Oh, What a Beautiful Morn..NO

Every morning from Monday to Thursday, Lillian comes into my room and stage-whispers “LIZZIE! Oh crap.” It’s less a whisper and more of a STAGE, if you know what I mean. This pleasant good-morning greeting means that she has about twelve minutes to get to driver’s ed in Watervliet, and Mom is too busy to take her. This is my cue to moan, groan, or otherwise assure her that the lump in the bed is actually alive and capable of driving her. (Which is questionable, to say the least.) Once I’ve realized that it’s morning and I’m awake, I sit up and look at the clock.

Now it’s my turn to panic. I’ve never taken a few hours to get ready, but it usually takes me ten minutes. Not anymore!! I fall out of bed – literally fall out of it, at least this morning – grab for a jacket, change my pajama shorts, and head down the stairs. (Brushing teeth is for the weak.) I’ve never been a makeup artiste by any means, but on good days I can put on mascara. At least good days that aren’t driver’s ed days. I tried one morning, for about thirty seconds, and stuck myself in the eye with the mascara wand. I wish I was one of those girls who could look completely put together in less than an hour, but instead I look like I’m heading straight for the Walmart history books. Greasy, flattened hair, a big disgusting smile, pajamas, dirty glasses. I need to start sleeping in a shirt that says “I Woke Up Like This” and instead of being a stretch of the truth as it is for most people, it’ll be more of a kind warning to people that might glimpse me outside my car.

Since I’m in a great mood and the day is nice and we’re not running late at all, I can greet my brothers cheerfully. Most mornings I just mumble something. This morning it was a yell, because I forgot my phone upstairs and climbing up the stairs is too hard for me to manage. Someone with younger legs (and more motivation?) can climb the stairs faster than me.

I think my sister drives with me to learn what NOT to do, in fifty steps. This morning I was so busy informing another driver what he did wrong to remember that I had to turn. Not my finest moment, I assure you. So obviously I made an illegal u-turn at the first possible moment, since I was already doing so well. Every morning I break several speed-limit laws in several different cities, but she doesn’t seem to mind…..unless I turn corners too fast and send her driver’s ed book, balanced carefully on the dashboard, flying straight for her face. Oh, the joys of driving when I’m not really awake at all.

When I drop her off at the school, she looks so poised and grown-up and ready to take on the day. (No, she’s not wearing pajamas like me.) I take a moment to sniff sentimentally before realizing the car behind me is waiting for me to leave. Oops. The rest of the drive home I wonder if I’m getting judged by all the other moms and siblings who get to see me pull squealing out of the school driveway.

It’s her birthday today, and I can’t believe she’s fifteen. When did this happen? (Cue Taylor Swift’s super-old song, Fifteen. Although I’m gonna keep Lillian far away from all those senior boys. Ugh.)

So even when I fit the description of a classic Walmart shopper to a T and she wakes me up at the crack of doom dawn every morning, I still appreciate the short time we get to talk in the car. Because I know it’s only so long before she’ll be all grownup and really busy with college and jobs and maybe even a husband and kids. Her birthday every year really puts things into perspective, because she’s the only little sister I’ll ever have and she’s getting not-so-little and maybe even taller than me. (I think she was actually supposed to be the older sister around here, because when I’m not around she’s good at ordering people around.)

Also, whenever we’re watching our TV shows together, she’ll look at me freaking out over a character and calmly tell me a huge spoiler. (As in, “i KNOW they’re so cute together! i really wish they had ended up together!” or the more subtle, “he dies! didn’t you know that?!” and then she’ll observe my reaction with glee.) IMG_4038Every day I’m thankful for her. I always wanted to be able to be witty and sarcastic and make everyone laugh, like she can. I’ve never been able to come up with a hilarious comeback in two seconds, like she can. I’m not good at getting up early and making sure I’m all put together and look nice, like she is. I usually wear whatever I have on hand, be it hand-me-down or thrift store find, but she takes the time to pick out an outfit she really likes.

All that to say, I’m so, so proud of her. She’s growing into a gorgeous and amazing young woman. I’m just glad I get to be her sister.

Family is a strange and beautiful thing.

