Monday, December 22, 2008
When we landed in Guatemala and tried to strike up friendly conversation with the customs gentleman, that's when it hit me: I've never been in a Spanish-speaking country before. Bizarre, non? I feel like I've assembled a pretty decent collection of passport stamps over the years, and Spanish-speaking seems a little more accessible than most. But no. This was going to be totally new to me and I was stoked.
Mostly just traveled.
Kindly chauffeured to the airport by our favorite buddy, Quinn.
Enjoyed a lovely chicken tarragon sandwich from Au Bon Pain in airport.
Arrived in Guatemala, shuttled to Marriott - Guatemala City, worried we were getting giardia by trying to be polite and sipping the brownish water the kind bellboy handed us. Learned there were peaches and apples soaking in the water and contributing to the brownish hue. Still didn't ingest much/any unsealed water on the trip regardless.
Watched World Trade Center as we fell asleep. Learned helpful Spanish dialogue by reading subtitles.
On Monday, Augustine - who would, by week's end, solidify his spot as most gracious, accommodating, giving friend in the whole Central AM - picked us up and took us to the church in Guatemala City where most Elders/Sisters were being directed to their next transfer and where we'd inherit our own "transfer" - Elder Riley.
It was a completely surreal experience for me to be around all these missionaries. What a remarkable time in their lives, when they literally dedicate all their time, devotion and energy to others. It was really uplifting to be around this whole group of 19-23 year-olds and realize they were giving such a huge part of themselves to something they believe and love. It was also fairly entertaining to be around so many people in missionary-mode. I've been around my share of individual returned missionaries in all their recently-reintroduced-to-society awkwardness, but the slightly awkward, completely adorable, always friendly sum of all those 100+ missionaries was impressive. :) Shook an awful lot of hands.
After reuniting with our favorite white shirt and black name tag in the bunch, we headed out for some lunch at a very authentic little establishment - I believe they call it the "centro comerical" :) - and a death-defying driving tour of Guatemala City. That is no reflection on the mad skills possessed by our driver, but man - how are there not more accidents here? Later, we headed to the mission president's home for dinner and Family Home Evening, where I secured a delicious win in a game of BURRO against Noah with an impressive granny shot from half-court.
The next morning, we were able to go to the temple in Guatemala City. It was beautiful and such an amazing spirit exists there. It was interesting to feel the slightly slower pace of the culture even in an otherwise familiar setting. The people were so content to talk and share stories - and bless Christopher's heart for translating everything. The domino effect of stories and jokes was always fun to watch. Someone tells a story. Guatemalans and Christopher laugh. Gringos stare and smile. Christopher translates. Gringos laugh. Everyone laughs.
Afterward, we drove up the mountain for lunch and for a view of Guatemala City.That evening, we made the first of a few rounds of visits to church members and friends of Christopher's. I'll beg his forgiveness when I group all the visits together in one place, though they did take place over a few days. I was impressed that in all the cities, all the people and all the visits, one commonality was thoroughly evident - these people absolutely adore Elder Riley. It was so apparent how hard he worked, how tirelessly he served and how wholly he loved the people in Guatemala. And we were embraced and loved by association. I decided it's a lot of fun to pick up a missionary. It's especially fun to pick up a missionary who did such a phenomenal job.
In all the visits, we met so many beautiful, kind, incredible people. But one little buddy in particular really stole a piece of my heart.
Clearly, I have very little shame in releasing this terribly flattering photo of myself to the world wide web. Just wait, peeps. They're gonna get better.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I plugged in my headphones to enjoy some mindless vieiwing of the in-flight movie and watched for a good 7 minutes before I realized I was on one of the music stations. I just assumed Fred Claus opened with a nice slow jazz montage.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
As Noah and I prepare to make the trek eastward, we've limited our rations to one little white car's worth.
After clothes of the professional sort, a few linens and limited kitchenwares - it leaves little in the way of frivolity. And that means my birthday gift from Noah will have to reside elsewhere for the next few years.
You will be sorely missed.
Take an an active interest in the things she enjoys.
Engage in her favorite activites.
A good game of hide-and-seek is typically in order.
Throw in a lil' sugar.
My niece, Abbey, just can't get enough of her Uncle NoNo. I think the feeling is mutual.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
That in and of itself is impressive enough.
But folks, profile twin and I have outdone ourselves. Turns out we know someone in common. I work with profile twin's brother. He noticed the photo on Facebook. We MET (via cyberspace). Now we're Facebook friends and blog buddies.
And the power of social networking continues to astound.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
And just for good measure, for anyone who called Wednesday evening and got the ol' "in a restaurant that doesn't allow cell phones excuse," here's your proof...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I'm a cheap person. Ah, that's harsh. I'm frugal.
