Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just before dinner

Rachel and I had some spare time just before dinner yesterday so we took a short stroll through Hyde Park--it's quite literally just across the street, seriously, which is quite fun. I have gone there a few mornings to go running, and each time I go I take a different path and always find something completely new--I swear it is changes each time I go, the paths remind me of the moving staircases in Harry Potter, because even though it seems like you're taking a familiar path you always wind up in a new place; I'm not sure I could go the same way twice even if I tried, but that's what makes it so interesting. Since we didn't have a ton of time we spent most of it near Round Pond (original name) and Albert Memorial, which is actually in Kensington Gardens I think (the two overlap). The memorial is of course is dedicated to Prince Albert, commissioned by Queen Victoria back in the 1800s.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

check that off the list

I'm not against having lists--I am very much a descendant of Captain-Make-A-List and live up to that with flying colors. However, there are good lists and bad ones; in my opinion, the sight-seeing lists that all the girls here seem to have are a good example of bad lists. The items on these lists vary from person to person, but it's not so much what's on the list but rather how they are treated--it's this mentality that you have to see something so that you can say you did. For example, the changing of the guard: I hear it's actually pretty cool, but with thousands of people and no visibility, blazing hot sun and no chance of actually seeing it? Doesn't seem that great to me in that case, but these girls still have to be present so that they can check it off their tourist "oh yeah I've been there" lists. Well, I could say I've been there without actually going there--it doesn't take much to say something. And just because every tourist sees it doesn't make it all that worthwhile--like the Statue of Liberty, has anyone actually gone up that thing and ENJOYED it? No one likes it, and yet that's the thing to do in New York--when you could go to somewhere like Ellis Island and get so much more out of your trip! And yet it's all about icons. Sheesh. Just sayin'.

So yesterday we were given this "London Exploration Exercise," which basically was to help us learn to navigate the Tube and the bus. We were all completely exhausted, so I'm afraid that my first outing in the city wasn't quite as enjoyable as it could have been, but I still have several weeks here. :) Our first assignment was to visit Buckingham Palace and see the changing of the guard at 11:30am. We got there about 10:30am, so we had to wait. I had absolutely no desire to wait, as I observed that the place was already packed with people and it has been unusually hot here, but the group was decided--they had to check this off their lists (as previously stated, I hate the whole checking things off a list mentality, but whatever). I'm too much like my dad, in a good way; It might be cool to watch the changing of the guard, but it's not one of my life ambitions and with the heat and that many people I saw absolutely no point in the endeavor. I stayed though, because I didn't really want to finish the assignment alone, and I'm trying to work on patience and bonding with my fellow London peers (you should be proud, haha). Of course we didn't actually SEE it--at all--but I think I might have gotten a couple pictures (think because I couldn't see--I had to just raise my camera above my head and hope that I got something). It was completely worthless, but fortunately it didn't last forever, and I know that when I'm settled in more and feeling better (aka more energy) I won't be such a grump about it.

Tomorrow I start class--wish me luck! :)

Look at those lovely fake smiles. ;)

Don't we all look so excited to see the changing of the guard?
Yes, so excited indeed.
And there it is, the moment we've all been waiting for--little red bugs through prison bars.
I finally got close enough to stick my arm through the bars so my camera could at least get a glimpse of the spectacle.
Thank goodness for digital AND optical zoom.

I couldn't really see them, but the band sounded pretty cool.
P.S. I want a big furry hat and a machine gun.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The London Centre

So this is the place I will be calling home for the next six weeks--yes, Rachel and I (while all the other girls were out shopping) took pictures of just about everything in this building, so you can kind of get a feel of my temporary home.

Here is the BYU London Centre!

There are chandeliers everywhere.

The stairs that I DO NOT have to climb every day--we are on the bottom floor, just through that door on the right, thank goodness!
The library.
The sitting room.
Yes, I took a picture of the toilet, only to show you that it really is a closet! and even the handle to flush is on the wrong side!
The showers
And my lovely room.
I sleep on the bottom bunk.
And my closet--can you imagine if I had more than a week's worth of clothes here?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Patience and Gratitude

