Cruising to Alaska

Hello, friends! I have crossed off yet another bucket list item – and this is a big one! From May 30 –Β  June 6, my friend Sarah and I cruised from Seattle to Alaska and back.

Aren't we cute?

Aren’t we cute?

It was a 7-night cruise on the Royal Caribbean cruise line. The name of our ship was the Rhapsody of the Seas, so it had musically-themed rooms and decorations. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but we thought it was great! We forked out a little extra money to get an ocean view cabin (room), which gave us a window to the outside of the ship. It was actually a fairly decent-sized window, too, which was nice.

Our ocean view cabin

Our ocean view cabin

We spent Days 1-2 on the ship, cruising along the west coast of the continent. It was pretty rough water, so we were both using motion sickness medicines to get us through the day. We could really feel the motion of the ship. After that, we entered Alaska’s “Inside Passage,” where we were shielded from the rough ocean waves and had a nice, smooth ride. On those first two days, we enjoyed the entertainment on the ship, which included trivia games, a comedian show, sitting in a hot tub (and watching the water in the pool go crazy as the ship rocked back and forth), and making new friends at each of our meals. Our waiters, Joseph and Ian, were excellent. They were so fun and teased us, and we became pretty good friends with them by the end of the cruise. We also made friends with other travelers from all over the world! It was fun to run into them on the ship and on the shore excursions throughout our trip.

I found a Book of Mormon in the library on the ship!

I found a Book of Mormon in the library on the ship!

On the second day, we went into our cabin at about 7 p.m. and both fell asleep. We woke upΒ three hours later, at 10 p.m., and it was still light outside! The sun set at 10:22 p.m. and rose at 4:15 a.m. the next morning. I imagine that within a couple of weeks, Alaska had full days with no sunset. On Day 3, we landed in Juneau, Alaska. We had been advised by my parents (who had done the trip before) to not book shore excursions through the cruise line because they charge a premium. So instead, we planned to book excursions through local groups that sell at little booths in Juneau. We paid $4 to ride a shuttle into Juneau. The driver, a young guy in his early twenties, announced that because it was Sunday, he was going to be playing some classical music on the bus. Lo and behold, the song that played was “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a hymn specific to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (my church!). We were pretty surprised and excited πŸ™‚ In Juneau, we ended up bargaining with a guy at a booth (sort of accidentally – we didn’t realize the prices were negotiable). We got two excursions in one for $90 each. The cruise ship was offering the same excursion combination for $172! Score! The first excursion, whale watching, was probably the #1 highlight of my whole trip. North Pacific Humpback Whales feed in circles, and we ended up right in the middle of a circle of about four whales. One of them breached (came out of the water) within about 40 feet of our whale watching boat.

Our whale watching boat is the one to the far right. The one on the left has a bald eagle sitting on top of the mast.

Our whale watching boat is the one to the far right. The one on the left has a bald eagle sitting on top of the mast.

I'm fairly certain that bald eagles think they're better than the rest of us...

I’m fairly certain that bald eagles think they’re better than the rest of us…

On the dock before boarding the whale watching boat (the guy behind Sarah is taking a picture of the eagle above them)

On the dock before boarding the whale watching boat (the guy behind Sarah is taking a picture of the eagle above them)

We spotted whales by looking for the spray of water that comes from their blowholes, and then they surface. Every once in a while, more than just their fins come out of the water (“breaching”), but I didn’t catch any good pictures of it. DSCN6179mod

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Sarah and I were alone on the back of the boat at one point, and we spotted a sea lion playing in the water. He was jumping out of the water and doing flips, and he actually followed the boat for a little while. So so cute. After whale watching, we boarded another bus to visit Mendenhall Glacier. It was GORGEOUS. The blue color is really indescribable – and even pictures don’t do it justice. But here are a couple anyway πŸ™‚

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That night after dinner, we watched a performance on the cruise ship that was 70’s dancing. It was pretty fun, though not theΒ  best performance of the trip.

