Thursday, June 30, 2011

Little girls... they turn into women someday

And what they hear when they're young goes a long way. I just read this, and I like it.

I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with telling little girls they're pretty--and that's not the author's point. I certainly like dressing up, taking care of my appearance and whatnot. Although I didn't enjoy so much being paraded around with a huge fat bow over top of my polygamist hairdo... But it doesn't hurt to make a point of talking about something else than girls' appearance for a change. I like it.

Plus I've always loved books anyway :)

Le sud

No offense to Paris or anything, but....
Life is definitely better down in the sunny south :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My grandma

I'm really glad I got to spend some time with my grandmother last time I was in Bordeaux. My grandmother has not been in fantastic health most of my life, but she he's been really well lately, getting around the house just fine, eating plenty and even playing the piano again! One afternoon last month I showed her old family pictures that I had scanned from my uncle's photo album and every once in a while she would tell me a story about the people in the photo. At one point I showed her a picture of her and my father when he was barely a year old. They were at the beach and she was wearing basically a bikini. She said "oh no, that can't be me!" When I asked  her why she replied "I would never wear something that scandalous!" :)

I also showed her some photos from my wedding as well as our wedding video. She enjoyed those very much, but her favorite part was the video of my dad singing at the reception. She loved it and had me replay it several times!

And it's a good thing that I got to spend that much time with her last month, because it turns out she fractured her leg this week. No big fall or anything, but her leg had been hurting and after two separate visits to the hospital (during the first one they found absolutely nothing!) they discovered a double fracture in her leg, so now she has a cast up to her thigh, and is stuck in bed for the next six weeks. Which also means our family temple trip to Madrid is cancelled. Andrew and I are still going, since our departure plane goes through Madrid, but my aunts need to care for her and they were also my sister and cousin's ride.

I guess that's just life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm still alive

I haven't been posting much, but just so you know I'm still around. Life is good, kind of crazy, and I'm glad this week's heatwave has passed.

And tomorrow, I am heading out to Bordeaux!

Also, I really love The Office. And I miss Seriously So Blessed!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Père Lachaise cemetery

I love weekends in Paris. To be completely honest; I really, really don't like working from home on utterly boring translations, so during the week it's not much fun until Andrew comes home. But weekends... ah! I love it! So last Saturday we made a trip to the Père Lachaise Cemetery. It's a very old very big cemetery in Paris and there just so happen to be a lot of famous people buried there. It's also a beautiful cemetery. Lovely walkways and tree-covered alleys, and a WHOLE lot of history. The picture below will give you a little idea of what it was like.

Really old, crumbld tombstones you can't even read anymore right alongside newer models and all sorts of different architectural styles jumbled together. People can still be buried there; some tombs were brand new.

Edith Piaf here, in her family plot. (Look closely on the side) Incidentally, Piaf is not her real name. It means "bird" or sparrow, it's a somewhat derogatory term for a scrawny bird.

Oscar Wilde. People love to kiss his tomb, but I wasn't about to because who knows where all those lips have been...


And we were lucky because the weather was perfect.

Hey Chopin!

There were also a bunch of french communist party tombs and memorials in one corner which was pretty funny, and lots of royalty and semi-nobility (you can tell just from the pompous names...).

There were also a lot of tombs for Jews killed in death camps and deported during WWII as well as memorials to people who participated in the Resistance. So many stories were told through some simple words of remembrance, statues, portraits, poems... glimpses of history everywhere you walked.

Shoah memorial

I posted the next photo as my Facebook profile after we went and a girl commented that it was awkward to be "smiling looking all happy next to a grave". I disagree completely. 

Of course, reverence is important and being respectful of those who may be grieving is a given. But I've always thought cemeteries were places of life as well. People live again a little when we remember them and visit them, and we learn about people by seeing how they were buried and what the people who cared for them wanted them to be remembered by. And I also don't think people that have died want us moping around and wearing black for months--pretty sure they moved on a long time ago! So just for your information, when I die I want people to have fun on my grave. (Incidentally, this reminds me of a French song called "J'veux Qu'on Baise Sur Ma Tombe" which I won't translate for you because I'm a lady...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Flea market

I'm so glad I found this. (Yes, I know, it's pathetic that I had to find this on an American's blog, but keep in mind Paris is not my hometown!)

And also... be jealous: the marché saint pierre, which sells lots and lots of crazy cool fabric. I'm thinking a certain Brian Youngblut might be very jealous... :)

Anyway, that's what I have planned for soonish.

