Observations on the end of the year

2012 is ending and I might as well be in shock because I keep on forgetting about it or denying it. There is no way that this year is over; no way that 2013 is here. Since Dustin stepped into my life back in that fated humanities classroom in 2010, 2013 seemed like a far-off fantasy or dream; something I would always be working towards but would never actually see. And here it is; literally waiting for me just around the corner and by this time next week, I'll probably be sitting next to him or hugging him or just watching him (in a non-creepy way, of course). It scares and excites the living daylights out of me and as I told Elder Craig today as he asked me how I felt: I just can't think about it too much or else I'll go crazy.

And so I've been putting around my home in New Hampshire, reading books and playing guitar and watching both seasons of Downton Abbey with my mom and sisters in the span of four days. Trying not to think too far ahead and instead, reflecting back.

Back in the beginning of June, when my world was filled with construction paper and daily meals of rice and small hands constantly holding mine, I got an email from a girl who had stumbled across my China blog and who was planning on coming to teach at Daguanghua in the Fall. We kept in touch throughout the end of my stay and into the beginning of her trip; I tried to prepare her as much as I could for life in China and for the way those kids would change her life. She just got back into the States and I had the chance to look through her photos. Precious faces with those same big grins that I had grown accustomed to beamed up at me through my screen and I swear I could almost smell my classroom again and hear the constant babble of Mandarin coming down my hallway. My heart misses those first moments of waiting for my students to come down that hall and hug me every day.

Looking back, I still can't believe that I spent the first half of this year living in CHINA of all places, teaching English to second and third graders. I can't believe that I actually mastered chop sticks, that I learned how to kill roaches without crying and that I walked up and down 286 steps daily. It's all a blur now, but a vivid one. I can recall small and random details without trying; sometimes I catch a glimpse of the animal cutouts hanging on my classroom wall, Beth's toothless smile or the kittens we rescued from the bushes. I can still smell stinky tofu in the night market downtown, see the isles of DVDs that we would pour through every Friday night and remember some of the dance steps we learned from the weird workout class at Happy Gate. I remember the early mornings I spent on the rooftop of our hostel in Yangshuo, listening to the little village come to life and looking over the river and into the mountains and thinking "How on Earth can I ever go back to normal life after experiencing this?" And I remember the day I said goodbye to my kids and Jane walked down the hallway backwards, waving and repeating: "goodbye, teecha, I lovah you."

I guess that's how I know I have really changed; really grown from those experiences on the other side of the world. To look back at those small details from China and to still have tears seep out of my eyes because I am so moved by them. I miss my little ones in China; miss the simple life I lead there when everything I did revolved around their well-being, their education, their happiness. Giving those kids the English language in a country where their prospects of a "good" life are so slim is one life-changing thing, but loving them, not only in the American way, but in a way that Christ would, is really what did it for me, I think. I have never understood sacrifice so completely until I served in China; nor unconditional love. And while I still don't think I will ever grasp those concepts completely in the sense of my Savior, I do think I understand it a bit more.

These are all my random thoughts on the brink of the last day of 2012. I'm not entirely sure what the point of all this was; I just wanted to put them all down-remember them. I really loved this year; loved who it taught me to be and the person it inspired me to become. I hope I make those kids proud; hope that I am still worthy of that unconditional love they constantly showed me.

But, of course, as sad as I am to see this year and all of my adventures go, do not be completely fooled. Because I am so incredibly excited and hopeful for this year, and the things to come.

I am looking through a telescope lens; and I know I'll see him soon.


