Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

One last post for the year. My Christmas vacation is fast coming to an end. I fly back to Utah on Friday. It has been lovely to have a couple of weeks to relax and not worry about homework or reading or papers. They'll all be reappearing shortly, but I'm fully enjoying their absence.

As you can see, I changed things up a bit on here. I like to switch things around now and again. I don't have a house where I can rearrange furniture, so this will have to do. I'm going to switch up some pictures and update it a bit more, so check it again soon.

Christmas itself was nice. It's a lot smaller affair than it used to be now that all the cousins are married with kids and inlaws to please. It was just our family plus Grandpa Lee and Grandma Helen for dinner this year. Aunt Jean and Uncle Steve stopped by later in evening for a visit too. We all ate good food and watched Wall-E, one of our family Christmas presents. One of the happiest gifts we received was the news that my brother Luke and his wife Janna are expecting a fourth child in June! They don't find out the sex beforehand, but we are all hoping for a girl! After 3 cute boys, Janna is a bit outnumbered. It's time for some catch-up!

It has snowed almost every single day this whole break. I think I heard that all in all, we have received somewhere around 50 inches in the last two weeks. The snow has been interspersed with some rain, so it's only about 2 1/2 feet deep now, but that is still a lot of white stuff. I'm thankful to be from a place that doesn't have to worry about drought!

This has been quite the year. I've set foot in 5 countries, made 80+ new best friends, had a dozen or more close friends get married (but couldn't attend any of the weddings- curse my poverty!), lived with 7 different and new roommates (with the 8th moving in by Monday), work at 3 different jobs, wrote 100+ pages in writing assignments this fall, read five times that amount, go through too many strange ailments to count, and had a tonsillectomy. No need for any pear trees thank you, I have enough to worry about!

It's been a crazy year for me and I'm sure it has been for most of you as well. But it's been a good year if we look for the right kinds of things in it. I've lived in the Holy Land, saw the pyramids in the rain (that only happens about once every 4 years!), learned a lot, made amazing friends, had bunches of happy reunions, a new nephew born, swing dancing on the weekends, and safe travels through it all.

May we all bring our best and be able to deal with the worst as we enter a new year. Thanks for caring to follow me along in my life as I know it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life just got adventurous

Wow! Check it out-- two posts in one month!

THE END HAS COME! No, not that one. But falls semester is over and school is out! I had the best finals week ever. I only had four classes that had anything happen during finals week. I had one easy test and three writing assignments to submit. I had to finish the writing for two of the writing assignments the week before, so I just had to do some revising before I turned them in as my finals. That left only one big theory paper to worry about writing and I got it done in good time. As much as I hated my two 18 page theory papers this semester, I totally feel empowered to know that I really can write that much and have something to say the whole time. I wrote more pages this semester for all my classes combined than I ever have in my life. It's validating to know that I must know what I'm talking about or else I would have run out of things to say a long time ago.

All my finals were done on Wednesday and I prepared to return home on Thursday. I stayed up late packing and then I had to wake up at 4am since I had an early flight. It took me a little longer than I expected to head to the airport, and I arrived at the bag check counter at about 6:10 and my flight was supposed to leave at 6:30. Yikes! The lines were all super long like I haven't seen in years. Think post-9/11. I'd never make my flight. With the encouragement of fellow travelers, I boldly walked to the front of the line and plead for mercy. The travelers tehre let me cut to check my bag. The security line extended clear across the airport, so again I walked up as near as I could to the front of the line and asked to cut since my flight was already boarding and I really wanted to get home. A nice man let me cut there too. I felt bad cutting in front of so many people who had been waiting a long time, but I did NOT want to get stuck in Utah and complicate my life.

I hurried through the terminal and made it to my plane in time. Turns out they then decided to delay the flight for 20 minutes to allow people stuck in the security line to make it. Soon we were off and had an uneventful flight to Seattle.

It was snowing in Seattle. A large winter storm had descended upon the entire Inland Northwest. We sat and waited as airline employees told us that our flight was delayed as we waited for clearance from Spokane. Finally, they announced the flight was canceled. Nothing was flying in or out of Spokane. I jumped into the long line at the counter to try and find a spot on a later flight and simultaneously called Southwest on my phone to see which could help me faster. After 15 minutes I got an agent on the phone and she got me onto the 1:20pm flight that day. All these activities were interspersed with calls to Mom and Sarah because her father-in-law was going to pick me up at the airport. Sarah couldn't because they were snowed in at the house and Dave was the only one who could safely get out in his truck.

I killed time by eating some food and watching a movie on my laptop. I periodically checked the monitors to make sure my later flight was still on schedule. About an hour before we were to leave I checked again and the flight was canceled. I hurried back to my gate and got in an even longer line and on the phone again. There was one more flight that evening I could catch. After 20 minutes on the phone I finally got an agent, but she told me that their computers were down and she could do nothing for me; I'd have to change my flight at the airport. I don't know why the call took 20 minutes if that's all she was telling people. In the calls back and forth to home, my mom mentioned that my cousin Dusty's wife Angie was in Seattle and preparing to drive to Coeur d'Alene to meet up with Dusty either that day or the next. I gave her a call and informed her of my predicament and she became my plan B.

After waiting in line almost and hour, an airline employee came down the line to answer any quick questions we had. Someone asked her about Spokane and she announced that ALL flights to Spokane were cancelled that day and they were concentrating only on passengers that needed to go somewhere else, namely Boise and Las Vegas. Basically, if you need to get to Spokane, get out of line and don't even bother asking for help for a while until everyone else was helped. All our baggage was dropped off at baggage claim. I called Angie back as I headed to find my bag and we decided I'd come to her apartment and we'd figure stuff from there. I was worried my bag never made it to Seattle since I had checked in so late, but I eventually found it.

