Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wish List Wednesday

Well, today is Wednesday, which means it's time for another wish list!

First, let's take a look back to last week's wish list.  The only thing that I can cross off is number two: the Steve Madden Misschif Silver Sequin Sandal.  I decided to go ahead and order them for myself because I have been looking for silver sandals that I like for the past month or so and couldn't pass up a deal for Steve Madden shoes on sale for $14.95.  The shoes arrived and unfortunately, this is how I felt about them.
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I promptly sent them back.  I guess I'm back on the hunt for stylish silver sandals.

I don't really have a wish list for this week, so I'm just going to wing it and see how it goes.  I've been drowning in homework lately.  I'm trying to finish everything before I head up to Missouri tomorrow!

1) First and foremost, I want to wish my wonderful boyfriend, Tom, a very, very happy twenty-first birthday!  I hope you have such a great day and enjoy celebrating tonight!  I wish I could be there tonight, but I absolutely cannot wait to see you tomorrow and celebrate this weekend!  I'll see you in just a little over twenty-four hours!!!  :]

2) Fossil Bling Stud Earrings
These aren't a huge desire of mine or anything, but I think they are cute and very versatile.  Because of the colors and style, these earrings can be worn dressed up or dressed down and with a large color palette.  I've been watching the price of these earring come down several times over the past month or two, but unless I can find them in one of my beloved Fossil stores, I don't think I will be getting them.  I just don't want to pay the cost of shipping on a $19.99 pair of earrings.
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3) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, which stars Julia Roberts, I knew I was going to see it when it comes out on August 13.  I have been asking around and have heard from several people that it's a worthwhile read.  I think I would really enjoy the book, but I want to read it before I go see the movie, mostly because usually, a book is a million times better than its movie counterpart.  I have been reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, but I have just not been able to get into it.  I think my mind is craving something lighter and more inspirational: a traditional "Summer read."
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4) Anthropologie Alhambra Bedding
Okay, can I just gush about how beautiful this bedding is?  It's gorgeous!  I came across it while helping my good friend, Lindsay, look for bedding for her new apartment.  Of course, Anthropologie's prices are way more than she wants to spend (and I don't blame her), but it's always fun to look at and want what you can't have.  I kind of feel like that's the purpose of "online shopping".  Anyway, I saw this bedding and just about died.  It's way over my price range and, at the moment, I don't need new bedding for my dorm room or my room at home.  I would love this for a future apartment, though!  I'll cross my fingers that they don't discontinue it and that it gets a hefty mark-down in the next year or so!
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5) Lastly, I want my homework to be done, so I can go up to Missouri and fully enjoy my time with Tom.  I have been working my butt off this week to finish everything before I leave, and truthfully, I'm making good headway.  I have some more things I need to do, but I am pretty confident that I will get everything done tonight and on the plane tomorrow, and get it done well.  I have to tackle packing after dinner tonight, but that's a whole other story.  I don't think we need to discuss my packing skills, or lack-there-of, any further.

More to come,
Sara

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Just think about it.

I'd like to take today to help spread the word about an event coming up that I hold near and dear to my heart.  The Second Annual Andrew Hoien Memorial Volleyball Tournament will be August 7 from 5 to 8pm in Lee's Summit, MO.  Andrew and I lived on the same floor our freshman year at Mizzou and, over the course of the year, our floor became extremely close.  While we were all home for Spring Break and spread out around the country, Andrew suddenly passed away from an Aoritc Dissection.  It was then discovered that Andrew had had Loeys-Dietz Syndrome.
Andrew was, and probably will remain, the funniest person I have ever known.  He always knew how to put a smile on your face, even if you were the target of his jokes.  He was a dedicated sports fan and always made fun of me for being a sorority girl and being so ignorant and uninformed about sports.  He is very, very missed and always in my thoughts.

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So, here is my plea to you.  Please think about how you can contribute to this wonderful cause.  All proceeds from the volleyball tournament will go to the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome (LDS) Foundation.  Unfortunately, I am unable to be there because I live in Texas, but I am planning on making a donation.  Think about donating a few hours of your Saturday afternoon or a few dollars of your hard-earned money to this event that Andrew's amazing family is organizing to honor their son.

Check out this flier for more information about Andrew, LDS, and the tournament.

I'll hit the highlights for you, just in case.
-Saturday, August 7, from 5 to 8pm at the Lea McKeighan Sand Courts in Lee's Summit, MO (I'm telling you about this now, so you have time to plan and get a team together!)
-6-on-6 tournament
-ALL participants must be at least 15 years old
-Entry fee is $60/team
-Registration deadline is August 4
-To sign up a team, check the flier for information
-To make a donation, leave a comment on this post and I will get you the information

Like I said, this event is very important to me, my friends, and of course, Andrew's family.  I wish more than anything that I could be there.  Please find it in your heart to participate somehow!

