Monday, October 26, 2015

Happy Birthday, Peter!

Last weekend Caroline and the kiddos came down to Texas! I've been so lucky this year, I've seen Caroline and the kids like 3 times! 

We took the kids to the park and I jumped on the opportunity to experiment with taking some action shots.

Peter is the world's best baby model. I think this is a trend we may see among more kids of this generation. They recognize when they are being photographed and they automatically know what to do!

This picture right here has Caroline written all over it. Peter definitely got all his mom's genes.

We're so lucky we got to celebrate with Peter for his birthday! We had the entire May clan over for burgers, hotdogs, and birthday cake. It was a lot of people. 

Such pretty women who I admire very much. Nyssa used to be my dance teacher. She is one of the most patient women and I know, and I miss our lessons very much. I have known Chandler for years but I have always known her as "Chandler, Caroline's friend." This summer Chandler and I were in the same ward, and I felt like I got to know her just a little bit better. She always gave the BEST testimonies and made the most insightful comments during Sunday school. I definitely miss being in her ward!

Update on school:

It's going well. I'm taking 3 Parks and Rec classes, and 1 Kinesiology class (it's ultimate frisbee, so it doesn't even feel like school at all). I'm taking one Parks and Rec class in particular that I just LOVE. It's an international and cultural diversity class, and it is so fascinating. It's like the perfect mix between P&R and Anthropology (my minor), so it's right up my alley.

I got a job working at Great Clips, and it's also working out really well. I love being able to get to know some students outside of my department. I didn't realize just how big our engineering programs were until my third day of work and I had only cut engineer's hair.

Some weekends I am also working as a counselor at a scout ranch about 30 minutes south of College Station. It's a cub scout camp, so I'm getting a little more experience interacting with younger kids. So far I'm really enjoying it. I mostly work canoes, and we've gotten several packs for whom this is the first time they've gone canoeing. Being able to take them out on the water and witness the excitement that comes along with their first experiences with outdoor activities like this, it reminds me of the whole reason I am working so hard in school!

This is the first semester that I experienced feeling really sad and frightened at the idea of leaving school. I love school! I love THIS school! I love my friends, and I really enjoy being a student. Grad school sounds more and more tempting each passing week... but then again, so does money. It's a toss up.

Until next time, then :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Oxford and Bath

Oxfordshire- quite possibly my favorite region of England that we visited. It was picturesque, and encapsulates all that I imagine when I read Jane Austen.

While driving to Oxford we ate lunch in Coventry, a rather dismal side of England that people don't often see. From what we could tell, there was very little historic significance left in Coventry. Much of the city was destroyed during the air raids of WWII. This cathedral that we visited, however, made the pit stop totally worth it.

It is unlike any of the other cathedrals that we visited. No ceiling, and only bits and pieces of stained glass were still attached. Everything was blackened and ugly. My favorite part was the alter with the words "Father Forgive". 

Oxford was old and beautiful like Cambridge, but it was much more spread out. There were more trees and gardens. We didn't go on any walking tours while we were in Oxford, instead we rented bicycles and rode around the city. It was Dad's idea and it was a marvelous one. We were able to see so much more of the city and a good portion of the river/canal. 

While both Cambridge and Oxford are incredibly prestigious, Oxford felt even more so. I can't quite describe it, that is just the vibe I got. Oxford is a few years older than Cambridge, I believe...

My parents and I recently began watching a new Masterpiece show called "Endeavor". It's a crime/mystery show that takes place in Oxford, and it is SO well done. We love it! It was so fun to bike around the city and be reminded of the TV show. 

The bike ride along the river was spectacular. The weather was perfect, all the boats were super neat, it was just an overall amazing bike ride.

After our adventures in Oxford we visited the Cotswolds. 

Oh.... my.... goodness... The sheep, the green rolling hills, the quaint stone cottages.... I LOVE ENGLAND. 

The pictures do NOT do it justice. I've never driven through scenery that is so delightful that I immediately wanted to give up everything I was currently doing and working towards and instead move to England and become a sheep farmer. It would be a great life. I'd go to the pub every night and eat bangers and mash, and sticky toffee pudding and live in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world.

We visited a Roman bath which had an archaeological dig underway, so that was fascinating. It's amazing how much the Romans valued their baths. Here's a society that is brand new to England, you'd think their priority would be building homes and getting food, but what's one of the first things they do? Build a giant hot tub. But then again, England does get very cold. I enjoy a hot bath in the winter, as well.

For dinner we ate the Mill Inn, a little pub that Dad and members of his Air Force squadron ate at when they visited England. It was just lovely, of course. I think I had a pie that time around. And more sticky toffee, of course.

The next day, our last day, we went to Bath. Bath was very interesting. For some reason I was always under the impression that Bath was near the ocean. But it's not, it's definitely up in the hills. We went on a bus tour of Bath which took us throughout the city and into the surrounding hills. Bath is very beautiful and very uniform. Similar white stone and tall columns everywhere. Bath Abbey has the fan ceiling that I love so much, very similar to the ceiling at Kings College in Cambridge. The most beautiful feature of the abbey is all the natural lighting. Most of the cathedrals and large churches we visited were very dim inside, but Bath Abbey was bright and cheery.

I think my favorite part about visiting Bath was knowing that Jane Austen once lived there and walked those streets. I learned that she actually resented Bath and the pompous atmosphere. I wonder what she would think of it today?

I loved every bit of England. This was not my first visit to an old country, yet I felt more in awe at the depth of this country's history. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the people's conversations, and not just because they had a cool accent. I loved trying to get a grasp of their customs and culture. That is an aspect of my previous foreign travels that I do not remember very well. It is much harder to understand culture when you don't speak the language! One unexpected insight I gained from this trip was a new perspective on war and sacrifice. I have renewed admiration for the strength and courage exhibited by the people that endured all those air raids, and I consider myself very blessed to have never been in direct contact with war and fighting.

This trip gave me a travel bug and it's pretty severe. I spent 10 days traveling within a relatively small radius, yet I was exposed to so much new information that I left feeling like I barely scratched the surface. This world is absolutely swarming with people and places and cultures and ideas, AND I WANT TO SEE IT ALL. In fact, I recently brought home a few travel books from the library. When I am feeling stressed, it helps to spend a couple minutes looking through those travel books. Ideas of a graduation trip to Ireland, Scotland and Norway are beginning to form ;)

Well that took forever! But all my travel adventures are finally posted, and I can get back to documenting my boring college life!