Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 4: The shot heard 'round the world

Day 4 it was off to Lexington and Concord...the beginning of the American Revolution.

Having not been since he was a kid, my dad thought it would be a good idea to start off at the visitor's center to get a feel for what happened at Lexington and Concord, and where we should start off sight seeing.

We pulled up to a parking lot and there was a trail that led to the visitor's center. It seemed kind of odd to me that the parking lot wasn't just right outside the building, but then we would have been denied the view getting there.

I never ceased to be in awe of how green everything is back east. They say it has something to with it not being a desert? I guess it rains there from time to time so things grow :)

We took just time to just enjoy the trail and think about the importance of the place we were standing in.

There was also a turtle in this little pond along the way that the boys became quite fond of...not entirely sure why, but there he is in all his glory.

We went to the visitor and made it just in time to watch their interactive video on the history of Lexington and Concord. It was really cool. Reminded me a lot of the video the church put together at the Mormon Battalion memorial in San Diego.

After that, there was one clear mission: we had to get Mom to see Louisa May Alcott's home. So we drove down the road a little and stopped at the Orchard House.

We were told this wasn't the home Alcott grew up in, but the house she wrote Little Women in and based the setting off of it. They didn't allow pictures inside, so these are the only visual representation I have of the next two hours of our trip.

We actually learned some really cool things during the tour. For instance, I honestly didn't realize Alcott had formed the characters in the book from her own sisters. They're all a bit exaggerated, but they're real people. Alcott's father was a bit of a looney...wasting the families money on cockamamie schemes, etc. So it cool to hear some of those stories, but I honestly don't think we could have picked a crazier tour guide.

No lie, this women was straight out of 1967. No way to be sure, but it appeared she didn't own a shower...or at least not shampoo and certainly not a washing machine. Her glasses were bigger than her actual face and she could TALK. What could, and should, have been a 45 minute, informative tour turned into a 2 hour tour that dragged. Didn't help that air wasn't really working and it was unbelievably stuffy in there, but really. She could have cut it down by at least half.

The important thing is that Mom really enjoyed it and we made her happy by going through it.

By the time we got through with the tour, it was nearly 3:00 and although we were starving, we decided to knock out the rest of our sight-seeing so we could just be done with it and then have a big dinner.

We made our way to the Hartwell Tavern which doesn't have any real historical significance other than the fact that is was standing in 1775 when the battles at Lexington and Concord began. It was also along the road of the battle and there were some detailed accounts from people staying there about what it was like as the soldiers passed through that area.

What drew us to the tavern, however, was the musket demonstration they do there every hour or so. We got there in the afternoon just as a storm was rolling in to watch the demonstration and a couple guys dressed in colonial gear walked out to talk to us about the minute men of the revolution.

The guy on the left was an intern at the park who did the demonstration. He sped up his pre-talk and got right to shooting the gun because there was lighting and as he said..."I'm holding a large lightening rod." He was a little nervous haha but the demonstration was pretty cool. It's crazy to think how anyone could wage a war when it takes 30 second to reload your gun every time. I would be worried about getting shot while reloading. I don't think they give you a time out in war like they do in tag in your shoelace comes untied...

But anyway, if you want to see it, here's the video of the demonstration. The guy loaded the gun with the same precision as the minute men would have. They did each step with precision because they wanted to seem like a real army rather than what they were...which was basically a bunch of farmers with guns. 

You can hear the thunder and people worrying about this poor guy's life in the video. The gun was pretty loud, but sounds kind of wimpy when you compare it to the thunder. We joked it was more authentic like there was a real battle going on. At the end, his instructor says, "okay, that's enough. Let's move this inside".

We went inside the tavern where he finished his spiel on the minute men which was really good. There's nothing quite learning about history as you're standing in the place where it happened. We have that here, I guess with the pioneers, but I just think people back east are so lucky to be so close to the setting of major historical events. Unreal.

After the tavern, we made our last stop at the Old North Bridge...better known as the setting of the "Shot Heard 'Round the World". This is where the first British blood was spilt as the result of a direct order from the colonial leaders. Until that point, any red coats killed had been by accident or in self-defense, but this is where the war began.

It's really peaceful at Old North Bridge. There's a river (obviously) that runs under the bridge that is just really still. The bridge itself sits in the opening of a huge grove of trees. Once again...GREEN. EVERYWHERE. That, I guess is the reward for the unbelievable humidity.