In the meantime, I have an interview after tomorrow with a really cool person for the MWP: she's originally from Lebanon but is now living in France and she's an artist. She's actually done some work for an LDS temple and other cool stuff like that, so I'm excited to hear about her life and her work.

Also, tonight is the Fête de la musique and I'm so excited!!

Friday, June 17, 2011


My poor bank account is hurting right now... it's just like the good ol' days of singledom!

But seriously: nobody can say that we don't love my family. We just got our last tickets to Bordeaux: two more trips and it's over! isn't that sad? We're basically halfway through.

Also, I haven't worn my engagement ring in a month. We live in a... not so wealthy neighborhood and especially when I'm taking trains and metros all over the place I don't really feel like being conspicuous. If I did get mugged, I would feel so bad! (Don't worry parents, we're safe and sound and nobody's bothered us yet--we're good at keeping a hawk's eye on our bag/purse and blending in) But I guess I kind of miss my engagement ring, although I feel a little bit like a hippie or something with my simple wedding band. Ha.

Also I just ran out to bring Andrew something (well ran out is an understatement, since it's a 2 hour round trip...) and I must admit I'm terribly jealous. He goes to work everyday in the most classy area of Paris and today he's escorting U.S. Senators around.

Gosh, I have nothing all that exciting to say. So in no particular order, here are a few thoughts running through my head:

It's rainy today. Really rainy. I like it, but it's a lot gloomier in this old house than it is on rue de Rivoli...

Crying babies and meowing cats sound remarkably alike.

I really, really need a new haircut and highlights, or at least just highlights. It's getting bad.

I like my nail color. I had an epiphany the other day: my nails grow better and are healthier when they are protected with nail polish. You'd think I'd have figured it out earlier.

Andrew and I might go on a mini boat tour of the Seine river. That should be fun.

Also, it's for sure this time: we're going here. I'm excited!

I think I might want to let my hair grow for a while.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Taking fashion advice from a teenager

I really enjoy photography. A few years ago I somehow managed to get myself a semi fancy camera (it's sort of a hybrid between an SLR and a point and shoot) and I like it very much, although I still haven't gotten any fancy accessories for it. It'll have to wait. But it's a good in-between option for someone like me who doesn't really know that much about photography.

Don't be fooled though: I plan on knowing a whole lot more someday. In the not-too-distant future, I'll take real classes and learn all the sneaky tricks of the trade, and then I won't be just another housewife with a "photography business on the side." Not sure what I'm talking about? Just ask any professional photographer and prepare yourself to listen to them rant for hours... Although, no offense, but I think deep down what they're really scared about is that fancy cameras makes many mediocre photographers obsolete... but that's another discussion for another day. (Please note that I said mediocre. A good photographer is not replaceable by new technology--I realize it's an art form, and I don't really believe that computers can make art without humans. The guy at Walmart that takes your portrait against a velour backdrop however... yeah, he's out.)

Anyway, now you know my secret dream. Which also means that I like photographer websites a lot, and I just discovered this one:

Really, all of this was to say that I loved this photo (I'm assuming these are senior pics)

And I really like this girl's outfit :) The photographer also did a bat mitzvah shoot which I found remarkable. So there's my latest photographer discovery.

Anyway, I need more photography sites to stalk! Bring 'em on people!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The "Mormon Moment"

You may or may not have been following the lame-stream media's (ha ha) coverage of Mormons lately. It's been interesting. I enjoyed some of the articles, others not so much. Now that Mitt is official, Mormonism is the big "could destroy his chances" issue. Not, say, healthcare or the economy...

Here are a few of the articles I've read--let me know if I'm missing any:

And then there's this one which really irritated me: A Vote for Romney Is a Vote for the LDS Church

It drew many responses, from all sorts of different people, and several of them were not LDS I'd point out:
Evangelicals can (and should) support Mitt Romney
LDS Spokesman's response: Evangelicals, Mormons and the beliefs of the president
Mormons & Romney Presidency “Dangerous” According to Evangelical Author: A Conversation with Warren Smith

And there's also this interview with the original author, which is very interesting too (Incidentally, he keeps talking about how "dangerous" Mormon beliefs are, but he doesn't give a single reason why...). This particular article really irritated me for one reason: the author says Mormons aren't Christians. And he clarifies that point in his follow-up interview above, but I still disagree with him. I am fully aware of the fact that the LDS church does not have all of the same beliefs as other Christian churches (Much like other Christian churches differ in their beliefs too...). For example, we do not understand God or the Trinity in the same way as established by the Nicene creed. Specifically, we envision God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost as being three separate and distinct beings acting for one purpose, that God is the father of all our souls and that Jesus Christ is His Son, which logically makes him our brother. We also believe that God has a physical body, although an exalted one and perfect one, and that Jesus Christ also has a physical, resurrected body. "Normal" Christians believe that all three are three beings acting as one but that they are spirits and do not have distinct bodies.

