i heart london.

June 20, 2016

London quickly tied with Sydney when it comes to places I would love to live outside of the United States. The first night we arrived, Max and I went off exploring and I'll forever remember walking along the Thames as Big Ben chimed 8 that night, just as we were heading back to our hotel. Seeing London in the movies and pictures, and imagining what it might be like honestly can't compare to the real thing. I love London, I love it so much, and although we only spent a few short days there, I hope with all my heart we will be back soon.

We tried to fit in as much as we could while we were there, but in order to keep this brief the highlights would have to include morning prayer at Westminster Abbey, Les Miserables at Queens Theater, and strolling through Hyde Park on a Sunday afternoon.

Once we left the city, we visited Stratford and Oxford (both incredible!), and stayed in a legit haunted hotel at Ettington Park. In fact, as soon as you arrive they hand you a little pamphlet detailing the hauntings and recent ghost sitings throughout the hotel. I was so excited about this part of the trip... right until we pulled up that evening. Just look at it. It screams haunted. I'm not one to get creeped out easily, but after exploring the grounds that night, and walking through the small church and cemetery in the back (nearly 1,000 years old) -- frankly, the best way I can describe the place is constantly feeling like you're being watched, even though the rational part of your brain knows you're not. I quickly learned that eerie just isn't my cup of tea, and I may/may not have had to sleep with the lights on.

And last but not least, the Upper-Slaughters in Cheltenham had to be the most beautiful place I've seen in all my life. There are no words I can say, or pictures that have been taken, that could do anything about this place justice. I imagine Cheltenham was created with heaven in mind; I never wanted to leave, and it was the best possible way to end our time in England.

maybe it's time to move to amsterdam

June 19, 2016

For years we've talked about visiting Europe as a family, and this last Christmas an envelope waiting underneath the Christmas tree announced that 2016 was finally going to be the year! Amsterdam was the first stop and the canals, bicycles (it's a miracle none of us were run over by one, they're everywhere), the windmills, the small villages - ALL OF IT was right out of a picture book.

I think I took this photo just right before we turned a corner and stumbled upon the infamous Red Light District. You could smell the weed from a mile away, and some of the shops, toys, and girls in the windows, not even Vegas can compare to.

Max illegally snapped this picture of me touching the real bookcase that hid the Frank family during WWII. I wish we had been allowed to take photos, because the whole experience was incredible. Walking into the actual room Anne Frank once shared in the "secret annex", and seeing her pictures of Greta Garbo and Ginger Rogers still taped on the wall, was moving beyond words.

A painting of a Holland windmill at the Rijksmusem, 
and then seeing the real thing the next day

We visited a few Dutch windmill villages, but my favorite of all was Zaanse Schans. Put this on your bucket list ASAP.

If you follow me on snapchat, you would have seen our stop at Muiderslot Castle. I've never laughed so hard in my life, it really felt like some sort of a Twilight Zone episode when we first walked in. Everything was weird and it was totally not worth the 20 euros, or the claustrophobia, but at the very least it's a good memory.

And finally, the little village of Edam. When Ken snapped this photo I immediately had her send it to me! Who knew Holland would be such a dream?

this is a true story.

June 12, 2016

People don't refer to me as Monica from Friends for no reason. For years I've always been more anxious than probably your average teenager or 20-something-year-old, and if you've got something to worry about - I'll usually worry about it for you.

With that being said, imagine anxious-me (alongside with Max) meeting with a financial aid advisor at the U to discuss tuition/loans (edit: unsubsidized loans)/cost of living/etc. over the next four years. About an hour later, as Max and I were sitting at a mall in downtown Salt Lake, and after a realization of the amount of debt we are taking on sunk in, I started to cry. I don't know what came over me, aside from that all too familiar feeling of anxiety, but I cried. In the middle of the food court. In the middle of the day. And the worst part is, I couldn't stop. Max eventually had to grab napkins at the Subway counter because the mascara was streaming --- which thankfully was right around the time I remembered something dear Oprah Winfrey once taught me: "Say thank you!"

It's a lesson I've learned, will continue to learn, and one that I hope to practice a lot in the months and years ahead: Say thank you! As Oprah would say, for the blessings you have, or even as Pinterest put it, to interrupt anxiety with gratitude. 

And maybe just like any other twenty-something year old, or any other wife whose husband is about to begin medical school, or really any other person alive on earth, there are times we'll all feel tremendously uncertain, or for a number of reasons feel inclined to doubt ourself or our circumstances instead of having faith. Whatever the case, when I try to remember the things that I have been blessed with, and I remind myself of the way things have always fallen into place, my faith as well as my gratitude increases. 

I'll jump off the soapbox. But maybe at the end of the day if I work really, really hard on all of this, people will finally refer to me as Rachel from Friends instead. That's the goal.

one can dream.

June 5, 2016

Though it might be a long time before we can actually buy a house, my daydream home is a hybrid between the following three:

Father of the Bride Home (which was just listed!!)

