Thursday, May 26, 2011


(It is significant to me that this post happens to be the 100th!)

Just call me Nanny McMeg!

This Wednesday I will be starting a full-time job as a nanny. 

I will be working more hours than Adam.
I will be spending my days with 2 boys: 18 months and 30 months.

I will be getting up at 5am.

Is that clear? 
I need to be held accountable.

Why 5am when my job doesn't start until 7:30?
Because I need time to stretch, meditate, read scriptures, write.

But mostly because I have a puppy who needs lots of exercise before he can be left alone for the whole day.

I've been walking him for 30-60 mins in the mornings. And today, my walk somehow, unbeknown (I love that word) to me, slipped into a jog
And it felt so good. So good that I'm going to continue running in the mornings, dragging Kaleo behind me the whole way. And heck, I might even start looking for small races (like, 5k .... or less) to motivate me.
I realize this is much easier said than done.

We all know that Google has all the answers. So when I typed in
How to get up at 5am everyday
I actually got some good answers, ideas, and inspiration.
And I'm potentially excited for this new venture of mine.

Along with running, I also want to start writing again, but my creativity is pretty much shot.
So I was excited when I stumbled upon
this article on recovering my creativity
I plan on following its advice as well
 (morning pages and the artist date)

This is a big deal. 
That's why I'm telling you.
So you can be excited with me!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lessons learned in Paris

Oh France....
The relationship we have is very much a love/hate one. This is where I did my most learning - and I will always remember that about France. I've got to separate my lessons: one from Paris, and one from the rest of France. We did Paris in about 1 1/2 days. I would love to go back to Paris. It was my favorite part about France, hands-down.
France also began the game of "Worth it or not" ---

- France is where I left my family to join Heather. This is the point where my entire view on how I carried myself and presented myself to strangers began to shift. I mean, I was paranoid when I was with my dad. But now that we were two young, attractive (at least Heather) women traveling alone --- my paranoia increased by about 77%

- When you pick a meeting spot, stick to it. If things aren't looking so good...pray. God is the only one who knows where you are, and who knows where they are, and can make the universe collide in such a way that you two will meet. (hey, that sounds like love, too. If you don't know what you're doing - just stay where you're at and pray, and God will lead you to them. Interesting side note).
This makes everything all better.
-When you make a reservation for a hotel, print off your reservation number, the phone number, the address of the hotel, and the exact name of the hotel. Unless, of course, you want to get off at the wrong bus stop because there are TWO hotels with the same name in very close proximity to each other and then when you tell the French dude you obviously don't have the address with you or else this mistake wouldn't have happened, all he can say to you is, "Wow..." with a cocked eyebrow, roll of the eyes, and a loud sigh.

-You can sleep in a dirty, hairy bed. You can. It's just one night. You will survive. (although I'm not entirely positive you won't get bed bugs, or something closely related to them, as I noticed a bunch of small, itchy red dots on my arms and hands when I got home. Meh. oh well -they're gone now!)

-Pick a good travel buddy. One with whom you can exercise patience and receive patience in return. Or at least where you fit each other's gaps. I planned the big stuff (airplanes, hotels, destinations), Heather implemented the little stuff (which train to take to get to the Louvre, when/who to ask for help, etc)

-Hostels are interesting specimen. They have a very warm, welcoming atmosphere that I immediately gravitated to, clinging onto anything familiar in such strange places. Everyone is young (well...usually....), everyone is traveling, everyone is out on an adventure. Are hostels worth it? It's a good deal for the price. The downside is, of course, when you're LDS and don't drink/party and/or you're married and are therefore an old geyser and like to go to bed early, you must be prepared for late-night disturbances. I would suggest earplugs to drown out the midnight returns, and a sleeping-mask to blind yourself from the little Asian man with no sense of privacy who strips down to his skivvies before making his bed (which requires a lot of hands-and-knees-type-bowing when you're on the top bunk). 
Steps in Paris Hostel
Our first hostel, in Paris, we loved. The next one in St Malo was more like a cheap hotel with a toilet in the room, hidden behind a curtain (no number two's in there - nuh-uh. Not allowed.) We felt a little sketched there, but that was mostly due to an incident at the bus station that pretty near got us involved in a gang fight.
Our hostel in Montpelier (one of the days we were supposed to be somewhere else) was quite sketchy, too, but we fixed that problem fast (more on that later). Nice, Bern, and Austria Hostels were similar to our Paris one - the youthful, friendly environment. And I think the difference is that they were actual hostels, and not just a cheap hotel (be careful with that one - it matters). If you want the names of where we stayed, email me and I will get them to you. 