May your journey be ever onward (and try not to get distracted yelling at other drivers),



A Word Away: College, Summarized

“Words don’t mean, people mean.” – Heather Thompson Day (a.k.a. my favorite professor ever!)

My first year of college is almost over. To be precise, a few more hours and two final exams from being over. I’ve studied, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed until I cried, I’ve written dozens upon dozens of words. I’ve stayed up until one in the morning watching Netflix (#procrastination goals). I’ve forgotten to upload something on time and went to the office to beg for leniency (half-way faked tears at the ready). I’ve created a marketing plan and a business plan and designed presentation after presentation. My laptop’s keys are starting to fade from all the words that I’ve typed out. I’ve laid in my bed at night, staring up at the ceiling, my stomach twisted in knots, trying to remember just what it is that I’ve forgotten to do…  oh yeah, that 10-page paper was due at midnight.

College. Such a scary word just a year ago, and now it’s a word that means months full of memories and events and work and people. I found the bathrooms in almost every building! (THANK GOODNESS.) I stayed far away from the creepy silence of the nursing section (I thought nurses were supposed to be like the doctors in Grey’s Anatomy – but the nurses here travel in packs, and they’re loud and excited and gossipy.) I ate in the cafeteria twice, and the food was delicious both times. (Once again, another myth has been debunked. What happened to the soggy food in all my coming-of-age fiction novels??)

I have to admit, the professors here have not lived up to any of their fictional counterparts. The professors here weren’t boring, they weren’t mean, and they listened to me. I enjoyed talking to all of them, and they all made me laugh at least once during their courses. I do have one problem – they all talk so fast that my handwriting ceased to be neat and precise and began to run together in long streaking sentences of scribbles. I imagine this must be why doctors all have such terrible handwriting. Professors like to rattle away information at top speed as though there is a finish line in two and a half hours and THEY MUST REACH IT without any punctuation or pauses.

I made friends. Yes, those real, live, breathing people who come to say hello; who stop by to laugh at my overall clumsiness and talk to me. Apparently watching me trip over steps and my words is entertaining, and comparing grades is even more fun. Who knew, right?? (Speaking of tripping over words, I have embarrassed myself in front of attractive guys too many times to count. Sigh. Are there awards for awkwardness?)

I played so many card games in the Student Activity Center with my best friend that my cards are all permanently bent. Jamie taught me how to shuffle correctly. We spent hours texting each other, and we laughed until our stomachs hurt. We took turns being each other’s shrink. We ate SO MUCH pizza and I like to think that we have our own special booth at Pizza Hut by now… we only studied together once, though, which is true friendship. We were always too busy doing other things. We sat down by the river and she waited patiently while I took 2 million pictures of my shoes, and her, and the grass, and the lake. We rated guys by overall cuteness (well, I did. She just listened to me doing it with an odd expression on her face.) We argued over whose professor was competent, and we spent a lot of time driving around random country backroads and listening to Nicki Minaj REALLY LOUD. If there was only one reason I’m glad I chose SMC, it’s because of her. We are closer than ever before (no, literally, she’s been only a 2 minute walk away from me for months) and she’s a big part of the reason college has been incredible. Also, she brought me fries. #friendshipgoals.

I also discovered that approximately 87% of guys that attend SMC wear camouflage every. single. day. I work at a cafe next to the gym, so I got to observe a great deal of sweaty men walking past me (it’s not as attractive as you think, trust me). I people-watched until my eyes were numb, and I made up a background and life story for half the people who hang out where I work. (Keep in mind – the only other option to this was actually getting my homework done. And we all know the truly great procrastinators wait until the very last second.)

I spoke at a speech event at the end of the winter semester. It was the first time that I realized just how crazily important college can be.  I had to speak in front of two hundred people, and it changed me. I realized that I have a voice. I have courage. (I really think that I wasn’t nervous because of all the years that I’ve spent bossing my siblings around at the top of my lungs. But that’s only a theory.)

During spring break, I traveled on an airplane to Florida. There were so many firsts on that trip! For one, I had never been on an airplane before in my life. I have no qualms admitting that I was TERRIFIED. I am afraid of heights, and if it hadn’t been for my best friend, I don’t think I ever would’ve attempted an airplane… I had never been to Florida! I had never seen or touched the ocean, or seen a dolphin, or gone on a sunset Pirate Cruise.