Day 4, we arrived in Skagway, Alaska – the furthest north that we went on this cruise. We got off the ship, walked about 1/4 mile, realized I didn’t have my passport and went back to the ship, and then tried a second time to walk into town πŸ™‚ Skagway is an old gold rush town. The population is about 800 now, though it was closer to 20,000 during the gold rush. It’s a really beautiful little place, nestled in the mountains.

There were other cruise lines following basically the same schedule as us. This is the harbor in Skagway.

There were other cruise lines following basically the same schedule as us. This is the harbor in Skagway.

The cliffs are painted with a bunch of flags from ships that have visited Skagway. Notice anything strange?

The cliffs are painted with a bunch of flags from ships that have visited Skagway. Notice anything strange?

Here's a closer look. How cool is that?

Here’s a closer look. How cool is that?

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“Broadway” street in Skagway, Alaska

Scenic Skagway, Alaska

Scenic Skagway, Alaska

We visited a small museum in Skagway as well. It had some artifacts from the gold rush and talked about how hard life was for the prospectors. After facing the cold and the trek up the mountain, most of them never received any gold at all. They also had literally hundreds of horses die on the way up the mountain because most of them overestimated how much a horse can carry and underestimated how much it needs to eat. It was really fascinating stuff – a piece of history that I’ve never really learned. However, one thing made me laugh. This is part of the packing list that was required for one man (or woman) to travel up White Pass:

More bacon, anyone?

More bacon, anyone?

We took a 3-hour tour by mini bus up White Pass to the summit and back. Most people do this tour via train, but I think the mini bus was the way to go. Not only did we get to know our tour guide pretty well, but we also stopped at all the scenic overlooks and had the opportunity to get out and walk around. The mountains are very beautiful – and very different from the Rocky Mountains near my home. Our first stop was the old Skagway cemetery, where we learned about the crook who had 300 thieves working for him and essentially ran the town, though he was feared, not loved. When he died, only three people attended his funeral – the pastor, the gravedigger, and a woman who was wearing a black veil over her face. They still don’t know who she was. The stories were so fascinating. It sounded like it came straight out of an old western movie. Not only that, but the cemetery looks like it’s a painting in a picture book as well. Check it out!

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Old Skagway Cemetery

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Waterfall in White Pass

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Selfie on the mini bus!

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Scenic overlook in White Pass

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At White Pass Summit. I think this means we were momentarily in Canada here?

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The mini bus

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Scenic overlook just outside of Skagway

We also found a fun sign in Skagway:

Sign on a store door in Skagway

Sign on a store door in Skagway

We really lucked out with weather in Skagway as well. It looked rainy in the morning, but it only lightly sprinkled on us and then cleared up. It was cold at the top of the summit, but there was also a lot of snow up there still. When we got back to our cabin on the cruise ship, we found our first towel animal! DSCN6223

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After boarding the ship, we had some time to kill before dinner. So I introduced Sarah to virgin strawberry daiquiris. They were so good! And much cheaper than the alcoholic equivalent, of course πŸ™‚ We also enjoyed the musical styling of the Rosario Duo, a guitarist and violinist who performed on the cruise ship every day. They were very talented, and the guitar/violin sound was a neat combination.

The daiquiris (virgin, of course) came with fancy straw wrappers too :)

The daiquiris (virgin, of course) came with fancy straw wrappers too πŸ™‚

The amazing Rosario Duo performing in the "Centrum" - the main open area on the ship

The amazing Rosario Duo performing in the “Centrum” – the main open area on the ship

At dinner that night, we forgot to make a reservation ahead of time, so we ended up sitting at a table that was right next to our regular spot – just outside the area that Joseph and Ian, our usual servers, wait on. As soon as they noticed us, they made a huge deal out of it, as if we were traitors. It was all playful, of course – and so funny. I think we actually felt a little guilty, because we made sure to sit at one of their tables for the rest of the trip.

