Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Nutcracker, coming home, and this one french boy...

A few bullet points...because it's been a wee bit.

  • I find it hilarious that all things technological make a point of malfunctioning under my care.  Got my phone replaced because it kept turning off and not turning back on, my Vitamix blender (that I'd nerdily spent months saving for) made a rank smell when I turned it on the very first time, and my car has dashboard lights that come on, unnecessarily freaking me out. haha Usually it's like tire air pressure or something silly.  But I just find it humorous.
  • This past weekend I went to The Nutcracker with my Aunt and her children.  My uncle did a friend a favor and agreed to help out in a couple roles in the ballet.  Watching the Nutcracker was lovely.  It surprised me how it took me back to the days of dancing and performing in the Nutcracker every year.  I loved everything about it.  The music, the costumes, the smell of excessive hairspray and the jitters of excitement when it was your turn to walk past the curtain and do what you'd been practicing countless hours to do.  I loved it.  One of my Uncles roles was Madame Ginger--the woman who wears a hoop skirt and has like 8 girls under there that come out and dance.  He was hilarious. He did a great job.   
  • The little boy that I nanny is sick...again.  He's been sick the whole time I've worked for this family.  He's had an inhaler that I need to give him every X hours.  It's been crazy and kinda stressful.  He's been on the mend but the family went to Iowa for the weekend to visit the dad's family and baby James came home sick again.  The mom called me this morning and said I didn't have to work yet because she's taking the baby to the ER.  Awesome.  It's so sad having a tiny 5 month old baby so sick.  And I selfishly hate it as well because it freaks me out watching a baby that's so high risk.  I hope the poor guy starts feeling better soon.  
  • I'm obsessed with New Girl.  Do you guys watch that show?  It is quite literally non-stop hilarity.  Schmidt is hilarious but I think they make his story lines awkward, which is a shame.  I'm dying for Nick and Jess to get together. But alas, like Ross and Rachel, Jim and Pam, they'll drag it out as long as they can.  If you haven't seen it, maybe you should.  My friend Alexis and I watched it in Uganda together.  It was one of our many bonding moments.  Soo funny.
  • I get to go home for Christmas on Saturday!  I'm stoked out of my mind.  I'm obsessed with Christmastime.  I love everything about it.  The lights, the music, the way you're somehow warm inside in the ambiance of the season when in actuality, it's frigid and cold.  I always love seeing old friends and playing with my siblings and parents.  Can't wait.
  • I've been kinda dating this guy lately.  It freaks me out a little bit that I like him so much.  I usually adore the people that I date in the sense that I value them, they're dear friends, they mean a lot to me...but I'm not ever really into them like they are to me.  It's been frustrating.  So it is crazy train to me that I actually like this one back.  It's a very unique situation.  He's not like anyone I've ever dated before.  But he's wonderful to me and he really tries hard to make things work and resolve anything that's a problem.  It's attractive.  
  • He's half french and generally there is no language barrier whatsoever but yesterday he said something that made me laugh. I had the day off of work and he had a couple of hours before he had to start work so we met up really quick.  We went to a little place and ordered juice but we really just wanted to sit and talk until he had to work.  We were sitting in a booth just talking and I said, "Oh gosh, we're so cute I can't even handle it. "  He pulled his head back to look at me and had a kind of concerned look on his face and said, "No.  We can handle it."  haha  The fact that I talk in extremes is something I have to explain sometimes. haha  He's darling.  That's all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The elderly, foreigners and playas....awkward male encounters

So the last month has been kind of hilarious because many times I have moments with men that convince me that there has got to be a hidden camera somewhere.  They're just too awkward to be real. But alas, they are real.  Here we go:

Elderly Chick-to-the-fil-to-the-A.
I was babysitting two of my cousins on a Saturday morning.  They were patient in allowing me to drop off a letter at the Post Office, so I took them to Chik-fil-A because they really wanted to play in the jungle gym.  Sure.  

As I'm pulling in, an older gentlemen was starting to cross the parking lot.  I stopped, allowed him to cross and he walked to my window and asked me to roll it down.  He made some comment about, "What are you doing here from Utah?"  (Still have a Utah license plate.) and it was harmless.  I parked the car, we go in, the girls go play and I wait in line.  

This elderly chap (we're talking easily in his 70's), spots me and walks over to me.  He gets really close and says, "You'd better look out.  I know I'm old but my mind still thinks like an 18 year-old."  Hmmm....and then I saw him sharing a table with his cute little wife...I'm assuming.  Awkward right?  I could EASILY be his granddaughter.  Just don't talk to girls like that...ever...but especially with a huge age difference.  Right??

Elderly take 2-- the artsy, handsy one
My friend and I tried out a darling little restaurant called Cheestique.  It's mainly a cheese and wine store but they have a bar and little tables in the back.  It's cute and quaint.  All of the workers are really nice.  It's darling.  As my friend and I are talking, an elderly chap (this time late 50's) comes and sits in the chair next to me at the bar.  I told my friend the Chik-fil-a story and we laughed about how gross it is when men disregard that a girl could be their child's child, and yet still think they've got game.  You don't have game.  Just wear a grandpa sweater and resemble Kris Kringle.  But stop thinking you've can pick up young girls.  

The man next to me had ordered french onion soup.  He was sitting by himself, and because I like to talk to strangers and especially if people are by themselves, I asked the harmless question, "How's the soup?  I was going to get that kind so if it's good I'll make a note to get it next time."  As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing flirty about that right?  He told me it was really good and said I had pretty hair.  I thanked him, thought, "no way" and turned back to my friend to continue our conversation.

He later kept pulling on the tips of my hair, putting his hand on my back, and was trying to make small talk.  He asked where I was from, then it naturally comes up that I'm LDS.  He apparently knows about basics in my religion because he comments about how LDS members don't drink, smoke, or sleep with people before marriage.  Correct, I affirm.  THEN, I kid you not, he asks me if I'm a bad girl. haha Was it my nerd glasses or ruffly Who coat that gave me away?  haha  I said, "No actually." He slides a card on the table to me inviting me to his photo exhibit coming up and says that he'd really like to see me and my pretty curly hair there.  (And he's touching my hair again at that point).  Gross.  I said goodbye and my friend said, "you are too nice."  The waitress came over and was talking to us and said, "Girl, if he's gonna touch your hair and your back like that, at least make him pay for your meal."  haha I wish I'd thought of that before.  

So the reason this bothers me is my friend teases me all the time that I'm too nice.  My issue with that is  I really like being nice to people.  He was sitting by himself, I saw no harm in asking him how his soup was.  Maybe he was having a bad day, couldn't I make a quick little comment to maybe help him feel like he wasn't insignificant?  Apparently not.  haha I just hate the idea that I have to be more closed off because being kind translates to being flirtatious.  But I agree wholeheartedly with the waitress, next time a guy gets creepy creeps on me, he's paying for something.

Moroccan Poet
I've been trying to get out of the house, discover new venues, meet new people, etc.  You know, make the best of this adventure right?  So I went to open mic night by myself and this elderly (I hate that this is a pattern) gentleman asks if he can sit next to me.  I didn't have an excuse and maybe this guy isn't going to be creepy, maybe he's just an innocent ol' grandpa.  So I let him sit down by me.  

He's old.  Balding, his hair and beard are completely white.  He was drinking tea and asked me if he could buy me some.  I said, "No thank you."  He leans over to me during one of the performances and quietly whispers, "Did you have a good relationship with your father?"  What is that!?!?  He asked me to go to the bar with him at the end of the evening.  Obviously I told him 'no'.  

The Cashier--self-proclaimed "charmer"
After Open Mic night, I went to the grocery store really quick.  I wanted some apple chips and yogurt for the next day.  As I walk in the store, I met eyes with one of the cashiers, smiled and said "hi".  Again, harmless.  I've worked several customer service jobs.  It seriously sucks to have people be mean to you.  It's hard. So anytime I'm at the grocery store, a restaurant, buying a movie ticket, I try to be overly kind to people because I realize that they could have had a rough day.  So saying "hello" to someone when it's 11:00pm and they probably are tired and done with their shift, just seems like a nice thing to do.  At least that's how it plays out in my mind.