Thank you so much,
Sara

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bits of My Weekend, volume 2

Friday consisted of lunch and pedicures with one of my best friends, Chelsea.  It was so good to finally see her and spend the afternoon girl talking and catching up!  It had been a while since we had last seen each other.  I mean, I gave her her birthday present on our outing (her birthday is June 15), so you do the math.
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Saturday and Sunday were spent doing a ridiculous amount of Spanish homework.  That night, we had homemade tacos for dinner.  It was quite an EspaƱol-inspired weekend!  Oh, and ignore all of the food in the background of this picture.  My mom is in the process of reorganizing our kitchen pantry.
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Let me express how much I love getting mail, especially letters and cards!  I just think there is something so personal about receiving a note that someone took the time to write to me.  I have been thinking about writing letters to my friends and family, so be on the look out, and feel free to return the message!  I got this adorable note from my aunt in the mail on Saturday!  I am a lover of all things Coach, so of course, I went crazy over this Spring-inspired note card.  Look how adorable it is!  Getting this note was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend!  I'm just easily pleased, I guess.
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My mom was in cleaning mode this weekend, so she gave my sister the project of sorting through all of our VHS movies and deciding which ones she wanted to keep and which ones she wanted to get rid of.  This is a picture of my sister explaining the system she came up with to keep track of the movies we have.  Oh, the organizational mind of an 8 year old.
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Michelle, the founder of Bits of My Weekend, is not posting this week, so check back next week for my Bits and Bits from around the country!

Have a good week,
Sara

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I dare you.

My friends have always told me that I am "open" in terms of what I tell about myself to others.  In fact, a few of them have told me that I'm too open and am what would be considered an "over-sharer."  I have to admit that I am pretty open with my closest friends when it comes to my own life.  Don't get me wrong, I definitely can and do keep secrets I am told, but I guess I just don't have much to hide when it comes to myself.  There are people who know a lot more than others, but I am a firm believer that things should be talked out with people.  Healthy relationships can't exist with secrets.  :]

Although I have nothing to hide, I never leave the house without makeup on.  I know that the two are not really dealing with the same issue, but I've never thought of it like this before.  I don't want to sound like I walk outside with prom makeup on my face every day, but I definitely always have on at least foundation, blush, and mascara if I'm going somewhere.  Usually, I wear what I consider to be "full" makeup, which is all of that, plus eyeshadow and eyeliner.  Most women I know wear the same thing.  I don't think I'm over the top and I don't think that I hide behind my makeup.  I just wear it because I like how I look with it on and therefore, am more confident about myself.  I have nothing to hide, though.  Hmmm definitely makes you think a little, huh?

Anyways, this all came about from a link I found on another blog that I follow.  So, here it goes.  I take your dare from your dare, but it all started with her dare.
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This is me, sans makeup and hair style.  Double whammy!  Oh well, I'm working on Summer school Spanish homework on a Saturday night.  What a glamorous life I lead!

So, I dare you this: post your beautiful, makeup-less face on your own blog.  What are you hiding?

More to come,
Sara

P.S. If you decide to be super awesome and do this, post your link as a comment and keep this going!

Friday, July 23, 2010

We'll figure it out.

I have come to realize that I say these four words a lot.  I say it all the time when trying to make plans.  For example, tonight I was on the phone with Tom and we were trying to make some sort of abstract plan for when we are going to see each other between next weekend and Thanksgiving.  I know, it's a long time apart.  I don't want to think about it.  That's not the point of this story.  The point is that we didn't really decide anything and just left it with me saying "we'll figure it out" (with much less anger than it sounds like, I promise).  Granted, it was past midnight and he was falling asleep, but still.  I don't know where this habit has come from.

Yes, it is very true that I am one of the most indecisive people to ever walk the planet.  I have a hard time deciding about where I want to go for dinner, what I want to pack for a vacation (check here if you don't remember), and about a million other things, but I don't exactly feel like my indecisiveness constitutes a major character flaw.  In fact, I am often the planner when it comes to group outings with my friends and I'm often to go-to person when a friend needs advice.  It just seems easier to make decisions for other people than it does to make decisions for myself.  Maybe I'm just bossy.  In fact, sometimes, other people's indecisiveness annoys me.  How selfish am I?  Selfish and bossy...awesome.  Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

I've become very aware of my tendency to utter these four words and I seriously have no idea where it came from.  I'll initiate conversations with friends and be the first to say that we need to get together, but then when we start discussing schedules I always say that "we'll just figure it out".  I guess I just know that we will talk again soon and see each other eventually and that everything will work out, but maybe that's why I never get to see everyone and do everything I want to during Summer breaks.

I realize that not all situations can be solved right on the spot, such as the separation dilemma that Tom and I are trying to figure out, especially in the middle of the night and without having class and work schedules for the upcoming semester, but I can try to make an effort to finalize things as they come instead of putting them off for later.  What an epiphany, huh?

Among my wonderful character traits that I have explained thus far, I am a worrier.  I have been known to worry about things that I have no control over and harp on things that are already said and done and can't be changed.  I am making myself sound very appealing, I know.  This epiphany concerns me though.  Am I too passive?  Do I not know what I want?  Do I just not care?

Oy vey, I'm rambling now, so I'm going to go ahead and stop here.  Maybe I'll have some new insight tomorrow.

Until then,
Sara

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wish List Wednesday

I am supposed to be working on my homework because the deadline for my assignments is tonight at 11:55, but I'm making good headway, so I thought I would reward myself with a quick Wish List Wednesday!

First, let's take a look back at the last wish list I posted.  I haven't been able to check off #1 and don't anticipate anything coming up in the near future, so keep working on that, People!  Technically, I can't cross off #2 yet, but I'm going to a Rangers' game this coming Tuesday, so I say that counts.  I will be in Missouri at the end of next week, so I'm going to go ahead and check off #3 as well!  I am so excited!  I can actually, honestly, check off wish #4.  I did indeed finish reading Night by Elie Wiesel and have now started Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get very far into it thanks to all of my Summer school stuff that has been demanding my time.  #5 on my wish list has resolved itself because I decided I didn't want to take those classes after all.  What a surprise: me being indecisive.