Day 5, we were at sea. In the morning, the captain announced that we were next to Dawes Glacier in Endicott Fjord, part of Tracy Arm Fjord, and that he would spin the ship all the way around at least one more time before leaving so that we could all get a good look at it. Sarah and I threw on some clothes and headed upstairs to the outside deck. It was really an incredible view.

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Dawes Glacier

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There were icebergs in the water

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A view of Endicott Fjord (basically what you would see if if you were standing on Dawes Glacier looking out)

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Dawes Glacier

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The incredible scenery of Endicott Fjord

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Me! Looking slightly tired and cold, but excited nonetheless πŸ™‚

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Sarah in front of Dawes Glacier

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Another scenic view of Endicott Fjord. These mountains were SO beautiful

We never saw the glacier “calving” (chunks of ice falling off), but we did get to hear it from our spot in the fjord, and it sounded just like thunder.

Well, this day at sea, we had quite a bit of time to kill, so Sarah decided (almost on a whim) to have her naturally blonde hair dyed in the on-board spa! I accompanied her (for moral support, of course). The best part was that her hairdresser was from Scotland! Such a cool accent.

Saying goodbye to the blonde!

Saying goodbye to the blonde!

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Gotta love the flattering foil look πŸ˜‰

That night, I tried lobster for the very first time! I’ll be honest – I didn’t love it. The taste wasn’t bad (in fact, the food on the ship was so good that I’m sure the lobster was cooked perfectly), but I couldn’t get past the texture. Nonetheless, I tried it! Sarah did, too. After dinner, we attended a show by pianist Craig Dahn. He was so, so good! By the end of the performance, I was ready to quit piano because I would never be that good, and Sarah was ready to start taking piano lessons. haha. I actually forked out the money to buy his CD after the show, and I haven’t regretted it. He is phenomenal. The only funny part was that he played “My Heart Will Go On”…which is the love theme from the movie The Titanic. Seems like a strange choice to play on a cruise ship, doesn’t it…?

Day 6, we were at sea again. I woke up in the morning and headed to the gym (and if you know me well, you’re thinking, She did what?!). I tried the elliptical machine for the first time – I felt like I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to try one without paying for a gym pass. It was a good workout! But next time, I’ll try it when I’m not on a rocking ship πŸ™‚ At breakfast that morning, one of the crew members, a guy from India (?) named Shetty offered to make us a special omelette, and then he personally delivered it to our table. We’re pretty sure he had a crush on Sarah, because he gave her special attention the whole week. The omelette was just the icing on the cake πŸ™‚

We watched The Proposal on a huge outdoor screen next to the pool during the day. We surprisingly had perfect weather for it. I also competed in a Sudoku challenge, which ended up being pretty hard. I did well, but there was a lady who finished like 20 minutes before the rest of us did, so I lost horribly. I tried venison for the first time (at least, I think I haven’t had it before) that day as well. But the real treat of this day happened when Sarah and I were just sitting in our cabin talking. She was looking out the window, and all of a sudden she exclaimed, “That whale just breached!” I didn’t believe her at first, but sure enough, there was a whale close to the ship who was full body breaching – coming all the way out of the water, spinning, and then going back under. It breached probably six times before it was out of view. So spectacular! We didn’t get any photos or video of it because we were afraid of missing the show while looking for cameras. I guess there are benefits to being on Deck 2 – we were close to the water πŸ™‚

That night, they played some hilarious Battle of the Sexes games on-board the ship. One required popping balloons using various body parts. Another required squeezing a key chain between your cheeks (yes, the inappropriate ones) and walking to a cup that was sitting on the ground, and then trying to drop the key chain into the cup. I was laughing so hard I was almost in tears.

We also had our second towel animal visit our cabin!

