Sunday, June 26, 2011

life in the states.

efy. thats my life for the last two weeks. love it. its time consuming. stressful. rewarding. great. all of the above. highlights.

minnesota. hello jet lag. hello blessings. i somehow made it through the week without falling asleep in any meetings. miracle. i was in charge of games night. it rained. i hate the rain. a lot. it poured. so games night was inside. it was perfect weather during games night. devil. other highlights. great youth. great cafeteria. good week.

jason and i left early to set up the session in illinois. the car ride was grand. story time galore. the next day consisted of meeting with the campus contact and getting the site office ready. best part of the day. that night. we met my family half way to go to dinner at chilis and play at a park. it was the best. rachel was in town and came with lincoln and anna cate. they are the cutest. but really. they stole my heart. it was fun to play at the park with them but it broke heart to have to leave them.

miracle of the week. saturday we had training. one of the girls was from naperville, and was going home that night. she took me with her. i was able to surprise my family for fathers day. best experience ever. i loved seeing my fathers face as he saw me walking in. he is the bestest. and surprise surprise a friend had just gotten home from a mission and it was his homecoming that sunday. perfect timing. i think yes. the 20 hours home consisted of bed time stories. sequence. dove bars. ticket to ride. a walk with my dad. church. and other wonderful moments. it is amazing how much you value your family when time is limited. i love them. a lot.
before church with ac and lincoln.
illinois. was a great week. brother wright was our session director and was absolutely amazing. he gave us a book he had written at our sunday night fireside. and was so kind. it doesnt help that he is also is a marriage and family guy. meaning we had lots of fun talks. he was the bestest.

the whole team with the wrights after he taught us about three word journaling on thursday night
we had check-in under control. no worries. 
we were pros at self timers by the end of the summer. after check-in in illinois we had a photoshoot. meet the girls of the bc team...and jason.
on thursday at the morningside he was talking about baby blankets and asked the question who still had their baby blanket. my hand went up with many others. he then asked the question who has their baby blanket at efy. my hand shot up. as i glanced around the room i was shocked to see my hand was the only hand in the air. laughing uncontrollably i lowered my hand. yes. i am 21, and still sleep with my baby blanket.

other fun things from illinois.

this beautiful girl had a birthday! yay rachel!
we voted sleep was silly and stayed up to decorate her door the night fun!
we had lots of fun at the dances, and learned we loved going around and serenading couples. good thing we are such lovely singers. 
mother nature hated us once again and games night was inside. but we still had fun. and learned our primary colors.
fsoy was great! sarah connolly had the funniest lesson on physical health where she had ryan act out a story she was telling about a person who was extremely lazy and then got addicted to was hysterical.
i fell in love with cody at service.
at service. the week before they had sung "send it on" we didnt practice so we just lip synced along with it. epic fail. but we had fun.

 it was a good two weeks with lots of fun and lots of good memories. there was mason in illinois who was the cutest little guy in the world, with mad dance skills. there was crissy who i accidently called crispy one morning while getting breakfast- she subsequently called me smelly the rest of the week. now off to nauvoo. party.

Friday, June 10, 2011

welcome home miss hall.

so every time i look at the blank screen that yearns to be filled with my life's adventures all that comes to mind is "wake up in the morning feeling like p-diddy." its kind of perfect considering i dont think i have gone a day without it running through my head at least five times.

but today i woke up like a girl on a mission. after getting to bed around 2 30 (i couldnt last any longer- my bed was calling my name...loudly.) the lovely alarm went off at 5 30. three hours. not too shabby. especially considering that used to be the length of my sunday naps growing up. the morning consisted getting those last minute things together, eating breakfast, and saying goodbye. i love the fact that i know i will see them again at BYU but it will be sad not having them in my daily life. especially my roommates. i love people. i love pillow talk. yes, privacy on occasion is nice- and im looking forward to that. but having a college dorm room to yourself just isnt as fun as sharing a flat in london with three other girls.