That's all well and good, but... first of all, if we want to talk about true and pure Christianity, I'd like to point out that the Nicene creed not only happened several hundred years after Christ's life, but it was also revised several times. And evangelicals, for example, criticize our principle of continued revelation (the idea that we still receive revelation from God today, both personally and through His living prophet) but if they think "mainstream" Christianity hasn't changed in 2000 years... eh, I won't go down that road.

Perhaps we do not define Christianity in the same way... Because I thought being a Christian meant striving to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Things like Compassion, SacrificeCharity, and a pursuit of the divine... I thought that my true test as a Christian is not what I am called but what I do. And above all, I imagine that you can call a Christian someone who understands that salvation is only possible because of God's plan for us, that salvation comes through Jesus Christ.

A person who believes that must be a disciple of Christ. Can we not agree on that?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

There are raspberries growing in our backyard

And they are delicious.

In fact, we just went berry-picking and I rather enjoy. Andrew now wants to have a raspberry bush in our yard someday, and that's fine by me.

A cat's life

It is just so tough...

The way you start your day makes a big difference

And today was pretty good.

I love Aaron Copland--I mean come on, classical music by the name of "Hoedown" is already pretty cool in and of itself. And of course I love his music. It's so... American :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Blegh blegh blegh blegh blegh.

I shouldn't be complaining, but I am. So there. The fact that it's been gloomy weather and that I've been stuck inside translating this stupid computer manual for two days in a row now probably doesn't help either.

Right now, I'm mainly annoyed at the total lack of fairness in life, and I really don't care to hear that "life's not fair." This may or may not have something to do with recent announcements about the BDC, for example. I mean REALLY?


Yes, in fact, I would like to have my cake and eat it too.

Midnight in Paris

I just wanted to say before I forget: Midnight in Paris is a fantastic movie. Seriously. You will laugh, you will have a little tear, you will be enchanted and you will fall in love.

Just go see it, I promise it's worth it.

And the best part is: no (on-screen) scandalousness or language. I'm not even sure why it's PG-13. Woohoo! Also, if you're saying to yourself "eh? Owen Wilson? Really?" No, really. You'll like him.

Also, I'm feeling in a chick flick mood and "Something borrowed" looks kind of fun.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You can control how you react... but not how others do.

I just read an interesting quote given in a specific context, but it works for pretty much anything. We spend a lot of time trying to please people, but sometimes we can't make everybody happy and we just need to be true to what we understand and feel to be right. So here's the quote:

"I’m not taking responsibility for their pain anymore [...]  Let me explain. I can’t control anyone else’s emotional response to my actions. I can do my best to be a responsible human being by not running around inflicting pain and damage, but I can also accept that I can’t please everyone all the time, and this includes the people closest to me." (source)

It's a very good point: we worry too much about how what we say will be received, and it is important to not try to walk all over people, but you also need to not drown yourself out for fear of offending. And sometimes, there are people with whom it's just not worth talking about certain things because it just gets all twisted up and takes you nowhere. 

(Just to make things clear: don't read too much into the theme of the post I pulled the quote from. I noticed this specific quote because I felt it applied to many things in general)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday excitement

Well today was.... entertaining to say the least. We really love our ward and we've felt very welcome here. The members are fantastic and lots of fun and I love being in this ward. That being said, there are always a few token crazies, and today was crazytown unleashed. Relief Society was great and we had a wonderful lesson on gratitude after I had finished butchering the hymns on the piano, and Andrew (who already has a calling in the young men's presidency) had a fun lesson on the law of chastity.

It all started going downhill in Sunday School. The teacher is nice enough, but he's a bit.... on a power trip? Which is so not my type of guy... Let's call him Brother A. Basically the lesson was "you guys shut up and let me be the teacher and I'll call on you if I decide to" and of course if you gave a "wrong" answer (read: not the answer he was expecting) you were promptly dismissed. So it didn't really start off all fluffy and happy to begin with and he was seriously getting on my nerves. Oh, also, the lesson was on hypocrisy, which made him doubly obnoxious.