Now for this week's wish list!

1) Vera Bradley Ribbon Board
I really don't have one particular color that I want.  I think they are all adorable, and you can very rarely go wrong with Vera Bradley!  At $51, they are a little pricey for me, but a few of the colors are currently on sale for $35-$38.25.  Maybe if they come down a little more I will go ahead and buy one.  It would be a great way to spruce up my dorm room!
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Sorry the picture is so small!  I had a hard time getting the picture from the website.

2) Steve Madden Misschif Silver Sequin Sandal
I have been looking ALL OVER for silver sandals that I actually like!  I have looked at all of my regular, and not-so-regular, stores and have had no luck.  Who would have ever thought that shoe shopping would be so difficult?  I just googled "silver sandals" in hopes of finding a decent picture to use in this post and, of course, a cute pair of sandals that are on sale popped up.  Oh, the internet never ceases to amaze me.  For just $14.95 I might have to go ahead and order a pair of these.
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3) Fossil Watches
I have an immense love for almost all Fossil products and their watches are definitely no exception.  I had my eye on this beauty for months.
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I bounced back and forth trying to decide if I should treat myself to it, but couldn't quite take the plunge. On my cruise to Alaska, however, I found myself facing a deal that I couldn't pass up.  Almost 20% off and no tax later, I am the proud owner of the Fossil Stella Watch!  I wear it almost everyday and am in love with it!
That being said, I have moved on to my new Fossil fixation.  I spotted the Gold Faux Python Watch while surfing the Fossil website, as I frequently do, and instantly fell in love with it.  I love the timeless, classic look combined with the flash of modernity.  I even tried it on a few days ago in the store.  Yes, I admit that I am one of those customers that tries something on a million times, but can never commit.
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4) Vera Bradley Large Cosmetic Bag
I'm not really a Vera Bradley junkee, I promise!  I just really like the look of this large cosmetic bag.  I tend to keep my cosmetics and bathroom goods in several different bags and cases and usually only combine them when I travel.  Unfortunately, the zipper on my bathroom carry-all broke during my last vacation, so I am definitely looking for a new one.  Usually, these cosmetic cases are $24, but some are on sale now for $15 and $18.
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Again, sorry about the picture.

5)  I really want to study abroad.  I really, really want to.  I just thought I would share.

Now that I have posted my weekly wishes as a reward to myself for getting a good chunk of my work done, I need to go finish my Political Science essay.  Wish me luck!

More to come,
Sara

Monday, July 19, 2010

There is something wrong with me.

I'm serious.

It's not physical.  It is entirely psychological.  I have a psychological problem.

That has to be the reason that I have not been able to make myself do my work for my two Summer courses.  No matter how much I try, I can't stay focused and, as a result, have gotten absolutely nothing done.  I have a test and paper due by midnight on Wednesday.  Problem?  I think yes.

I am the biggest procrastinator to ever walk the face of the Earth.  It doesn't matter what I use to procrastinate, although usually it's stalking people on Facebook or exploring the blogging world.  I have to say that I have become a bit of a blog junkee, but more about that another time (probably when there is something else that I really need to be doing, but just don't want to).

I blame Summer and being a college student.  The two were just not designed to work together.

Wish me luck,
Sara

Bits of My Weekend

I got this idea from this blog that I have been faithfully following for about a month now.  Although I do not know the author of this blog personally, I have been deeply touched by her and her family's story and I encourage all of you to check it out!

Basically, Bits of My Weekend will consist of the highlights of my weekend displayed in pictures, words, or a combination of the two.  I realize some weekends will have many more "bits" than others, but this seems like a fun tradition to start and keep up with on Sunday evenings/Monday mornings.

Yesterday was spent at various car dealerships in the area.  Walking around outside on black asphalt all day, in the Texas heat I might add, was quite an experience.  After visiting a few dealerships, test-driving a few cars, and listening to my dad do some vigorous wheeling and dealing, we have something to show for it!

Let me introduce to you my brand new 2010 Nissan Versa Hatchback 1.8S!!!
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I'm in love with the car, especially in the deep, espresso brown color that I got!
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Here's the kicker:  My brother, Ethan, got one too.  That was definitely a surprise!
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Travis and I had a quick Starbucks date during his break today, making him my first passenger!  He looks so excited, right?
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The idea of Bits of My Weekend originated here.  You should check out the creator's blog, Six in the City.  I really love this idea and am excited to keep up with it!  What a good weekend to kick this off!

Have a good week,
Sara

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"This was one of the places people told me to go, it was one of the big trips you should see: Alaska." - Jeff Goldblum

I'm embarrassed to say it has been a week and a half since I last posted, but for a week of that time I was on a ship sailing through the Inside Passage on the way to and from Alaska and British Columbia, so cut me some slack.  :]