goodbye london. goodbye cali. goodbye hyde park. goodbye west end. goodbye.
the trek down gloucester was... interesting. to say the least. mental note to self. mothers are always right. when i was leaving my mom suggested packing less. but i had already consolidated and thought i was fine. walking down gloucester with two now very very full suitcases was the devil. i had to stop a few times along the way to give my hands a rest. i have never been so happy to make it to the tube station in my life. the tube was great. all i had to do was stand there with my suitcases making sure they didnt move- it gave my hands a very nice, needed break.

the airport was an airport. a very efficient airport. there were people directing you where to go and asking security questions along the way. i was able to use part of my voucher to pay for the extra bag which was so nice. and the lady helping me was an absolute doll. interesting fact about airports in london. they dont post the gate until an hour before your flight, so you have to wait in a big lobby which is basically a mall. its genius. i found a seat, and started "after the party" (the book cali and i got because of the poster in the tube) but found myself falling asleep reading. i was terrified that i would zonk out and miss my flight. it has been done many a time in the hall family. but i made it to my gate without a problem.

the flight itself was fine. no, i was not in business again. i had a window seat which was wonderful! but sad story of the flight. my little tv didnt work. so i wasnt able to watch movies or anything else. luckily i slept for a good portion of the flight. and the rest i was just thinking or eating airplane meals. the fed us twice on our 8 hour flight. it was great. but made for a very full ellie. but it meant that i was never really bored which was great.

we eventually made it to chicago. happy day. customs was easy-peasy. and it was so nice to hear them say "welcome home" i had called cathy when i landed and had beater her through customs. but was pleasured by the musical stylings of michael hall. who called and sang happy birthday. was my birthday 3 weeks ago. yes. had i been in london so he couldnt call. yes. is he the bestest. yes.

mom eventually made it. it was sooo good to see her. there is something so comforting in family. we then ran, picked up padre at work, and then back into the city to go to the sprint store to fix my phone. the worker guy was my favorite and was so nice. half way through though i ran outside to do some finagling with luggage- and mom was so nice to stay inside and wait. and finagling i did. trying to fit what mom had gotten for me and taking out things that were in the "efy" suitcase. i have a talent for overpacking. it is true.

while packing i made my dad stand guard. after all we were in the south side of downtown chicago. as my head is down a see a figure approach and then says hi. a little scared i looked up and it was none other than jonathan! we finished packing and then went and met him, chelsea, and the kids at pizza capri for lunch.

warren has gotten so big. also his love for me is waning. when i would hold him he would throw his body towards jonathan. as soon as he made it to jonathan he would hug him, and then look at me and smile smugly. so cute. but so sad.
james was adorable. but i think a little scared of me. while he would talk to me on skype- i guess the real me is a little scarier. but i did get a high five and hug out of him.
james enjoyed helping put the parmesan cheese in the oil for dipping. more parmesan ended up on the table, but it was the cutest thing in the world. and he is a smart little guy. he had seen his dad take off the top to poor faster, so he tried to do the same thing. luckily it was screwed on to tight, otherwise we could have a very big mess on our hands. but he was a pro shaker.
pizza capri. where we ate. had these amazing quotes painted on the wall, which gave it a cool feel. being a marriage and family major this one was my favorite.
yummy yummy wrap. i couldnt help but continue the london tradition of taking pictures of our food.
lunch was wonderful. and it was so great to see j&c and the kids. they are so big. we had fun. laughed. chatted. and before i knew it, it was time to head back to the airport. it was soo great to see them, but i wish i had more time.

 all of my finagling did not pay off. i got to the airport and my suitcase was WAY overweight. but being the frugal person i am, i didnt  want to pay. so there i was taking stuff out until i got it to 50. i made the executive decision to check my backpack with my shampoo, conditioner, etc. and then stuffed it full. unfortunately i came to the realization everything wasnt going to fit after she had sent my big bag. my purse was overflowing with shoes, sweatpants, and a blanket, and i walked through security holding my sheets. a little ridiculous. but hysterical. luckily i found a place with a plastic bag so i didnt have to hold them the whole time.