Sister #6

"You can never trust my mom when playing scrabble. She'll put a word down like 'Ken' and I'll say 'Pretty sure that's a name' and she'll be like: 'No, it was an 18th century toilet.'"

last night, next week.

my arms are full of mail from him as I walk out of the clubhouse. I pause to talk to Sam who is crossing the parking lot, because she is expecting a check and I thought I saw it but I couldn't remember. The cleaning agency did a good job this time, she tells me. And I start to ask her about our new roommate who pulled the fire alarm in our apartment that morning and set the sprinklers off, when there are arms wrapping around me from behind. I turn, clutching the huge pile of mail to my chest, confused. But it's him. And I'm dropping the mail and my hands clutch his suit coat and I can't let go because it's him. It was noon, I still had five hours to kill and I hadn't bothered to put my make up on and he's early because he flew in the night before and I don't care that my hair isn't done because it's him. And his parents are there, watching and smiling and I'm not afraid of anything anymore, because it is him.

hi, he says. 
hi, i say back.

instinctively, i reach out for his hand, but hesitate. He's freshly returned. Don't rush him, I think, don't rush.

But his hand reaches back and finds mine. you're real, i tell him.

yes, he says, i am. 



James Vincent McMorrow

There are those songs that come out of no where; stumbled upon on a insignificant Wednesday morning in the lull of a work day, that just hit you deeper then your gut, but sink into your very bones. It makes you pause not only in what you are doing, but a pause in every aspect of your life because the chords and lyrics and sheer music open your insides up to the world and you are forced to examine them.

This is one of those songs for me.

closely followed by "if I had a boat" by him.

Paul McDonald

I love you more than I knew
I could ever love someone
And got it all so deep
I can barely even breathe
If I need a shelter from the storm

Baby, you’re all I've ever needed


Andrea Gibson

You tilt your head back. You breathe. When your heart is broken, you plant seeds in the cracks and you pray for rain. And you teach your sons and daughters there are sharks in the water. But the only way to survive is to breathe deep and dive.

I don't ever want to grow up

wisdom teeth, you suck.
teddy bears, however, do not.

and I will forever be a little girl at heart.


reality check

Weird to think about how everything has changed in the last two years; to see my friends progress and move along and find happiness and strength and be all grown up. I was thinking about all of that today, as I was sitting in the passenger seat, mindlessly humming along to the song on the radio. But then my thoughts turned slightly to the handsome face that meets me in Narnia every night and it hit me out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks and I couldn't inhale deep enough because I was filled with excitement and anxiety and hopefulness all at once:

next week is my last full week without him. because he comes home the week after.

I really like that best friend of mine. Love him, actually. And I am so excited to never have to be without him again.


Being Home

means sitting by the wood stove at night; running random errands with dad, watching Christmas movies and playing telestrations and just being loved.

And driving the winding roads that belong solely to New Hampshire? Well, that's just plain magic, right there.


on being an educator

I never thought that going into the professional field of education would be considered dangerous.
As of Friday, it most definitely is.

And I, like everyone else in the nation, am rocked by what happened in a part of my beloved New England. Shattered. Distraught.

But of this, I have no doubt: In the limited teaching experiences I have, both in China and in Madison Middle this last semester, I would not hesitate to do whatever I could to protect my students. Because that is what unconditional love is; and it's a precious and invaluable lesson that I have learned throughout the last year. And those educators who died on Friday, protecting their kids? Without a doubt, one of the most incredible examples of unconditional love in the world.

May angels lead them in and may we all find comfort in the knowledge that they are safe, sound and home.



One night in Rexburg, one night in Utah and then I'll be spending my nights in the heart of New England, in the comfort of my bed, with the wood stove's heat wafting down the hall. Everything about home is calling to me and I can't wait to be back there.



Angel of Mercy 
How did you find me? 
How did you pick me up again? 

Angel of Mercy 
How did you move me? 
Why am I on my feet again? 

And I see you 


focus in

The next three weeks of my life are going to be insanely busy and a tad bit overwhelming. I have no time for distractions; I just need to focus in on getting through finals, doing my best and trusting myself, my best friend and my Heavenly Father.

It will all work out. It will always work out.


On that 10 page History Paper

Replacing passive verbs is probably the most challenging thing I've ever had to do as an English major.
YOU try writing 10 pages about the Great Depression without using the words "was, were, had, could, would, is"

Oh finals week, you kill me every time.


Stumbled across this today

and I couldn't believe my eyes as I watched us over two years ago. So much laughter. He makes me laugh so hard. And I don't care if I'm getting all sappy and gross; I don't care if no one watches this and I don't care what anyone thinks. He makes me a better person and I can't wait for moments like this to happen again.