At Old North Bridge there are two monuments on either side of the bridge. One is an obelisk to mark the spot where "the first forcible resistance to British aggression" occurred. The other is a more modern memorial to the minute men who fought in the battle at Lexington and Concord on April 17, 1775. It was like an 8 mile long battle that lasted all day and it was the first of many miracles of the American Revolution that we were able to hold off the British and force them back to Boston.

I thought this was a really cool part of the monument. I mean...obviously, I'm always going to be on the side of the colonists when talking about the revolution, but I think sometimes we vilify the british soldiers more than they deserve. They saw the battle as a civil war. They were trying to keep Britain united and many of them lost their lives for that cause.

I couldn't get it in the shot, but off to the right was a wreath that had been laid by a british armed forces regiment. I don't know, I got kind of choked up reading this. Interesting thing to think about.

By this point in the day, we were thrashed and starving so we tried to find a place to eat. The Lexington and Concord area is not the most happening of places in the greater Boston area, but they did have a McDonalds...which we had done to death so we sought out a buffet, thinking we might find some local flavor there. Not quite.

Dad's phone ID'd the closest buffet which was not local...neither was the flavor. It took us a good 30 minutes to find this place as we drove through a backroads residential area.

The buffet was in a strip mall which usually you're like...sketch, but we were so hungry at that point, we didn't care. It was very much a Chinese Buffet which also sold pizza and apple go figure. The food was pretty good, but less good was the drive back to the hotel after we ate ourselves sick.

Back at the hotel, we just sat and relaxed. Played some card games and tried to recoup from a long day of walking and learning and get ready for Day 5 when the Carlsons take Boston.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Boston - Day 3: The Beginning

Alright. So here we are at Day 3. Up until this point, we'd mostly been just traveling. First on a plane, then a full day in the car. So day 3 was really the beginning of our vacation and so we decided to start at the very place you could call the beginning of America: Plymouth, MA. 

Something that is rather baffling to me about the east coast that while everything is close together and not quite as spread out in the east...everything always seems to be about 40 minutes away from where you are. It was always between 30-40 minutes to get anywhere. Blame it on the traffic, or some strange cosmic phenomenon, I don't know, but we drove the required 40 minutes to Plymouth where our story begins. 

I promised a story about how the twins received a history lesson on day 3. Well, let me tell you folks, the public school system is failing the children for somehow neither Brett nor Brady knew what happened at Plymouth. We pulled up to the harbor and they asked..."what's so special about this rock anyway?" Now, I understand the rock is mostly symbolic, but still. We had sang songs and watched movies and performed skits about Plymouth Rock all throughout elementary school. How is it that in the span of 6 years...the curriculum could have changed that much??

So we made sure the guides gave them a lesson on the history behind Plymouth Rock and why it was so important to visit. 

The rock itself is housed about six feet below the street underneath a columned pavilion. They used to display it out in the open but visitors kept chipping away at the rock, taking pieces home as souvenirs (as tourists do).

As a result, the rock is not very big. It's not quite as small as it looks in this picture, but my childhood led me to believe it was large enough to sink a boat. I'd say it's probably about three feet across and 2 feet tall. Not exactly grandiose, but it was still really cool to see the rock that inspired legend and is so symbolic of the Pilgrims' landing in 1620.

This is us under the Pavilion that houses the rock. Right behind that railing is where the rock is kept underground. (Mom was pretty good at taking pictures with people in them...but that usually meant she wasn't in any of them.)

Here's another rock. Because I know they make for really interesting photos. It's actually a rock with a plaque...a plaque that serves as a kind of memorial for William Brewster who was the Pilgrim's spiritual leader from the very beginning back in England until he died in Plymouth, and he helped draft and signed the Mayflower Compact.

A little back story: my junior year in high school, I took an American History class from my favorite teacher of all time, Mr. Barksdale. At the beginning of the semester, he assigned us all a research paper in which we were supposed to find an ancestor who was witness to or apart of an event in US History. I did mine on William Brewster. He's like my great (x7 or something) grandfather on my Dad's side, and I learned a lot about him over the course of that semester. It made our trip to Plymouth so much more exciting remembering that I had an ancestor who had lived in this town and who risked his life to come to America for the sake of religious freedom.

The statue on the right is another William B., but not William Brewster. It is, in fact, the first governor of Plymouth, William Bradford. He was a pretty cool guy, but the words on the plaque honoring Brewster were written by him because he thought Brewster was a pretty cool guy. Cool huh?