I decided to go through his line.  I like to talk to cashiers.  I have had tons of positive experiences doing it.  He asked how I was doing.  He called me "beautiful".  Sure.  Thanks.
Him:  "So....are you taken?
Me:  "Umm...not at the moment."
Him:  "So...Can I take you somewhere?"
What I was thinking is, "Is it Paris?  Because while it would help your case if it was, but it's really irrelevant." haha 

Of these stories, THIS chap was my age and attractive.  But...I just wasn't getting awesome vibes.  He asked me if he could take me out for drinks.  My game plan here is easy.  Just appear to be the opposite of what he's looking for. It's an easy out.  "I actually don't drink....or smoke."  C'mon, that's got to be a turn off right?  But he made some comment about how I'm a cheaper date because I don't drink.  Errr...thanks?? haha 

He then alluded to physical interests and I said something like, "Look, I'm not your type.  I'm not that kind of girl.  I'm really religious and don't do that stuff before marriage."  haha Seriously, am I in a hostel in Europe?  Why do I feel like the Law of Chastity is brought up all of the time lately?  None the less, whammy.  I'm sure we're done now.  That's got to be a huge turn off right?  
He then says, "Hey, just let me charm you and we'll let nature take it's course."
"Look, my friend, I don't care if you're Johnny Depp, nature is not taking it's course there."  haha 

So here we are.  I honestly love being kind of people and feel like I can be a positive part of their day.  But where is the line?  I don't understand why being kind comes across as flirting because I try to be aware of it.  The other shabang is, why do elderly men think I'm cool with dating someone who fathered children my parents age?!  That is so awkward for me and don't understand why it would even cross their minds.  haha So...I've got to figure out what it is about me that attracts the hobblers and then...not do it.  There you have it. The highlights of the last month of my encounters with males.  Don't be jealous.  haha It's just hilarious, embarrassing and all kinds of awkward.  It's my life. haha

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Poetry night, bobby pins, Thanksgiving

I've been wanting to go to "Open Mic Night" in Shirlington for a while now.  It's a cute little, shopping urban area near where I live.  I finally went on Monday night.  What I had assumed would be an open mic night of music, was 100% poetry.  I kind of laughed because I've never been to something where people come out of the audience and recite poetry that they've written and memorized.  But that happened. Two hours worth of poetry.

I was surprised and felt pretty awkward by the people that felt like making elaborate poems describing their love lives...that was not necessary from my perspective. Keep the similes of your love making to yourself and the one you're making love to.  But maybe that's just me. haha However, there were a couple of really great poems.  Some people really are gifted with words and the ability to express situations and emotion in a way that not everyone can.

A couple of funny lines from open mic night that made me smile and pull out my phone to write in my notes are as follows:

"Haunting pasts are like growing neck goiters"

 Or this gem:

"You can keep cutting my limbs but like a star fish, I will keep regenerating and growing back." ??

It was a pretty funny evening.  I can't say that I'll be a regular at open mic night but it was fun to try something new. haha

I have been living off of three bobby pins.  Anyone who knows me, or uses bobby pins themselves, realizes that keeping track of such itty bitty necessities is nearly impossible.  I'd lost all but three and had been sliding them on the end of my sleeve when I slept and using them the next day.  Well I cracked and splurged haha on some new bobby pins.  It's a love/hate relationship I have with those.  I need them but I always, always lose them.

I spent Thanksgiving at my aunts house which was lovely.  I think it's a wonderful yearly reminder to live a life of gratitude for what we have and the people in our lives.  It struck particularly hard this year because I'd lived a good portion of 2012 in a country where material goods are in short supply.  The things I'm thankful for are different than before.  All the "stuff" really doesn't mean anything to me.  I had car problems a month ago and my phone wouldn't turn on this morning and the thought that came to mind was, "Oh gosh.  First world problems."  haha Life was simple when I didn't need a car, clothes brands don't matter, who cares how many fluffy pillows decorate your bed, if you wear makeup or have a hair out of place, if one of your earphones isn't working, the tv didn't record the end of your favorite show, etc etc.  I guess it's just interesting to me living in a world where so many conveniences that are a natural part of our lives are completely nonexistent in Uganda and other parts of the world.  It bothers me when I catch myself worrying about things that don't really matter.

The last Thanksgiving meal that I had was in Bunabuyoka.  It's the little village where we built the health clinic.  The people threw a huge party for us and cooked quite a feast.  There was chicken (meaning what we ate had been literally been walking around outside 2 hours before we ate it), posho, matoke, chapatti, beans etc.  I remember feeling nostalgic that it was the last time I'd be eating with my hands and it'd be socially acceptable.
 I'm thankful for the basics.  For the things that I often forget about when I get caught up in first world luxuries.  I'm thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I'm thankful that I can have a relationship with God.  I'm thankful for my friends and family and their good health.  In Uganda the life expectancy is in the late forties, early fifties.  There's no reason why I should be born into a country where myself, my friends and family will live very long lives, but I'm thankful that I get them for as long as I can.  We're really blessed.  It's good for me to step back every now and then and realize what really matters.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.  More posts to come!  :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lengthy hair, Best impulse buys, Loving love

Whirlwind. I have awkward dating stories (which are always a good time) but I will save them for the next blog post.
  • A kid from my past found me. He's been blogged about, in fact. The 21 year-old from Logan that came to country dancing and later on a date "warmed up my hands"...with his hands when mine were cold. Anywho, he said he spent an hour trying to find me on Facebook and we talked on the phone the other day. Flattered that I apparently left a good impression but...super random.
  • The couple that I nanny for have been awesome and have been giving me book recommendations--both for finding jobs and just for enjoyment. Either way, I always enjoy a good book suggestion. 
  • There is a genuine addiction that I have to Starbucks. I'm completely aware that Starbucks is an American shabang.  However, my first time going to Starbucks was when I lived in Paris. Therefore the location holds a completely, irrationally nostalgic place in my heart. Salted caramel hot chocolate. Webster would define it as edible happiness. 
  • I've officially decided that I want to grow my hair out nice and long. I chopped my hair back in 2007 in Paris and I've never let it get too long since then. So we'll see how long it takes and whether or not it will be as pretty in real life as I see it in my head. Haha stay tuned over the next...year?? Who knows how long this is going to take! Haha
  • I went to target tonight. I fell victim to the five dollar movie box and came out with one of my all time favorite movies--"While You Were Sleeping". My sakes, I already don't regret that purchase. I might, maybe, may have walked away with a new red polka dot cardi as well. Yeah, darling and don't regret that either.
  • A friend this summer asked me if I had ever been in love. I laughed and said, "no.  I don't stay with people that long." Haha we then had a conversation about what love is and how you know when you love someone. While I still don't feel like I could honestly say that I've been in love with anyone, I'm amazed at the beauty and power of love. (Whoa.  "The Power of Love" song from Back to the Future just popped into my head.  You're welcome.  That's just a worthwhile jam right there.)  Over the past few days I've skyped some dear Italian friends, written a friend from Zimbabwe, skyped an American friend back in Uganda, spoken to my Alaskan friend that I served with in Italy, a dear friend back in Utah and others. I guess it has just surprised me how every time I've hung up with these people, I feel something deep inside me that truly adores them and the value they add to my life. So yeah, the romantic "in love" stuff, not so much. Not yet anyway. But I'm continually amazed and thankful for the people in my life that have made such an impression on me, that I'm always aware of how much I fully and completely love them. If romantic love is anything like it, I'm in. Because it's my favorite thing.
  • I'm stoked out of my mind for a three day work week. Hopefully little baby James will hook me up with a thanksgiving statement like, "I'm thankful I didn't get pooped or peed on this week." That's never been something I would have been thankful for in the past but alas, that is applicable in my life now.
  • Rebel Wilson is one of my new favorite people. She quite literally makes me laugh out loud all the time. I'll try to eventually post a vid or something but good crap, that lady is hysterical.
  • Op, nearly forgot to blog about seeing the final twilight film. Yes, that really happened. There were many moments when I had to laugh because I realized I was literally watching a flick about vampires and werewolves and yet...somehow at the end I was completely sucked in (whoa definitely an unintentional pun right there.  Yikes.)  and sad it was over. embarrassing. 
Well I'm going to get some shut eye. I will update more later. Til then,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The latest thoughts, deets and tails from this neck of the woods...