I'm going to be an obnoxious girl and count down the days to his return. But it's been two years and I reserve the right to be a little excited.


here is the things about finals

you are already so burnt out from the semester that actually doing "your best work" is pretty much impossible.

That's all.


On Asians

"She did her math in pen...and she didn't scratch it out...ever."

I asked for a sign

Ridiculous, I know. But I just needed one.

And in a last minute decision to check the mail, Janna pulls a giant package out of our mail bin. And his handwriting is scrawled across the top. And as I tear open the box, I pull out a pile of his things. T-shirts, jeans, shorts, belts, books. It's him. His things for me to hold onto until he comes back, to me.

He's really coming home, people. He's really coming back to me.

to the southgate managers

i like apartment managers who, when I tell them all about our story, spend ten minutes moving everyone else's rooming assignments around so that they can put him in my ward boundaries and then say: "We want a wedding invitation."

I'm not putting all of my eggs in one basket, but gosh, it is so nice to meet people who instantaneously believe that we will make it; and who are cheering for us.

Such great heights, love. They will see us waving from such great heights.


History 300

"You have an incredible writing style," he says, as he hands back my paper. "You know, I often think that you just can't teach people everything there is to writing. Writing well; it's a hard thing to learn. But you have a natural ability. You write very well."

I smile to myself as I hunch over to keep the rain out of my eyes, avoiding the puddles that stand between me and the car. It's flattering, but also gratifying to receive a compliment like that from someone I respect. And it's comforting; to know that every time I have attempted to put feelings into words has built up to something. I may not be the best writer; but I do know that I am meant to write.


on waiting.

It's the only time I've felt like I was actually waiting.

The last two years have been filled with other things. Knee replacements. Serving at Zion's Camp. Preparing for China. Living in China. Road tripping. I've been busy doing stuff for me. Recovering, learning, growing. And though he has been by me every step of the way (through his constant letters and prayers) I have spent the last two years very much on my own, and holding the spot where he belongs, waiting for him to come fill it back up, but focusing on me. But now, there is nothing left to focus on, except him coming home. 

I have a few weeks left. That's it. Just a few weeks left, and he'll be back and that hole in my heart that he left will be filled with his laughter and his patience and the way he looks at me and just knows what I need to hear. 

I sometimes worry about our initial reunion. What will I say? What will he be like? Will we still fit just as well as we used to? What if I'm too different? What if he is? 

But then, I think about that blue bow and using it to push the hair out of my face while I wait for him to show up. I think about seeing him there, feeling him, realizing that he is real, and that hole in my heart almost feels complete just thinking about him being back. I think about telling him everything; about sliding back into our daily routine that is so familiar. I think about my future and how I just can't see it without him by my side. I think about that moment when the distance between closes and we become us again.

I'm not sure how it will happen; our reunion. I'm not sure how I'll get through those last few days. But I am sure of this: he's coming home and I love him more then I loved him when he left. So, I'm not worried, really. He's still him. and I am still me. And we are still very much us. 



the people who saw me at my worst and at my best and who love China and it's people as much as I do. So great to be reunited with these forever friends of mine



Thanksgiving 2008:

Thanksgiving 2009:

Thanksgiving 2010:

Thanksgiving 2011:

Thanksgiving 2012:


transfer, fast sunday, Christmas, full month, major holiday left until you are back here, with me.


In and Out

In: Holiday Oreos. New Dresses. Colored Tights. Boots. Yoga Pants. Victoria's Secret. Traveling. doTerra Shampoo and Conditioner. Lesson Plans. Nail Polish. Christmas Lights. Pine Scented Candles. Harry Potter on Tape. Letters. Hair Cutting. President Watson. Weekly Cards from my Mom. Mary Kay Lip Gloss. Heated Blankets. Costa Vida. Wreck-it Ralph.