So here we have the first church in Plymouth. After years of persecution and months of harsh sea life, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, and built this church. Everything they had every wanted came to fruition right here in this building where they were free to worship as they pleased with no one to say otherwise. I can't even imagine what this building must have meant to them and what they went through to finally have a place of their own such as this. Just makes you really appreciate how great the builders of this nation were, and we as Americans can be proud of such a rich heritage.

This is burial hill right behind the first church in Plymouth. I thought we might find William Brewster's gravesite here, but apparently no one knows where he was actually buried. Most of the early settler's in Pilgrims didn't have marked graves, or if they were marked, 400 years of wear and tear probably ensured the writing would be illegible. 

We still took some time to wander around the site for awhile. It was peaceful and eerie at the same time. The old headstones really made it feel like a horror movie, but it again reminded me of how amazing those first settlers were and how much they lost in the fight for freedom. 

So, one thing I haven't mentioned about today was how unbelievably hot it was. I have honestly never been so miserable in my life. We were outside most of the day, and walking most of the time in the hottest, most humid conditions New England has seen in over 25 years. Truly thought I was going to die. 

We debated briefly over whether we should visit Plymouth Plantation, but after pondering on the heat, decided to press forward to Gillette Stadium where there would hopefully be air conditioning. 

The whole ride up, my dad was trying to convince Brady that we were going to Lexington and Concord instead of Gillette, but he saw the road signs guiding us to Foxboro, and when he caught his first glimpse of the stadium, he lit up...and could not stop smiling for literally the rest of the day. 

If you'll take a look back at the family picture from earlier in the may notice the lack of any facial expression on this child's face. We have an entire vacation album now of similar faces from all three boys. They simply refuse to smily in pictures...unless...that is, they're doing anything related to their favorite sports team. You'll see this is a theme in later pictures. That, my friends, is an honest to goodness smile of the face of one Brady Carlson. A smile, as I said, that did not go away for the remainder of Day 3. The words "Best Day Ever" were used on numerous occasions.

This pictures requires a little explanation. You see, Dane has this knack of placing himself in pictures he has no business being in. Sometimes, like this one, it's intentional. Most of the time, however, it is simply him not paying attention. We often wonder how many stranger's family pictures he's appeared in over the years because he just walks in front of cameras without a care int he world.

I tried taking this picture three separate times. After having Dane photobomb the first one...Brett pulled a Dane and aimlessly walked into the shot after I had just told Dane to get out of the way. I mean, some people's kids. I'm trying to take a picture here! Pay attention.

So after we had taken several pictures outside the stadium, it was time to take Brady into the Pro Shop. He walked in and it was like he was seeing light for the very first time. He would have been perfectly content if we had just left him there and he lived there the rest of his life, I think. He bought a new Tom Brady jersey, as the one he'd had for years no longer fit him, and a new hat that we wore the rest of the trip. This was heaven on earth for this crazy kid.

Dane thought he was pretty hilarious...and apparently I did too because I made him pose for a picture...but they are in fact selling Tim Tebow jerseys at the Pro Shop. Brady is still very bitter about the whole thing so here's Dane playing the annoying older brother.

Brady has been a fan of the patriots for as long as I can remember. It all started when my mom bought him a Tom Brady jersey for his birthday years and years ago. The twins liked football, but neither one really had a team, so she bough Brady and Brady jersey and Brett a Brett Favre jersey. From that moment on, Brady was hooked.

But even though it started because of Tom Brady, over the years Brady has become a loyal Pats fan...not just because of Tom Brady, but because he just loves the team. He'll get so worked up over the games, he'll lock himself up in his closet after a loss and we won't see him for awhile. He's about as loyal as they come.

So my dad and I took him through "The Hall" (It was $10 a person, so Mom, Brett and Dane went around the shops while I went to take pictures). The Hall is a two story Patriots museum above the Pro Shop that features everything a Pats fan might ever hope to experience short of an actual game.

We watched a 17 minute video on the history of the Patriots, and walked through all the exhibits which took us like an hour and a half.

Here we have some mannequins that talk to you when you get in the middle of the huddle. Apparently, they mic'd up Tom Brady during a game so when you enter the huddle he's calling out plays to you and your teammates.

There's also an area where you can try on pads, pants, cleats, helmets-you name it and get all suited up for a game. Brady put on the jersey he bought downstairs and just the helmet. He said the other stuff was too gross...which will seem hilarious to you in just a few photographs.