  • I stopped by Target last week to gather cards for my first east coast game night.  Meandering through the gargantuan store, I came across the Home Decor section.  Danger.  I happen to adore wandering through that section of the store and imagining decorating a space all my own.  Thankfully I don't have a space to decorate because many a penny would be spent in that there store, in that there section.  It's happiness.
  • Yesterday I treated myself to a pedicure.  I've had the old turquoise nail polish on my toenails that had been painted back in my home two months ago.  Go ahead and judge me.  I am.  It's awkward. haha It was lovely to have someone scrub down my very roughed up post-africa feet.  They're soft and my toes are so cute now.  Odd that we decorate those itty bitty, strange appendages down there right?  
  • I nanny for a little 4 month old baby named James.  I feel like I'm a full-time mom sometimes.  Now before all of the mothers out there mock me because I have no idea what they've experienced, they're right. I've never been pregnant, given birth, nor experienced the first (of many) sleepless nights during the beginning.  But on a small scale, I'm starting to relate.  I nanny Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm.  It's crazy to me that the stud can strategically plan his pooping and pee time for right when I'm changing his diaper.  And yet somehow, I still adore him to bits.  How does that work?  I didn't even produce the fella.  How can I glaze over consistent digestive hate crimes?  haha I dunno.  But he's adorable.
  • I'm still happily addicted to spinach smoothies.  I only get to eat during nap time but throwing healthy goods into a blender and having a cup of green deliciousness as the result is consistently pleasing.  Love.
  • I've been on a few dates since I've been here.  My very favorite date that I've been on in the last few months would have to be....that one in Paris. :)  Yeah, I didn't tell a lot of people about it but it was wonderful.  We went to the Bastille, walked along the Seine, sat by the water and talked for a while, then went out for drinks...I ordered mango juice haha, and then...maybe we watched some Prison Break together.  haha Granted a lot of what made that date wonderful was the whimsical location was so fun.  He's a really great guy and we had a lot of fun together.  Please bless there are more dates like zat in my future.  I don't know why I felt it appropriate to take a shoe shot on the Seine together...probably just because I'm irritatingly pleased with his good taste in clothes.  Seriously, you should have seen what the lad was wearing.  Ugh, french men and their effortless attractiveness.
  • We had a game night last week.  Played Rummikub, listened to Chicago's greatest hits (that's real), and had a hilarious good time.  Group of fun friends on the east coast slowly in formation.
  • Christmas music.  Look out.  It’s early.  I should not be listening to it.  But goodness, what is it about Christmas music that makes me want to walk bundled up holding hands with a rugged, thoughtful man down a twinkly light lined street?!   haha Unreal.  Maybe if there were a bunch of famous thanksgiving songs, the radio stations wouldn't start playing the Christmas goods in November.  I dunno.  But then again, who wants to sing about a turkey?  I wouldn't put it past Rihanna for some reason.
  • LOVE talking to people from the various phases of my life.  Recently I’ve been able to speak to people from my days in Paris, mission in Italy, and summer in Uganda.  It’s amazing what a bond exists between these people because of what you learned and went through together.  I love having met them and being blessed with continued contact with them.  
  • Still longing to live abroad.  What is my deal?  Constantly brainstorming what career could allow me to work out of Paris or Italy or...Africa.  What a spaz I am.  I adore traveling and every place I’ve lived has changed my life.  But I’ve left a little piece of my heart in all of those places and...can’t help but want to go back to feel that way again.  Maybe I sound crazy. I'm thankful for the time that I've had in all of those places.  I really am.  They were nothing short of life changing.  But I miss the people, the places, the language, the me that lived and learned there.  What a pathetic mess. haha We'll see.  I'm happy to be where I am and being having the experiences that I'm currently having.  I really am blessed.  I have another 4 1/2 months to work as a nanny then who knows, maybe the perfect career will magically pop up that allows me to move to Europe.  :)  If not, that's okay too.
Hope you're all healthy and happy wherever you may be.  Love,

Blonde, curly haired nanny with nerd glasses in the nations capital.  :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane, coat obsession, going out on the town

Had the day off of work because of Hurricane Sandy.

Spent the day watching the Avengers with my aunt, helping their neighbor move tables inside from the patio, baking gluten free cookies and taking a wee trip to the store to grab goods for diner. haha Yeah, not a bad day considering a natural disaster is on its way.

My aunt and uncle are hilarious and are consistently cracking jokes about how they think this isn't going to be that big of a deal and there's just a lot of hype.  Truth is, obviously near the coast it's a huge deal and really dangerous.  But here away from the coast, it's just been really windy and rainy.

I have work off tomorrow as well.  I'm excited to have some time with my family out here but it's funny how when you can't go outside, going outside is all that you want to do.  I want to go for a run.  I want to go shopping.  I want to go out with friends.  Hmm...yep.  Those things will have to wait.  Until then, I'm enjoying my time that I can hang out in pajamas and not feel guilty about it.

I've recently discovered the goodness of greek yogurt.  My friend had me try it a while back and my initial thoughts were, "Yup, the only reason anyone would enjoy that is because it's a fad."  Well...I had some last week that was delicious to the max and I've since become a greek yogurt convert.  So I stocked up on some know...incase the power goes out.  Priorities straight.

I'm getting kind of, sort of addicted to etsy.  It's a problem.  I'm finding really cute winter coats, fun skirts, etc.  This is the problem with finally having an income. Now I want to spend it. haha  But thankfully I'm pretty good at understanding that fantasy shopping is sufficient for now.  I have a whole section of my favorite designers and products and dorkily gaze at them from time to time but...that's the extent of it. haha  I just appreciate fun, unique, pretty clothes.  Yes I do.

Here are a few of my faves:

My cute little nanny family introduced me to a section of the Washington Post that tells you all of the cool places to go when you're going out.  So I've decided that when I get off work in the evenings, I'm going to go to different places to get to know the area and...go do something fun.  This last week my car was kind of a joke but now that it's back to mint condish, it's time to go out and do fun things in this fun city.

I hope things go well for the people affected by Frankenstorm.  I hope that everyone was able to get prepared and feel safe.  It's the worst to be in a situation where you literally have no control over what will happen.  I just hope and pray that those closer to the coast will feel comfort and protected during this time of danger and uncertainty.  Hopefully they were better than me and stocked up on more than just greek yogurt.  Oh geez.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tears, squirrels and chocolate covered almonds

Things have been crazy train in these parts.  Bulleted randomness in 3, 2,...

  • I accepted a 6 month nannying position.  Is it what I want to do forever?  Not in the least.  However, it's great money for right now and it'll give me the chance to save, get to know the area and make contacts until my time with them is up and I can find a different job.
 "My life is turning out to be much less like the Rachel McAdams film that I was hoping it'd be."

My friend:  
"Which film were you thinking?"

"Well, "Morning Glory" but if I had to make out with Ryan Gosling than I'd do that.  WHO would complain if their life was like the Notebook?  I can think of no one."