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On Day 7, we stopped in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada – on Vancouver Island. The weather was so perfect – although according to the locals, it usually is. We went on a city bus tour and stopped at Craigdarroch Castle, where we spent about an hour touring it. It was built by an oil baron as a mansion, though it wasn’t completed when he died. His wife and some of his children and grandchildren lived there, though.

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Excuse the camera strap covering the right side of the picture…

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This castle was full of gorgeous old pianos. I’m a little obsessed πŸ™‚

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Check out the fireplace!

Check out the fireplace!

 

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The view from the castle tower

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View of the castle from the other side

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This, folks, is an 1879 Steinway piano in a castle…

After the castle tour, we spent some time wandering through Victoria. We ate in a pizza place that was one of those earth-loving, organic, hippie types of places. With really good, fresh pizza. Victoria is a beautiful place. Plus, the exchange rate is currently slightly in our favor, so the shopping was a little extra fun, too.

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Victoria’s “5 Star Hotel” that will never actually be rated 5 stars because they can’t install air conditioning without damaging the historical structure. However, the weather is always mild, so they don’t actually need A/C.

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A quaint alleyway in Victoria where locals sell their goods at booths

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Victoria has a carillon! There are very few of these around anymore – and one of them happens to be at my alma mater, BYU.

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Check out the planes taking off!

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Love this statue πŸ™‚

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My new Canadian war veteran friend πŸ™‚

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On a bag in a gift shop

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They happened to be watering this as I was taking the picture…

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This seriously fits people in it. Children, I’m assuming…

That night, on-board the ship, we saw a comedian named Jeff Nease. He was SO funny. I’m always a little cautious of comedians because their jokes can be so dirty, but he was hilarious and (mostly) clean. It was a great end to a great cruise πŸ™‚

After the show, we played a “Majority Rules” game show. Not very many people showed up to play, but it was still fun. The memorable part, though, was that I was offered my first bottle of wine. haha. A couple that we had met several days earlier, Brian and LuAnn from Florida, told us that they had two bottles of wine in their cabin and asked if we would like to have one. It was so nice of them to offer! Of course, we said no because we don’t drink, but it was very flattering nonetheless. I seriously loved making friends with all these different people – even if we will probably never see them again.

Sarah and I actually spent another day and a half in Seattle before flying back home. We were able to tour the EMP (Experience Music Project) museum and see the Space Needle. We didn’t go into the Space Needle because it was a very expensive ticket for an elevator ride, but fun to see anyway. We also visited Pike’s Place Market.

EMP Museum from outside

EMP Museum from outside

The Space Needle!

The Space Needle!

My first monorail ride :)

My first monorail ride πŸ™‚

Pike's Place Market

Pike’s Place Market

Then I arrived home to a nice surprise from my sweet man:

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Lilies are my favorite πŸ™‚

I’m rocking and rolling with the bucket list items this year. Stay tuned for more posts on the way!

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That’ll Leave a Mark

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, I learned to snowboard! Well…at least, my feet were attached to a snowboard. This snowboard.

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Snowboard, courtesy of my sister, and boots, courtesy of an awesome sale at Sports Authority.

As I prepared for this adventure, friends and family members kept telling me horror stories of things that had happened to them on snowboards. One friend ran into a tree and broke several ribs. Another told of people who land wrong and break their wrists. He suggested landing on my fists instead. I’m not particularly accident prone, but I felt pretty nervous. Nonetheless, six of us headed up to Brighton Ski Resort (coincidentally the same resort where I learned to ski when I was 12), and my roommate stayed with me the whole night to teach me.

On my first trip down the bunny hill (which took a ridiculously long hour, by the way), I discovered that I have no idea how to stand up on a snowboard. Once I was up, I could stay up on the snowboard for a decent amount of time, but I couldn’t figure out how to get up in the first place. So I invented my own way of standing up, which involved getting on my knees first and then pushing myself backward off the snow in front of me. It looks (and feels) very awkward, but hey – at least I got up. Unfortunately, this is what my knees looked like the next day because of it:

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Those aren’t shadows – they’re bruises.