Out: The Post Office. The Housing Manager. Oil Pumps. Class Registration. Laundry. Packing. Grocery Shopping. Milk. Socks. History 300. The Great Depression. The Aneid. World Civilization. Napping. Nightmares. Gas Prices. Wendy's. Wisdom Teeth. Countdowns.


Les Mis

To love another person is to see the face of God.


so soon.

In the evening, as I wind down, I can only see flashbacks and hear echoes of the days when we were scrunched down in blankets, keeping our toes warm and laughing at the funny things your roommate said. At night, I try to remember what it's like to have you next to me; try to find those memories and let them fill me up with your warmth. I can almost remember you; but it's not fully there anymore. And I miss you, I miss you. So I whisper to myself:

Soon. You'll be back soon.

And I wander through deep trenches of snow, towards the thrones on the Eastern Sea, entirely swallowed up by my dreams.



We're walking into the gym, laughing as we bounce off random things to each other. That's just how it is, the three of us. Random, funny things. I'm grateful I fit in with them; grateful for the friendships I have formed with them, grateful for the way they each care about me. Grateful for moments when she says, out of the blue:

"I farted a lot today."

and grateful for the gut-wrentching laughter that ensues.


Wellness Project

This semester has been insane and I'm exhausted every moment of every day. Sometimes, it's all I can do to not come home and slumber for a few hours...in fact, every day for the last two weeks, I have taken at least a two hour nap. I'm just so tired. And I realize that I'm not utilizing my time as well as I should be; being tired is only a product of me not living as healthy as I should be and my grades, while okay, are not as high as they should be. I am capable of better.

I know of several bloggers in my little community who have embarked on wellness projects; a break down of small, weekly goals to work on achieving in order to improve their overall wellness. And so I did some research of my own; figured out some areas that I want to improve on and I'm going to embark on my own weekly wellness project. I hope that I can develop some better habits; break some bad ones and just be happier! And I figured that if I blog about it, I'll hold myself accountable for it.

This is how I'm going to break it down. If anyone wants to join me; feel free! I would love to compare experiences!

Week One: Hydrate
Drink more water. Eliminate sugary drinks.

Week Two: Rest
Wind down early. Bed by ten thirty and awake at 6:30. 
Do not take naps over a half an hour!

Week Three: Eliminate Excess
Only eat home cooked meals, and include three veggies a day.
Do not go out to eat!

Week Four: Unplug
Take a facebook fast and leave the cell phone in the backpack/at home when not needed. 

Week Five: Move
Try a new form of exercise. Go to the gym three times this week! Stretch every night before bed.

Week Six: Love your Skin
Remove make up every night and treat face to a mask.

Week Seven: Revitalize
Find 20 Minutes every day for myself. Read a book in a bath or play guitar.

Week Eight: Create
Find a project to craft. Let your creative juices flow.

Week Nine: Spiritualize
Reconnect with God. Make time for him, his Prophets and his counsel. 

Week Ten: Order
Organize my space and my planner.

Week Eleven: Nourish
Find something else that fills me up other than food.

Week Twelve: Converse
Make an effort to have quality conversations with those I love.

gangnum style

My love for kpop and pay just increased tenfold when I googled the translation of his lyrics and read this:

"A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensable girl like that"

Modest is hottest. Even Psy says so.



and in that moment, I just knew that everything would be okay and that I would get my happy ending.


Come back, Stay here

Two months and a few days left.
I am so ready for you to be home.


I'm dreading tomorrow.

I hate it when good intentions get misconstrued and turn into huge blow ups and "he said" "she said" and just dumb stuff. It's just dumb. And I've already had a long day. And being blamed for a ton of crap that I never even said...ugh.

Whatever. I'm so done with it all. Someone take me back to China; or home to New England, or to where ever my boyfriend is. Someone one take me to a place where I am loved always.

Take me back to the days when swinging was enough.


truth is,

I left a huge part of my heart in China.

Someone, please take me back here right now.
I miss these kids more than I'll ever find words for.


hump day

My weeks seem to be flying by fast and I'm grateful. I'm so busy this semester and I'm trying to stay on top of everything, but no matter how much time I invest on campus, I am still somehow always behind. But I'm learning. I'm prioritizing. And I'm improving.