i made it to the gate just in time to board. jonathan was so kind and had checked me in- so i was in the A boarding group. meaning WINDOW SEAT! ahh my favorite. however i had to use the bathroom. not having time before and wanting a window seat. i would need to hold it until i got to MN. the flight was good- slept. and eliza called right when we landed saying they were almost there. i told her i would go quick but that i needed the bathroom real bad because i hadnt wanted to climb over everyone. so there i am waiting to get out of my seat when the guy who had been sitting on the aisle ushered me to go. my response "oh no, you can go" his response. "you go, youre the one who has to pee" i almost died. so funny.

meeting up with everyone from efy was easy, and great. they had all gone to the temple and come straight to pick me up. and then-happy day- we went into minneapolis and met up with jason dale lane. i hadnt seen that kid in forever. and in talking to eliza she had said something about meeting up with jason- but i just figured it was jason sanders and was a little confused. when i finally made the connection i was so so happy. it was great to see him and hear about his life. he is so wonderful.

we all went out for milkshakes. being full to the brim, and having my body think it was four in the morning- i wasnt really feeling it. jason was sweet and when he ordered said we were sharing so i wouldnt feel silly not getting anything- except she brought it in two cups. i chuckled as i shoved my milkshake towards jason.

my 30 hour day concluded by driving to gustavus with the bc's and coordinators who had come. i have never been so tired before. (that might be a lie). but i was to the point that i had to concentrate with every fiber of my being on the conversation i was having. i find when im tired i withdraw. i get quiet. i just observe. and blank out. it was great to see everyone. and when we got back seeing the other bc's and gena who were back waiting. and then it was off to bed.

london has officially ended. but efy has officially begun. party.

this is will be the rest of my summer. am i pumped. you betcha.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

all things have to come to an end.

well most things. my time in london makes the list.

our last full day in london. we made it a good one.

it started justifying not runnng. we have become quite good at that. reasons to not run today: it was our last day, we were sleepy, and why would we want to not end with our "goodbye london" run?

the day really started with H&M. cali hadnt been yet, and they had forgotten to take one of the security tags off so i HAD to go back (not like i wanted to or anything). we picked up caroline on the way, and cami ran and caught up with us. being the great friends we are, we had forgotten to tell her when we were leaving. devil. but two skirts, one pair of pants, and a cardigan later- i left H&M a little poorer. but it was all perfect, especially for EFY! which is tomorrow! bah!!!

sweetheart moment of the day: while we were gone shopping, Elly checked me into my flight for me because i would be gone at the 24 hour mark. how sweet is she?!

comment of the day: walking home. talking with cali and how the world is our playground. shopping bags in hand. "no, my closet is my playground" have i gotten too many clothes. yes.

after H&M it was home to change (for cali) and then off to the orangery to end our time here with a traditional english tea. at which none of us got tea. dont tell- but i havent had tea the whole time i have been here- fail? yes. but the orangery was wonderful and delicious. and what did we eat for lunch you ask... cake.

cali, cami, and i at the orangery. photo cred. elly.
its okay to drool.
most decadent cake of my life.