Two Saturdays ago (July 3): I headed to DFW International Airport with my dad, stepmom, and brother to catch our bright and early flight to Seattle.  After nearly a week of worrying and stressing about what I needed to pack and if it would fit in my one suitcase and one carry-on duffel bag, I was happy to be be on my way.  If you have never had the pleasure of being around me when I have had to pack for something, you have been spared from a very unpleasant experience.  I hate packing.  I absolutely despise it.  It doesn't matter if I am packing for an overnight stay or, in this case. a nine-day vacation to a cold climate, I always have trouble and get extremely frustrated.  Being as non-decisive as humanly possible has always been a problem when I have to decide what I want to bring and I almost always require the help of some generous-soul to direct me.  I can't even count the number of times my dear friend Whitney has sat in my room and literally told me whether or not to put it in my suitcase as I hold up all of my possible outfits.  How amazing is she?  Seriously.  God only knows why I felt like I need to bring 15 shirts for a nine-day trip.  I am not exaggerating.  That's how many t-shirts ended up making the journey with me.  Don't forget about the sweatshirts, rain jacket, regular jacket, formal-wear for every evening, and all the other necessary items that had to come with me.  I don't know how it all fit into my regular-sized rolling suitcase.  It must have been a miracle.  Needless to say, after all of this pre-vacation stress, I was more than ready to go.
After we boarded the flight and sunk into our seats, breakfast was served and then I promptly passed out and slept the entire way to Seattle.  I was woken up about half an hour before landing by the pilot over the loudspeaker telling us to look out the windows on the left side of the plane.  The snowy peak of Mt. Rainier was coming through the clouds and was incredibly visible from the plane.  It was so beautiful!
After landing, we loaded ourselves up into a shuttle and headed downtown to the Marriott Renaissance hotel we were staying at.  After checking in and getting somewhat settled, we caught a cab and set off to make the most of our short time in Seattle.  Our first stop was the Space Needle in the Seattle Center area.  We bought our tickets, waited on line for about half an hour, and then made our way to the observation deck.  The view of Seattle from 605 feet high was incredible!  It was a beautiful, breezy day and the sky was so clear, which allowed for a fantastic view of all of downtown, the harbor, and out into the ocean.  I'm glad we visited the Space Needle.  It is definitely one of the major sites to see in Seattle.  When we were back on the ground, we headed next door to the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum.  This museum is kind of known as a mini rock and roll hall of fame and is, apparently, very popular with visitors.  The museum didn't take us long to get through, but we thoroughly enjoyed the Jimi Hendrix and The Supremes exhibits, as well as the permanent displays.  The Science Fiction Museum section was full of props and information about the entire Science Fiction culture, including costumes and robots used in famous movies, such as Star Wars and E.T.  Then we hopped in a cab and made our way down to the famous Pike Street Market.  This fish market is known for its amazing variety and volume of locally made treasures, such as jewelry, artwork, and foods.  Trust me when I say that pumpkin jelly is to die for.  The market had some of the biggest fish I had ever seen in my life.  Talk about King crab legs!  It also had the most beautiful fresh flowers I think I have ever seen.  I couldn't believe that huge bouquets of these fantastic flowers were only $10!  I have never bought flowers for anyone, but I hear that they can be quite expensive.  I really wanted to buy some, but we were getting on the cruise ship the next day and wouldn't have been able to keep them.  The market was so crowded that it was almost impossible to stop and look at anything because of the constant flow of people.  Another place that was crowded was a Starbucks right across the street from the market.  I didn't understand why the line was out the door and down the block.  I consider myself to be a Starbucks enthusiast, but I would not have the patience to wait that long for a white chocolate mocha.  It wasn't until I saw a little sign in the front of the store that I understood.  It was the original Starbucks!  I was probably more excited about this than I should have been.  Once I had recovered, we walked down to the water and found a little seafood restaurant to eat at.  We decided to walk back to our hotel after dinner, which seemed like a good idea at the time.  The hotel wasn't very far from where were were, but who knew that Seattle had the biggest hills known to man?  If you've ever been to San Francisco, the Seattle hills are just as massive and steep.  It was uphill the entire way to the hotel!  I am not kidding when I say that we did not see another person walking up the hill.  The only people we passed were walking down.  I know they were jealous of the amazing workout we were getting.

Sunday: We woke up, packed up, and headed down to Pier 91 to board our ship.  Since we got to the port around noon and the ship didn't leave until 4pm, we breezed through security without any trouble or delays.  After just a few minutes of waiting, we boarded our ship, the Sapphire Princess.  Once we had found our cabins and unpacked, it was time for lunch.  The Aisenberg family never misses a meal if they can help it, and a cruise is the perfect place to make sure that doesn't happen.  There is a never ending supply of food on cruise ships.  Whether it be in the dining room, specialty restaurants, 24-hour buffets, or room service, there is a place to make sure that passengers never go hungry.  It's a little disgusting if you think about it for too long.  We then explored the massive ship and found all of its nooks and crannies, such as the clubs, bars, spa, and pool areas, just to name a few.  There was a mandatory emergency drill and then it was time for dinner where we met our waiter for the week, Alfred.  Alfred was from the Philippines and had been working with the Princess cruise line for nearly 25 years!  Can you imagine being away from your family for that long?  Alfred has a 10-month contract, which basically means that he gets two months off every year to go home and see his family.  He spends the rest of the year on the ship.  I really enjoy seeing where all of the staff are from and hearing about their lives.  I find it incredibly interesting.  It seemed like the shortest contracts lasted six months and the longest lasted ten.  It also seemed like a large majority of the staff were from the Philippines.  There were a lot from Australia, Canada, and the U.K., as well.  After dinner, we went to see a comedian that was performing on the ship and then, thoroughly exhausted, went to bed.