So he gets started and at one point this one sister raises her hand. Now this sister, we'll call her Sister P, is the rambling type, but she's nice and I think the fact that her French is pretty bad probably contributes to her difficulty in expressing herself so I usually don't really mind. She raises her hand and says something vaguely related and Brother A decides she's preaching false doctrine and promptly shuts her up. He quite literally said "you are saying something that is false so I'll stop you right there" and moved on. And nobody SAYS anything!

At this point I'm fuming, but I'm not quite sure what I could possibly have said, especially since I didn't even understand what sister P had said... and then she keeps her hand up the whole time and he deliberately ignores her. Finally near the end he lets her speak as if to be so benevolent, and this is where it gets really awkward. She launches into some unintelligible tirade about evil spirits and casting out devils and whitened sepulchers... and everybody is trying to shut her up. She won't shut up. Then brother P. gets upset and leaves, asking the Sunday school counselor to have someone say a prayer. A really sweet sister gets up and says a 10 minute prayer, bawling the whole time and begging God to "forgive us for chasing you away from our congregation" etc. She was really sweet and actually did bring back a measure of Spirit, but it was so sad to see how heartbroken she was.

But unfortunately, today was fast and testimony meeting, aka get up on your soapbox Sunday for some people. I knew there was the potential for more drama, and I was right. Lots of women bore testimony of the temple (there had been a stake relief society temple trip that week) and one sister talked about her involvement in the UMP (center right political party), and there were a few more randoms. But of course, as soon as people start lining up, sister P gets in line with a smug expression on her face and I knew it was coming. She got up and talked about how we come to church to be healed, and addressing the congregation said "if you are sick you cannot preach to me" and other accusatory nonsense. She sits down and we all breathe in again, but then her husband gets in line and I'm thinking this could either be good or bad.

It was bad. He called "certain people in the ward" to repentance and chastened them for their lack of charity, etc etc citing from scripture and so forth. Ugh. Finally he sits down too and we have more testimonies. At the end of the meeting, the bishop got up and sweetly but very clearly reminded everybody 1) what the point of a testimony was and 2) that he and he alone has the prerogative to chasten/call to repentance the members of the ward as a whole, and that he saw no need to do so at this moment. Laying down the law!

Anyway. Some good mixed in with the bad. I am grateful for people who just get it and who are fantastic leaders. Our bishop is wonderful and carries such a burden. He's doing a wonderful job and there are many great members that move seamlessly from one calling to another to keep things running and running in the right direction. Ha, today our relief society president got released and in the same breath called as the primary president!

In other news... we spent a great long weekend (minus Sunday) with my uncle Charles' family. Unfortunately I've been working too much lately and I had some pretty ridiculous deadlines, but we still had a good time. We went to the local farmer's market, took a bike ride, visited the Val d'Europe (a very big shopping mall that has an outdoor portion with outlet designer boutiques) and spent time playing in their yard and braiding each other's hair while Andrew played Halo with the boys :)

Also, I found the nail polish colors I had been looking for for quite some time now. The only brand I could find that carried them was O.P.I. and I didn't really care to spend $20 on nail polish. I got two awesome colors for $5! I know, it's silly that I'm so excited about something so silly, but it made me very happy.

And for a touch of randomness: you find some interesting things when you're packing...

my dad in action

This is pretty neat: it's our old family bible, with lots of birth dates and wedding dates, etc. I wish my handwriting looked that good!

Have a happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bordeaux trip part II

I went down earlier than Andrew to spend some time with my dad and sister, and on the day I took the train it was RIDICULOUSLY hot and sunny, so my dad decided to rent a car so we could get to the beach the next day.

And this is what our beach trip looked like :

And it was just as cold as it looks.

BUT we didn't let it bring us down and we still found plenty of fun things to do

My dad showed us the house he used to live in (in the town of Arcachon which is just on the beach). You can see the name: "les Boutons d'Or"

And we hiked up to the top of an observatory that was built two centuries ago (slightly scary, I'll admit, but it's surprisingly still very solid) and overlooks the bay.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Normandy Continued

Hello everyone!

This is Lydia's lesser half here to update you on our French adventure. Last I checked, she left you stranded in the middle of our Normandy trip. After our wonderful day at the Mont St. Michel and our visit to the Bayeux Tapestry, we began our 6-hour tour of the D-Day landing beaches. If you ever come visit the Normandy beaches, personally I recommend at least one full day. Anything less just doesn't do it justice. Also, although the tours are often expensive, if you can find a good tour guide it is worth it. Since I'm kind of a history nut AND I'd already been here before, I was the tour guide.