what would the orangery be without pictures. photo cred. calianne jex
trying to pay was interesting when you are all trying to get rid of change. we sure had a lot of coins in the pence form down. sorry waitress.
cali and i were exact opposites in our outfits. blue skirt. khaki skirt. khaki top. blue top. blue purse. light brown purse. brown hair. blonde hair. after all opposites attract..right? we were bound to be friends.
this little guy was the funniest, and made me think of Eliza (efy style). he was just perched on a hedge looking out over the gardens. i tried to get close, but was scared he would attack me, and he ran away before i could. 
then it was home to change (again- yes it was a very changing day in our lives) and back to the park with more in tow to go for a bike ride around hyde park. they have these wonderful places you can rent bikes and then return them to other locations around the city. genius, right? and we had been meaning to go the whole time we have been here- so we had to go on our last day! problem. there were 7 of us. why problem. well the first place only had three bikes, the second place was broken, and the third only had two. quite the dilemma. so we split off. carolyn, preston, and amber went to ride the carousel, and cali, cami, ashlee and i went back to the first place in hopes of there being more bikes. and we were the luckiest! there were. not so lucky though. we couldnt get the machine to work. we finally got it to work, but then couldnt figure out how to get the bikes out. we figured out you needed a code, and then werent strong enough to get them out. 15 minutes later, and with the help of a random man we had our bikes and were ready to go. the ride itself was wonderful, except i was feeling the long run. cami was a little speed demon, and cali was an amazing photographer while riding. we rode to the exact opposite side of the park before realizing we should return them before the half hour is up and we have to pay more. we had a fun walk in front of us, but it was a grand ole time. cami and i talked about our plans for the fall. so fun. but it was amazing how slow walking is in comparison to biking and even to running.

trying to get the machine to work. 
we finally got our bikes. phew.
our wonderful bike ride in the park. ps there are only parts that bikes can go, so it was an adventure finding a route. also cali has mad picture taking abilities while riding her bike. amazing.
walking home.
we ran. they didnt. lost them at the cross walk. this is a normal occurrence in london. side note. pedestrians never have the right away. even if you are crossing a side street better make sure no cars are in a 50 foot vicinity. 
then it was home to check out of the apartment. which really just consisted of a lady coming and telling us to take out our trash before we go and seeing if anything needed repair.

last night in london. what do you do for dinner? crepes at hampstead! soo yummy. i had to stick with asparagus and cheese because it was soo good the first time. by body wasnt the biggest fan of the high amounts of butter but it sure was scrumptious.
waiting for our yummy crepes.
they are sooo good. and soo messy. and by messy i mean, dripping butter. aka dont get it on you because it will ruin things. no worries we made it through with no messes.

 we had to end it with a show. its only fitting for a theater study abroad. the winner for the last show in london. and the last show was...

before the show.
the show was grand. we started by playing musical chairs because we had obstructed view, but eventually we got to a spot where we could see most of the stage. and i just love the  spectacle that is phantom. the chandalier crashing, the boat ride. what they can do on stage is amazing. this was my third time seeing it, yes third. excessive. a little. but i have learned to have really low expectations and then you will love the show. i ruined myself by seeing the movie first, and there are things you can do with film that you cant do on stage- so its good to not expect them to. favorite songs from the show tonight: wishing you were somehow here again, masquerade (it had been stuck in my head for days), all i ask of you- oh brother the list goes on and on... 
our starting seats.
funny story of the night: walking home we saw a waggamama's sign to which i said to cali something along the lines of wag-your-mama. her response. "i'll wag my mama all the way home" (hello this little piggy). my response. "no you wont". challenge issued. challenge accepted. so cali wagged her "mama" all the way home that night. walking to the tube. on the escalator. on the tube. did she get weird looks? you bet. did people ask her if she needed the loo? yes. did i laugh? you betcha.

funny story number two of the night: what do you bring home people from london? a cute shirt, maybe some royal wedding memorabilia. nope. i bring them the best part of london. CHOCOLATE. after doing many price comparisons- tesco was the winner. so i walk in. grab the box. yes the entire box. 24 galaxy bars. dear family i love you. and take it to the front. the guy at the register looked at me looked at the box and back at me. side note: tesco is a small convience store- not a like cosco. you dont buy in bulk. so there he is looking at me. he then goes on to pat his tummy and say "youre going to be fat like me" i died laughing. and then quickly explained that they were for people back home. he just looked at me. so if you see me in the fall and i am 300 pounds- you will know why.

yum. yum.
the rest of the night consisted of saying goodbye to people- and avoiding going to sleep to try to beat that nasty thing called jet lag. keep your fingers crossed. tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

my temporary home...