Sometimes I forgot the broken wrists caution and caught myself on my wrists instead of my fists when I fell. This was the result from that disastrous plan:

Bruised wrists from landing

Bruised wrists from landing

I wore a wrist brace to play my trombone at orchestra rehearsal the next night, but it healed pretty quickly after that.

After two trips down the bunny hill, I decided I was ready for a bigger lift, and my ever-patient roommate accompanied me.

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Waiting for the lift called Majestic

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Distracted by cute male snowboarders, maybe?

When we got to the top of the Majestic lift, it was 7:50 p.m. The lifts would stop running at 9:00 p.m. and then they clear the mountain before closing the resort. We chose the easiest route down the mountain, but to my horror, I discovered that I had absolutely no control over which direction (left or right) I was snowboarding. With a small cliff on the right side, the run sloped to the right, so I would slowly snowboard toward the cliff, sit on my bum, and scoot to the left all the way across the path. Then I’d stand up and do it all over again. It took FOREVER. After we passed the cliff on the right, there was a closed run on the left, so the path sloped to the left, and I repeated my pattern going the opposite direction. My friend spent a good deal of time sitting on her bum in the snow, waiting for me to inch my way down the slope. I probably owe her for that one πŸ™‚

We saw the lifts stop running at 9:00, and we were still halfway up the mountain. Two of our friends showed up, telling us that the ski patrol had ushered them along so that the resort could close. By then I was literally crying tears of frustration. I was cold and sore, and my snow pants kept snapping open, so all of my bottom layers were soaked through from sitting in the snow.

Moments later, two of the ski patrol guys found us and asked if I wanted a snowmobile to take me the rest of the way down. I hesitated, knowing I would eventually make it to the bottom on my own (though it would’ve taken another hour or so). But they pointed out that none of the employees can go home until we do…so I accepted the offer. It was about 9:45 p.m. by then. It had taken nearly two hours to get halfway down a green (easy) run.

That’s right, folks – the resort closed, we were still halfway up the mountain, and a snowmobile rescued me and took me the rest of the way down. Admittedly, not my finest hour.

Since riding a snowmobile is also on my bucket list, I sort of accidentally killed two birds with one stone. But I still want to go snowmobiling for real sometime πŸ™‚

All in all, not my best bucket list item. But I won’t give up! I have the equipment, and I have seven ski resorts within an hour’s drive of my house, so I will try again before the season ends. But maybe I’ll stick to the bunny hill next time πŸ™‚

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The Woes of an Avid Reader

I had an awful thing happen this weekend. I was reading what I thought was the third book in a series with four books. As I neared the end of book three, I could tell that the story was winding down more permanently than I anticipated (I compare the feeling to watching a TV show and realizing that it will be “To Be Continued” because they’re running out of time). I read the last page, then flipped to the front cover and discovered, to my horror, that there are, indeed, only three books in this series.

You see, every time I finish a book series that I love, I feel like a little piece of me dies – I have to say goodbye to the characters and the story. And, because I often read fantasy, I usually am saying goodbye to an entire land or world of the author’s creation. I have to find another book to read, or another series, or a new author. I’m sure my fellow book lovers can relate.

The series I just finished is called Beka Cooper. It’s one of four different series that author Tamora Pierce has written. All four series take place in the same land, though in different areas and different centuries/generations. I have read three of the four series in their entirety. The same night that I discovered Beka Cooper only has three books, I also discovered that I read all of these series in the wrong order – at least in the wrong order if you list the tales chronologically. I read the last series, then the third series, and then the first series.

So the question now: Do I read the second series by Tamora Pierce? Or work through my ever-lengthening list of recommended books from friends? Or re-read the Harry Potter series for the first time (I’ve read each of them once)? Or maybe steer away from the fiction novels altogether and do something crazy like re-learn Spanish?