  • The day after I agreed to stay six months as a nanny, I got TWO phone calls of potential job offers.  Let's just say I nearly threw up and literally cried on and off the whole day.  Seriously?  The DAY after I accept to be a nanny for six months of my life?  Ugh, not great.  Not great. Timing=off.   I thanked them and told them if they had openings in 6 months that I'd be very berry interested.  
  • I went to a crepe party on Sunday night.  I am obsessed with being around people that have been to Europe and have a love and appreciation for it in any way.  It was fun to talk and laugh with ladies that have genuine feelings for a location like I do.  
  • My car was driving kind of funny after that party.  I had nearly run over a squirrel on my way to the party and had the fleeting thought, "The little guy couldn't have jumped up into the entrails of my car and now he's squished and cooking in there could he?"  Gross.  Yeah, that thought actually crossed my mind.  Turns out, there's something wrong with the clutch and it's currently been taken apart and worked on for the past three days.
  • Went out Halloween costume shopping with my friend last night.  There's a Halloween party tonight (Friday) and my friend is hosting it and requires spooky get-up of some sort.   I'm always the worst at coming up with costumes because I don't want to settle for the "kitty" or "fairy" costume that so often seems to be the costume of choice for ladies.
  • I ran across some chocolate covered almonds that looked delish in the store.  I opened them and started snacking on them.  Was I really all that hungry?  negative.  But Rachel did it in a Friends episode once and I've always thought it'd be funny to do.  And it was.  haha
  • I went on a date with a gent that turns out to be ....a great deal older than me.  We're talking 13 years.  Awk Awk Awk.  Nice guy and all but I'm just not able to handle an age difference and all of the baggage he's got going on at this time of my life.  I'm just 25.  Just not ready to deal with all of that at this phase of my life.
  • Speaking of, I was sleeping over at my friends house this week and she was telling me about the fellas in the ward.  She lovingly describes them all as "short accountants".  haha She and her roommate also went off talking about the baggage that the men have in the ward.  It's awkward thinking about the kind of guys that I'll be going out with because I've kind of entered "baggage land".  Not DC specifically, but this age group.  My friend explains that when you're single for so long, you just have a lot of bad relationships and stuff that have added up and left a toll on you.  It's just different than dating as a little 23 year old RM.  Somehow the extra two years have bumped me up to new category of baggage claim.  This should be fun.
  • I have days that I really miss France, days that I really miss Italy and now days that I really miss Uganda.  It's weird having my heart in so many different places with so many different people.  I had an "I miss Uganda" day the other day.  I miss the simplicity of life.  I miss how low maintenance everything felt.  I miss how the core things, the most important things--people--are all that really matter.  I nearly teared up in church this last Sunday because I think about being in church a few months ago with very different scenery and people in much more difficult life circumstances. 
  • One of my Sundays in Uganda, I had to help in primary.  I was really stressed and had no idea what to do with all of those kids for two hours.  We talked about prayer and had them draw pictures of things they thank God for at night.  One of the kids drew their family and wrote, "I thank God for keeping my family alive."  Wow.  She wasn't just thankful for her family, but it she legitimately feels grateful for the fact that they were all still alive.  With their mortality rate in their 40's, it's no wonder that having family and friends along as long as you can is something to be thankful for.  It's a good reminder for me.  Yeah, I'm not at my perfect job, my car isn't working and have an awkward dating life.  Oh me and my first world problems.  It's good for me to remember that I have an awful lot and I'm very blessed and lucky.  Things will always work out how they should and I should always always be thankful.
  • And in closing, it turns out dark chocolate covered almonds are delicious.  Grabbing some in the store the next time you go and eating some before you pay for them wouldn't be the worst idea.  Just saying.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Day in the Big City...

So I've been living in Virginia for over two weeks, applying to jobs like crazy and have been....kind of a stress case.  After talking/crying to my sweet sister on the phone, we decided I should probably go into the city and do something fun for a day.  What a novel idea.  I tend to be drastic with myself sometimes and think that I can't rationalize going out and doing things that cost money when I don't have an income.  Well, sometimes a girl just needs to get out and do something fun.  So here is the bulleted goodness of a Friday in DC:
  • Drove to the nearest metro stop, parked my car and was nearly giddy at the excitement of taking the METRO into the city for a day.  Last time I did this was in Paris about 2 months ago and I could have vomited with how happy I was.  Let's just get it out on the table that I'm in love with public transport--talking to strangers and not having to worry about other cars swerving into me are just a few of the perks.
  • Talked to a darling chinese man named Patrick on the metro.  He gave me his phone number and told me to call him if I needed any help finding work.  He's happily married and was taking his wife to New York for the weekend to see Phantom of the Opera.  He reached into his bag and pulled out a folder of all of the songs from Phantom of the Opera that he translated into mandarin chinese so that his sister could appreciate the message of the music.  How darling is this man?! Loved that convo. Yup.
  • Woman outside the metro tried to sell me a tourism map for $13.  She loved my reaction, we laughed, I think we're friends now actually haha aaannddd...the map was free.
  • Passed a cute old man on the street holding a bouquet of flowers.  I must look like I'm from out of town because he asked "Are you new here?" as I was oogling upward at the buildings.  Shook my hand, we made small talk, wished me well on the job hunt, the end of cute old man encounter. 
  • Zara.  Want a paycheck so that my wardrobe and their clothing line can be one in the same.
  • Thought I overheard italian but he was on the phone so it was hard to work that into a conversation.  Annddd the chap was making a ponytail work in his favor.  Who does that besides Johnny Depp in "Chocolat"?  This is unheard of.  I have just concluded that he must be italian.  It's the only explanation.
  • Art museum.  "Soldiers Widower" one of my favorites.  It resembled an unsightly Gerard Depardieu in a bonnet.  And yet...was supposed to be a soldiers widower. haha Awesome.  Not allowed to take pics in that exhibit but...that's what they said in "The David" museum and I'm a proud owner of 2 David pics, slightly blurry, taken poking out of my purse.  haha  Not my classiest move but I don't regret it.
  • RODIN--nearly got straight up emotional seeing his work.  August Rodin has made some of the most lovely sculptures I've ever seen.  Back in '07 when I kicked it in Paris full-time, we went to the Rodin museum for art class one day.  I fell in love.  So running into an exhibit of his work today was exactly what the doctor ordered...if the doctor is me.  Below is "The Kiss".
 More Rodin.  You know, "The Thinker".  NBD.  Lies.  BD.
  • Took a photo for two Russian women.  They asked me if I was voting for Romney--they ADORE him.  They asked if I was mormon.  One lady taught at a university and said that mormons were her best students.  Looky there.  
  • Paintings of fruit and wine get old to me.  
  • Paintings of dead rabbits never did anything for me.  Don't know what that says about my ability to appreciate art but...I just move to the next gallery when I walk into a room full of fruit, wine and dead animals hanging from twine.
  • Paid the Capital a visit.  Walked the mall toward the Washington monument.  Couldn't stop thinking about how fun it will be to actually live in the city and go for jogs there all the time.
  • Went to the National Museum of American History.  Took a wee gander at Dorothy's slippers, Kermit, the evolution of music playing devices--tape player, walkman, to all things apple-- and then meandered through the Civil war section.  Again, can't wait to live closer and take more time at each of these places.
  • Passed the Washington monument on the way to the Presidents home.  Literally as I was approaching the White House, a trio of helicopters flew into the White House grounds.  This was the day after the Colorado debate.  So I snapped a pic.  Loved every second of the tourists freaking out at the sight. (Myself being one of them but on a less ridiculous scale.)  

  • After the helicopter lands the group hears a voice behind us saying, "Everyone, I just want you to know that Jesus loves you so much."  She proceeds to direct us to the pavilion behind her where they were singing about Jesus and all were invited to join.  I mostly just loved the cute little french couple as the man translated what was going on to his lady friend.  
  • Grabbed a bite to eat.  Delicious salad.  One of the workers said hello and stared long enough for me to question that his intentions were strictly customer service based.  As I was leaving he approached me saying he'd been looking for me and he was "very attractive to me". haha  Hmm...He was persistent that we must exchange numbers, meet and go to happy hour together.  haha Oh dear.  Kind sir, just so not happening.  I left and a couple of blocks later, he's right next to me!  He took his break at work and ran after me I guess and said, "You didn't say goodbye". fickle of me to not bid farewell to this complete stranger that was hardcore creeping on me.  He had written down his e-mail, phone number and name.  Yes, my friends, his name is Sheriff!!  Unbelievable. haha I love my life in all of its non-stop awkwardness.
All in a days work.  Happy Friday errbody.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Everyone with Badges, Salary searching, Morning Glory

I came to Virginia on Tuesday.  I'm living with my aunt and uncle that are hilarious and wonderful and their three darling kids.  I feel super lucky.

My uncle Mike was so sweet to take me into DC the day before my job interview so that I could see how to get there.  Yipes yipes yipes.  The city is massive!  I just kept oogling out the window muttering things like, "Holy smokes I can't believe I'm here."  And "This is unreal.  Is this real life?!"  Yes, this is real life.  I just passed the pentagon on the way to my interview like nbd.  Oh, the Washington monument, yeah it's right there on the left side of my vehicle meaning, it's time to get off the freeway.  Seriously, what fairytale land do I live in?  Oh yeah, Virginia.  It's awesome.

