Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first time reading this - felt like it was a book every girl should read.
It took me a long while to get through it, though that's no indication of how much I enjoyed it.
Because I did love it. I sincerely have a profound respect for Austen as an author and a woman. Would love to read more about her - her true to life characters, thoughts, situations, etc have me intrigued. I want to know her secret to writing stories that transcend the limits of current time and fashions.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lessons learned in Switzerland

Alright, a change of pace from my last post
(Which, by the way, was not done in anger or depression,
or even stress.
Because I feel like some of you were worried...and there's no need. Trust me, I'm happy)
And I'm still here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of this trip of mine. 

So. Switzerland.
-Make sure your train is a train and not actually a bus. Yep. This happened to us. We watched as our "train" number on the screen kept moving up and up with something strange in place of a station number. We just thought it was running late, and then finally it just disappeared and we thought, "Huh? How do you miss a train that never arrives?" and then we found out. Oh. Everyone failed to mention we shouldn't be looking for a train, but a bus. Duuuuh.

- Have a good book to read for those long train rides. Yes, it is worth packing the extra weight (and the extra cost buying one in Europe). If you don't want to buy a new one, a lot of hostels have a book exchange - drop off your book and pick up a new one. I was to attached to the book I bought in Europe, so I carried it all the way home with me.

-4 weeks is a loooong time to be moving around from place to place every night. I wrote in my journal at this point: "The train ride was so long. The day was so long. This week is so long. I have done it - I have reached my limit. 3 weeks is my max, 2 weeks is perfect. I am so ready to be home in my own bed with my husband." By this time, my body was starting to break down a little --- sore knees, tired feet, icky hair and face, grouchy stomach.

-After the above realizations, the temple is a sweet retreat and engergizer. Heather's parents were married in the Bern temple 20+ years ago, and it was one of Heather's request that we visit it. Even though I had forgotten my temple recommend, we were able to look me up and get me in. Our baptisms were performed in Italian, and other ordinances were in French. It was a lovely cultural experience.

-Public transportation is expensive. It cost 16 swiss francs to get us to the temple. Which was a 15 minute bus ride. Ridiculous. But really, the only way to go.

-Find your comfort food. I was soooo excited when I saw Ramen noodles for sale at the hostel. And I had no idea that I had even missed that food. But I did and it was sooo simply divine and comforting and wonderful. Just a bowl full of cheap noodles made my day.

-The top of a mountain in Switzerland is not your typical top of a mountain. We climbed "Bern's own Mountain!" Mount Gurney (by climb, I mean, paid 10 francs to get a ride to the top and walked back down). At the top was a restaurant, a tower (to get even higher!), a park, trails winding everywhere, bathrooms, a ski jump, frisbee golf, and a spectacular view of rolling hills, the old city of Bern, and the miles of surrounding farmland. It was so beautiful and such a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

-Timing and weather is vital while planning a trip. Somehow we had excellent, sunny weather every single day....but we kind of forgot about Easter. Pretty much the whole town of Bern shut down early Friday for Good Friday. We were unprepared for that and had to do an expensive McDonald's trip instead of getting groceries like we had planned. Then, that night was pretty much party central right outside our hostel (which was deep in down town Bern), and we woke up to quiet (probably hung-over) streets littered with confetti.

- Learn to use your many resources as a backpacker in creative ways. In the hostel they had a "free food" stash, which included pasta and soup. We knew the next day would be a long one, and with no grocery stores open, we took advantage of everything. We cooked up the pasta the night before and stored it in a bowl we got from McDonalds and a bag we had from previous grocery store trips, bought a bottle of spaghetti sauce from the hostel, and that was our breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next day.

- Things I wish I'd brought: chapstick, one nice shirt, a towel, sunscreen, and a hat that didn't scream "American!" Telling Europeans you're from America causes the same cringe as telling people at BYU-Hawaii you're from Utah...

- Things I'm glad Heather brought: Phase 10

-If your bag is getting heavy, mail things home along the way. It may be expensive, but it saves your back. Except this plan failed when I sent Swiss chocolate home to Adam for Easter and it didn't even show up until two weeks after I got back. Bummer.

- I learned a very valuable, humbling lesson most of all in Bern. You can't go to Europe with certain expectations of what you're going to experience. It's never what you think it's going to be. It's the same concept as judging a book by its cover - every single preconceived notion of what I'd imagined a place to look like, feel like, be like, had been wrong. Not better or worse, just completely different.Before I left the USA, I looked up photos online of everwhere I was going. One photo of Bern literally brought tears to my eyes out of excitement and anticipation -- and once I got to Bern, I kept searching the city for a certain view, a particular angle of the bridges and the river and the houses -- I was looking for that photo, and I was actually disappointed with Bern when I didn't see it. Ridiculous, I know. If I had instead gone to Bern with a blank slate, an open mind, there would have been no chance - or room - for disapointment. It wasn't until the morning when we had to leave and I was sad to be going so soon and I started taking more photos that I realized I can't base my Bern on someone else's Bern. I needed to find the beauty in today's Bern - and as I pulled my camera away from my eye and that thought out of my head, I looked at the photo I had just taken, and I realized it was more beautiful than any other photo of Bern I had ever, or would ever see. Because it was mine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My friend Collette makes a good point about the facade that is the blogging world, and got me thinking about why I blog what I blog and why I blog when I blog.