Oh, the woes of an avid reader.

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Sisters

I have the best sister in the world. And yesterday was her birthday, so I’m going to pay a little tribute to her.

Shanna and I are 6 1/2 years apart. We never fought much (though perhaps her memories are different, since I’m younger), and now as adults, we’re best friends. We have three older brothers who are incredible, but there’s nothing quite like a sister.

Here we are, just a few months ago:

Hiking in southern Utah!

Hiking in southern Utah!

Let’s take a little walk down memory lane.

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Shanna holding me in the hospital. You can tell how excited she was πŸ˜‰

With my dad, Shanna, and my brother Jon at a dinosaur park. Shanna and I had matching outfits and matching scrawny legs :)

With my dad, Shanna, and my brother Jon at a dinosaur park. Shanna and I had matching outfits and matching scrawny legs πŸ™‚

Shanna and I had a tradition of sleeping next to the Christmas tree sometime during the Christmas season.

Shanna and I had a tradition of sleeping next to the Christmas tree sometime during the Christmas season.

Me, Shanna's friend Allison (who lived across the street), and Shanna. We made outfits out of plastic bags. Well...I'm pretty sure THEY made outfits out of plastic bags, and I was just along for the ride.

Me, Shanna’s friend Allison (who lived across the street), and Shanna. We made outfits out of plastic bags. Well…I’m pretty sure THEY made outfits out of plastic bags, and I was just along for the ride.

Our homemade Easter Sunday dresses from Mom. We're so stylin'!

Our homemade Easter Sunday dresses from Mom. We’re so stylin’!

Apparently we make the same face when we're sleeping. But we're cute, so it's okay :)

Apparently we make the same face when we’re sleeping. But we’re cute, so it’s okay πŸ™‚

Shanna, my mom, and I with our new boyfriends at Knott's Berry Farm ;) One of the best things about being adults is that we're best friends with Mom too!

Shanna, my mom, and I with our new boyfriends at Knott’s Berry Farm πŸ˜‰ One of the best things about being adults is that we’re best friends with Mom too!

And one more recent one, for the win:

"Riding" the carousel with our sister-in-law Chandi, Shanna, and me

“Riding” the carousel with our sister-in-law Chandi, Shanna, and me

Happy birthday, Shanna! Love you!

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Ten Questions

There’s a show called Inside the Actor’s Studio, where host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. Here are my responses to these questions:

1. What is your favorite word?
Defenestrate. It means “to throw something out of a window,” and I use it as often as possible (which, admittedly, is not that often). I don’t know whose idea it was to have a word for throwing things out of windows, but they are ingenious. Also, look up the Defenestration of Prague. It’s a real thing. History is awesome sometimes.

2. What is your least favorite word?
I cringe when people take the Lord’s name in vain – and it’s getting more and more common all the time.

3. What turns you on?
I find guys really attractive when they play with children or animals, or when they smell good πŸ™‚

4. What turns you off?
Smoking, drinking, piercings, treating other people poorly

5. What sound do you love?
Pouring rain, or thunder, or some combination of the two.

6. What sound do you hate?
People eating loudly – especially cereal, apples, or slurping drinks. Not a huge fan of screechy beginner violins either.

7. What is your favorite curse word?
I don’t curse, but I use substitutes like “crud” and “dang”

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Concert pianist

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Sales

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Welcome home, Katie!

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Throwback Thursday, Take 2

This Throwback Thursday moment is from summer 2005, the summer before my senior year of high school.

I belonged to an orchestra called Granite Youth Symphony. The symphony members came from high schools throughout the district, and each summer, we would go on a week-long tour. That summer, we toured to San Diego, CA, stopping in Cedar City, UT; Las Vegas, NV; and the Grand Canyon.