After I learned the route on how to get to my job interview, Mike and I grabbed some lunch.  I was dying that everyone was dressed in shirts and ties and had badges!  An avid alias watcher, obviously my mind is going crazy with what all of these people do for work.  Spaz, admitting to being a spaz.  Mike says the people that actually have cool jobs don't wear their badges where you can see them.  haha Again, mind blown.  haha

I had a job interview on Thursday with a really cool company for a job that would pretty much change my life.  Alas, I am unsure about how the first chap that interviewed me felt.  The second guy was wonderful and seemed to have a good read about who I am.  I've never interviewed for a salary position before.  The last place that I was employed, I kid you not, the Fun Park.  haha I haven't heard back from this job interview yet.  You would be accurate in assuming that I have varying dosages of freaking out in my system.  I've been trying to find other places to apply but it's very berry overwhelming.  I know that something will come together.  I know that I'm supposed to be here.  But yeah, while the future is exciting, it's also stressful because I have no idea what's in store.

Aunt Jane took me to Wegmans.  It's a grocery store out here that's practically a cultural experience.  Exotic cheeses?  They've got it.  Sushi bar in the middle of the store?  You betcha.  Gluten free section that makes the one at home look Old Mother Hubbards cupboard?  Yeah.  Real.  I honestly just walked up and down the aisle in awe.  Bless them for having a nice gluten-free selection.  The everything intolerant me is very berry grateful.

I went to two wards today.  Woke up at 5, showered up and drove into the city.  I'm trying to start going to one of the singles wards that I'll be going to once I find a big swanky job.  So...I'm just glazing over the big swanky job for today and going to meet people.  In one of them, the bishops wife served her mission in Italy.  Yeah, we spoke Italian for a bit and I'm pretty sure I was beaming.  I have missed speaking Italian.  The wards are great.  I can't officially move my records or anything until I move into their boundaries and I can't do that until I start getting paychecks.  In the words of Leon Marvin, "Babysteps".

So I'm obsessed with the movie "Morning Glory".  I love it.  I love that Rachel McAdams is this darling, adventurous, smart single lady that moves to a big city and has a great career.  I love this movie, in part, because I kind of want this phase of my life similar to hers.  My co-workers from my hilarious temp job and I would tease that I am going to meet a darling chap in the elevator--because she does it and....he's not unattractive or repulsive in personality.  Win win.  haha  So signing out from the girl that's on her way but with a few little road bumps.  Here's a song that I adore from the flick.  Love you from Virginia,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Insanity--a workout vid and also my life

I've been procrastinating blogging.  Not because I don't have loads that I should be posting about, but because I'm stressed or something.  I can't offer you any awesome explanations...just acknowledge that I'm aware of the lack of posting and apologize.

I got home from Africa.  It's crazy being home.  There are white people everywhere.  I'm struck by how selfish and spoiled some people are.  Yeah, that sounds mean.  But there was legitimately some reverse culture shock happening.  Kids freaking out at their parents because their earphones to their IPOD weren't working very well is just hard for me to sympathize with.  haha It's fine and I totally get that things and life are different here but it's just fascinating for me to process the things that are complained about here (and I'm positive I do it too) that just don't exist in Africa.  It's nuts.  Upside:  LOVE seeing my friends and family.  It's been a long four months and I've missed erbody.  Though, let's not talk about all the cute peeps in Uganda I miss.  That's for another post.

One of my besties had a baby!  She gave birth just a couple of days before I came home from Uganda.  I visited her in the hospital, got emotional...because apparently I think that's cool or something...and she and her husband are darling parents.  And her daughter is adorable.  See pic below for proof.

THEN Thursday, another of my bestest friends got sealed in the Salt Lake Temple.  She looked gorgeous and so happy.  He seems wonderful and I'm both blissfully happy for her and selfishly sad that our relationship will have to change because she has someone else to make plans with.  I can't just steal her anytime I want now.  haha  I found out that my temple recommend was expired the morning of her sealing.  Who's the dummy?  Me.  It's all me.  After stressing out and crying (seriously, I told you I've been crying's awkward) I somehow managed to get a new temple recommend and run to the temple sealing just in time.  Miracle.
I got a temp job filing papers.  6am-2pm.  It was hysterical.  Never in my life did I think I'd graduate college and then work as a temp filing papers.  So funny.  But it was perfect.  I needed a random job to work in the few weeks I was home until my friend Mindy got married and it was perfect.  My co-workers were hilarious and again, I could write an entire post about them and our adventures in the warehouse.  In fact, I might do that.

Saturday, I went to visit my sister Kim.  She and her family are so wonderful.  No amount of time with her is ever enough.  We went to the zoo, aquarium, and had so much fun making yummy food, playing with her sweet children, and walking around the mall just because we can.  She's become one of my dearest friends and it's brutality how fast time flies when we're together.  In fact, we're kind of like the Olsen twins because we both posted blogs about our time together at the same time.  haha She really is one of the most amazing human beings I've ever met in real life.  I really look up to her and still feel like a ten year-old sister in the sense that I want to be just like her in so many ways.  I love that any time we're going to talk on the phone, a fifteen minute slot of time will not be enough.  We talk for hours on the phone and I enjoy every second of it.  I love that lady.  Yep, so much more than a little.

Tuesday I flew to North Carolina and then to Virginia.  My Aunt Jane and Uncle Mike have graciously agreed to let me sleep in their house while I'm job hunting in the DC area.  We spent so much time with them growing up that they really feel like immediate family.  They're hilarious, kind, wonderful people and I feel so lucky that I get to stay with them while I save up a few paychecks until I can move into an apartment.

Uncle Mike took me into the city today to help me practice getting there on the crazy freeways.  It's so surreal that these last few months have all happened.  It has all happened so fast.  I drive around out here looking out the window and I'm completely fascinated and intrigued.  I've never spent time out here on the east coast and the concept that it's going to be my home blows my mind.  It's beautiful and green, the old parts of down are so darling and the people seem very berry friendly.  I love it here.

I have a job interview tomorrow morning so I really need to go to bed.  I have no clue if I'm going to get the job...I sure hope so obviously...but I'm trying not to get my hopes up (amateur defense mechanism really).  I will be posting more pics because holy smokes I want to photograph everything!  And I really need to be better about posting on here.  New years resolution in September?  okay.  Also known as a goal, however.  Hmm...Anywho lots going on but I'm happy and excited about this ambiguous future ahead of me.  I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.  I don't know why or what the future holds, but I'm calm and excited at the same time.  Hope everyone's well.  Love, Mals

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Someone is still in love with Paris, that someone is moi