Monday: This day we were at sea all day.  Despite my dad's urges to take advantage of the day and sleep in, he must have decided 9am was late enough and woke me up.  After a quick breakfast, my stepmom and I went to the spa for some pampering.  I chose to get a lime and ginger body scrub and mini massage.  It was 50 minutes of pure bliss!  The scrub left my skin feeling so soft and healthy and the entire session was so relaxing and wonderful.  What a perfect way to start my vacation!  Usually, we wouldn't have gone to the spa at all, mostly because of their ridiculously high prices (a pedicure, for example, was between $50 and $60), but my dad urged us to go and enjoy ourselves.  We spent the day hanging out and relaxing.  I even took an afternoon nap laying out, wearing my yoga pants and sweatshirt, on the deck.  That night was a formal evening, meaning that the dress code for the dining room was much dressier than the other nights.  I was surprised to see some people wearing gowns and tuxedos!  After dinner we went to a musical production put on by the ship called "Piano Man."

Tuesday: Tuesday was spent in the town of Ketchikan, Alaska.  We got off the ship around 10:30am and boarded a bus that would take us to our shore excursion site about half an hour away.  The tour guide pointed out the local sites and told us some interesting facts about the town.  We arrived at our excursion site in the middle of an old logging field.  We were going off-roading/sightseeing through the Alaska rainforest!  We went through a safety debriefing and then got suited up in these heavy, obnoxiously-colored rubber suits to protect us from dirt, mud, and the giant mosquitos that Alaska is infamous for.  My brother and I shared an ATV and took turns driving.  He drove first while I snapped some pictures of the beautiful scenery.  The group stopped along the way to learn about the area we were in, take pictures, and ask questions.  Then it was my turn to drive.  I was really nervous and almost chickened out.  Driving the ATV seemed really difficult to me and I was scared to have to go so fast in what seemed like such an unstable and uncontrollable environment.  My dad convinced me to try driving, so I did.  I loved it!  It was so much fun and believe or not, I drove at full speed and was more than able to keep up with the group.  I absolutely loved it and even took a few risks here and there!  Once we were back at the debriefing site we realized how dusty we were, despite wearing the suits, and gathered up our things and boarded the bus to go back to town.  We walked around downtown Ketchikan for a little while and then headed back to the ship.  I had a great day, but I was disappointed about one thing.  Alaska, especially Ketchikan, is known for its rich Native American heritage and, therefore, it's totem poles.  I wanted to see one so bad!  I had some sort of odd obsession with them and I could not believe that we didn't see any.  There was not one totem pole to be found!  I was so disappointed.  That night we showered and dressed for dinner and then enjoyed another show on the ship.
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Wednesday: The next morning I woke up, walked out onto my balcony, and was shocked to see huge, snowy mountains and icebergs right outside!  After not being able to see any land from the ship the night before, it was stunning to see such massive mountains so close by.  Let me tell you, it was absolutely beautiful!  We were sailing through the Tracey Arm Fjord on the way to Juneau, where we would dock that afternoon.  We sat on my parent's balcony and ate breakfast while we enjoyed the amazing scenery around us.  We sailed past a glacier and were able to see several glacial melt waterfalls scattered throughout the mountains.  The water was crystal blue and filled with thousands of icebergs.  I can't even begin to explain the sight.  It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever witnessed.
Later, we docked in Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska, and boarded a bus to get to our first stop of the day: the famous Mendenhall Glacier!  The glacier was so incredibly massive!  There was also an enormous glacial melt waterfall that we hiked to.  I am not the biggest nature-lover in the world, but I have to admit how amazing of a sight it is.  I am so glad I got to see it!  After we left the glacier we headed to a small pier to go whale watching.  I was super excited about this!  We set out on the two-level catamaran and enjoyed the view of the water and the mountains.  Our tour guide was very entertaining and incredibly knowledgeable of the area and its history.  She told us stories and information about the little islands that were scattered throughout the bay.  We were able to see a pair of Bald eagles, a group of Stellar sea lions and several Humpback whales!  I was excited to see the Humpbacks because they were living, breathing whales, but to be honest, they weren't very active and were a little bit boring to watch.  The real treat of the day was when we got the rare chance to see a pod of Orca whales!  It wasn't just a few of them, either.  There were probably at least eight whales in total!  It was amazing!  The tour guide told us that it was very rare to see Orcas in that area because they are usually just passing through, so we were very lucky!  I have always loved Orcas and think they are absolutely beautiful!  There were even a few babies in the pod!  Did you know that the proper name for these whales is a Killer whale?  Orca is their scientific name, so calling them that is like calling a human a homo sapien.  I had no idea, but I don't like calling them Killer whales because it sounds so mean, so I am going to keep calling them Orcas.  In addition to this lucky sighting, it was an absolutely gorgeous day.  Throughout the entire cruise, everyone kept saying how lucky we were to have such beautiful weather.  Apparently it is foggy and rains most of the time in the places we were going to, but it was always sunny and beautiful!  Who would have thought that it would be 65 degrees and sunny while visiting a glacier?
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Thursday:  Thursday was spent in Skagway, British Columbia, and Yukon territory.  We got off the ship very early in the morning and boarded a train that went from Skagway to a tiny town called Fraser right past the border of British Columbia.  While the train ride was beautiful, it was a little bit boring and I was ready for the next thing activity.  We got off the train in Fraser and then got on a bus to make our way back to Skagway.  I know that sounds like a completely pointless trip, but we stopped in various places on the way back, so it was interesting.  We stopped in the itty bitty tourist town of Carcross and were able to walk around a little bit.  The highlight of the stop was being able to play with sled dog puppies!  We left the town and made our way back across the border to Skagway.  On the way we saw a mama bear looking for food for her cubs right next to the road!