It was tradition at the end of each tour to mass-toilet paper a house of one of our four conductors (I believe it was a rotation each year). The only rule was that we had to use more rolls of toilet paper than we had the previous year. The conductors knew it was coming, and several kids would come back the next day to help clean up.

I believe we toilet papered the Thompson home with 612 rolls this summer (I’m not 100% sure of the count, but it was definitely over 600). Here are the photos I quickly snapped that night:

A handful of the members managed to get on top of the roof. We had so much toilet paper that a lot of it ended up just being rolled across the lawn.

A handful of the members managed to get on top of the roof. We had so much toilet paper that a lot of it ended up just being rolled across the lawn.

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Almost like decorating for Christmas, right? πŸ˜‰

GYS toilet papering

The true “damage” was done in the trees. Also, check out the girl on the right side of this photo. I wish I knew who it was!

Sigh. Nothing like organized crime to bring symphony members together πŸ˜‰

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Dream Journal

I have always had a vivid imagination. Though most people outgrow nightmares, I still have them as an adult. However, I also have some pretty incredible dreams. A few months ago, I decided to start writing down my dreams in a “Dream Journal,” which is actually just an online document so that I can add to it whenever I remember my dream from the night before.

As I’m reading through my journal, there are a few entries I’d like to share, but we’ll start with just two.

Here is the first one, from 6/10/13 – the night before starting my new job:

My extended family (on my mother’s side) was lined up across a cement platform, about 2 1/2 feet wide, that extended from the shore of a lake into the middle of the lake. We were using tennis shoes tied onto the ends of strings to catch small crocodiles. The crocodiles bit the end of the tennis shoes, and then we’d pull them out of the water and set them in the water on the other side of the platform. I had the feeling that there wasn’t any specific purpose for doing this–we were just entertaining ourselves. Then a large crocodile swam up just as my niece Tessa (16 months old) fell into the water. Tessa landed on the crocodile’s head, and he started to swim away with her. My sister Shanna (Tessa’s mother) and I looked at each other. She said, “He’s got Tessa!” I said, “So go get her!” and Shanna replied, “You go get her!” So I handed Shanna my cell phone (strange that I was even holding it in my dream) and jumped into the crocodile-infested lake. I rescued Tessa and then experienced that moment of indecision where I didn’t know which was closer to me: the cement platform or the edge of the lake.

That’s where my dream journal entry ends for that day. How would you finish the story?

Here is the second one, from 10/10/13:

I haven’t been sleeping very well the past few nights, and it seems that my dreams are getting stranger and stranger to coincide with that. Last night, I was in a place that felt sort of like Epcot Center in Disneyworld, only without the rides. It had little areas of foreign-looking buildings. My brain decided that it must have been Ghana (even though it was nothing like Ghana). Then I returned home (again, nothing like my actual home). I ran my tongue behind my teeth, and about half of my teeth popped out! It was so traumatic! I was catching them as they were falling out and breaking off. I tried to figure out why they would be falling out and decided that it must have something to do with the foreign food I’d been eating. I called my dentist (I distinctly remember that I felt guilty because it was early afternoon on a Sunday, and I was asking him to work), then went to his office with my hands full of teeth that had fallen out. My dentist and his assistant put white crowns on my teeth, and the crowns felt really strange. I was hoping that they didn’t put the crowns on too quickly (instead of doing it right) so that they could get back to church. Also, at one point, my dentist said, “Katie, I told you we would end up doing this one day.”

I have so many others I could share! Maybe I will share a few more before the month is through.

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Best Aunt Award

I moved recently, and so I sorted through many old boxes and files. Among my decorations from my college apartments, I found this note from my oldest niece, Sage. She was 5 years old at the time (she’s 12 now). It really made me laugh, so I thought I’d share:

Note from SageHow is that for a compliment? I’m pretty sure it’s right up there with “World’s Greatest Aunt.” Or maybe slightly lower, like “Equally as Good as Some of My Other Aunts. I think.”