I understand now, why everyone says that college changes your life. It’s not just the friends and the classes and the late-night Netflix cramming sessions. It’s the moments, taken one by one, filled with knowledge and learning and people. And even if I forget everything that I learned, I will never forget the people that I have met.

So here’s to all the people that I have spent time getting to know and have begun to care deeply about –

Sarah, you’re legit the coolest person I have ever met. Keep being your fantastic self.

Michaela – you are one of my most treasured friends that I have met here at SMC! It has been so much fun getting to know you and spending time with you.

Joe, you are truly successful. Keep building up that network of future business contacts.

Peter, you’re the funniest (and the cutest) and I hate that you got better scores than me on two of our tests. Good job, but next time I’ll beat you.

Matt, you’re just overall a great guy and I appreciate you stopping to say hello every time you passed me!

Heather, you are THE BEST PROFESSOR EVER. You have taught me so much that I will never forget.

Shelby, I love discussing our favorite books together in Psychology.

Alex, Nick & Nicole… Nick, no, I am not making you another iced mocha. Try again tomorrow.

Salvadore – I’m doing something, gosh!

Ryan, I wish you luck in all your future endeavors. It was great staring at you across the room when I was really bored. You are amazing and I hope I see you on TV someday. #creeperalert

Emmanuel, your 20 minutes is never too long.

Eliza, I love how cheerful and sweet you are every single time I see you! I will always make you special lattes.

Mark & Chris – video game dude #1 and #2. What would I do without your interesting stories and commentaries while I work??

Ramone, Jessa, Mark, Michael, Nicole, Emily, Ember, Beth, Alyson, Tyler, Bonnie, Jane, Jim, Kyle, Kayla…there’s so much I could say about each of you. I’m sure I’ve forgotten people, and there’s no way I can list every single person who has impacted me. But even though these names may mean nothing to you, the names are attached to people that I’ve talked to and laughed with and spent hours with and thought about and cared about. They have all had a hand in shaping who I am today, many of them without even realizing it.

I’m sad it’s over. However, not too sad, because I’ll be back in full force next semester. And this time, I know where they sell the coffee.

May your journey be ever onward – and try to avoid the cracks in the sidewalk,


CREDITS:  I’d like to thank my brothers for running out to bring in my backpack every night (even if it’s because you want my leftover Subway sandwiches). I’d like to thank my Mom for all the mornings and afternoons she drove me to college because my car was dead AGAIN. I’d like to thank my sister for telling me to study every time I asked her to watch Netflix with me (you tried). Also, I’d like to thank my best friend. I wouldn’t have even been here if it hadn’t been for you, and some of my best moments these past few months have been with YOU.


Old Resolutions

Last year, I wrote out a careful list of my goals for the year.

And then I wrote this interesting letter/motivational to-do list for myself, determined to print it out and hang it on my wall. That didn’t happen (#procrastination!!) but here’s what I wrote to myself last year.

Elizabeth: 2014

  • Be brave. Do things you wouldn’t normally do because you should. Take your own advice – get out there and make your future. You’ve been letting fear control your every decision for far too long. 
  • Let go. You can do this. Take a deep breath, Relax, and realize that the only person you can change is yourself.
  • Work hard! Find more jobs, take more pictures, write more words.
  • Listen more, talk less. Honestly, the world doesn’t revolve around you and….you’re only right a small percentage of the time. (Sorry, but it’s the truth.) 
  • Encourage others. They say you reap what you sow, and other people should know how special they are.
  • Changing yourself for the better takes time and energy and persistence – as hard as we wish, it’ll never come in just one day.
  • Get some guts. Admit to your failures, face your problems head-on, and remember this too shall pass. Also, buy tissues. 
  • Be elegant. A lady never spreads rumors or even difficult truths, she is discreet.
  • Accept pain. There’s going to be a lot of it and you need to forgive and forget.
  • Don’t judge. You don’t always know a person’s past, current circumstances, or their heart. And even if you THINK you do, be very careful.
  • Perspective is everything. Think about it – you’ve learned that there are many viewpoints to one situation the hard, broken-hearted way. Try on someone else’s shoes.
  • Make tough decisions. I can’t stress this enough. Make the little decisions that will make the big decisions easier – like exercising a little more. 
  • Calm down. Worrying will get you nowhere in life, no matter what you may think, and holding on to your anger is the best way to destroy yourself.
  • Be vulnerable. So you’ve been hurt before. Who hasn’t? stop hiding how you truly feel. Maybe if you try to explain, someone out there will understand.
  • Get past your differences, get past the rough and bitter past – love people. Because you’ve only got one chance to leave a legacy behind, so what will it be?
  • Don’t automatically assume someone doesn’t want you. Stop assigning motives to people before you can even formulate a reply to their question. Girl, chill out. Gosh. 