At the end of the tour, the three Lombardi Trophies are displayed in glass cases in a room where confetti is actually falling from the sky. Brady then proceeded to make a confetti angel in what had fallen to the ground. I mean...does it get any better for a 14 year old?

Remember how the pads were too gross...and Brady didn't want to try them on? Yeah, well...apparently kissing the glass around the Lombardi Trophy is no big deal. Forget the fact that you don't know how many people have touched that...just put your lips right up on there. Makes for a pretty great pictures though. 

And thus ended our time at Gillette Stadium. Brady was on cloud 9...but the three we had left behind were not quite as enthused. We found them at this Dunkin Donuts. (Not kidding. They are EVERYWHERE). 

We went back to the hotel and some New England Pizza. I've come to the conclusion that we have no idea how to do Pizza out here. Someone needs to figure out how they do it back east because they get it.

So that concluded Day 3 of our Journey to Boston. Day 4, we go to Lexington and Concord, Louisa May Alcott's home and get lost on our way to a Chinese Buffett.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Boston - Days 1 & 2: A Story of Wonder and Wandering

Basically anyone who is going to read this blog has probably already been spammed on Facebook by the pictures I'm about to post, but I'm gonna blog about it anyway as there is way more room here to recount the tales of our time in Boston. So here goes...bear with me for this long introduction.

It was that time again in our lives when we felt the need to travel back east. So, we arranged with the NIH's twin study to do testing this summer. For those of you who may not know, our family has been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a long-term neurological study which focuses on families with ours. The government pays for the twins, a same-sex sibling, opposite-sex sibling and the parents of the twins to fly out to Bethesda every two years to be tested as they research the growth and development of a brain over time. (Each child is also paid $200 for compensation in case you didn't think the set up was awesome enough already).

We have been able to utilize this opportunity time 3 times before to visit Washington D.C., Philadelphia and various other historical landmarks on the East Coast. This time, we thought a trip to Boston was in order.

We left our lovely home on the 17th of July in the year 2013 around 8:00 in the morning. The goal was no later than 7:30...but since when do we ever get out the door on time? We did, however, make it to our plane on time and took off without a hitch, landing in Baltimore, MD around 4:30 ET. 

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to be on the East Coast in the summertime, let me just say that the first step out the door after first landing on the Eastern seaboard is like walking straight into a brick wall. The second that muggy, humid air hits you, you suddenly get the sensation that you will die in this horrid place as you are not accustomed to drinking your oxygen. After all, you are a human being, not a fish. Thus was the experience we had on day one. 90+ degrees and 85% humidity=DEATH. We learned pretty quickly that jeans were not going to cut it on this trip. 

We stayed overnight in Gaithersburg, MD which was a perfectly lovely place aside from the humidity. The next day, we had planned to take the rental car to New York and see Once (with Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who, of course) but after looking at prices...I decided I'd rather eat for the next few months than see the show even if it meant missing out on seeing Arthur. 

So instead, we make the trek out to Boston. Because we were skipping past New York, however, my wonderful father thought it would be nice if we could make an hour detour in Philadelphia and visit Citizen's Bank Park...home of the Philadelphia Phillies. I did not protest. 

The clubhouse was glorious. Normally when I go into Fanzz, or any other sports store around here, I can find MAYBE a T-Shirt with the Phillies logo and MAYBE it's in my size, but usually it's like XXXXXL. This was a 2 Story mecca of Phillies paraphernalia. I found a shirt that I really liked and a nice, real-life Louisville Slugger with the logo painted on the side. But the best part of this trip was not the souvenirs I found was the amazing store associate who was guarding the doors that lead out to the concourse who, upon request, allowed us to take a peek at the stadium.  

There I was, in the very place where the Philadelphia Phillies play ball. I was super nerding out about it.

But I mean, just look at that. The place was completely empty and still, and I was able to just sit there and bask in all that is Citizens Bank Park. I freaking love baseball, you guys. 

Sometimes in life, there are perfect moments, and this, for me, was one of them.

Sadly, my adventure at the home of the Phillies had to end as we still had about 5 hours left on our trip to Boston. What was supposed to be an 8 hour journey in the car began to escalate quickly to 9...and then 10...until we had been traveling for almost 12 hours if you include the time eating, stopping in Philadelphia and bathroom breaks.

(Speaking of bathroom breaks, this is a picture of a Dunkin Donuts in Connecticut that we saw on our way to Boston. Everything in this area of the country is so quaint and adorable, I couldn't help but take a picture. Also there are Dunkin Donuts EVERYWHERE back east. They probably have as many Dunkin Donuts as we do churches here in Utah. Not kidding.)