Friday: This day was spent at sea.  It was a pretty low-key day consisting of reading on the deck and partaking in some of the ship's activities.  My stepmom, dad, and I took a very special "behind the scenes" tour of the ship.  The tour wasn't advertised, but my dad and stepmom had done their research prior to the cruise and knew about it.  Only 12 people were allowed on the one-time-only tour and luckily, we got it!  The tour took us through crew-only areas such as the massive kitchen, the technical room, the dressing rooms of the entertainers, the mooring room, and ended on the bridge where the captain and crew control the ship from.  The tour went to several other exclusive places that passengers never get to see and I really enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, it was rainy and windy that day, which made the ship pretty rocky.  I have been on two cruises prior to this one and both times I had extreme sea-sickness.  I had been very lucky and had felt fine for the entire cruise.  Unfortunately, I felt a little queasy this day, but it wasn't anything a nap and a Sprite couldn't solve.  That night was the second formal night, so we all got dressed up and enjoyed a very nice dinner.  After dinner most nights we explored the several clubs and lounges on the ship, which all had live music, and went to a show.

Saturday:  Most of the day was spent at sea because we didn't get into our port in Victoria, British Columbia until about 7pm.  I slept in that morning and hung out around the ship for most of the day.  The big theatre on the ship where all of the productions were done also served as a movie theatre and was playing Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" that afternoon, so my stepmom and I took advantage of it.  We ate dinner at an earlier seating that night and then got off the ship and met the tour guide for our waterfront walking tour through the city.
The city of Victoria is beautiful and reminded me a little bit of Boston.  Although I have never been there, I picture London being somewhat similar to Victoria in terms of atmosphere and architecture.  I enjoyed hearing bits and pieces of all of the alleged ghost stories surrounding various buildings.  It seemed like the entire city was supposedly haunted!  We walked around, but we didn't have that long because we had to be back on the ship by 11pm.  The best part of Victoria was that I finally saw and got a picture of a totem pole!  I don't know why I saw them in Canada and not Alaska, but I didn't care!  I was just happy to see one.
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Sunday: Early Sunday morning we had breakfast, finished packing, and got off the ship for the last time back in Seattle.  We then jumped in a cab and headed right to the airport.  We were scheduled for a 1:45 flight to Dallas, but we were able to get on an earlier flight and got home much earlier than we originally would have.

All in all, it was an amazing trip!  I have to admit that I had my doubts going into it, but I am very happy that I got to experience this!  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting and slightly unique vacation.  Check out my vacation pictures on Facebook or on here if you haven't already!

Since I got home, I started my two Summer classes, which has been quite an ordeal and will most like warrant its own post sometime in the near future.  I have also seen some friends and have just been relaxing.

I realize this post is ridiculously long.  I apologize!  I just have some other post ideas in the works and I wanted to get this out of the way before I tackle those.

More to come,
Sara

Friday, July 2, 2010

Catching up

Well it's been a little while since I posted something with some true substance to it, so I thought I would take the time to catch up before I go on vacation for a week without my computer.  Hopefully I will have a lot to post about when I get back next Sunday, so I don't want to get behind.

Things on the school front have slowed down considerably since I attended orientation.  I am still trying to finalize my schedule.  I have until August 1 to pay for my classes, so I am trying to hold out until then in hopes that two classes I want to take will open up.  I am enrolled in the classes I need as of right now, but the classes I am waiting for are more interesting and one of them will count for both my major and minor.  Speaking of which, I have decided that I will get a minor in Women's Studies.  I am not 100% sure if I will like it, but I will be taking the first required class this Fall to see if it is something I want to pursue.  I am crossing my fingers that the two classes I want will open up, but if not, my Fall schedule is fine how it is.  I am very happy to say that I do not have any class on Fridays!  Right now, I am waiting to be assigned to the room I will be in for the next school year.  After much discussion with my parents, they still felt that an off-campus apartment was not safe, so I will be living in a dorm for my junior year.  I requested a private room in an upperclassmen building, so hopefully that is what I will be assigned to.  I am not super thrilled to be living in a dorm again, especially after living in the Phi Mu house for the past year, but as long as I have my own room I will be pretty content.  I should find out where I have been assigned in the next few weeks.  Once I have been assigned a room, I will be able to purchase a campus parking permit.

I took a campus tour about two weeks ago because I figured I should see the campus before I start classes.  I realize I did things in the wrong order by applying, begin accepted, and attending orientation all before touring the campus, but that's just the way things worked out.  While Mizzou is by far a much prettier campus, I feel like UNT is much more convenient in terms of the way things are located and by the resources and services they have available to students.  For example, all of the buildings that hold classes for a particular subject, such as Math, are all located together.  Because I do not have to take any more math classes (Hallelujah!), I can count on never having to go to that section of campus.  There is also a post office on campus.  A REAL post office, not a counter in the bookstore that only takes cash for payment.  Everyone should expect letters because I am very excited about this!  There is a highly recommended textbook renting system through the university bookstore.  I am looking forward to using this because students can rent most, if not all, of their textbooks for a small fee and not have to worry about selling them back for a miniscule reimbursement at the end of the semester.  No more being stuck with an "old" Econ. book that is really only one semester out-of-date.  I am very excited to announce that there is an Einstein Bros Bagels in the student union.  Yay for yummy bagels and super yummy and CHEAP coffee!  I am also oddly excited about the fact that there are Chase ATMs on campus, so I will no longer have to pay a $3 service fee when I only want to withdraw $20!