After a really adventurous goodbye from Uganda (sleeping on the floor of a hospital my last night in Mbale, Holly's wallet getting stolen on the way to the airport, getting pulled over by cops on the way to the airport so they were giving us all kinds of crap and we were sure their unattractive corruption was going to make us miss our flight....etc etc etc  It was hard to process that I was really leaving a country that became my home this summer.  Two flights later, I landed in Paris.  My mind has struggled understanding what to think about what's happening.  One thing I'm positive about:  I have so greatly missed Paris.  It was good to be home.  Here is Kelsey and I at Notre Dame.
Le Centre Pompidou is one of my favorite spots in all of Paris. It's right where I used to go to school so it was one of our hangouts.  There's just something so energetic and lively about Paris.  It just gets under my skin in the very best way.
It was Kelseys first time going to Paris so I got to take her to all of the sites...well, the ones that we had time for.  Naturally we were not leaving Paris without seeing this beauty:
This is one of those photos that the only thing I can think to say is, "One thing led to another..."
Kels saw a sign for soft serve.  We have missed ice cream so much.  It's been 4 months since we've had soft serve and this stuff was incredible!  The fact that we were just chilling under the Eiffel Tower made everything even better.  Op, also we went shopping at H&M earlier that day.  I was hoping to degrungify the next day because I was a dirty mess coming straight from Africa. haha
Meandering around we decided to find a cute cafe and have ourselves some french food.  I got some delicious Onion soup that blew my mind.  Kels and I were both making audible sounds of satisfaction while eating our dinners.  The food contrast from Uganda to Paris is substantial.  haha Both are great in their own way, of course. :)
Aaaannnddd we obviously had to share a creme brule.  You guessed it, not gross.  Gosh Paris, just keep being wonderful.  Never fails.
Day 2:  Start things off with Sacre Coeur.  Sacre Coeur is quite possibly my favorite place in all of Paris.  The view is just absolutely incredible.  I walk down every street in awe.  I can't stop starring at the beautiful building, the sweet families, I notice smiles creep up on my face because I heard a something darling in french, etc.  It's definitely sensory overload, but it's lovely.
Here we are.  The beautiful cathedral. I literally could and did sit and stare at it for a while.  It's captivating.  We started walking past the cathedral on our way to see the street painters and we passed some street musicians that were incredible!
We both pulled up a curb and were sufficiently swooned.  I will post a video later but my goodness.  Ciccio on the left got up for part and started walking over to the curb.  I know my emotions and brain is everywhere right now with what I'm trying to process, but ....maybe my eyes started watering. haha I'm trying to get through reverse culture shock right now, I clearly can't handle attractive men and their beautiful voices.  There's a line! haha
Oh my heart I just love every detail of this zip code.  Including the random graffiti walking around town.
Back in flats!  Can you tell I've worn the same pair of shoes every single day for the past 4 months?  I have tiger stripe tan lines and I think it's hilarious. haha  And seriously, I even think the ground with freshly crushed leaves is beautiful scenery--the ground!  Swooned.  This must be what love feels like. haha
I told Kels that she should probably go to l'Opera Garnier.  It's the opera house that inspired the Phantom of the Opera.  It's so majestic and incredible ornate.
So....naturally when we're in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, we have photo shoots and act hilarious.  What else would we do?
When I lived here in 2007, I had a roommate named Macrae.  I'm fortunate enough to still consider her a dear friend--she's amazing.  Well back in 2007 her dad came over to Paris and invited me to go out to dinner with them.  He was so welcoming and it was fun to have a father figure, of sorts, when I was in Paris.

Fast forward 5 years and he had another business trip in Paris.  We somehow got in contact and he asked if I'd like to go to dinner again.  He is genuinely one of the kindest human beings I've ever met or heard of.  We met once, five years ago, but upon learning we were in the same city, we both met up for belated second meeting.  He took us to a darling french restaurant.  It was the cutest thing.  And he insisted Kelsey and his friend Johno try escargot.  Johnos face is classic.  He was dreading the french snail experience. haha I actually think they're really good.  Kelsey tried one but it wasn't her favorite thing in all the land.
Trying to get the snail out of his shell.  Is this real life?!?  I can't handle this.
They took us out to gelato afterward at probably the best gelateria in Paris.  They're both so funny and it was nice to have company introduce me to a new cute place.  They loaded us in a taxi afterward and Kelsey and I went home for the night with dopey grins on our face.  We fell asleep in Paris, had the most fun with a dear friend that I've only met once, were swooned to death by attractive musicians, and are clean for the first time in 4 months. haha
I'm still working on processing leaving Uganda.  But I will be honest, being in Paris again has been an absolute dream.  There is something about this place that does something to me.  I am completely in love with it.  My steps take a different beat, I sit on the metro fascinated and happy with all of the diversity and culture, something just comes alive in me when I'm here.  I am genuinely the luckiest girl in the world.  I can't believe I've called Paris home at one point in my life.  It still is, for me, in a lot of ways.  I can't believe I lived in Africa!!  It's been my dream since I was in 7th grade.  And I can't believe I got to see Paris again.  I'm so happy.  I can't believe any of this is real.  I have more Paris and obviously Uganda to post about but my flight is going to leave soon so I should probably go.  I love my life.  Holy smokes!  haha  See you guys soon,  Mals

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm leaving on a jet plane.

I've been meaning to blog for a very long time now.  Soo much has happened.  I still need to tell you about the circumcision festival, our trip to the zoo, when we got robbed, hiking Wenale again, all of the goodbyes and wrap up this experience.  I was prepared to write a blog last night but...then my friend Cami got malaria and has been in the hospital with an IV all day.  So we took our last dinner to the hospital and ate with her there.  Then Rebecca and I slept on the floor of the hospital in the room with Cami.  It was not how I'd originally seen my last night in Mbale going but there was something perfect about it somehow.  I now have to pack in the next few hours, I'm sleeping in Jinja and then tomorrow (Wednesday) I continue to Kampala and then Entebbe where my flight leaves Uganda.  Here's one of the pics from the zoo.  Sam an I got to chill with this camel named Jennifer.
I'll also need to write about my last trip to the village.  They had a huge party for us.  Thank you speeches, they planted trees in our honor, we painted the kids faces, made costumes out of banana leaves, had a dance party and a Thanksgiving feast--Ugandan style (eating with our hands).  It was not awesome having to say goodbye to Damalie.  I sure love that girl.  It's hard to process that I'll probably never see her again.  Ugh.  Such a darling litte lady.
I will write a couple of blogs from home when I'll have better internet and a little more time to update on the last couple of weeks.  But for now, I have to pack.  My flight leaves tomorrow night and then I have a few days in Paris.  I can't wait to go back and be there again.  I lived there in 2007 and it was life changing.  I can't wait to have some time there again.  I'll be home Sunday.  I'm still not able to process that I'm leaving Uganda.  But while I'm obviously really sad to leave, it will be good to be back.  I'm excited to see everyone.  Thank you for sharing this experience with me.  Thanks for reading my random blogs and your sweet comments, e-mails and facebook messages.  I love you guys very much and am so thankful to have the family and friends that I have.  You're the best and I'm seriously the luckiest girl in the world.  I'll post more when I get home.  See you on Sunday!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cockroach, dance instruction, Ayub

I love my life.  I l-o-v-e it!  Because time is running out, I'm trying to soak up any and every detail that makes my current life what it is.

My morning jogs are filled with leaping over pot holes, smooshed frogs, and dodging roaming cows.  Also, little children will often start running with us on their way to school.

I woke up in the middle of the night with the D...everyone gets the D's not big news and we all talk openly about our bowel functions like nbd.  Anywho, oh my way to the bathroom I saw a cockroach scampering around.  We're talking Men In Black status.  Didn't really even phase me.  I just realized this morning I should have been more freaked out.  Probably because I was preoccupied with the D.  Seriously, I'll have to get used the fact that people don't just talk openly about that stuff at home.

We were at lunch at an Indian restaurant and after a while of eating our food, Rebecca says, "You guys, I just found a black hair in my soup."  Samantha then says, "Yeah, I found one in mine too."  Then I add, "Yeah, I found one in mine a while ago too."  Yes, my friends, three of us found hairs in our food and we're just so used to situations like that that we don't tell anyone and just go forward.  Hilarious and gross and sad.

We taught leadership classes at St. Stephens today.  We usually start class with a fun activity to get everyone loosened up and comfortable with each other.  So today...we taught them the Boot Scoot'n "Move Like Jagger" by Maroon 5.  Hilarious.  They loved it and we were all dying that we put that dance to that song.  

I legitimately had a man pat be on the bottom after the circumcision festival and when I turned around to scowl at him he just smiled, nodded and gave a thumbs up sign.  Not okay.  Later that day I was on a boda and we were driving through a big crowd and a man legitimately slid his hand up my thigh.  I was just inhaling about to put the chap in his place when I hear Cami on the boda behind me yell, "Don't touch her!"  haha I felt like I had a bodyguard and a fairy god mother at the same time.

Whenever I hold wee babies around here, they're fascinated by white people body hair--namely, arm hair.  Little kids are always pulling on my arm hair...not like I even have that much...but they don't have any so they look at it in wonder.  

While up at St. Stephens, my friends were teaching me some phrases in Lugisu and...I was teaching them Italian.  I got some of it on film because it's darling.  High school boys asking me how to say, "You're the best" in Italian.  Are we kidding right now?  Darling.  I wish I was a full-time teacher at that school because I am going to be sincerely upset when I have to leave them.  

I took another tennis lesson from Ayub.  My friend Alexis took pics.  I'll have to post them later because I'm super tired.  He's darling.  He played in the Ugandan open and he told me that he could have played in the Olympics but he didn't want to leave his sister.  She's all the family he has.  I love playing with him.  My favorite critique?  When I flat out miss the ball when I swing and he says in his cute little accent, "Watch the ball."  haha Right.  Why didn't I think of that?  haha Love.