Typically I only blog about really cool stuff, like traveling to Europe and camping and a cute puppy.
But obviously that's not our -- that's not my --- entire life.
The other stuff, the stuff I usually don't blog about, the stuff that takes up the majority of our lives ---
isn't all fluff and cream and happiness.

It's also fighting with my husband about letting me put the tent up the way I want to, or playing the full game of Scrabble with me, or keeping Kaleo inside the tent with us, regardless of how bad he smells from all the puke that came up on the car ride to our camp spot.

It's also seriously considering, for awhile there, giving our dog back because he is
so much more work than we were originally anticipating.
What with that one time, only 2 weeks ago when he was "supposed" to be house-trained, and he started pooing on the carpet, so I ran and picked him up, told Adam to take him out the porch door, but he didn't make it in time and ended up pooing in my arms (the dog, not my husband),
 and of course the neighbor's 5 year old daughter is standing there, watching everything,
and I'm only in my underwear.
And we all know he has a serious carsickness issue that is completely incompatible with our lifestyle.

It's not getting up at 5am every stinkin' morning like I said I was going to, but maybe every other day and thinking,
"Hey, that's pretty dang good!"

It's also being mildly miserable while in Europe because I only have two shirts, two pairs of undies, one friend who is constantly texting her now-fiance when I haven't even emailed my husband in 7 days, let alone see him in 3 weeks, one dad and one brother who won't wait for me to go the bathroom or take a picture of another old church I'll probably never see again.

It's also getting the highest fever I can ever remember having the day before my nephew's funeral, and crying through his mother singing him his last lullaby before burying him, while having such a stuffy nose that I literally can.not. breathe fast enough to swallow so I'm choking and sobbing and wet and gooey and slimey with snot.

It's also being in a post-college slump/depression of wondering what I'm doing with my life and my English degree, and why I'm "wasting" it on a nanny job? And how about my own kids? Cuz watching other people's kids certainly isn't helping with that motivation.
When does the selfishness go away enough to throw them in the mix?

I feel like I'm pretty honest on my blog.
But sometimes when I do blog about crummy stuff
(like my nephew dying, or being scared to death about graduating college or being sick of Hawaii)
then I just feel totally and completely and utterly ungrateful and such a whiny butt.
And I figure nobody wants to read about the tough stuff anyway.
( In fact, I'm already starting to wonder if I should really post this, or just throw it out and figure I at least got the benefits of getting it out of my system.)

When I read whiny  honest blog posts, depending on how well it's "done"
I have one of two reactions:
Either I'm grateful I'm not the only one and that their life isn't as perfect as they make their blog seem,
I think, Oh please, you're just fishing for compliments

So what do we want to read about when we log onto other people's blogs?
What are we sincerely hoping to find there?
Good craft ideas?
Cute pregnant bellies that aren't ours?
Travel photos we didn't take?
Lives we don't lead, people we don't love, don't know?
That's what I look for sometimes, and I'm not really sure why or if I should be.
Though, most other times, I do enjoy blogs for the sake of keeping in touch with friends and family so far away.
But sometimes when I read an honest blog post, like Collette's,
I stop and think about my motives and what I'm actually getting out of this blogging thing.

Am I doing it for me?

If not, who am I doing it for?

Friday, July 1, 2011

One week.

I've been putting off writing this post, as I'm not sure how to turn my feelings into words.
Truth is sometimes more complicated than we think.

We lost our baby nephew yesterday.
He passed away in his mommy's arms a few minutes after turning extactly one week old.
One week.

That's all the time he had on this earth.
That's all the time he needed.
He accomplished more in that week --
He brought more people to prayer, their families, and Christ
in those 7 days
than I ever will in my entire lifetime.

What a privilege, honor, and blessing it was to have known him for this short time.
I watched him all. day. long. yesterday.
I carried my computer from room to room, wanting him to be with me for as long as he could.
I knew his time was short.

I cannot wait for the day when I will meet him in person and share with him a long-awaited hug.
I will never forget the impact he had on my heart.
Such a tiny boy with such a large mission.
Such a righteous family to have him be a part of it.
Such a loving Heavenly Father we have --
to provide peace and comfort in this difficult situation,
to provide a promise of eternal families and reunion after death,
to provide us with this chance to know baby Jonathan.

I love you Jonathan Kunoa Dauphinee.
I'm so lucky to be your Aunty Meghan.
I can't wait to see what your mission is on the other side <3

*Adam and I will be flying to California on July 8th to attend his funeral on July 9th. Adam will return on Tuesday evening, and I have yet to purchase my ticket back home. Continued prayers for the comfort of the Dauphinee family is so much appreciated and needed.