Angie gave me instructions on which buses to find to get me close to where she was in the city. I've never taken US public transportation before, so this was an adventure. I found the right one and hopped on. It's only 15 or so miles to downtown Seattle. It took us over 3 1/2 hours. The driver decided to take an alternative route and avoid the freeway. Bad idea. With all the snowfall traffic was horrible and often at a standstill. The first three miles took the first three hours. Finally the snow had stopped and traffic finally opened up a little. I made friends with the lady next to me on the bus. She borrowed my phone to call her boss and she told me how to navigate myself with the bus system. We had lots of interesting characters come on and off our bus. People would get on because they were stuck in the snow, then ride a while and then asked to be let off since they could walk faster than we were driving. A little girl across from me sat and played around crossing her eyes the whole time. And I mean the WHOLE time. I thought she'd get tired of it. Then I thought, well maybe she is just permanently cross-eyed, but I couldn't tell.

We finally made it to the station downtown and I caught a bus taking me up to the UofW campus. This ride was less eventful and a lot faster. It dropped me off very near where Dusty and Angie live, and Angie came and picked me up. I felt bad making her wait for me when she could have already left for Idaho, but then a guy on bus #2 informed me that all the passes had been closed all day because of the storm, so I didn't feel so bad knowing she couldn't have left anyway.

Once we get to the apartment and I am able to charge my phone so it doesn't die on me, I call Southwest again. This time they tell me that all flights to Spokane are booked through Sunday. Guess I'd be driving with Angie! We ordered a pizza and watched Gonzaga crush TSU the rest of the evening. The next day I mercifully slept in, then we packed up and headed out at noon. The passes were open again and the weather was clear. There was some ice and compacted snow over Snoqualmie, but we had no trouble but a gimpy wiper blade on the passenger side. Good thing I wasn't the one driving! After Ellensberg the roads were completely clear, and we made it to Coeur d'Alene safely and soundly. And that's how I made it home for this Christmas break. Took a little longer than I thought it would, but I made it.

Some may wonder what happened to Danny. He is going on a study abroad to Mexico next semester so he has to drive all his stuff home. He needed to stay a few extra days too, to get the last of his paperwork done. He is supposed to drive home tomorrow, Monday, but I'm not sure how that will work with another storm coming. Hopefully he makes it home by Christmas!

About that first storm: it was a recordbreaker. It snowed 30 inches in 24 hours in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene. The previous record had been set in the 70's and was only 13 inches in 24 hours. It has been bitterly cold, so the snow is the fine, powdery kind. The snow has settled in the last couple days so it isn't as deep as it was, but there is still about 2 feet with more to come in the next week. This is the most snow I have seen since I was a little girl. I missed all the big snow accumulation last year since I was in Israel having the mildest winter of my life. It's fun to have so much snow again and have a decidedly white Christmas.

So that's the last week of my life. It was long, but finally exciting. It makes up for the rest of my semester when all I had to write about was how I slept, ate, went to class, went to work, and did homework. Stay tuned; maybe I'll write again before the end of the year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I can see the end from here!

CLASSES ARE DONE! But I'm not quite finished. Tomorrow and the next day are our study days, and finals run Monday through Friday of next week. I'll be done by Wednesday and I head home early on Thursday. This semester has passed by so fast! Probably because I was so busy. Time flies whether or not you are having fun.

Thanksgiving was fun. We didn't have school Wed-Fri, and I only had one class on Tuesday, so I skipped it and went home on Monday night. I only had one class on Monday too and I would have just missed that one as well, gone home even earlier and no harm done, but I had to turn in a big paper that day in class. I made pumpkin pies and a cheesecake for the big dinner that was at our house this year. Mom cooked a turkey in the oven and Scottie cooked one in the smoker. We had all the rest of the best fixin's too. Despite the fact that most of my cousins are married and live elsewhere now, we still had a good turnout for Thanksgiving.

I got sick the day after Thanksgiving. I think my body was just shutting down after being under so much stress all semester. I wasn't sick too long and I felt fine by the time I went home, but it was convenient that I was sick at home and not while I was at school.

While home I got to hang out with with my niece Kyla and new nephew Carson who was born right before I left for school. Kyla turned two the Saturday after Thanksgiving. She is so smart and so much fun. I'm basically her favorite. She'd follow me around and always wanted to see what I was doing.

Mom participated in her second community Messiah concert while we were home. It was a nice way to start the Christmas season. After the concert I stopped by and visited with my friends Chris and Debbie Copstead. I worked with the Copsteads when I served on the Coeur d'Alene Junior Miss committee my senior year of high school. I always try and visit whenever I'm home in Idaho. Their children had organized a surprise party that weekend to celebrate their parents' 30th wedding anniversary and I made it near the end. Debbie is one of my most faithful readers and I promised her that I'd update my blog soon. Sorry it took me so long, but here it is!

Sorry my recent blogs are so boring. My life isn't very exciting right now. Mostly work and school. I make time for something fun on the weekends usually. I'm excited that basketball season has started. The BYU mens team is undefeated so far this season and currently have the longest home winning streak in the country. I have never seen them lose at home, and I'm in my fourth year! This weekend will be fun. A favorite former roommate is getting married right after Christmas and I'm helping to throw a bridal shower for her on Saturday. We are also having our work Christmas party and then my church ward is having a catered dinner for our closing social that evening. Sundays are always the best part of my weekends. No homework, not stress, just a day of needed rest.

We are supposed to get real snow this weekend. Finally! We've only had a couple of flurries so far this season. It's hard to feel like it's really Christmas until it snows. I'm glad I get home a whole week before Christmas, I'll actually have time to work on presents this year!

I hope you are all safe and well. I'll see a lot of you soon!
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