Plans were once again shattered after a LONG stint in New York traffic and other diversions as we had planned on stopping at Gilette Stadium as well so Brady could see where the patriot play, but by the time we made it to the Boston area, it was dark, so pictures were out the question, and the Pro Shop would only have been open for 30 minutes or so after we arrive, so we continued on to the hotel, promising Brady we could go to Gilette the next day. 

This basically sums up what is was like in the car for hours and hours on end. 

So after one of the most exhausting traveling experiences I have every had (second only to maybe Australia) we made it to Boston. It was late, and it was dark, but we were there. Still hot and humid, we prepared ourselves for Day 3...Gilette Stadium and Plymouth. Does it get any better people? I mean really. 

Join me next time when the twins receive a history lesson and Brady gets gonorriphilAIDS from kissing a glass case. You don't wanna miss it. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Not Even the Doctor Could Save This One...

Today's blog post begins with "True Confessions with Sydney". Bear with me, they will all make sense at the end. True Confession #1: I have never, nor will I ever understand what some might call "artsy" movies. I'm not a film or an art major, and consequently, movies like "Hugo" are lost on me. True Confession #2: I enjoy British humor. I like watching Dr. Who, and Merlin, and other such British dramas on BBC despite what other people say about them. True Confession #3: Even though it is rated "R", I did see Slumdog Millionaire and found it to be a truly great film.

So. Having said these things...I will now openly express that I think the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London games may be the worst Opening Ceremony that I can remember in my lifetime.

For those of you that may not have tuned in to the whole thing...please follow me on a journey while I give you a recap of the 2012 Opening Ceremony through my eyes.

We begin with a village green scene, complete with a maypole and ferris wheel, and a fake sea, made with blue material stretched over sections of the audience.

Before you know it we’re flying down the river Thames, past what seem to be characters from "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (a thoroughly terrifying movie from my childhood).All of this, by the way, is played to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sex Pistols.

But then...because it wouldn't be London without one, a choirboy sings,and the village (which looks uncannily like The Shire) comes to life. What follows is a long and unbearably dull reenactment of London's history from the agrarian age to WWII...all of which is narrated by the equally dull and painfully ignorant Matt Lauer and Bob Costas. (Meredith was wise enough to keep her mouth shut through most of it...)

Somewhere in the midst of my boredom, I find myself hallucinating that Gilderoy Lockhart is guiding this transformation in a top hat...only to realize that oh IS Gilderoy Lockhart in a top hot quoting lines from Shakespeare. There’s industrialists in top hats dancing and supervising the removal of the Shire, to be replaced with some massive smoking chimney stacks.

Then I guess there was a tribute paid to British soldiers from two World Wars...but here in the states we instead were blessed with a thrilling interview between Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps. I like Michael as much as the next girl, but I resent NBC deciding which parts of the ceremony I should and should not watch...even if the whole thing seems to be a train wreck.

They do something cool with the Olympic rings and molten lava, but everything is still in disarray and I am still very bored. THEN oh but then, my good friends...there's some footage of James Bond arriving at Buckingham Palace for an audience with THE ACTUAL QUEEN, and they’re off in a helicopter together, over London, to the Olympic Stadium, where THE ACTUAL QUEEN has parachuted in. 

Matt Lauer then proceeds to convince us all that he truly the believes Queen Elizabeth just JUMPED OUT OF A HELICOPTER.

After the queen takes her seat, we are treated to the Nation Anthem sung by a choir of deaf children.


Now there are hundreds of sick children in glowing beds (because it just isn't a celebration without sick children), and then a tribute to British children’s literature from Peter Pan to Harry Potter. Oh, and J.K. Rowling makes a cameo...things are looking up until...


This. Happens. Then there’s a massive baby in a bed.

And because I'm just not bored enough, they decided to enlighten the audience with a rendition of Chariots of Fire. But wait, Mr. Bean is there, and he is actually quite funny and not at all over the top...hold on...nope. They took it too far and made it dumb. Once again VERY. BORED.

I don't even know where to begin on the next bit because I still don't know exactly what happened. Here's what I remember: 1) A giant house that played the most RANDOM collection of movie clips ever complied into one event on the outside of it. 2) A lot of angsty teenagers sending texts to each other with terrible grammar. 3) Being hurled through multiple decades in a matter of minutes...not necessarily in sequential order... as a million drugged up Brits in neon clothing dance to a mixture of rave music and songs from iconic British artists. 4) TARDIS sound makes a cameo. Awesome. 5) Oh and somewhere in here two of those angsty teenagers fall in love and become Facebook official. Touching.