Sometimes, I feel inadequate. But there are moments when I'm sitting on my bed, listening to Sam tell us funny stories about her little brother, and laughing with all of my roommates. There are moments when I just feel so good about where my life is, and even if I'm not perfect or I'm flawed, I'm trying to be better. And I know that is all that matters.

And sometimes, you just need a few minutes with your roommates; knelt in a circle on the floor, united in prayer to re-energize you and motivate you to get through the rest of the week.

Grateful tonight. Now, just a few more paragraphs and my mid-term essay will be done!



When you fight cancer, they tell you about the things you will have to battle. About the hair loss, the sick, the weight loss, the mouth sores, the bed sores, the surgeries, the deformations, the knee replacements, the infections, the fevers. It's information overload, and you try to soak it all in, but the knowledge slowly settles into your bones as your treatment becomes a routine. The slow repetition of infusions, complications and surgical procedures wrap around you in twisted vines until you understand.

But they don't tell you about the fight after cancer. The guilt. The confusion. The emotional damage that sits in the back corners of your stomach and rears it's head at the most inconvenient and surprising times. And they don't tell you what it's like to cope with life after cancer. The limp. The unstable joints. The questions. The label that you can never seem to shake.

They don't tell you about that fight. You just discover that battle all on your own. And then you either let it sink you, or you survive it.

And I refuse to be anything but a survivor.

I am six years cancer free.

I've nearly forgotten about that emotional damage that is still hiding out somewhere in my gut. I mean, I know it's still there because sometimes it rears its ugly little head and comes bursting forth. But I've accepted that it will take a long time to recover from it all, because here's the thing: you don't just come back from cancer. You don't just accept your survival and everyone else's death. You don't just say: "I had cancer and it's okay." Terrible things happen! And it's okay to be human and to feel sad about them. Here's the secret though, about terrible things. It is possible to come back from them, eventually, because beautiful things happen too. And I would never know; never see, never appreciate the beautiful things I have seen in the last six years without experiencing the terrible. I would never know the hope of the Gospel of the LDS church. I would never appreciate the incredible rush of falling in love that I experienced with my Best Friend. I would never know what it means to love someone unconditionally as I have loved my 32 second graders all the way in China. I would never value the sunset over the Yellow Sea, the way my car warms up in the morning, the way my knees bend as I walk upstairs, painting my roommates toes, taking afternoon naps, singing with the windows rolled down. I would never love those little things the way I do now, because I never knew how beautiful they all were. And for that, I am grateful for the terrible thing that was cancer. I am so incredible grateful for it.

I am still putting myself back together; even six years later, and I've come to realize that I might be putting myself back together for the rest of my life. But I am putting myself back together. And that is all that matters.

I am six years cancer free. And sometimes, I forget I even had cancer. But I did. I had cancer and I fought it every day. And it was terrible. But it was beautiful, too.

And every day is a continued battle and I continue to fight it. Because that's what being a cancer survivor is all about, really. Not just surviving, but fighting it every day. And loving every minute of it.

I am six years cancer free.


In Case Anyone Was Wondering

Sam and I live in a disaster zone. And I'm going to clean it...eventually.



I haven't really blogged recently and it's weird for me. I'm seriously so busy these days; I don't know if I am coming or going and I have barely enough time to shove food down my throat; never mind sit down and pour my feelings out onto my blog.

Just to give you a snap shot of what my daily life is right now:

Yesterday, I was on campus at 7:45 for class. Worked 9-12. Went home real quick and grabbed some stuff. Went grocery shopping because I hadn't gone since before the semester started. Back to campus to do homework until 2:00. Class from 2:00-4:00. Pick up Sam and Janna and take them home, grab some snacks and then back on campus from 4:30-9:30, doing homework.

Today, I have been on campus since 8:00. I ran home between classes to grab my Great Wall scroll and  went back to class. Then I have homework. Class from 3-4. Work 4-7. Sam's hip hop class 8-9. And more homework.