We started out our day at Sainte-Mere-Eglise. 

This was the first city liberated by Allied forces following the D-Day landing. Here we talked about how France fell to Germany so quickly and the status of Allied and German troops in the area prior to D-Day. I talked about the allied air invasion (101st and 82 Airborne divisions) landing behind German lines before the main assault on the beaches, and a whole bunch of other really interesting stuff. If you pay for my flight out to France, maybe I'll take you on the same tour.

After this visit, we traveled about 8 kilometers away to see a small 12th century chapel in Angoville-au-Plain. We visited this chapel on my first tour here and I thought it was so unique that I brought everyone back. Two American medics set up a field first aid station in the chapel and treated 80 German and American troops while the fight continued outside. The town changed hands three times before the Americans took it over for good. The interior still has blood stains, bullet holes, and now has stained glass windows honoring the two medics who stayed there.

German head wound

We picnic-ed at Utah Beach which was just a few kilometers away from Angoville. Utah Beach is undergoing some museum renovations so we couldn't really do much there, but I gave our group an idea of what the allied battle plan was, how the German defenses were set up, and how the landing at Utah beach went. Utah Beach was one of the two American invasion beaches.

Following Utah, we drove to Pointe-du-Hoc, a cliffside where three companies of Army Rangers climbed up the cliff, took the gun battery at the top, and held off German reinforcements until Allied troops came to relieve them. There were originally 225 soldiers - by the time they were relieved only 90 were still alive and capable of fighting. The bluff is covered with craters from bombardments leading up to the Normandy invasion. We couldn't spend a lot of time here which is unfortunate because this is probably the most "interactive" of all the visits we made (bunkers, craters, a gorgeous view, etc).

Omaha beach was just down the road. This was the "worst" beach for all the allied troops where virtually nothing went right. When you think of the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, this is the beach you should think about. To compare, Utah beach was taken with less than 200 casualties. Omaha beach had over 6,000. Here I dissected the Allied attack plan and showed where things went wrong and why it took so long and so many lives to take the beach.

Finally, we ended the day at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. We easily spent two hours here and just took time to reflect on what we'd seen, visit their self-tour (which built upon everything I'd already told them) and then spent a lot of time walking among the graves. It was our pre-Memorial Day celebration. It is a beautiful location: very serene and a wonderful tribute to everyone who is buried there. God bless America.
Lydia liked the "portable" radio station

In other news, my internship at the Embassy has been exciting. I'm working on events that should go a long way in connecting American businesses and European service providers in the Green Energy, Aerospace, and general business sectors. Basically, we team up with corporate partners to create events where businesses can exchange information, market expertise, and financing options while we provide market research and regulatory expertise. The only downside is that I won't be here to see most of my projects come to fruition.

I got to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Ambassador's residence the other day. She gave a brief speech about how she appreciates the staff at the American Tri-mission in Paris (State, UNESCO, and one other that I can't remember, maybe OECD). It was just a simple meet and greet, but it was something that doesn't happen every day. Yesterday we had the official Marine Corps silent drill platoon come and drill for the Ambassador, international politicians and military guests. It was quite impressive. After the drill was over, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps came and played some patriotic anthems and - you'll never guess - "Don't Rain on My Parade" which was doubly funny because it was threatening rain that morning and it just isn't something you'd expect from such a formal band. I've often said that I don't like marching bands, but this one - though perhaps not technically better than others - actually makes sense from the uniforms to the marching to the perfect formations. It was a thing of beauty. Afterwards they all came out and mingled with us on the Ambassador's lawn and I spoke with a Lance Corporal in the silent drill team. He was from Phoenix and quite an impressive guy. It was a nice way to celebrate Memorial Day, especially in a country like France where our soldiers came twice to serve with European allies in the cause of freedom.

I applied for my first full time position ever. Though I don't particularly want to work for the federal government, a position had opened up as a commercial specialist in the consulate in Bordeaux. It's something that Lydia and I have long considered, so even though I still have one year of school left and I don't have a work permit for France, I decided to apply anyway and get my name out there.  It also helps that the job was specifically a training level position, NOT in Paris (Paris is nice, but I'd take a smaller city, especially Bordeaux, any day), and it is close to Lydia's family. Plus, it is good practice to revamp resumes and cover letters for different jobs. My career hunt starts in earnest in August as Operation Become a Real Person begins.

Since you are all bored now, I'll sign off and let Lydia keep posting more interesting things. All the best,