I was NOT kidding about the baby. 

David Beckham arrives at the stadium in the SLOWEST speedboat know to man, holding the torch.

Now it's time for the part of the Olympics where we all become aware of just how little geography we know...The Parade of Nations. On the brink of dying from boredom. This bit is always like going to your friend's graduation. You feel the need to politely sit through the other countries...but you're really only there to see the one, and when your country finally comes up and is shown for a whole 30 seconds, you realize just how pointless it was to wait through all the others.

Cut to Kazakhstan and focus in on Bob Costas referencing "Borat" like it's not insanely inappropriate and/or racist in any way.

Oh, but we're not done yet. No...we haven't seen the flying bicycle people yet! Because no Opening Ceremony is complete without luminous bird people circling a random band while they perform a poor rendition of a Beatles classic. For the love you this point I'm checking my house for traces of gas leaks for surely I must be hallucinating. 

Filler, Filler, Filler, Filler....Muhammad Ali....Filler, Filler, Filler, Filler, David Beckham...and FINALLY, the OLYMPIC FLAME plus more angsty teenagers??...Filler, Filler, Filler...JUST LIGHT THE STUPID THING ALREADY followed by a surprisingly impressive torch lighting...the angsty teenagers light a massive ring of metal petals, each one having been delivered by a representative of a competing nation, and they rise to form a huge flame. Actually impressed. 

Fireworks. Paul McCartney. Sadness because Paul McCartney is getting old and sadness because none of the American athletes seem to know the words to "Hey Jude"...and then it just ENDS. Just like that.

It was awful you guys. Just awful. Aside from the torch lighting,  and the cameos by J.K. Rowling and the TARDIS I was pretty much bored the entire time. I was bored, terrified, and confused all at the same time. I expected more from you, London. Ultimately, I expected more from Danny Boyle. How can a man create a great work like Slumdog Millionare then turn around and produce such a ridiculous spectacle? Have we come to the conclusion that Britain only cares about socialized healthcare and pop culture?

Perhaps, like Hugo, this ceremony was meant to be "artsy" and is therefore above my level of understanding. Perhaps the humor was just "too British" and I didn't understand what was meant to be funny. Whatever the reason...I will be saddened to know that the London games will forever be lodged in my memory as the time not even Harry Potter and Doctor Who could save the day. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Miracle that is America's been a year, almost to the day since my last blog post here. I've done a little restructuring to place my Australian adventure in it's own I can continue writing without having breaks in between my trip. On this day, the 4th in the month of July, I always feel a great need to reflect on just how blessed I feel to live in this country...and yes, even at this time, however uncertain and tumultuous it may be.

I will now issue a warning so as to avoid any offense being taken: the following blog post portrays a somewhat conservative and very pro-American point of view. If this does not appeal to you, feel free to spend your time somewhere else. :)

I've been reading a book the last week or so that is truly astonishing and so what this country needs to hear right now. It's written by an LDS author named Chris Stewart, called "7 Miracles that saved America". If you haven't picked up this book, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's an easy read and is utterly fascinating. The basic premise behind the book is to show just how lucky we are to even have a country to call our own. It highlights 7 different instances, all during crucial points in our history, when our country could have and perhaps should have fallen due to powerful enemies, a union divided, or would-be assassins.

The fact of the matter, as Stewart points out, is that we are a blessed land, saved by the grace of a loving God who has guided this nation to become what it is today. He says:
"...there is something tangibly extraordinary about the country in which we live. Many people hate us for this difference. Some rail against the influence we have had upon the world. Some are jealous. Too many of our own countrymen reject the idea that we are different, seeing us as no better, and maybe worse, than anywhere else. But we are demonstrably different."
He asks the question, "Is it possible that God considers the United States an exceptional place? A country with a mission?" I would answer that with an absolute and confident yes. The United States is not perfect. We have corruption in our government, violence in our streets, and some issues cause divisions amongst our citizens that makes me cringe...but there isn't a country on the face of the earth that I would rather live in. We are a nation with a history of innovators, and leaders. We rush to the aid of others in need. We overcome adversity, and we love our country.