-The line into the Louvre is definitely do-able. And worth it. And, so is the Mona Lisa. 
People said she was small, a let-down, disappointing....blah,blah,blah. She is amazing. Just to be in that room, cheek smashed against the shoulder next to me, raising my camera high above my head just to get a decent shot of her above the crowd until I could weasel my way to the front (and weasel I did) Thrilling, and yes, worth it. 

(oh yeah, other things in the Louvre are worth it, too, once you stop caring about getting lost/looking for specific exhibits and just enjoy the art and beauty of it all. We hit up the crown Jewels and Napoleon III's apartment display, both lovely.)

-We visited Notre Dame; This became one of those, meh, check-it-off-the-list type of touristy destinations for me. I decided from day one in Rome that I was going to respect all signs that said "No photos" inside churches (wouldn't I want the same from them if they were visiting a temple open house?), and it is nearly impossible to take a picture of the outside that hasn't already been shot before. If you like old beautiful cathedrals, then by all means! But, I think I could have enjoyed other parts of Paris more. Worth it? Not as much.

-Eiffel Tower - Worth it? DEFINITELY. I had had people tell me that the Eiffel tower was just a touristy waste of time and to only see it if I "absolutely had to." Well, apparently I did absolutely have to and I'm soooo glad I went. It was one of the biggest surprises about Europe - how ENORMOUS it is. I seriously had no idea it was so stinking huge. I loved it. It is such a big ugly construct, but I fell in love with it.

-Crepes from a street vendor are heavenly. They are worth every cent you will ever spend on them, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

-Champs-Elysee/ Arc de Triomphe - not so worth it. We took a picture of the Arc (on the run, even), and left. I'd rather shop at stands along the side of the river than in shops on this street.

-Jardins de Luxembourg - very worth the break. We rested here when we didn't know where else to go, and stumbled upon a relaxing afternoon break. Flowers, Eiffel Tower in the distance, green grass, trees that seem to never have lost their leaves.

-Sacre-Coeur - our hostel was directly at the foot of this church, so it was worth it because it was easy for us. Had the day not been cloudy and gray, the view would have been incredible.

- Despite what I'd heard from other people, Parisians were friendly, warm, and helpful. I approached them with what little French I knew and they replied with what English they knew and we just made it work in Paris. 

Book Review: The Lover's Dictionary

The Lover's DictionaryThe Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is absolutely beautiful - one of few to literally give me goosebumps, multiple times. If you have ever been in love, had someone love you, wanted to be in love, or even just pondered the meaning of love - read this book. The writing is sweet as honey, and I kept craving more and more after each page. His words were poetry, expressing every emotion I've ever voiced out loud, kept secret to myself, or wondered if I was the only one to have felt this way - turns out, I'm not. Got an extra hour or two? Spend it on this book.

A few of my favorite entries:
cadence, n.
I have never lived anywhere but New York or New England, but there are times when I'm talking to you and I hit a Southern vowel, or a word gets caught in a Southern truncation, and I know it's because I'm swimming in your cadences, that you permeate my very language.

dispel, v.
It was the way you said, "I have something to tell you." I could feel the magic drain from the room.

libidinous, adj
I never understood why anyone would have sex on the floor. Until I was with you and I realized: you don't ever realize you're on the floor.

reservation, n.
There are times when I worry I've already lost myself. That is, that my self is so inseparable from being with you that if we were to separate, I would no longer be. I save this thought for when I feel the darkest discontent. I never mean to depend so much on someone else.

View all my reviews

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: Water for Elephants

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great read that went incredibly fast. tugs at the heart -
caution - not recommended for those sensitive to language or sex, as there is ample use of both (which is to be expected considering the topic/setting)
Inspired me to want to start writing again -
ps even though I'd still love to see the movie, Reese and Robert are NOT who I would have chosen for the roles.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sew Ugly.

I've been wanting to start sewing again ever since I graduated and had some free time.
When our stuff from Hawaii came last week, I was thrilled to break out my sewing machine (a Christmas present from Ma Harrison).

