"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." -Jane Howard
We took a final family fieldtrip,
a last one before we all have to grow up.
Once I step on that plane to Japan,
I'll begin my career.
And once I fly back home to Utah,
our little clan of six will become seven.
Cousin Joey and I drew pictures together.
{We both prefer doodling animals over people. It's just easier.}
He was my chummy every afternoon and evening,
whether we were curled up playing Pokemon
or eating rabbit legs {which broke my heart clean in two},
he stayed by my side.
I'm grateful for the grins,
and the memories made in California,
the ones I'll take with me on the plane.
And even though family crucibles may wedge our band of six apart,
family holidays pull us back together, if only for a little while.
Yestereve, my singles' ward threw a huge dinner party.
We watched the newest message from our Church,
and I wore the smile it gave me all night long.
It was amazing to think about how blessed I am in this ward.
They welcomed me with open arms not just the first week I came,
but every week after as well.
The Bishopric wears their hearts on their sleeves...
so it's always incredible to be in the same room with them.
In fact, while speaking with the Bishop last Sunday,
I realized that the comfort I've felt in this strong, fellowshipped ward
will most likely be absent in Japan.
I'll need to be a strong Christian.
And with the support I've received from friends in this ward,
I think I can do it. ;)
{7pm Thursday Premier with Lianna}
{7:30pm Friday New Moon Party with Mom & Pickle}
{Oh, I am so Team Switzerland...}
{Mainly because Bella + Edward = & Ashley + Wolfie = ♥♥♥}
{12:20pm Saturday Showing with Kristen}
I saw it thrice, once every day from Thursday to Saturday.
And oh, the wolfpack.
I felt like a schoolgirl, clapping my hands and grabbing for my galpals' arms.
{Which, I particularly detest that sensation, so they were bittersweet moments...
...with an emphasis on the sweet.}
The pictures are rather dim/blurry/silly, and I apologize.
But they're proof--I was there!
"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." -Mary Ellen Chase
The carol, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", was originally written in Latin.
And... it's hard to sing. :)
I need to work on my lower notes,
so this is a good exercise for my soprano-happy vocal chords.
And I know it's a half-crime to sing Christmas songs before Thanksgiving for some folks,
but I, quite frankly, adore them all year long.
"We can uplift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude."
-President Thomas S. Monson
Bryn sent a little picture package at the exact moment it was needed.
Car accidents are never happy things. {*sigh*}
It's beautiful how well our missionary is doing. I'm thankful for his strength.
I'm also grateful for loving parents, both in Heaven and on this earth with me.
I know the Lord knows what's best for us,
and I know Bryn is in His hands.
{Image via Miyajima}
"Tomorrow will come sooner than you think." -Saphira (Eragon)
I just got a call from Japan...
the schedule changed.
I fly out to Tokyo on December 30th
and will celebrate New Year's in Japan.
The other interns & I meet up with the office on the 31st
and watch the fireworks together in the big city.
Training starts on my birthday,
and my assignment begins six days after that.
{The only holiday/event I won't experience in Japan will be Christmas, after all.}
Is it too soon to pack my bags??
"Vampires don't count as people." -Jacob Black (Twilight)
It's just a little crush.
Just a weensy one.
And it's mostly for the wolfboy.
{He's the one closest-fitting to Bryn.}
Yes, you can think me silly...
But this Friday can't come any sooner.
"Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
-Abraham Lincoln

Friends certainly brighten the weekends.
Cassie, Tanika, Darcy, Rob, Ayn, & Kevin came over for a spell on Friday.
We enjoyed a panda movie together {with chocolate candies}.
Epic games followed, not ending until 2:45 AM.
We also learned the word for "shower" in Russian.
{Psst, it's "dush".}
And we're just immature enough to giggle about it.
Tanika: "That makes me feel so unclean."
Kevin: "Then go take a dush!"
Tanika: "I already did twice today!"
We're kinda silly. :)
Oh, how I'm going to miss everyone so much!
But Japan will bring new faces, new memories.
And besides, I think one key to happiness is to bloom where you're planted,
wherever that may be.
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." -Belva Davis