One of my favorite places in D.C. is here, in the National
History Museum where they display the actual
flag that flew over Fort McHenry when
Frances Scott Key wrote the national anthem.

I believe we are the promised land. Somewhere along the way, many have forgotten just how much of a miracle this country is and how utterly blessed we are to live here. At critical times in our history, when the odds were stacked against us, it seems that God has always intervened on our behalf. He has a mission for us...we ARE a beacon to the world...even if we are prone to forget it from time to time. We have been preserved by God for a great purpose, and we must never forget it.

Independence Hall, where the constitution was written,
and our country defined its mission. 

I am so proud of the country I live in. I am endlessly grateful for the founders of this nations who sacrificed their lives, their liberty and their sacred honor 236 years ago. There will never be words adequate enough to describe the debt I feel toward them. I am so grateful for the brave men and women who have since risked or given their lives to protect the freedoms I enjoy today. They have ten times the courage and conviction I will ever have.

I'll leave you with this excerpt from the ever-neglected 3rd verse of the national anthem, wich in my opinion, is the best of them all:

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And finally one last quote, to inspire you on this, the anniversary of our independence. From Chris Stewart's book:
"This is God's chosen nation, His magnificent cause. And because this is true, we still have reason to hope."
Happy 4th of July everyone. Stay safe, enjoy some time with your family and take the day off to remember how lucky we are to be living in this beautiful country of ours.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

American and PROUD

So I realize that it is now actually the 5th day of July, but Ima wish you all (and by all I do mean my one follower Jack as my other follower apparently dumped me lol) a Happy 4th anyway. The reason I am so late in writing this blog is A: I worked today :/ and B: In a burst of patriotism, I decided to make a playlist full of "I love America Songs", and came to the shocking realization that I had a total of 5 patriotic songs on my iPod. This is unacceptable, so I've been scouring the internet for songs that would make me all proud inside. Turns out, most of them just make me cry, but it was fun and kind of cleansing nonetheless. I thought I would share one I came across that became an instant favorite...partly because of the fantastically timed video that accompanied it. It's called "The Fighting Side of Me" by Merle Haggard, and it's essentially a very sweet and innocent way of saying--America is the greatest country on Earth, and if you can't see that, then you are free to leave, as America is a FREE country. There are many people who would die for what we have, and it is because so many have died for our sake that we are able to enjoy it. I am so proud to be an American, and I love this day we have every year to take a minute and thank all those who make or have made this country what it is. Happy 4th to you all.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Good the Bad and the Cheap at Cinemark

As my 3 week expedition down under draws nearer and nearer, I'm finding it harder and harder to be at work. I know...nobody like a spoiled complainer. Trust me I know. However, tonight as I sat alone in box office while my best friend Raeane enjoyed her break, I couldn't help but contemplate the things I will NOT miss about Cinemark for the next 3 weeks, and seeing as no manager follows my blog, I feel at liberty to express the top 10:
  1. Upselling. Nobody enjoys this interaction between customer and employee except for the crazy Cinemark execs. The customers just get annoyed, and we feel stupid doing it...and sometimes guilty when we upsell to the already large--excuse me--calorically challenged customers. We should be downselling these individuals for their own good.
  2. Customers who seem to believe (while somewhat flattering) that I am all knowing and have the power to read their minds. This is an erroneous assumption, one that makes my life difficult in countless ways. I think people have just forgotten how to communicate all together (thank you internet).
  3. Smelling like popcorn ALL the time, and having dreams about it when I'm too lazy to shower before bed.
  4. The spotty mics in box office that require me to be both a mind and lip reader. "I'm sorry sir could you please repeat that?" "No...I'm sorry could you please repeat that into the mic?" "Sir, the mic is not up in the marquee nor in your date's cleavage..." "Sir, if you don't speak up, you will be getting Monte Carlo tickets--no refunds or exchanges allowed."
  5. Self-serve. For those of you I work with, these needs no explanation. I mean really whoever thought that this set up was a good idea has clearly not observed humans for very long. People just don't know how to handle the stress of filing up their own drink with so many flavors and cups to choose from. It never ceases to be messy, and is always a burden.