Better yet, Ayub came over for dinner and after we were listening to music together and...I legitimately taught him how to dougie. haha One of my favorite moments.  Followed by him singing "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion to myself, Alexis, Holly and Rebecca.

Well I'm super sleepykins.  I get to go to the village tomorrow for a Dental Camp.  Hopefully I get to see sweet little Damalie.  I have pictures and stories to tell when I get back.  Thanks for the pearls of wisdom about staying in Utah or moving to DC.  I love you guys.  And you're right.  The comfort zone is lame.  I'm shooting for DC.  Finishing my resume revamp and then I've got a lot of applying to do and connections to make.  Love you.  Til next post!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Conversations you may or may not want in on

I've recorded some recent conversations that I've found funny because...I wouldn't be having them anywhere else but here. haha 

Me:  Oh golly, I’m feeling quite nauseous
Kara:  Maybe you’re pregnant
Me:  Well on the upside, if I am pregnant, chances are good that it’s with a halvsie baby.  

Alexis:  you got food poisoning and it changed your life?
 (That's actually true.  Maybe some time I'll tell you about the ebola scare that was actually just food poisoning.) haha

Me:  you guys, what do we call those big fluffy blankets that we put on beds?
Kelsey:  Comforters?
Me: Oh yeah!  Do you guys remember those?!
I’m using a Kenyan airways blanket.  I've forgotten details about beds at home apparently.

Holly:  We have to wear pants to the circumcision festival 
Me:  Why?
Holly:  Because the men will be so drunk they might pull our skirts down.

Me:  You guys!  We literally just saw people getting tear gassed at a circumcision festival.  This is our life right now!

Yes, I need to write a blog post about the circumcision festival.  It was craziness.  Look forward to that post! haha

So....I come home in 3 weeks.  I'm a little bit freaking out.  I've been pondering staying in Utah or moving to Washington DC.  I would love to move to the east coast, find a job and start a new chapter of my life--a new adventure.  But yeah, I'm pretty terrified of the whole "I have a bachelors degree in Sociology, is that enough to sustain me in a place like DC?"  Unknown.  Staying in Utah would be safe because that's where all of my friends and family are.  But I don't really have connections for work in either place.  I dunno.  If you have pearls of wisdom, there's a blonde lassy in Uganda that wouldn't mind hearing them.  Love you all! 

Here's a little delight from Elder Holland because I find his every word incredible and I just really believe in what he's saying.  Here 'goes:

"The tests of life are tailored for our own best interests, and all will face the burdens best suited to their own mortal experience. In the end we will realize that God is merciful as well as just and that all the rules are fair. We can be reassured that our challenges will be the ones we needed, and conquering them will bring blessings we could have received in no other way."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Getting our filter on--Implementing water filters!

Thanks to our amazing friends and family back home, we were able to raise enough money to implement 29 water filters in the Namatala slum.  Over 2,000 people will now have access to clean water.  It's incredible.  I had the opportunity to go teach a community about the importance of sanitation and ask if they'd be interested in receiving a water filter.

They were buying their water from one of two different water spouts in the slum that contains dirty water and is owned by a man in the slum.  So they're paying money for water that's not even clean.  In order to clean in, they'd either have to buy tablets to put in it or buy charcoal to heat up the water so that it all of the goods that make them sick.  When I was teaching this group, they said the tablets and charcoal are expensive so they don't usually treat their water.  For those keeping tabs:  Expensive purification methods=dirty water=the people get sick.  

I told them we'd be willing to help them obtain clean water if they were interested.  (Obvious yes.)  The only thing we ask from them is that each family in the neighborhood contribute approximately 500 shillings (approx less than 25 cents) or whatever they can to pay for the water drum.  Some people paid more than 500 shillings, some people paid 2,000.  We take whatever they can contribute and we pay for the difference for the water drum.  The reason we have them pay a little for the drum is so they feel some sense of ownership over it.  They'll feel a responsibility to take care of it.  Also, no one else in the slum can take it from them because it's not a hand out from the white people, they own it.

The cool thing about the water filters is you can put ANY water in and it will get filtered.  They can get water from a dirty stream, rain water, etc.  Once I explained that they don't even have to boil the water before they put it through the filter, they started clapping, smiling and thanking me.  Stella got a huge grin on her face and thanked me over and over again.  Can you imagine having to make the decision of whether or not you pay for the materials to treat your water or to buy food?  They now don't have to spend any money on treating their water.  I can't believe that I get to push my cup against a lever on my fridge at home and crystal clear water comes out.  The people here are always sick because the water is so filthy and too expensive to clean.  It was a cool experience being able to bring them something that I absolutely took for granted that they ooze with gratitude for the opportunity to have clean water.  Amazing.

I went with my friend Shadrach from Child of Hope and we brought the water drum and water filter, showed them how to put it together and clean it.  This is Elizabeth and her darling son Silas.  Elizabeth is one of the women that's in the beading group.  She's darling.  She lives in the neighborhood that's getting a filter.  Here's a pic of her practicing putting the filter on.

Here's Shadrach.  He filled up a cup of the filtered water and had them all taste it.  Elizabeth drank it and started clapping with a big grin on her face.  My mind was blown.  She was so happy and filled with gratitude for being able to sick water that wouldn't get her or her family sick.  All of the women there that we were teaching were so grateful and attentive in learning how to take care of the water filter.

Here's the whole crew from the second lesson.  Shadrach, Elizabeth, my own self, Stella...I don't know who red shirted lady is, but Florence is in green.  I'll be making a follow-up visit to see how it's working and see if they have any questions on how to use it or keep it clean.

Another moment that they all started clapping was when they learned that the filter lasts for 10 years.  If they take care of it and clean it, they'll have clean water for 10 years.  I love the people in Namatala.  They're amazing and so inspiring to me.  They were so thankful for the opportunity to have clean water.  I'm glad I was able to be there, meet them and play a small role in bringing them something that will greatly benefit their lives.  I love my life.  I'm so happy to be here...even if it's just 3 more weeks.  Eek!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A story that changed my life--just a pinky

I had one of the most perfect days.  It was so satisfying.  Kelsey and I met with a man named Rob in the morning.  He is from Wales and is here working with PONT schools. We had a really great conversation.  We were meeting to learn more about his organization and to tell him more about ours.  He is a darling little chatterbox.  He was telling us all about how he got involved with his organization.  Apparently his best friend asked him to come to Uganda and start the program up.  This was seven years ago, the program has since grown and is huge.  But it was wonderful learning about his journey and experiences in Uganda.  He really believes, as do I, in looking back at how everything works out for a reason and the only explanation is that God is orchestrating everything.  I wanted to write down a story that he told me that pretty much changed my life.

When he first got to Uganda, his friend asked him to go visit a refugee camp in northern Uganda.  It was a camp with thousands of people who’d been victims of the LRA--yeah, Kony.  He said it was one of two times in the last seven years that he cried.  He just felt helpless.  He told us how upset he was that he wasn’t a doctor or a nurse because he spent his visit there crying behind a hut because he felt completely and utterly useless to these people.  

There was a four year-old little girl that had broken her collarbone playing with her friends.  One of the leaders of the camp asked Rob and his friend if they would accompany her to a hospital that was outside the camp.  Rob introduced himself to the little girl and tried to talk to her a little bit.  He said she was just tiny.  Even though he was attempting to be sweet and interact with her, the shy, tiny girl kept her head down, held her collarbone with her hand and was reluctant to interact with him at all.  

The ride to the hospital was so sad because, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Ugandan roads are horribly pot-holey.  Rob said that he sat by her in the car and every time the car drove over a pot hole and lurched, the little girl winced in pain, her whole body tightening up.  This continued during the drive.  Again, the feelings of helplessness were overwhelming.  After a while, the little girl interlaced her pinky finger with his.  When they’d go over bumps, she’d clench her hand a little bit and then release.  So sweet.