I think you’re one of the best nieces I’ve had, too, Sage. πŸ™‚

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In My Own Shoes

Yesterday I bought my 59th pair of shoes. Not my 59th pair in my lifetime (as if I could keep track of that anyway) – I mean my 59th pair currently in my closet. Call it an addiction if you must, but apparently I find it necessary to have flats and flip flops and heels in every imaginable color.

I just finished watching the movie Penelope for the first time. I promise this is relevant. It’s essentially a story of a girl who learns to love herself exactly as she is. In other words, she learns to be comfortable in her own shoes.

This is a concept I struggle with. Even with 59 pairs to choose from, I feel like I often don’t fit into the mold I imagined – or anyone around me imagined – for my own life. The life I thought I would have by the time I was 25 involved being married with children, and that’s not at all where I am today. I belong to a church where marriage is not just important; a successful marriage and family is the end goal. This is because we believe that marriage is not just “till death do you part” but that it is eternal and continues after this life. We get married for “time and all eternity.”

I love this doctrine because it gives us hope for a future where we can continue to be a family forever. I want that! However, this belief tends to put a lot of pressure on people like me who are a little older and unmarried. The decision of who to marry is also extra important because it’s for eternity. I am trying to choose someone I can be with for the rest of my existence, which is no small task.

I suppose the real trouble isn’t choosing who to marry. The real trouble is that being married with children is where I want to be, and I haven’t made it there yet. So everything else in my life – my living situation, my education, my career – all feel temporary. They’re like placeholders until I find the life I’m “supposed” to be living. And the outside pressure feels immense sometimes. Married people often add to the feeling that my current life is temporary (and perhaps trivial) by making comments that suggest I’m just waiting around until I find the right guy. I absolutely love the married people in my life. They have been great examples and a huge support system for me. I just think sometimes they forget. They forget the heartache and worry and stress and sadness associated with being alone. Society itself tends to treat single adults as if they are somehow younger, less mature, or less responsible than their married counterparts. It’s an interesting situation, and one I never thought I’d be in.

But the bottom line is that I’m not comfortable in my own shoes. It has little to do with the outside pressure, the culture of my church, or the comments others make. It has to do with me not really knowing what the Lord expects of me. I don’t know where I fit into society.

I am not unhappy. I don’t feel angry with God or with past relationships or with friends who have married younger than me. Being angry doesn’t change my situation or increase my happiness. I am simply taking life one day at a time and trying to figure out where I belong. Until then, perhaps I ought to work on being comfortable with who I am now.

Maybe I’ll have to even out the numbers and buy my 60th pair of shoes. Maybe they will be a perfect, comfortable fit.

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First Day

Do you remember your first day of kindergarten? Mine was tough.

At the end of first recess, the bell rang, and all the other kids lined up outside by the door to their respective classrooms. But I couldn’t remember which door was mine. I didn’t recognize any of the kids in my class yet because I was extremely shy. One by one, the teachers opened their doors and led their classes inside. I couldn’t find my teacher. I wasn’t even sure I was on the right side of the huge (to a kindergartner) school building.

The next thing I knew, the teachers were inside, the kids were inside, the doors were closed…and I was outside. I must have been the world’s most panicky 5-year-old. I walked around the building trying to find the right door, but they all looked the same. So I found a big pine tree at the front of the building, sat down underneath it, and started to cry.

I don’t remember how long I was there, but I’m pretty sure it was a few days. Or maybe the world’s longest half-hour. Eventually, the janitor found me (side note: my mom used to help me write my stories in a journal when I was small, and I described the janitor as a “big fat bald man”) and took me inside.

To my horror, my classroom was empty. The janitor led me to the other kindergarten class next door, where both classes of kindergartners were gathered, and told my teacher where he had found me. I still remember her response: “Thank you. I thought I was missing one.”

And I haven’t been back to school since. πŸ˜‰

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