You’ve got this. 

It’s gonna be a tough year. There are always so many tears, and triumphant moments, and stupid decisions, and so much laughter. Support the people you love, be kind, be generous with both your money and your love. Stay calm. Keep thinking this isn’t your year? 

Another day will be here before you know it. 

This will always be YOUR year. 

Live now. Dang it, girl, you only have these brief momentsDo it right and do it NOW because this is YOUR time.

Honestly, I think I should just switch the date and print it out right now.

What do you think?

May your journey be ever onward,


Hey, Stranger

I’ve been trying to figure out what I’d write in a blog post for a few weeks now. My brain has been full of necessary things, worrying about friends and school and life and whether or not we bought any instant vanilla cappuccino mix at the store yesterday. It seems like the moment I find the cappuccino mix to make myself a cup, some new fiasco has arisen with all the suddenness of a spring storm. And just like during those wild and restless storms, the adrenaline and excitement and panic has got to wear off at some point, leaving nothing but an eerie sense of calm and utter destruction behind. You don’t want to see me during thunderstorms, by the way, especially if there is high winds. I’m always torn between hiding under the bed until it’s over or standing on top of the hill and letting the weather run its course. Life has been so much like that lately – I’m torn between two places.

Part of me wants to hide where I know it’s safe, and I’ve done that for such a long time. I crawl underneath the bed and bury my face in my hands and try to breathe. “Everything will be okay,” I whisper to myself. “The wind can’t get me here.” But after a few seconds, I start to realize how dusty and dingy it is. My brain begins to yell in alarm because my arms are clamped so tightly to my sides that I can barely wiggle, and it would be a very bad idea to try to take any deep breaths. Trying not to suck in air too quickly, I turn my head slowly and find that spider I thought I’d killed with a shoe a week ago. (Cue a startled shriek.) The spider has gotten even bigger and uglier than it was before, and it has had babies and set up a very sticky, very delicate home. I decided the spider needs to die, so I look around for a shoe, but I can’t get one because I’m stuck. Under that bed, I begin to realize what a stupid idea it was to hide underneath here. “I’m big enough,” I remind myself. “I’m supposed to be brave.” The dust is chokingly thick (remind me to vaccuum under my bed tomorrow…) and I’d rather have some feeling in my hands, just in case I need to save my books from the storm. 

When I squeeze out from under the bed, I try as hard as I can not to look outside. Just the thought of seeing the trees bent over by the force of the wind makes my stomach start to hurt, but I can’t help it – my gaze inevitably flies to the window. Just like I knew they would, the trees are shaking. The branches are waving in an eerie dance, it’s raining, and the thunder is loud enough to make me jump. I forget all about the spider and the shoe when the lightning blinds me for an instant. But… for a split second, I long to be outdoors – be out there in the middle of the wind, letting it flow through my hair. I want to feel the rain on my face and spin around in circles in the wet grass until I’m dizzy and the flash of the lightning lights up the darkness around me. I want to enjoy the wild, reckless feeling of standing on top of the hill in the middle of a thunderstorm. I know that if I can just get outside, be right in the middle of it all, it will lose some of its power to scare me. 


But can I do it? 

Am I brave enough to take the first step towards that door? 

I take the first few steps towards the door, put my hand on the glass, and force myself to watch the storm tearing through the countryside. I see my reflection in the glass – terrified and excited and a little breathless. Who is this stranger? 

Like I said – I’m torn. 