This is my temporary home 

It's not where I belong. 
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through. 
This is just a stop, on the way to where I'm going. 
I'm not afraid because I know this is my 
Temporary Home.

for the last 6 weeks London has been my temporary home. and i have loved it.

Today while working on some things, i was on a country kick and carrie underwoods song temporary home came on. it brought me back to efy in ohio last year where my adorable youth cami sang this song. she did a beautiful job, but what made it even more beautiful was the fireside Brother Hinton gave later that night. He talked about how mortality is our temporary home.

my thoughts as of the moment. while being in London has been wonderful, and so much fun, and i have learned so much about myself- i cant help but be excited to go home. I cant wait to see my parents at the airport. to get a huge bear hug from my dad, and the most loving hug in the world from my mom. i cant wait to start this next chapter of my summer at efy. and how perfectly that parallels with our life here on earth to. i love my life. it is wonderful, and i am blessed in so many ways! but how excited i am to meet my Heavenly Father at the "airport" of heaven, and have him give me the biggest bear hug in the world and say "Welcome Home!"

but i will enjoy the next day i have in my temporary home. and soak in my last little bits of london! oh boy it will be sad to leave on friday. but enjoy a little bit of music by good ole carrie.

today was not unlike any other. woke up early, caught a bus to gloucester (so that unlike others, and was wonderful!), got on the tube to go to the train station, where we met everyone, boarded a train, and went to Hampton Court. So the Hampton Court part was new, but it feels like we have had a lot of field trips lately.

Hampton Court was beautiful. It was the home of Henry VIII and many others. It was great to walk around and explore, and we had an audio tour which filled our brains with lots and lots of knowledge.

in front of hampton court.
ready to learn about the kitchen of hampton court.
when walking in we saw these little guys all in a row. watching all the little school groups go around hampton was comically similar.
in the amazingly huge kitchens.
the great hall. again, i want a palace.
my future bed.
we sure like listening to our audio tours. except for the fact they are 8 years long for each room.
Rafael's painting of the apostles. hello ninja turtle

 once we had adequately explored the castle we made our way to the beautiful grounds.

 having been "tourist"ed out during stratford, we didnt stay to long. and also the fact that we were all starving helped factor into the decision to leave early. so back on the train we went. but not before a half an hour wait at the train station- and which point i felt like a vagabond sitting with my legs hanging over the tracks. the first stop once getting back to london was lunch. and what a better place to go than the indian express lunch place we had tried the night before.

we all scarfed our delicious cheap food down before we even thought of taking a picture. it was amazing. and a ton of food for only 4 pounds. seriously. ever in london. go to the warren street tube stop, and look for the pink building. your life will be changed.

then it was home to get stuff done, and take naps. so much for the goal to not nap, we have all just been so tired lately. but funny story of the day- well yesterday. during our run cali got "run" into by another runner. kind of funny considering we were running straight, but hey things happen. below you will see the lovely souvenir left by said runner. poor cal.

 later that night a group of us went to get gelato for the last time at the south kennsington creperie. did i go before i had had dinner. yes. was it amazing. yes.

cami, ashlee, and casmin with their cones.
ferror rocher and frozen fruit yogurt. heaven on earth.
these was a huge block of chocolate that was in my ice cream. i wasnt quite sure the best way to eat it. 
so the whole thing went into my mouth.

 the rest of the night was spent with roommates as they caught up on blogging and i worked on transfering notes into my spiritual notebook before efy. 

random tidbits:

cali is a good proff proof (exhiit A) reader of blogs. she caught many mistakes as she referenced my blog to catch up. duck. not duke. yay for blogging late at night.

cami is planning on moving into moutainwood with diana and i. party.

countdown to efy- 2 day! holy hannah.