Of course, UNT is no Mizzou when it comes to the rec center.  We all know and appreciate how amazing the Mizzou rec is and it is definitely something I will miss.  UNT has a lot of the same amenities, but it's definitely not as pretty.  There is a good amount and variety of cardio equipment, which let's be honest, is pretty much the only equipment at the rec that I actually use.  Overall, that part seemed pretty comparable to Mizzou.  There is also a pretty extensive weights section, rock climbing center, and indoor track that were all similar to Mizzou's facilities.  Then I started to notice the differences.  There are 3 basketball/volleyball courts...total.  That was kind of crazy to me.  The pools, I am sorry to say, are kind of a joke.  The indoor pool has things that Mizzou has, such as a whirlpool, hot tub, and small lazy river, but in all honesty, it was very disappointing.  There is a very small lap pool behind this pool.  I always knew how awesome it was that Mizzou has an olympic-size lap pool, but I had no idea how lucky we really were.  I kept thinking that Tom probably wouldn't even want to coach if he had to do it in UNT's pool.  There is also no outdoor pool at the rec.  Apparently there is one on campus, but it sounded like it was more for a dorm, like how the pool at Mark Twain is.  This will definitely take some getting used to.  I have obviously been spoiled by Mizzou's award-winning Rec.  We didn't get to see the entire facility on the tour, so I am looking forward to doing some exploring on my own once school starts.  I do know that the passes to take studio classes are about the same price as Tiger-X passes at Mizzou, so I will definitely be purchasing one of those once the semester starts.  I'm praying that they offer Zumba.

Other than that, I have nothing else to report about school.  I start my online Poli. Sci. and Spanish 4 classes in about a week and a half.  I am actually looking forward to them starting.  I think I just want something to do to occupy my time.

I now want to take the time to write about the best weekend I have had all Summer.  This past Friday, I flew into STL and was greeted by my great friend Lindsay!  Lindsay and I talk, and complain to each other about how bored we are, almost every day, so we really didn't have too much catching up that we needed to do.  Nevertheless, it was SO great to see her!  She picked me up from the airport around 10:15 AM and we went right to the movie theatre near her house to see "Toy Story 3", which we had both been dying to see!  Apparently it's odd to people that we decided to see a movie during our time together rather than talk, but we had fun reliving our childhood by seeing one of our favorite movies.  Even though our tickets were expensive ($10.25 for a 3D matinee ticket) and we were stuffed from downing an $8 jumbo bucket of popcorn, we thoroughly enjoyed the movie!  If you haven't seen it yet, you really should go!  The original movie came out 15 years ago and we were the target audience!  Who feels old now?

After the movie, we went back to Lindsay's house to hang out and wait for Tom to pick me up.  Unfortunately, he had to stop at his mechanic and get his car checked out, so Lindsay was kind enough to drop me off somewhere closer to where Tom was.  After figuring out where to meet with the help of Lindsay's hilarious mom, we met Tom in an Olive Garden parking lot.  I have never been so happy to see someone in my life!  It had been a little more than a month since Tom dropped me off at the airport to go home after finals, so needless to say, we were very happy and ready to see each other!  Tom and I had a late lunch at Olive Garden and then went back to the mechanic to get his car and briefly visit with his dad.  Then we were on the road and heading to Columbia!  It was so nice to be together in person and just talk.  We usually text all day and talk every night, but there is something so special and wonderful about actually being together.

We got back to Columbia and spent the weekend enjoying each other's company and just doing low-key normal things like we would usually do, such as going to HuHot and the movies.  Did you really think that I would pass up going to HuHot when I was in CoMo?  I think not.  We saw "The A-Team" and spent some time playing on Tom's brand-spanking-new Wii.  I really enjoyed just being us this weekend.  It was perfect and I couldn't have enjoyed our time together more!  I can't wait to be back at the end of July for Tom's 21st birthday!  It seems so far away, but it is really only about a month.  This weekend really cemented my confidence that Tom and I will be able to keep our relationship strong, even with the distance.  If anything, it will make us stronger and make our time together even more special.

On Monday morning, Tom and I left CoMo around 8:30 and headed back to STL to meet Lindsay.  Tom headed back to Columbia to go to work and Lindsay and I drove around and killed time before we had lunch at the infamous El Nopal.  Most of the College Avenue kids recognize El Nopal as the Mexican restaurant that Lindsay's family is obsessed with.  I always tease Lindsay by saying that it can't be that good, especially compared to the authentic Tex-Mex that I am used to.  She was a little nervous to take me there because she didn't want me to bash her family's favorite eatery, but we went and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised!  Once I got over the shock of ordering "cheese dip" rather than queso, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, and Lindsay's company, of course!  After we had stuffed ourselves and couldn't move, we decided so walk around the mall to get out of the St. Louis heat and humidity.  I'm not sure what mall we went to, but it was massive!  Barnes and Noble was having a "buy two, get one free sale" on their classics collection, so I treated myself to three Jane Austen novels!  I am so excited to start reading them in the order that she wrote them!  I still need to buy Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, but I have some time before I get to those.  Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, which I have read at least three times before because it is my favorite book, are up first.  After we left the mall, Lindsay dropped me off at the airport.  It was so great to see her and catch up with her.  Hopefully, I will see her for her 21st birthday the next time I am in town as well!