Kathleen Kelly's You've Got Mail Apartment:

And this Cottage in Bewitched:

Dream, dream, dream.

when you're born forty years too late

May 3, 2016

Seeing the Beach Boys in concert will be a highlight of the year, and maybe even a highlight of all the many snapshot memories I've gathered over the last 26 years. Their music reminds me that life is good, and can be simple, and really, really happy; listen to some of their less popular songs like Sloop John B or Don't Worry Baby - and then tell me otherwise. Good, simple, happy.

However, it didn't take long for us to realize once we arrived that we were by farrr the youngest ones in the crowd -- I told Max at first that I secretly wished I had my parents with me so I could pretend I was there with them (______ judging space). But then that music came on. And that harmony started. And I was in heaven.

And this is where the snapshot memory comes in: Right as they finished one of their last songs, it began POURING rain (the concert was held outside!) Most people started hurrying out of their chairs, and edging toward the exit, when they began singing the one and only Barbara Ann. And then every sixty-plus something in that audience started dancing right then and there despite the pouring rain. I honestly cried. Hormones most likely, but I cried as I listened to one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite bands, dancing in the rain along with everyone else that night. Like I said, it's just what happens when you're born forty years too late.

byu grad

April 26, 2016

Max graduated from BYU this April with a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience, and to say I'm so proud I burst at the seams would be a gross understatement. Max is tremendously talented and in my opinion, naturally genius, but that's not to say he hasn't worked incredibly hard to get where he is today.

(i took zero pictures during graduation, and this was the only one my sister sent, which unfortunately won't upload all the way, and our faces wash out ... carry on, the quality will have to suffice for now) 

Over the course of commencement, convocation and all the other graduation activities, I felt a twinge of sadness deep down knowing that our chapters at BYU are officially ending. Max was my tie to that school, a reason to still visit campus and consider myself college-student-ish in a way. Luckily at a University of Utah banquet a few weeks ago, we met with other students and spouses who will also begin Medical School this fall, and I found myself a kindred spirit! When I learned he went to BYU for his undergrad, he whispered "I still bleed blue."Amen and amennnn brother. Always.

birds of a feather flock together....even after 12 years

April 18, 2016

"In friendship…we think we have chosen our peer. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. "
-C.S. Lewis

(even when your kindredest spirit takes an "isidewith" election quiz and sides 97% Bernie Sanders... where did I go wrong sara?!)

our first picnic this year

April 10, 2016

The first Sunday it was warm enough to picnic, we packed our sandwiches and headed to the park for the afternoon. I'm sorry to report that my ee cummings book has mysteriously disappeared, but I guess that's why we have smart phones and the internet, and excerpts like these:

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”  
- Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast 

“If people did not love one another, I really don't see what use there would be in having any spring.” 
- Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” 
- Mark Twain

happy birthday caitlyn!

March 21, 2016

We celebrated my dad's birthday with just enough sugar and helium to last us until next year. It was so much fun celebrating with the entire family together, and all he asked for on his special day was to play a round of scattergories. He loves game nights that do not involve the game Trouble (because it's the only game my mom will ever play!)

There aren't a lot of people I would consider "my very best friends," but my dad is one of them. I could talk to him about anything in this world, and I hope he knows how much I love and look up to him. If you know him, you would agree with me - he's going STRAIGHT UP TO HEAVEN when he dies because he's the best person you will ever meet/know. I might not make it up there with him, since I called him Caitlyn in this post (and he will understand why...) but some things just have to be done.

Love you x infinity dad!

"to not only love each other more, but to love each other better"

March 9, 2016

I had originally drafted this post a few months ago, but I wanted to post it after "International Women's Day" (which I honestly thought was like a European Mother's Day or something).  

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, 
but backwards and in high heels."

If you're a woman, you'll understand that there is nothing quite like getting together with a group of really good friends and spending an entire night talking. At my bridal shower I remember being told that the best advice for marriage was "to keep your girlfriends." I thought that advice was perhaps a little bit sarcastic and funny at the time, but after my own experience, I can't tell you how honest and real it has become for me. I got together with a couple of friends a few weeks ago and although the night consisted of eating muddy buddies and sitting on a living room floor for three hours, I went to bed telling Max just how amazing these women are, and how good I feel about myself around them. And as much as I love my husband, there are just some things that women need - and that's each other.

A few days later, I met with a different group of women for a church meeting. We are all at various stages in life, different ages and personalities, different jobs, different backgrounds and interests, but we get together once a month to meet and discuss our roles and responsibilities regarding our church callings. And I've always enjoyed our meetings, but this time after we finished discussing what was on the agenda, we just started to talk to each other. And we talked and we talked and we talked. Everything from marriage and kids, to Bruce Caitlyn Jenner and books we'd recommend... and I think at least four or five times I heard someone say, "It's so nice to be able to open up..." -- by the end of the night I felt like these women had been three of my lifelong friends. Friends who could just talk and share and be there for one another, even if we didn't really know each other all that well the day before. I went to bed that night again, telling Max just how much relationships like these mean to me.

Frankly, I've always felt like "guys were easier to be friends with," but the older I've grown, the more I've realized just how much women need each other. We need to be each other's teammates and cheerleaders and friends. I don't understand and I can't tell you why it seems easier to pit women against women, or why women tend to compete with one another, but I like the charge Bonnie Oscarson once gave: "I invite you [women] to not only love each other more, but to love each other better."

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