And, it went great. 

Despite the fact that...
-it took me 4 days, the manual, YouTube, and Adam to figure out how to thread it 

If I can just forget the fact that...
-I sewed a beautiful quilt 5 years ago and somehow have lost any ounce of "skill" I might have thought I had
(isn't this supposed to be like riding a bike? Com'on!)

How about I just ignore the fact that...
-Adam is a better sewer than I am
-The "super easy" pattern I picked out as my first re-introduction to sewing was meant to be hand-sewn
(I figured that out after I had already cut my 12 pentagons)
-It's puckered, it's clumpy, frumpy, and dumpy.
oh yeah. And ugly.

(this is its good side)

And then, I added this to really make things exciting:

I know, it doesn't look great at all. It looks like a disaster.
And, it was, until this....

Ugly or not, he loves it.
(And no I didn't just give up and say, "oh well, the dog can have it!"
It was meant to be a dog toy all along.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review (Become my friend on!)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pleasure to read - characters easy to fall in love with, short letters that keep the pace quick, laughter, tears... a love story without being dramatic. Simple, pure, and sweet.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


When I got home from Europe, Adam had quite a number of surprises waiting for me. The first was this:
He was holding both of these in his hands when he picked me up at the airport!
The second surprise:
Some collages of pictures of us hanging on our bare walls.
The third surprise:
a king-sized bed!
The fourth surprise:
My tomato plants are alive and well and thriving!

After 4 weeks in Europe and all these lovely surprises upon my arrival, I was wiped out.
I took a couple of days off just to chill.
And then....
I got bored.
Adam was gone to work every day, all day. And I was alone.
Bored and lonely.
Our solution?

Meet Kaleo.

....and now I'm outnumbered by boys in my house! But that's ok, because they're both pretty cute.

Also, I've added pictures to my posts about Italy and Germany, and written two more posts on Prague and Poland. Scroll down to see them or click below. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lessons learned in Poland

The only reason we went to Poland was for Auschwitz and Birkenau. Both my dad and I are big WWII um....not fans, not buffs, but....studiers? I'm not sure what the correct term would be but we both have read a lot about the Holocaust, Hitler, etc. So we were very interested in seeing these concentration/extermination/death camps. However, we did learn a few other things about Poland along the way, as well.
-Grungy it may seem, but friendly it is. The first thing that happened when we stepped off the night train into Poland was that my dad realized he had left his passport under his pillow. By the time he realized this, the train had already pulled away! Can you believe it! My nightmare happening right before my eyes to my dad - losing your passport. If I wasn't paranoid about it before, my OCD tripled after that happened. While we were trying to find someone who spoke English so they could understand what we needed (I swear, there was only ONE english speaking woman in the whole train station and its a good thing we found her when we did), there were a bunch of homeless guys following us around, asking us for money or food or something, we couldn't really tell since they were speaking Polish. You just have to ignore them and keep walking, pretty much cuz they will keep it up with any kind of encouragement. The lady contacted the train conductor and sent my dad to meet them at some office. My dad and brother said it was totally sketchy and creepy and they thought they might die that day, but in fact, the man was very honest, friendly, and kind. He had taken nothing from my dad's wallet and would accept nothing for returning it to him. A similar situation happened to me on the bus to Auschwitz; a man who I believe was drunk came on the bus and sat down right next to my brother and I. He tried talking to me but again I didn't understand him. Now he seemed a little creepo at first, but then we all kind of realized at the same time that hey, he looks a little sketch, but actually, I think he's harmless. He's just being friendly.

-A salt mine tour isn't as boring as it sounds! The mines were actually incredibly large and they had basically built an entire city underground. There were stables for their horses and several chapels to worship in. One chapel was huge, with 5 pure salt crystal chandeliers.

-If going to a real concentration camp is your first exposure to the Holocaust, then, yes, it's going to be a bit heavy/depressing/emotional/extremely mind-blowing. If it's not, and you've done your research on the horrible things that happened during the Holocaust, not just to Jews but so many others, then a concentration camp will just bring it all home for you. Everyone we talked to about going to Auschwitz said that they had cried, that they hadn't eaten a thing the entire day after visiting, that it was incredibly emotional. Me being the cry baby wreck that I am assumed I'd be sobbing all day. But in fact, I only teared up a couple times. And the first time was at the very start of the day. It was quiet at Auschwitz, we were among the first people there. The camp was empty but for my family. The loud high school tours had not yet arrived, and our very first stop was at a crematorium. Before stepping into the building, the sign outside it read something like this: The building you are about to enter was the site of thousands of people's deaths. Please be silent, honoring them. That shook me. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. That building was so filled with sadness, there was no way a person couldn't feel that something absolutely terrible had happened in that very spot just a short 70 years ago. That was my sobering moment of the day. And from then on, I was ok. I mean, I wasn't happy-go-lucky, but I was stable at least.