So, I'm busy. I'm constantly on the go. And it's draining. But I love most of my classes. I love the friends I have made. I absolutely adore my roommates. And I love spending time with my sister.

And conference this last weekend; conference was every thing I needed and every answer to my prayer. It gave me the confidence and motivation to be better, to do better and to work to reach the potential that my Father in Heaven knows that I have in me.

I'll try to write more consistently again. After all, I am an English Major.

World Civ 201

I could care less about The Aeneid. Truly. I could care less.

But the fact that I get to stand up and give a presentation on the Great Wall of China, and get to draw on my own personal experience on being there makes this class a heck of a lot better.


loving him was red.

21 months down.
3 to go.

they will see us waving from such great heights.



in your short six years, you touched more lives than I could hope to touch in three lifetimes.
thank you for your example, your courage, your spunk and your spirit.

you will always be a forever survivor, sweet girl.

say hello to Maddie, Meg and Mary for me. Send them my love.


evening shift.

"She was one of those girls who pretended that she was an animal when she was seventeen, you know? A weirdy."


i am meant to teach.

fingers crossed that my petition to change my major to English Education will be approved...the second time around...


Observations at the beginning of the Fall Semester

I'm overwhelmed and that is an understatement. I'm up at 6:45 every morning and on campus before eight to go to class and attend work and I'm lucky if I get home by seven at night. And then I get to do homework for the most rigorous history class offered on campus, prepare lesson plans for the 6th graders I'm going to be teaching this semester, ready a novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne and write out notecards for my World Civ. class. Working 20 hours a week, taking core classes and trying to feed myself, spend time with my sister, best friend and brother is exhausting and overwhelming. But I'm finding my passion for my classes and being passionate about what I am learning makes it all worth it.

I love learning. I love being busy. And even though I'm exhausted all hours of the day, I think I'm going to like this semester. I feel at peace with where life is taking me and with my plans for the next few semesters. And I feel determined to succeed.


Nathaniel Hawthorne

"I took shame to myself for having been so long a writer of idle stories, and ventured to hope that wisdom would descend upon me with the falling leaves of the avenue"

Fall always seems to be the most perfect time to write.


observations at the end of the seven week break.

I'm wide awake at 6:00 AM and this time, I can't blame the construction workers across the street, because they didn't start hammering away until 6:30. My alarm was set for 9:00, but I guess that plan went down the tubes. Anxiety gnaws away at my stomach; my jaw aches as I try to stay away from one more does of advil before I go visit the dentist this morning.

I get thoughtful at times like these; in the early morning hours when I'm supposed to be sleeping or in the mid afternoon lull of transitioning seasons. I feel the pull to write; and I never know what will end up coming out of my fingers. I just know that I have to something in written word; to document it all as I experience it.

I look back at my goals for this seven week break and realize that I obtained almost none of them. The every day routine of getting up, going to work, and coming home sucked me into a monotony that was only punctured by the empty ache in my gut that belongs to China. Maybe I needed the down time; a break from the crazy life I have lived this year. The constant traveling, working, serving, loving-it can all be so exhausting at the end of the day.

But living life in a way that leaves you tired at the end of every day, and not just sleepy, but tired...well, I feel like that's the only way to live. It means you've worked your hardest; loved the loudest and above all, let nothing escape you. No regrets. Just living fully.

And I realize that I want to come home every day, tired.


Into the Black Hills

After spending the afternoon in the Badlands, Dad and I drove onward to see Mount Rushmore! I was so excited to see this monument; it's been on my bucket list for years! As we pulled up to the entrance, there was a huge thunderstorm coming in. Dad and I got caught in a hailstorm while we were walking around and had to hide under a tiny arch. I'm also a sucker for visitor centers at places like this, and the one at Mount Rushmore did not disappoint! It was FANTASTIC and I learned so much and could have easily spent over an hour in there alone. 

I had to find the New Hampshire flag and take a picture to represent.


turns out I have been mispronouncing "decal" for my whole life.

me: "Did you see that lightening!"
her: "Where?"
me: "...in the sky!"
her: "I bought nose hair trimmers the other day."