Would you go out into the storm and taste the rain and dance in the wild wind, or stay inside, where warm blankets and cappuccino is handy? 

May your journey be ever onward, in whichever direction you choose. 


Winter Blues (and Whites and Blacks)

It’s been so long since I actually wrote on my blog…in my defense, I’ve been keeping busy writing my own short stories and I started an even bigger writing project that I’m determined to finish. Think blood, broken pens, sweat, ink, and tears – lots and lots of big salty tears that, if combined, would make the Salt Lake Ocean look pitiful. The time left over is taken up in schoolwork, thinking about eating chocolate, schoolwork, and drinking tea. Now for all you discerning readers of mine who noticed the “Salt Lake Ocean” and that I mentioned schoolwork twice, I hear you. However, it is a new year and my New Year’s resolution was to be myself. (Ha, good one, I don’t ever make resolutions. It’s so idiotic to tell yourself you’re going to do something that you don’t do and then feel like a failure for not doing it when you knew the whole time that you wouldn’t have the guts to prove yourself wrong. Can I get an Amen? Also, if any of you think you have proved to be an exception to that rule, let me shake your hand.)

If I were to make a proper New Year’s resolution, it would be…I won’t eat as many Oreos this year! But really, I’ll end up eating twice as many, if all my evil plans to take over the Oreos factories go smoothly. Speaking of that, all I need is a few more Daleks and I’ll be set for world domination  extermination. It’ll be doomsday all over again, only without a Doctor and a rose to save you all. Has anyone seen my cool little blinking earpiece laying around anywhere? It seems to have gone missing… Please excuse me while I recover from my Doctor Who rambling. I watched an entire two seasons over the course of Christmas break, and my brain is still recovering from it all.

Speaking of Christmas break, it’s over and it’s back to the daily grind. For me, it’s the daily coffee grind, and then it’s on to school mixed in with sporadic bursts of Pinterest. One of my friends has said that only brave people follow me on Pinterest, and I believe her. However, if you do follow me, I promise that you will never be bored or board – there will a lot of red, and a lot of random strangers’ faces, and lots of interesting quotes. So basically my Pinterest is a lot like my blog. Ice Storm

As a rule, I never take pictures of snow in winter unless I have a brilliant and very creative idea, but for ice I have no such rule. I just can’t wait for summer to come back so I can round up some beautiful girls and make them pose for me, just because.

Waaaaaaaaait wait wait. THE OLYMPICS.

Need I say more?

My favorite for the U.S. figure skating team is Gracie Gold – but then again, I haven’t seen any of the pairs or men. My least favorite is Ashley Wagner (don’t even get me started…I overreacted this morning…so much that my brother actually asked what was wrong when he came downstairs!) Let’s just say that based on her past history of performances, she’s going to fall all over the place at the Olympics. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go read all the news articles about her. To summarize, she’s fallen at least twice at every single big competition she’s been at ever. (FAIL.) Okay I’m done freaking out……..at least on my blog.

May your journey be ever onward and to the T.V. to watch the 2014 Olympics soon,


The Power of Love

You wouldn’t believe the love that I have been able to witness over the past few months.

No, it wasn’t between a married couple.

No, it wasn’t between two best friends or a family going through a trial.

It was the love of complete strangers for a struggling stranger.

But you need a background explanation before you’ll be able to understand. A few months ago, I was added to a group of Christian girls on Facebook. I had met only one person in this group in real life, but quite a few of the others were already “photography friends”. (Guess why I call them that? Ha. You’re right.) Slightly wary, I observed silently while they posted prayer requests, introductions, pictures, photography tips, videos of themselves doing funny things, and encouraged each other. I’m not a very social person anyways, preferring to stay at home with a steaming cup of tea or enjoy watching a movie by myself, so a big group of girls my own age didn’t strike me as something I’d want to be a part of. I had already tried the whole “girl group” thing before in real life, and it had ended – or rather, existed – in drama, cliques, and hurt feelings. And “Delight”? The name sounded entirely too cheerful and made me think more along the lines of Bath and Body perfume than Facebook girl group (Be Delightful! B E Delightful!! *clap clap*).