    This is self seve on any given day...bane of my existence.
  6. Customers who complain about prices. Do I feel bad that Cinemark is raping you? Yes, but don't complain to me at till when all the while you could have looked up and added up the total in your head, and the fact that you now owe $40,000 would not be such a shock. Also, I don't make the prices. I just deal with idiots like you. Sorry.
  7. In relation to #6 comes this lovely bit known as douchey customers. "Sir, I'm sorry that you are embarrassed that you couldn't read the clearly marked label that reads LARGE ICEE CUP, and I'm sure you probably had a bad day at work, and your girlfriend dumped you, but I do not get paid enough to deal with your crazy, so please just pay and leave. Also, I am downsizing you because you are fat and do not need that much soda. Enjoy your show!"
  8. People who talk on their phones while trying to make a purchase at the same time. It makes me feel unimportant, and lowers my self esteem.
  9. The commercials that play on an endless 15 minute loop, including, but not limited to, some of the most annoying songs ever devised by man that will stay in your head for the rest of eternity.
  10. My CRAZY general manager who did not, until about 7 months ago, officially know my name, who cares only about his audit score and nothing else, and who loves buying cheap crap that breaks which forces him to buy new crap only a few weeks later...
On a more positive note, I work with some pretty freaking awesome people who are the only reason I don't stick my head in the pizza oven each and every day...thanks to those of you who keep me alive and sane. You are all fabulous. One day we will all find new jobs that appreciate us and have NOTHING to do with popcorn.

Oh, I have sooo been there penguins.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day

10 Things I love about my dad:

1. He is the only other person I know who loves BYU football as much as I do...probably because he made me that way.
2. I can tell him anything.
3. He has a strong sense of integrity and exemplifies to me a worthy Preisthood holder.
4. He still plays with his food.
5. He's always taught me how to work hard and appreciate the things I have by making me work for them.
6. He's letting me go to Australia in 2 1/2 weeks.
7. Being a very funny man, his jokes are usually
pretty good, but even when they're not, he tells them with no hesitation or shame.

8. He counsels me on important decisions in my life, but is always supportive of what I choose.
9. He's one of the hardest working people I know with 2 jobs (sometimes 3 or 4 if you include callings), and he often cooks and does the laundry in the house.
10. He makes fun of me ALL the time, which I know means that he loves me.

Happy Father's Day Dad! And please forgive me for posting these pictures :P

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tony's 2011

So I realize that I haven't posted in a while, but I once again have the sudden urge to blog. Go figure. Anyway tonight was the Tony's and of course I glued myself to the TV for a good three hours as is the way with such events. A few thoughts that went through my head:

1: This was a MUCH better year on Broadway than the train wreck that was 2009. Last year's Tony's was torture.

2: LOVE Neil Patrick Harris hosting, as he is hilarious and always entertaining, however, I desperately miss Hugh Jackman.

3: Speaking of Hugh Jackman, WHY oh why did he marry that woman who is at least 20 years his senior, but is not blessed with the same ageless beauty as Helen Miren, and why did the camera man insist on panning over to them every three seconds to remind us of that fact??

4: The Book of Mormon Musical. I have tried SO hard to be cool about it and let it be all in good fun, but it is incredibly difficult. I haven't actually seen it, so I can't judge it on artistic merit or what have you, but it just bothers me that it's always okay to make fun of the Mormons, but all other religions are off limits. I guess I would just ask for a little sliver of respect. And this is all I've got to say about that.

5: Norbert Leo Butz is INCREDIBLE and totally deserved that Tony. I practically on my knees begging the powers at be to give him that award. And who doesn't love a talented person who is super humble and down to earth?

6: Sutton Foster is just cute. Not to mention incredibly talented--and WHEN did she start dating Vince from Will and Grace?? I kinda wanted him to win so that they could have twinner Tonys :)

7:That little girl from Lion King who died of Leukemia was BEAUTIFUL. Plain and simple.

8: Not quite sure what the Good People chick was wearing. She looked like she was a little lost or had forgotten that she was going to the TONY'S.

9: Did we need really to see Memphis perform AGAIN? Can't we just forget that they were sadly, and quite embarrassingly the best musical Broadway had offer last season? Also, on a side note...Ghost the musical? Really?

10: I am going out and buying the album to Scottsboro Boys. Just can't resist a bunch of hot black men who can sing.

And I think that's about it...I now get to go and register for my very first semester at BYU :/ Frightening but true. Hopefully I will post again before next year's Tony's. <3 Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011


So....remember that one time when I told you that Prison Break was the greatest thing ever?? If you took my advice and began watching it, I'm sorry to say that you are stuck. For those of you who have not because you have lives and better things to should perhaps reconsider my advice. Just finished the series and um...either don't watch it at all, or refrain from watching the last 10 minutes or so. That is all. Goodbye.