Into the Badlands

After driving for 27 hours straight and then spending the night in a small town in the middle of South Dakota, dad and I ventured into the Badlands National Park. I have never seen anything like it! The way the earth was just carved and weathered away was absolutely stunning. Dad and I spent the afternoon driving through the park, experiencing the wildlife and understanding what "deafening silence" means. In the quiet of the vast prairie and canyons, my ears felt like I had a million pounds of pressure being pushed in on them because it was so quiet. It was awesome to experience such an untouched piece of land and incredible for me to photograph it. I think the following are some of my best shots to date:

Super unflattering for both of us; but I still like it.

My dad thinks I'm crazy, but I kept on taking pictures of my car as we traveled, to prove that Cazz made it.

Dad experiencing the deafening silence, as a storm started to roll in.

So stunning!


on the road

My roommate/co-worker Melissa just came back from a week-long road trip with her dad and has started writing about it on her blog. It made me realize that I haven't posted a single photo from my week long road trip with my daddy that I took at the end of July.

Dad and I have been planning on this trip since the days of Hamilton (and the epic fail that happened in upstate New York). So, it was long over due when we climbed into my Cazz Machine and headed West. We had a BLAST! We saw so much of the country and stopped as so many amazing places and talked about so many things.

I'm slowly going to post photos from the week, but I easily took over 3,000, so I'll do it a little at a time so I don't get overwhelmed. Here we go:

On the road! I took this as we passed the place where Dad and I had to turn around with Hamilton the first time we attempted this trip:

The locks at the Erie Canal.

Beautiful sunset and incoming thunderstorm in upstate New York:

Dad drove through the night and switched out with me around 4:00 AM. We drove through Chicago around 6:00 AM, as the sun was rising. And I survived it. 

Dad and I at a rest stop in Minnesota:

Driving over a bridge in South Dakota, where we finally stopped; after driving for 27 hours straight!

The prairie of South Dakota. It was stunning:

(Dad is still learning how to use the focus on my SLR)

Filling up in Wall, South Dakota. 

Dad scraping the bug guts off my windshield. We had to do this every time we filled up. The guts were NASTY!

Dad at Wall Drug, in South Dakota. It's a giant drug store turned into a tourist attraction. We 

We snagged lunch before we headed towards the badlands.

Seriously though; America is beautiful and I loved every moment I spent in the car seeing it. 


the China funk.

I realize I am lacking in blogging, again, which is so weird for me as I used to write frequently. But here is the truth: my life and the every day things I do in it seem so insignificant, when I compare it to what I was doing in China. I know, I know, I'm like one of those missionaries who can't seem to come home from their mission and won't stop talking about China. But I get them now. When you have such a life changing experience; when you have spent every day serving others around you and never once focusing on yourself; when you have seen the joy it brings; when you learn how to love so fully and unconditionally-it's hard to come back from that kind of high.

Don't get me wrong. I'm content with where I am. I'm working hard, I'm staying busy and I'm constantly striving to be better. But I miss China, and even more, I miss serving there.

It's Friday night. I'm home alone. I'm exhausted from a long day of work. (and yes, I already took a nap). I've chatted with Jillise and texted Sam. I'm clean. I ate a bowl of rice crispies for dinner. I'm worried about Geoffrey and his back. I'm pouring through pictures of my kids and missing them. So, I'm going to watch Kung Fu Panda. Cute movies seem to solve everything.


a moment

"You will have a moment. That's all it will be. A moment and it will be like you never were apart."



I work with Camie and I like her a lot. She's funny and southern and speaks with a cute drawl at times. 
And she shows up at my apartment on Saturdays and drags me out of bed so she can go get Taco Bell and go grocery shopping. Grocery shopping sometimes turns into cactus shopping. And then we spend the afternoon repotting our cute little friends. 

Meet Xiâo Tōng. My cactus. In Chinese, it means "Little Pain."