Rob told us that’s why he was supposed to go with his friend to the camp.  Not to perform medical procedures and fix all of their problems, but to be with this four year-old girl.  To help her not feel alone.  To be the hand to hold.  He continued to tell us that our efforts are not in vain.  Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is be there.  As we go throughout our time here in Africa, if we’re making connections with people, we’re helping.  I had a bunch of people flash through my mind.  My friends here.  I think I sometimes stress out about finding purpose and probably overanalyze things.  But at the end of the day, I love the image of the four year-old girl in excruciating pain, with her tiny finger laced with his.  Just be there for people.  It doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t cost money, you don’t have to be a genius or have a really fancy degree in order to help people.  It took nothing but Rob's pinky finger.  That's all.  I know that God puts us in each others paths for a reason.  How sweet that Rob was sent all the way up to this camp just to link pinkies with a little girl in pain.  It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.  I know that God loves us and that He puts us in each others lives to help us not feel alone.'s just been on my mind ever since Rob told us this story.  Thought I'd share. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dancing fool, water filters, tennis lesson

Life has been good.

Friday and Saturday our team went out dancing at a place called Thatch.  It's one of the nicest places I've ever in Uganda.  Two of our team members--Ashley and Jenny--were going to leave this week.  What better send off could we offer than a right nice dance party? haha It was surprising how needed that dance fest was.  We all went NUTS.  It was fun to go from being working side-by-side with these people everyday to....dancing like a fool with them.  Everyone was dancing full out, out-of-control, for 4 hours!  We were all sweaty, tired and pleased with the evening.

I was able to teach water filters this week.  I taught Stella, Florence and Sophie.  (I'll post pictures after I teach them again today.)  Essentially I just taught about sanitation and told them that their neighborhood would be getting a water filter.  They were so excited!  They're the sweetest women.  They started clapping and were so excited about having clean water--and especially how easy the water filter is to use.  So I'm going to go back today, bring the filter, and teach them how to use it.  I can't wait.  Promise to take pics.

Last night I took tennis lessons!  It was so so fun.  We're friends with a guy named Ayub.  He's an awesome tennis player and plays in the Ugandan open!  So...he's like Ugandan Andy Roddick.  haha He's darling and one of the nicest people I've ever met.  I paid 10,000 shillings and he worked with me for an hour and a half.  10,000 shillings= 4 dollars.  yeah.  It was incredible.  I haven't played tennis is a long time but it was so so fun to get back into it.  He helped me with my swings and footwork.  It was just a wonderful, sweaty hour and a half of fun.  He also goes to Thatch on the weekends and he was hands down my favorite person to dance with.  He's just the cutest little guy.  He dances like he's doing step aerobics or something.  Step touches, jumping, swinging his arms like he's holding a cane. haha

Well I've got some meetings today, water filters, and I was going to visit my beading friend Ida (the one that found out she has HIV).  I'm going to bring her a cute card and something to make her happy.  She's darling.  It's been fun because she really doesn't speak english very well so communicating with her and calling her a friend has been a unique and special relationship.  She's a darling little sass.  I love her.  Hope you're having a good week.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

HIV camp

Today our team had an HIV camp in the Namatala slum. We walked around publicizing for it yesterday and today 317 people came to get tested!! It was an amazing turnout!  We were all so excited that so many people went.  Out of all of the people that came, only 12 were HIV positive.  It was a sad reality check when I knew one of the ladies that was HIV positive.  She's one of the people that we bead with.  I was in town buying more latex gloves and when I came back to Namatala the girls in the program told me that she was HIV positive.  It made my heart sink.  She had no idea and was crying and I wasn't even there to give her a hug.  It was really sad to me and hit home having someone that I see every week be effected by this.  I didn't get to see her but I can't wait to see her this week.  I don't know what there is to say or do but I just wished I could have been there for some reason.  Even though the two of us have a language barrier, we're friends.  We have so much fun beading together every week.

To represent, I obviously got tested too.  How awkward is it that I was genuinely nervous about seeing the results?  haha Irrational but I just kept thinking, "But what if for some freak reason..."  My friend/roommate Ashley was the one doing the finger pricking.  She did an amazing job but I just wanted you to see the procession of pics of the finger pricking. haha I AM 5 years old.

Also...I'm HIV negative.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Orphanage Visit

I went to an orphanage yesterday.  It was a really cool experience actually.  I've never been to an orphanage before.  I definitely had my own perception of what it'd be like.  When we first showed up, the nuns were putting the kids down for a nap.  So we grabbed some lunch and went back in a couple of hours.

We passed several rooms with smallest little bunk beds.  Just rows of them.  We wandered in and the kids were just adults around really.  The kids were just playing by themselves but stopped and swarmed us when we came in.  All except, the cute babies lined against the walls, quarantined to the potty training wall.  haha How cute are they?!
We went outside and played with the kids for a wee bit.  The little boy that I'm holding, Paul, was so sweet.  He reached for me when I came in and had his legs firmly wrapped around my waist.  He would not let me put him down.  And when he knew I was leaving to go into the room with the little babies, he sobbed.  He didn't want me to go.  I might, maybe, may have melted.  He was so so cute and I felt sad leaving him without snugs.
Kelsey getting in on the cuddles.  These kids were seriously so sweet.  The case worker couldn't tell us their individual stories but she said that these kids don't have moms--they all died in child birth.  Can you believe it's that common that all of these children go to an orphanage?  You just don't hear about that happening much in the States.
This is cute little Paul.  Right when I walked in, he came up to me, held his arms up, wanting me to hold him.  He wrapped his legs around me and didn't want to be put down...ever.  He was so sweet.
When I did finally put him down because I was going into a different room, he cried and cried.  It was so sad.  It's so hard walking away from a crying baby that doesn't have a mom to pick him up and hold him and adore him.  I just pretty much felt like a terrible human being having to walk away at any point.
Can we talk about the cute row of babies in the potty training room?!  haha I was dying.  The little boy in the blue, closest to the camera, was literally on that tiny toilet for the whole time we were there.  I don't know how the nuns potty train but there were an awful lot of cute chubby toddlers learning the ropes.
More little kiddies that we were playing with outside.  It kind of weirded me out to have all of these kids without adult supervision but Kelsey and I talked later about how much better off they are in terms of physical conditions.  They have a bed, clean clothes, are bathed everyday and are getting fed.  Many of the kids in the slums are living off of substantially less.  But at least most of them have a family.  Which heart wrenching situation is better/worse?  The children are equally happy regardless of what they do or don't have.  It's beautiful to be around them.
We found the room where they keep the babies!!  These little ones are twins!  Oh my goodness they were so funny.  The little lady on the left had an irresistible laugh.  I tickled that little chub and probably died laughing as much as she did.  She was pure joy to be around.
Kelsey and her favorite little one.  Moses had her wrapped around his teeny tiny fingers.
Maddy is the newest addition to our team.  We all just sat there playing with the kids, pondering project ideas.  We could paint murals on the walls to make it homier.  We also want to come up with better ideas for diapers.  They litterally wrap these thick, rough, huge towels around these babies and tie plastic over them.  Problem being, it gets everywhere!  The bed, all of their clothes and then they get wiped with the already soaked towel.  There's just got to be something that's more efficient, less rough....I dunno. Pondering. If you have any ideas, send them our way.
One of the nuns came in and fed them all posho.  How cute are these kids!?  They had it all over them but they all sat still and ate out of her hands.  Cute little post-dinner messes.
I heard a screaming baby coming from a different room and wandered around until I found this little guy soaked in his crib.  I initially thought that he was sweating because his clothes were wet up to his chest, blanket and fitted sheet were soaking wet.  I thought he was too hot but...nay, it was urine.  There were no nuns to be found but I wandered around and found another towel and onesie and changed him.  I had no idea what I was doing but he looked so much better and happier once he was cleaned up.
Maddy and a cute little preemie.  She was three weeks old.  We got to feed bottles to our little babies.  It was so hard to look at these tiny little wonders and ache that they don't have a mommy to soak them in everyday.  I just feel like all little babies should be gazed at in wonder.  It made me sad that they lie crying in their beds and don't have a mommy or daddy to adore them, their every facial expression, their soft hair, enamored by their itsy bitsiness.  I just think every baby deserves that.  I felt lucky to take that role for even an hour of time.