Meanwhile, I had caught up with an old friend and found out that she was dealing with some serious health issues. After several long chats I decided to add her to the Facebook group, thinking of the verse that goes something like: many prayers make light work of healing. (That’s not a verse? What? I felt sure…) I asked her about it before adding her, and she agreed to try it out. Before long, she was sharing a little more about her struggles with the girls. I watched and waited to see how they would react, determined not to let her down, afraid that I had made a mistake. After all, I didn’t actually know any of these girls. Based on my former experiences with “Christian” teenagers, I was 89% sure that it was all going to turn out badly.


The comments began to add up: “Praying for you!”, “I’m praying for you, sweet girl.” or even just a simple “Praying.” I was startled and amazed at the outpouring of support and love. At the time, my dear friend was also wading through a difficult and painful relationship. Add that to her illness and her days were beyond rough. However, I never heard her complain. She asked for prayer humbly while supporting and encouraging and thanking the girls who prayed for her. I don’t know how she does it – if I were in her shoes, I shudder to think what kind of person I would be.

Fast forward five or six months to now: every single day, I see these girls supporting her. I know that she’s never met most of them, and I haven’t either. The only connection we have is Facebook. Crazy, right? The social media website being to drop in popularity is sparking something that I have never seen before.

If my dear friend is having a hard day and it escapes my notice, I know at least fifteen other people are praying for and encouraging them. I see her doing the same for them, even during her very worst days, and it makes me want to be a better person. I watch as she blesses them all in little ways of her own, as only she can. Also, I have begun writing to several of the girls and even once, a few months ago, did a Google+ hangout with some of them! I nearly died of fright beforehand… I was literally shaking with nerves but I ended up laughing so hard I snorted. Image

I watch them plotting and planning to bless her; communicating amongst themselves and pooling their diverse talents, amazing creativity, and boundless energy together in a common goal. Call it organized chaos, because after all most of it is entirely planned on social media because we live thousands and thousands of miles apart. THIS is how a revolution begins – when total strangers unite in one purpose. Getting to know these girls and listening to them spread words of love and encouragement and cheer, I am beginning to realize just how incredible people can be. I never would’ve believed had I not seen it and been a part of it; girls breaking the social hierarchy in favor of loving everyone, girls reaching out to lift up one of their own and in turn being lifted up, girls overlooking the long distances between each other and just being grateful. And most of us have never met? I can’t lie – I was in tears last night when I thought about the enormity of it all. How could this be possible?

Delight has become so much more than a bunch of talented girls. I listen to their struggles, and share my own. They have faces, names, and personalities – for example: Ashlynne is the Taylor Swift lookalike, Rachel is the sweetie, Kristin is the mentor, Madison is the one with the amazing name – and there is something unique and special about every single one of them. Writers, dancers, singers, photographers, musicians, designers, film-makers…you name it, there’s a girl who is amazingly talented in that area. I never thought I’d be watching YouTube videos and liking hundreds of pages and following dozens of people on Pinterest (this woman is possibly the most stylish person ever) and Instagram and Google+ just so I can watch these girls bless those around them and find joy in the everyday.

“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.”

THAT is the power of love – I can do all things.

We can, together, through His strength.

May your journey be ever onward,


P.S. *silly giggle*


Put a Usain Bolt on It

What do Mustangs (the cars and the horses), beards, gang signs, leaves and rocks, and Jimmy Hoffa’s mysterious death have to do with each other?

Scavenger hunts are a bucket list sort of thing, and I don’t have a bucket list. (Why is called a bucket list? “Things to do before I die” does sound a little morbid, but then again so does “bucket list”. I’m going to have to come up with a new word now. I was willing to give the game a try, however strange it sounded. Looking back, I admit it was rather fun. Entertaining, anyways.