Have I mentioned how much I have fallen in love with the Chinese language? I've never felt so close to picking up another language as I have with Chinese. Maybe it's from living in China for five months; maybe because there are only 400 sounds involved in Mandarin compared to the thousands in the English language. Regardless, I've never felt more motivated or encouraged about learning a second language as I have with Chinese. I miss it. I miss being surrounded by it and bargaining in it and asking questions in it and actually understanding (somewhat) the answer. And I want to do everything I can to keep learning it.

In other news, I've been on this weird Betty Crocker roll when it comes to cooking. Maybe it's this whole "I am what I eat" kick that I've been on. I'm trying to make a life style change and that involves eating better and working out. Here is my Sunday meal from yesterday: BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, calliflower and a sour dough roll. Pretty dang good for myself, I think.

Have I written about how my best bud and brother I've never had, Geoff is back from his mission? Because he is! And I seriously couldn't be more happy to be able to text him on a general bases, to have his opinion right when I need it and to know that he'll be here in three weeks to keep me company and keep me sane while I get ready to tackle a super hard semester and the daunting task of welcoming Dustin home. 

Things that make me happy right now? Pot lucks at work. "Topless Terri" and "Cortugee" text messages. Books and library cards. Plans to see Julianna. Downton Abbey (I'm in love). White and straighter teeth. Good hair days.  Making money because I'm working hard. Writing letters to Dustin and even better, receiving them.

and the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head? They are still there. But I've organized them a bit better. I understand them a bit more now. And I know what I must be prepared to do; should the time come. 


and at once i knew, i was not magnificent

i was hit by a thought today; and it was a loud and scary one that is lingering in the back corners of my mind and refusing to be tucked away into deep storage. i can't seem to shake it and i think i know why. but before i do anything about this one little thought; i'm going to sleep on it. see how i feel in the morning. and then i will proceed.

until then, enjoy one of the most beautiful and magical music videos on the face of the planet.


in recap

I feel like I hit the ground, running, ever since I've been back in Rexburg. I've been working non-stop at the alumni office and it's good to be back in the swing of things. I spend a ton of time with the girls I work with, which is equally nice, because they are the only people (besides Symone and Trish) that I know in Rexburg right now.

I got my hair done yesterday in a final attempt to fix the damage that the Chinese did to it while abroad. I love it. And, to top it off, I got the sweetest note in the mail from Dustin and I got to hug my favorite Puerto Rican grandma. Camie came over later and Melissa joined us for watching really sappy love movies late into the night. Welcome to a quiet life in Rexburg during the seven week break.

Not only did I get to take a nap today, but I got to catch up with Juli and Brett and my Mom, have homemade Pizza Bread with Symone and Ryan, read some Jane Eyre and then video chat with Joe, my cute third grader from my homeroom!

I miss my students every day; and it drives me nuts at times to not know what they are doing. It was so awesome to have a piece of China and the love that I felt from my kids during my funny conversation with Joe. His English has gotten rusty from being on summer break, but he showed me pictures of his family and his grandparents and proceeded to tell me that it wasn't bed time and show me how bright it was outside in China. I had to explain to him that it was night time in America (and only got the point across with a translator). Regardless, it was wonderful to chat with him and to feel like I can still keep in touch with my kids. I love them. 

Tomorrow is pot luck monday at work (hawaiian haystacks). Symone and I are going to work out. I'm going to read and put a letter in the mail.

Life is good here. 


my greatest fear

I was angry. And that gave me the strength to fight.
The ground became illuminated by the stars
and I reached up and outward;
not caring. not wondering.
just fighting.

You refused to speak to me
and the silence was filled with worn tires on pavement.
The roads we have driven before;
the paths that knew our footprints.
but you did not know me.

you did not know me.


Snapshots on Sunday

When I was home, I had the awesome opportunity to take some photos of my littlest sister, Katie and her BFF, Elaine. We went to one of my favorite locations to shoot; the Hampstead Conservation park. This field is just pure magic, and in the late afternoon summer sun, the lighting is perfect and the colors are vivid and you really get lost in the environment. I had so much fun trying out a few new tricks and poses and now I'm having a ton of fun learning new editing techniques as I work on the photos. Here are some of my favorite shots!