It's not that I refuse to spend bucks, but I'm pretty selective about how I spend them. I prefer to save up for something better (completely subjective, I know - notice I didn't specify 'more expensive' - just 'better' in my mind) than to spend the same amount over time. It can drive Noah totally nuts that I refuse to pay full price for yogurt ($.64?! No thanks, Yoplait. I'll stock up on the 20/$10. Yes. A fourteen cent discrepancy. That really matters to me.) or debate over paper towel brands and in the same breath notice a $600 mirror I must own. Not all at the same store. But you get the idea.
I'm all about maximum utility from my purchases. And for me, I derive that utility from a) saving a little longer for something I really dig, or b) getting a ridiculously good deal. Uh, hello. Have you met my fabulous green armoire I scored for 75% off?
Enough exposition already. So, for faithful readers of the blog or anyone who started reading yesterday, you know yesterday was our anniversary. Part of our love for the fall anniversary centers around our love for fall travel. We had our first three anniversary trips practically planned before we tied the knot. This year is Guatemala, and we're headed out next week. So in my previously described mind, that factors in nicely. Big trip, lots of fun, eat Top Ramen until we leave. Kidding, it's not that extreme. But something low-key for the day-of.
I figured we'd spend a nice evening in or maybe find a fun restaurant in the area we've never tried before. Noah, the hopeless romantic, had a different idea.
He decided to surprise me with a night at a fun little B&B in the area, or maybe even find a little place in Park City for the evening. But understanding my ... er, frugality ... he opted for priceline.com to find a great last-minute deal. However, not understanding priceline.com, we ended up with a seriously-not-a-cent-cheaper-than-the-standard-rate room at the Red Lion.
Before I sound like a total snob, there is nothing wrong with the Red Lion. In fact, they were very kind and even upgraded us to a suite when Noah told them we were celebrating our anniversary. But let's refer back to our utility conversation. A three-star hotel six blocks from my home at its everyday rate doesn't exactly summit the utility scale. Even its possible selling points - downtown! Great view of the city and mountains! We live downtown with a great view of the city and mountains.
Noah told me about the conundrum when he came to pick me up from work. After my initial, "but babe... I have this thing called a utility scale..." reaction and "is it too late to cancel our bank account and drop off the face of the map?" query, we went home, packed a bag, vacuummed the rugs (this detail is not important, except that we finally got a vacuum and I was STOKED to vacuum the rugs) and made our way to the hotel. For an additional $17, we added Cafe Rio and a RedBox to the mix. Because when you're gonna go all out, you may as well go all out :).
In the line at Cafe Rio, the guy behind the counter took one look at us and asked Noah, "wow - did she get mad at you?" An immediate look of concern crossed my face. Was I really so transparent with my emotions? Was I honestly such a brat that the Cafe Rio guy could see it in my face? Yes, maybe. But I forgot Noah was still sporting a shiner from basketball a few weeks ago. With all the "did she hit you?!" jokes we've encountered this week, I'm shocked I didn't catch on more quickly.
All in all, we did have a really nice evening together. We laughed over and over while we packed our bags, as we pulled up to the hotel, in the elevator - I think I might need to add one more criteria to the scale - c) will result in hilarious memory for years.
Monday, October 20, 2008
October 20, 2006 was a pretty excellent day. And windy.Like most couples' big day, the day was busy - but I loved that it didn't feel frantic. We enjoyed a nice wedding brunch with close friends and family. Our wedding ceremony was performed in the Salt Lake City Temple by a dear friend and fellow USU alum, Val R. Christensen. We partied at our beautiful autumn reception, tossed the bouquet, cut the cake and ditched the scene.
(I was looking for the picture where we're giving off a very 'peace out' vibe. Can't find it. Ashley - was it from your camera? Ah, well - the 'just cut this cake so we can leave' shot will suffice.)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I'll admit, it's not all bad to get paid to see a new place and shake up the work week a bit. But as we inch closer to flipping the calendar and bidding September adieu, we're looking forward to spending a few more weekends in the same zip code.
A few Virginia highlights:
• THIS guy who fashioned his own Subway ensemble of Subway cups, bags, straws and napkins.
(He is not wearing the hat in this one. But believe you me. There was a hat.)
• Enjoying the VT/Furman game from a sweet suite after a killer game of parking lot football with a bunch of 6-year olds. I was, undisputedly, our team’s weak link. I had nothin’ on those first graders.
• Getting off our plane in Atlanta (after sitting on the tarmac for an hour, bleh) with only five minutes until our next flight’s takeoff. Even though we figured it was in vain, Nate, Justin and I hauled booty from terminal A to terminal D – um, hello, tram not working? We missed the flight anyway, but I earned mad props from the guys for setting a land speed record in my heels.