After waiting for my flight for about 2 hours, I finally boarded the plane and was ready to take off and get home to Dallas.  As we were about to take off, the pilot announced that due to bad weather in Dallas, we were not clear to take off and that the situation would be re-evaluated in thirty minutes.  Half an hour later, it was announced that we had to wait another thirty minutes.  Because they were trying to conserve fuel, it was hot on the plane.  Those of you who know me know that I do not do well when I am hot.  Needless to say, I was very cranky and annoyed that we had to sit on the runway in the hot plane for another half an hour.  At the end of that wait, we were told that it would be another forty-five minutes before there was a possibility of taking off.  The flight attendants then passed out a cup of water to each passenger.  Gee thanks, American Airlines.  A cup of water is really satisfying to us coach passengers when we can see the first-class passengers getting pretzels, granola bars, and all the soda and alcohol they want while they wait.  There seemed to be a lot of young children and babies on the flight.  I felt so bad for the parents of these children.  It must be incredibly difficult to travel with small kids, and I'm sure being delayed and cooped up in a plane while being required to stay in your seat by the flight attendants doesn't make anything easier.  After forty-five minutes, the pilot came over the loud-speaker once again and said that we wouldn't be able to leave for at least another hour and that, because of air travel regulations stating that passengers can not sit on the runway for more than 3 hours, we would have to return to the gate and get off the plane.  As everyone started to gather their belongings to prepare to exit, the pilot came back and said that we had been cleared for take-off, but that we had to go right now! The flight attendants ran up and down the aisle telling us to put our stuff away and turn off all electronics right now because we had to get in the air as fast as possible.  I don't know what changed in the minute before we took off, but I'm sure the weather didn't clear that quickly.  I think that the airline didn't want to risk passengers trying to change their ticket to another flight, therefore costing the airline money, but who knows?  At this point, we were already supposed to have landed in Texas and I most likely would already have been home, but at least we were finally in the air and on our way.

This past week, I have spent a lot of my time getting ready for the vacation I am leaving for tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to Seattle with my family.  We will spend a day and a half there and then will board a cruise to Alaska and Canada on Sunday.  I am very excited, however packing has been an ordeal.  I know that isn't surprising, considering how much I love (sense the sarcasm) to pack.  I just don't understand how one is supposed to fit 8 to 9 days of Winter clothes, plus formal clothing for dinner every night, into one normal sized suitcase.  I am almost done packing, but I have to get a few last minute things together, such as a few sweatshirts and my bathroom/cosmetic items.  I haven't tried to close my suitcase yet, so we'll see how that goes.

I won't have my computer with me during the trip.  I will have my phone, but I know that I will have limited service on the ship and in a few of the ports, depending on where we are.  Go ahead and text/call me and I will get back to you just as soon as I am able to!  I am excited, but a little nervous.  I mean, I'm going to Alaska!  Expect an update when I get back!

I need to finish packing and catch up on The Bachelorette and an episode of Top Chef or two before I leave.

Have a good week,
Sara

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wish List Wednesday!

I am an avid reader of my good friend Brittany's blog, so I totally credit her with the idea to include the occasional Wish List Wednesday post on my own blog.  I realize that it will no longer be Wednesday in approximately 15 minutes, but it has been a while since I posted and I am feeling a little needy tonight, so I thought I would share some of my desires at the moment.

Although there is a growing list of things I want, I decided to be more experience-oriented tonight, rather than materialistic. :]

1)  I want to go to a wedding.  Really bad.  I am constantly seeing pictures of friends going to the weddings of their friends and families, especially now that it is prime wedding season, and I am always SO jealous!  I am 20 years old and have been to 3 weddings total, two of which were when my parents got remarried.  The other was the wedding of a family friend when I was 8 years old, so I don't really remember it that much.  One of my aunts got married about 7 or so years ago, but they had a private ceremony and only invited everyone to the reception.  I am the oldest of my siblings and cousins, so theoretically, the first wedding will be mine.  Can someone I know PLEASE get married?!  I promise I will get you a good gift and be the most enthusiastic guest/bridesmaid at your wedding!

2) I want to go to a Rangers game.  It's not a huge desire of mine or anything, but they are always fun and it's something I like to do with friends, especially during the summer.  I also want to go to a Cardinals game, mostly because I've never been to one and it means I would have to be in STL where so many of my dear friends are, so it's a win-win situation.

3) I want to be in Missouri.  I hope so much to be back at the end of July for Tom's birthday, but I wish I could visit for an extended amount of time and not have to leave so quickly.  I was up there this past weekend and I was the happiest I had been in a while.  I'll be posting about my weekend some time in the near future. :]

4) I want to finish reading The Night Trilogy by Elie Wiesel.  I just rediscovered my love for reading and have not been able to put the book down for the past two days.  It is such an amazing story of such a horrible time in history.  I can't wait to finish it and begin reading the wonderful works of Jane Austen.  I decided that I am going to read all six of Jane Austen's novels in the order that she wrote them, even though I have already read Pride and Prejudice several times.  It's my favorite book.

That's about all I can think of at the moment.  One minute to go until it's no longer Wednesday.  I need to start packing for my trip that I am leaving for on Saturday.  Those of you who know me know that packing is much easier said than done and that I am extremely stressed about it.

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I realize it is now technically Thursday, but I remembered one more thing I want.

5) I want two classes that are currently full at UNT to open so I can enroll in them for the upcoming semester.  If you are enrolled in ENGL 4150 and/or ENGL 3440 PLEASE drop them!  You would make me about a million times happier and make my life about a million times easier.  Let's try to make that happen.

More to come,
Sara
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