You find repose in the most unlikely places sometimes.
I was visiting a fellow blogger's homepage, when a Taylor Swift song popped up...
...and out of nowhere, two boys {under 9-years-old} were at my side, wanting to hear more.
After the song ended, they asked to listen to their favorite Taylor song.
And this is what resulted. {Are you giggling yet?}
I gotta tell ya, that ain't me hittin' those high notes.
Somebody's got a future in music!
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." -Mark Twain
Bunkasai was Friday, and boy did our class rock the room!
{"Bunkasai" is a culture festival our Japanese department holds annually.}
Everybody's skits were hilarious, but I think our section went above and beyond...
{Okay, so I'm just a little bit biased... :D}
Watch, laugh, enjoy. Hope this little video brings a smile to your cheeks. :)
"After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers." -Emily Luchetti
Pop quiz: What was Lindon city originally called?
The answer: STRINGTOWN!
{I'll bet half of you don't even know what Lindon is... Fruit? Rock band? Google it, dears.}
But what does Lindon have to do with little ol' me?
Well, you see, my film fetish has been paying off...
One of the owners of Stringtown let me make them a promo for their Nightmare Express.
I've been looking forward to filming it ever since Immi's "Aha!" hit iTunes.
{It was the most perfect song.}
Every year, the train ride gets bigger and better, so...
If you're in Utah during Halloween-time, come play with us!
"The woman's heart, asleep in the child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love."
-Sarah Orne Jewett (A White Heron)
I received a letter.
The first one since July.
And it cracked my face a little bit, I was so happy.
I had chased a spider under the couch, frightened it with my vacuum...
Me, the girl who flinches from deer heads on the wall, who pales when a baby robin lays naked and dead at the foot of a tree, was ready to snuff so small a life as a spider's.
But my peripherals distracted me from the deed.
I halted, half-bent to kill, when my gaze brushed the brown of the envelope.
It blended so well into the carpet.
And if my half-starved eyes hadn't hoped to see his handwriting--fresh--every day...
I would've missed it.
But it was found; the spider led me there.
Thank you, spider.
{Photo via Flickr}
Party #1:
A herd of My Little Pony boys.
Favorite costumes of the night. Truly.
They even had little charms taped to their... "flanks"...
Alright, I'm stopping there.
The dance was 10x more fun than I ever thought it could be.
My ward is full of dancin' beasts!
{And an Edward Cullen, apparently!}

Party #2:
Halloween is a favorite; it's one of the best.
{Though my #1 holiday is New Year's!}
The McCabes and I meandered up to Salt Lake for a little ghost hunting.
Jeanie caught some "orbs" in her photos. Pretty wicked. :)
After the ghost hunt, I drove back to the valley and met up with more chums.
And we partied a little bit. :)
Nate totally won the prize for awesome that night.
Ghoul love.
{Minnie loves everybody...}
I wanted to be a pirate this year, so I loved Kevin's costume {almost} the best.
But of course everyone else looked fantastic. ;)
Because I'm a bimbo {means "poor" in Japanese... and something else entirely in American}, I went as a forest fairy thing {not a pirate}.
...Posing isn't my forte. Apologies for the face-making.
But the makeup was loads of fun to do. :)
{I love to experiment.}
After the party, some friends stuck around to watch episodes of Supernatural.
It was so scary, I made Edison sleep in my room afterwards.
{This is why big puppies are my favorites.}
How anyone could go near an old, creepy house where someone was murdered is beyond me.
Real ghost hunters are either the bravest people out there, or complete nutters.
Or maybe I'm just a big baby.
{Music credits: "The Violet Hour" by Sea Wolf; "Jai Ho!" by A. R. Rahman & PCD; "Never Think" by Rob Pattinson}
{I have a lot of stories to share during this upcoming week, so bear with me!}
We took our exchange student, Shinji, up to Temple Square last Sunday to a performance of Music and the Spoken Word.
And guess who else was up in the balcony with us?
You see so many familiar faces when you roam Salt Lake City, I'm telling you. :)
The statue of the Christus is a must-see at Temple Square.
Whenever I enter the room it's placed in, I sit on the cushioned seats, but always find myself rising up to wander closer to it. What it represents to me is so beautiful.
I love whole-family trips.
After the Temple Square tour in Japanese.
{Now that was interesting! Made me realize what I need to study next.}
In this photo, we're waiting for Pere to come pick us up.
{We were headed to a picnic in the park.}
Chan's a little monkey. :)
{He wasn't supposed to be on that side of the pond... but it made for a great photo!}
Two things Shinji loves: tennis & sightseeing.
We drove up one of the many canyons Utah houses and found life amidst the wintering trees.
And of course Raine came too!