead student at my job, became close with the girls I work with and spent thursdays with Paige eating thai food.
I finished the semester and came home to my Cazz Machine
I am making preparations to go live in China for five months.

Yes, this year has been challenging in more ways then I could ever have imagined. But I learned a lot and a grew a lot and I'd like to think I'm the same person as I was in January...just a better version. 


puzzle pieces

Everything is finally falling into place for the next five months. Financial aid has come in, all my debts have been paid, my car is running, I've started purchasing necessary and needed things for China and all three of my doctors have cleared me (again) to travel abroad. I'm really going. This is really happening.
I'm about to live a dream and nothing is going to stop me. 


Chelsie in China

PLEASE do me a HUGE favor and go to my new blog "Chelsie in China" and follow it. I'll still be posting on Into the Wild for the next month, but I decided that I needed a new blog for my adventures in China. Into the Wild is my refuge and much more personal and I don't want to give out this URL to everyone who wants to follow me in China. Don't get me wrong, I'll still write here, but for all China purposes, I need to have a separate blog.

So please, hop on over there, follow it and prepare for coming along with me on the adventure of a lifetime!


Eleven months ago, I made one of the hardest goodbyes of my life.
But now, I have only 13 months left until I get to say one of the happiest hellos of my life.

They will see us waving from such great heights.

I love you, to the moon and back. 


Christmas Weirdness

It was weird, this morning, opening up gifts with just the three of us girls and my parents. Weird to not be arguing with Jake over who gets to sit in the recliner by the fire. Weird to not see him jumping for joy when he opened up his beef jerky that Santa brings him every year. It was weird leaving for church in one car...in my car, because we only needed five seats to get us all to the chapel. It was weird to fit my whole family in one pew, weird to come home and look at our gifts without Jake being there to try to trade candy with us. It was weird setting the table and knowing he wouldn't be there. 

But then the phone rang. And my mom gave me a skype name to type in. And there he was. 
and for 45 minutes, it wasn't weird at all.

I'm so proud of my brother and the great things he is doing right now. I'm proud of the person he is becoming. 
I'm grateful for Christmas and for my family; for singing alto with my mom at the top of our lungs during the Christmas program at church today and for laughing when we hit weird notes. I'm grateful for my parents and their effort to keep us centered on Christ, for reading the Christmas story this morning before doing anything else. And I'm grateful for Christ and his birth. My Bishop said today that without Christmas, we wouldn't have Easter. Without His birth, we wouldn't have had His death and Atonement. Because He was born, I know that I can be with my family forever.
I'm grateful for this weird, but truly beautiful Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, from me to you.


on the way home

My hands know the roads and I know which stars to follow.


too close

You are too close, too close.
And the hallways that never knew you echo of your constant shadows,
scream of their emptiness,
because they understand your absence now.

and your footprints are on the dirt roads, 
the ones that used to belong just to me.
and they all smile at me as they tell me how
your hand has been placed in all of theirs.

and the life I've been waiting to share...

you have discovered it all on your own.


Because nothing ever goes right for me

668 dollars later and I'm driving home in my Cazz machine with a new wheel baring, new wheel axel, two new tires and freshly aligned and my breaks start to shudder. And then my check engine light comes on. And my mechanic leaves for vacation in the Bahamas tomorrow.

But, it could just be a vapor lock-I filled up the tank on the way home for the first time since April and I wouldn't be surprised if that messed up with things. So, tomorrow I'm going to disconnect my battery, rest the light and see what happens.

It's just funny how things like this always seem to happen to me and my automobile.


From us to you

Merry Christmas!
With love from,
The Whitneys


Being home means constant Christmas music, constant fires in the woodstove, constant baking and constant laughter. It means little kitty paws running up and down the hallway outside my bedroom late at night. It means long warm showers, extra blankets on my bed and ice-cream every night for desert. Being home means winding roads and frozen lakes. It means evenings at Juli's house with warm tea cupped in our hands, or evenings at Brett's house watching basketball, or it means evenings at my own house with my family and telestrations. It means long car rides with my dad to random places, last minute Christmas shopping with my sisters and running errands for my mom. It means afternoons spent with Gov and Sheila, cooking or watching tv or brushing PK. Being home means Saturdays at Zion's camp spent roofing a cabin, it means Friday evenings playing with my sisters and it means New Year's Eve with the Bratt's, the Grotenhuises and the Campbells. It means playing "vicious coyotes" with Kaleb and Jack, it means sitting in primary with Mom and her kids and it means curling up with my favorite books.