The only other times I cried was when I would read about individual families or people, and their stories - survival or not. I couldn't fathom the millions. I couldn't picture the thousands. I couldn't grasp the concept of so many people dying. But, what I could understand was the photo of the little girl I was looking at, and the caption below that told me she had been separated from her family, her parents killed in front of her - and so many other horrifying stories. 
-Auschwitz was set up like a museum - every building that was open had a different exhibition in it, such as medical experiments, prison life, etc. Every exhibition was a museum of its own, with hundreds of pictures and captions. There is no way you can read everything in every building in a single day. Birkenau was more open, with less direction. It had started getting crowded at Auschwitz, with high school tours making it loud and less personal. It was more of a personal reflection time for me at Birkenau; I had a strong sense that I had been there before - kind of like deja vu. I felt it was right that I was there on that day, feeling the rain appropriately matching my emotions and dripping down my face.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lessons learned in Prague

I had high expectations for Prague, as one guide book was calling it the prettiest town in all of Europe. We were only there for one night before heading to Poland, and then one morning on our way back from Poland, so this is a short list of a few things I learned while in Prague.
- Don't judge a city by its "New City." Pretty much every touristy European town has an "Old Town," which is where the fun begins. When we first started driving into what we considered to be "Prague," I was a little sketched out. It was dirty and rundown, and I was wondering what people saw in this place. But once we arrived at the train station and walked to our hotel, I was able to see where Old Town was, and its appeal to tourists. 
- Most Old Towns have the Center square, which is where you find souvenirs, booths, people, food, more old buildings to tour. In Prague, there was an Easter festival going on at this time so we even had live music, and lots of colorful Easter eggs everywhere. It was a fun, young, hip atmosphere that delightfully contrasted against the ancient architecture that surrounded it. 
-When you are traveling in Europe, you must eat at least one local dish to each location you visit. I didn't do this in Prague, and I regret it. My dad had the Czech Goulash, and I It wasn't even like Italian pizza! It was closer to American pizza. It was a safe, but boring choice and I should have been more adventurous like my dad. 

-If you need to get ahold of someone in the US, do it through the internet. Buying calling cards is NOT worth it. Don't do it. Don't waste your money! When I came to Europe, I could have gotten a global cell phone, but even then it would have cost me about a buck 30 per minute to call home, and even more in some countries. Calling cards cost anywhere from 10 dollars to over a hundred dollars, and the amount of minutes you get is never guaranteed. Some hotels charge to make the toll free number, and some pay phones wont accept the calling card. I tried 3 different times and in 3 different ways to call Adam from a pay phone at the airport in Prague and by the time I finally succeeded, I had wasted about 15 dollars and he had already left for work! I was so sad that the voicemail I left for him on his phone was basically just me crying. Pathetic. I learned fast that it is much more worth your money to go to an internet cafe and Skype with the person. Send them an email, telling them to meet you online at a certain time. Or just email. If you have to make an immediate, emergency phone call then you can use your credit card at a payphone, but it's going to be expensive. 

-The second day in Prague (with Poland sandwiched in-between the two days) was basically a day spent at the airport, as my dad and Sheri, my brother, and I were all splitting in different directions. It was THE SINGLE DAY I saw rain on my ENTIRE trip. ONE DAY. And it was the day we spent indoors. So incredible. My brother's flight was first and we had about 5 hours until my dad's flight. We  could have gone out and done some more sight-seeing, but we didn't. And that's what I learned this day. It's ok to not be doing something every single second in Europe. Sometimes I would find myself falling into this mentality of "I'm here, who knows when I'll be back, I need to make the most of every minute." But boy did that get exhausting. I had to learn to not view my day spent at the airport as a "wasted" day, but just enjoy being comfortable in a dry, warm, safe space.