And a few from the Carolinas:
• “Ma’am, we’ve upgraded you to a suite during your stay at no extra charge. Will that work for you?” Um, yes. That’s a bullet I’ll go ahead and take.
The living room.The work area.
• Meeting one of the most down-to-earth professional football players on the planet. Utah doesn’t have a professional football team, so I figure I don’t have allegiances elsewhere. I may just be a Carolina Panthers fan.
"Yes. That would be the lotion."
Friday, September 19, 2008
Being an adult is so totally overrated sometimes. All I know, when you were a kid and your birthday landed on a Friday or Saturday, it was like hitting pay dirt. Weekend birthdays were, in a word, cool beans. (One word. Coolbeans.)
Well, about 23 minutes ago, eastern standard time, I turned 24. And according to ancient lore another year older makes me another year wiser, too.
I don’t know about that.
But what I did learn on my flight to the Tar Heel State (ah, state report information will prove beneficial one day, all you 2nd graders who frequent this blog…) is that nothing drives home the fact you’re breathing recycled air more devastatingly than lacing it with a foul odor. That goes for you guys sitting in front of me with the malodorous curry pork rinds, too.
I don’t have a camera cord to upload photos, so I’ll spare you any facts about what I’m doing here until I have some visual documentation to verify my words. Until then… “what was she doing?! What was she doing?!” I know. You totally can’t even sleep now.
Monday, September 8, 2008
However, at about 11:30 that evening - we received a call from Noah's mom letting us know that the canyon breeze (or the white trash air conditioning, as my mother-in-law so affectionately refers to it) we'd enjoyed on so many evenings was now fueling the fire at a pretty rapid pace. Noah's parents' home is built up in their orchards, one of the very first along the mountain - so they were first in the fire's path. Christine let us know they'd been evacuated from their home. Noah's brothers and dad ran sprinkler lines along the eastern edge of the driveway and orchards and the Spanish Fork Fire Department literally parked in the driveway, hosing down the roof and doing all they could to save the house.
(That's the Riley home silhouetted in the flames.)
I cannot imagine that feeling. Filling a car with a few armloads of precious possessions and driving away from your home not knowing if you'll come back. I know our homes are filled with mostly replaceable things, and the Rileys were blessed with a real support from family and friends in the area who came rushing up to help haul as much from the home as possible. But material objects aside, it really hit me how difficult it would be to think of losing your home - the place where you raised your family, built your life, enjoyed sweet memories.
Hearing the news at 11:30 p.m., Noah and I spent a pretty restless night in Salt Lake and woke up early Saturday morning to head to Payson. On our drive, we listened to a story about a wildfire in California that had already claimed 11 homes. I know I've heard those types of statistics before, but suddenly those homes and those people became so much more real to me. Sad that it takes a personal experience, or threat thereof, to make me think this way sometimes. Even sadder that it's entirely possible, probable I'll revert back to my comfortable thinking once the reality of the Riley home escapes recent memory.We arrived at the house, grateful to start moving belongings back into a home - albeit, now lingering with the scent of scout camp. The fire burned right up to the driveway and sprinkler line - as close as 20 feet from the house in some places.
As we helped move things back inside, there was a knock at the door and ABC4 wanted to chat with one of the evacuees. If you ask me, they knocked on the right door. My mother-in-law could not have been a more perfect interview. She is so genuine and articulate, she makes a great face for Payson... because, as Noah's uncle (who is a Payson resident, so it's fair... like a dentist making a dentist joke.) pointed out, she has all her teeth.
I kid, I kid. Payson isn't that backwoods.
But really, see for yourselves - she's pretty amazing. Buddy is standing in front of Grandma and Grandpa Riley's home before the camera turns toward the house. This portion of the clip was live and when we realized the camera was facing the house, we dared Jesse to streak across the lawn. That would've given the story a little more pizzazz. :)
(The clip is kind of long, and Chris' interview is about halfway through.)
These pictures aren't of the Riley home, but they're a little more clear and will give you an idea of the fire's enormity. Noah pulled these from KSL.com, I think - so photo credit is not ours.
And a shot that reminds me my job is not all that intense. In fact, it's downright pansy compared to this...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
- Allison's first-ever bobbing for apples experience. Completely immersing your head in a bucket of water in attempt to sink your chompers into a McIntosh is not so pleasant. I mean, I probably wouldn't do it every day.
- My team RUNNING their guts out. Any time the destination was such that we had the option to haul buns or catch TRAX, my team always opted for the former. Kudos guys, kudos.
- My teammate, Jordan, literally giving up the shirt off his back when a watermelon cradling option was devised. The man ran shirtless up State Street hauling a watermelon like a little papoose for the good of the team, and I applaud that.
- Near dry-heaving as we choked down a plateful of larvae. YEAH. You heard right. Larvae.