Being home means family, happiness, comfort and love. Being home means safety and acceptance. Being home means I'm close to everyone who is important to me. And, being home means my heart is whole and that my soul is on fire. 

New England, my heart will always belong to you.

Just me and the Cazz Machine

I hadn't even been home for a full hour last night when Mom sat me down and laid out a detailed to-do list for me to accomplish this morning in order to get Cazz back on the road. I couldn't believe we were actually going to do this; that she was actually willing to help me get my car road-worthy again. I mean, Cazz is MY car in MY name and my parents have made it very clear that he is MY responsibility. And I have taken care of those responsibilities without any help from my parents for the last two years! I've paid car insurance, all maintenance bills, oil changes and gas fill ups (although they have paid for my registration as my birthday present for the last two years) since it was put into my name. And my family isn't in the best financial circumstances right now. Yeah, we're doing okay, but as it is with most families, money is tight. My parents are paying for my brother's mission, getting ready to send Ashley to school and somehow helping me with China too. So no, I was not expecting my mom to be so willing to help me get my car back on the road. (But let me tell you, my parents are amazing to be so kind and willing to help. I love them so much. I'm grateful for them beyond words)

Today, I spent a good hour on the phone with our insurance, another 20 minutes on the phone with our mechanic and then jumped my car because he hasn't been started in over a month. After dinner tonight, I took Cazz out on the road, followed my dad through countless windy back roads and hills for about 45 minutes until we reached our mechanic's (who is also a good family friend) shop, so that he can be looked at first thing tomorrow. And let me tell you, those 45 minutes of me and the Cazz machine after eight months of being car-less, having to depend on others for rides at school, and feeling boxed in my apartment on nights when I just need to be out was the most freeing and uplifting feeling ever. Just me and the Cazz Machine, my little transformer and windy New England roads that make me feel more alive then anywhere else.

I am home.
I am happy.
I am where I belong.


till Monday

"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night"

I made it through finals week, two long days of training for China and now I'm flying home tomorrow. I'll be back to you all on Monday. <3


Until Sunday

I know, I know. I have utterly failed at blogging over the last couple of weeks. I have been on. the. go. So much to do, never enough time to do it. Heck, my last letter to Dustin was a paragraph a day for almost a week (and that is saying something). I'm focused and exhausted and entering my last push for the semester, so I probably won't be writing anything for the rest of the week. Just wanted to say that I'm alive. I'm kicking. I love my life and everyone in it. I know who I am, and I know where I am going. I'm loved. and I'm going to be home on Sunday.

Peace, Love and Chemo!<3


finals week

98% of my room is packed up and stored away. Two papers, two finals and two portfolios stand in the way of me and being back in New England. Almost there. Almost. there.



I am grateful for the people who love me, and in turn, love him. 


today in Post Modern Literature

"Trauma is memory, buried alive."


the most wonderful time of the year.

well, not really. I love Christmas, but I hate finals week, especially when it means leaving early, working extra hours and moving out of an apartment AND trying to spend time with my cute roommates. Am I exhausted? Overwhelmed? Stressed? Yep, of course. But, because this will be my eighth semester surviving finals, I also know that in just over a week, I'll be home. I'll be happy. And everything will be what it is, no matter what. So, I'll just keep my head up and pushing forward.

Peace, love and chemo!<3


Snapshots on Sunday

Today, I spent most of my afternoon and evening working on this: my creative response to Oscar Wilde's only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray for my final project for Brit Lit. 
And I couldn't be happier with how well these turned out. Special thanks to my roommates who modeled for me, to Symone who was my creative director and also helped me find my camera battery charger and to Russell who let me commandeer his macbook pro and Adobe PS 5. 


Two weeks until I'm home

I've been on campus since ten. It's now three. I'm making progress, but my brain needs a baby break, so enjoy this funny little moment from this summer at Zion's Camp. Jake and Katie were sitting in one of the trucks, waiting for Mom to call them with her next assignment. Ashley and I pulled up next to them on the four wheeler and found Katie drawing different eyes on post-it notes and sticking them on Jake's sunglasses.

I loved this summer. I loved everything about it. I loved spending every day serving at camp; my safe place, my haven. I loved how close it brought my family together. I loved feeling like I was part of something so much bigger. And I loved being outside, in New England, everyday.

I can't wait to be home in two weeks, to take my Cazz machine up to camp and to be surrounded by those precious 66 acres of land.