There are two wonderful lessons I learned today: patience and gratitude. Well, let me rewind a bit: I'm here! I made it to London in one piece, which is pretty amazing if you know me--my luck is always causing fun surprises in life. ;) The flight wasn't the greatest--I was sandwiched between a guy with horrible breath catching flies and an old woman watching all the love scenes off the movie menu--but it sure beat missing my flight and getting lost like I did last time I traveled! (had some issues getting to Mexico) Plus, I can never argue with free movies, especially since I NEVER go to the actual movie theater. My favorite on the flight was HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON--if you haven't seen this one you must! Something about Toothless the dragon reminded me of my Little Guy back home (most especially his personality), so of course I shed a tear or two for that, but all in all I thought it was an adorable movie with a good message, and I even laughed out loud a few times.
But the most wonderful part of the past 24 hours is that I'm here and I'm whole! I am exhausted and hungry and have a headache, but I realized something to do that humbled me yet made me feel just wonderful. Four of us shared a taxi to the London Centre, which was about a 30 minute drive, so we got to talking; one of the girls happened to go to Provo High, and it turns out she is the little sister of a girl I went to high school with. In and of itself this isn't all that exciting, but my old high school peer happens to be a fellow Chiari-survivor, and there aren't many of us! She actually had her surgery back in high school, years before I had mine, and I was always a little jealous, thinking that she healed quicker and was better off for it, being in the prime of life and all. I was only a few years older when I underwent surgery, but from my extremely impatient perspective, it's been a LONG road to recovery, and there were several times I wondered if I would be sick for the rest of my life.

So as I chatted with this girl, she explained to me that her sister (Chiari patient), although her surgery was years ago, still suffers quite a bit even now, especially with migraines--she pretty much has to deal with them every day, and talking even a small vacation is difficult on her; if she were to take a flight to London like I just did, she would definitely have to dope up on sedatives and painkillers galore, but even then she may not make it--at least she would suffer for it for several days following. And there I was, surgery only a year ago (my hair still hasn't fully grown back), coming off of a long and unusually turbulent flight to London, just chilling without any problem at all. I did have a slight headache, but I soon discovered it is more from lack of food and sleep than anything, and even then it's not debilitating. I used to suffer from killer migraines every second of every day, like this girl still does, but now only a year later I have absolutely no trace of Chiari, minus a scar up the back of my head and neck, but even that is rapidly fading.

I can barely believe that it was just a year ago--I thought the torture would never end, and anyone who knows me well knows how impatient I was about the whole thing (and still am--patience isn't one of my better virtues, that's for sure). I thought I would never be the same, but I can honestly say that I have never been better! I didn't know if I would ever be able to fly, and here I am 13 flight hours later and I'm just fine. It easily could have gone another direction, like it did for this girl--but miraculously for me, I have been blessed beyond measure. It didn't come quickly or easily in any way, but here I am, ready to take on the world and without any health problems (knock on wood) to hold me back. It's moments like these that you realize just how blessed you are and just how wonderful life really is. Thank goodness for such a loving and patient Heavenly Father, an understanding and healing Savior, and for the two most stubborn gene pools on the planet (thanks Mom and Dad): it really does pay to be a Snouston... or a Ho. ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good Things to Come

Do you ever have those days where you just want to go to bed so that tomorrow will come and today will be over forever? Yeah, it happens--not every day is filled with sunshine and rainbows. But you know, there are only 24 hours in a day--a good day or a bad day--it can't last forever, and the beauty of life is that as bad as things may seem, the best is always yet to come.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hello Dolly!

I love dogs--who doesn't? Man's best friend, seriously--everyone needs one, usually more. ;) So, I may have given in and added a new baby to the family. Say hello Dolly!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Sean!

Happy Birthday Sean Patrick! 13 pretty much is the coolest number ever! :) We decided to make cupcakes this year, mixin' up the Mario theme just a bit.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Difference Between Cats and Dogs

So I was working on a Spanish paper today, in which I compared cats and dogs--real exciting, I know, but Spanish always is. :P Anyway, I came across this and quite enjoyed it:

The Difference Between Cats and Dogs

  1. Dogs come when you call them. Cats take a message and get back to you when they are good and ready.
  2. Dogs will give you unconditional love forever. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you"ve ever made since the day you were born.
  3. Dogs will let you give them a bath without taking out a contract on your life.
  4. Dogs will tilt their heads and listen whenever you talk. Cats will yawn and close their eyes.
  5. Dogs will bark to wake you up if the house is on fire. Cats will quietly sneak out the back door.
  6. Dogs will sit, lie down, and heel on command. Cats will smirk and walk away.
  7. Dogs will bring you your slippers or the evening newspaper. Cats might bring you a dead mouse.
  8. Dogs will greet you and lick your face when you come home from work. Cats will be mad that you went to work at all.
  9. Dogs will play Frisbee with you all afternoon. Cats will take a three hour nap.
  10. Dogs will sit on the car seat next to you. Cats have to have their own private box or they will not go at all.

I love my puppies--even when it's 100 degrees outside, they will ALWAYS come and cuddle. :)