The tension was almost too much and we ran everywhere, which meant half the time I was gasping from lack of oxygen (not very attractive) and the other half my face was strawberry red. Also not very attractive.

park gateTaking a picture by the park gate was an item on our list. First, Nathan had hoisted Olivia up to sit on the top of the sign (see below) and sat beside Paige, but I thought we needed to do something more creative. But what? iwo jima oneMaking snap decisions in a few seconds or less doesn’t come naturally to me, as you can see. Thankfully, there was a real flag on our way – running, obviously – back to the van. Ben, the missing team member in the above photos, had just gotten a park map signed by the guard at the check-in point.

iwo jima two We crossed “reenact a historical event” off our list. phone booth We all squeezed into the phone booth at the hotel. “Nathan, get on the phone! Ben and Olivia and Paige, looked shocked like whoever he’s talking to just told him something horrible. Like where Jimmy Hoffa is really buried.” I was both laughing and trying to get my breath back so the picture is blurry. Nathan is holding the newspaper we bought at the front desk. We crossed off “take a group picture in the phone booth in the lobby” and “buy a newspaper or a magazine in the lobby” from our list.

waiter Paige sat down at one of the tables and I searched my brain frantically for something creative. What could one do in a hotel restaurant to make the picture interesting? I got nothing, but I did happen to notice there was a waiter serving a sedate group in another room. As he walked by (looking at us like we were insane…we are) I asked him if he would pretend to be taking Paige’s order. (If he had looked any older than he does, I would’ve been too intimidated to ask, but he looked very entertained by us and our red faces and hard breathing.)

#___ Take a creative picture in the hotel restaurant.

stretchhhhh Nathan! There was a big debate before this as to who would lift up who to measure how tall the basketball net is, but eventually Ben won the argument and lifted Nathan. (Or perhaps he lost? It looked hard.)

bonding with horsesThere was nothing but a line of cars at the horse barns. Nathan dropped Olivia and I off at the door and we ran around to ask if we could pet a horse, but the barns were deserted. There were some horses tied up to one of the fences, though. mustang car Ben realized that one of the cars parked by the barns was a Mustang. The adults hadn’t specified if “patting a horse” had be a real horse, so Ben stroked the car. (His face was a little creepy. Meanwhile, Nathan shouted for us to hurry up from the minivan behind Ben’s head.)

usain bolt bridgeWe had to take a picture on the bridge, and Ben wanted variety. This was the winning picture, but we also took a few others – he said something about Egyptians? IMG_2584I’m not exactly sure what the girls are doing in this… reachhhhh London bridge is falling down, but thankfully we have two chivalrous gentleman ready to save the damsels in distress. splinter I broke a branch to get this picture of a splinter. (it was a small tree, it’ll recover.) Our van wouldn’t start when we ran back after the bridge, so while we waited for an adult to rescue us, we tried to find as many things on our list as possible. I think we should’ve gotten an award for finding the most things in one place. jumpstarting the van Ben trying to figure out how jumper cables work. winning heart leaf Meanwhile, I found this pretty red heart-shaped leaf on the ground. jewish symbol? Ben demonstrated some Jewish symbols for me because one thing we had to find was a Jewish symbol of some sort. So while Nathan was trying to figure out car stuff, the girls, Ben and I did random things. Like there was this bathroom across the parking lot a ways….

stabbing of jimmy hoffa We figured the women’s bathroom was a likely place to find Jimmy Hoffa’s skeleton, and Olivia – being the Italian among us – killed Ben with a splinter. I wasn’t brave enough to peek into the actual bathroom (all this talk of dead gangsters was freaking me out) but everyone else did. Meanwhile, poor Nathan was still stuck on the other side of the parking lot, desperately trying to start the van. The clock was ticking…

jimmy hoffa burial When we walked around the bathroom, there was this stone…guess we found Hoffa’s headstone.

gravesite at the women's bathroomThere are so many wild stories that could be made up about this picture. What is the finger pointing to? Why? What does the stone cover? Why is the person wearing crocs in fall? It’s all so mysterious.

bearded man This is probably the best all-around picture ever. We were driving along (rather quickly, I must admit) and all of a sudden Ben starts shouting something about a bearded man (also something on our list). We all looked around frantically as Nathan made a hard left and none of us saw anything. Ben had spotted a man sitting in a car with a beard. We ran up to the van and he got out and this picture happened.

thomas furmato in sixty years In the hotel lobby once more, we found Thomas Furmato in his eighty-year-old form. I like his shirt, don’t you? Very classy style. usain bolt jump And that, my friends, is how you do a scavenger hunt. With a camera, some good friends, intense action, and a few oxygen tanks.

May your journey be ever onward,