Saturday, December 18, 2010

Camera Shy

Isn't it interesting how as we get older we get less and less accommodating when someone tries to take our picture?  It seams like for the most part we all start out oblivious to the camera, and then once we learn what it means when that gadget is whipped out, we either love it or hate it.  As time goes on we get goofier and sillier and as kids and we find it amusing to do do weird things for a photo.  Later on our ridiculous behavior either gets worse as teenagers.  Or instead, in embarrassment we tend to hide or to blend in with the furniture, like chameleons.  Finally as adults we either give up and ignore the camera completely, accept our lot and suffer through, or good-naturedly smile and strike a pose.  What triggers this continual love/hate relationship through life with being seen on film (or rather at this point in time digitally).

Mirna's favorite toy to play with me, whenever I am over, is either my phone or my camera (though the latter is more so probably because it meows when it turns on).  She loves to look at the photos on my phone and she loves to have her photo taken.  If I try to take a photo of someone or something else she always says, "No, Mirna."

I wonder what direction this little girl's love of seeing herself captured digitally will evolve into.   For now,  I think I'll just have fun while it lasts!


PS. Sorry about posting twice in one day, the post before this one was some thing I started a few days ago, but have been down with a cold and only got it posted today.

Let there be light!

Tuesday we decided to go down and look at the lights at Temple Square, since Marina had never seen them before.  Fortunately for us it wasn't too cold and we were able to get down there at about 1730, before the crowds swarmed in.

It has definitely changed over the years to encompass the part of Main Street between the Salt Lake Temple and the Joseph Smith Memorial building, as well as the grounds around the Church Office Building and the Conference Center. 

I love to see the temple lit upon a sea of Christmas lights.

I wish that we would have been able to show Marina, Malik and Sergio more but the girls started getting antsy and we decided it was best to get them home.  Who knows maybe with girls being older next year we'll be able to see more.


(Again I ended up having to take the photos with my phone).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Wonderland

It's amazing how winter paints things in frosty and subdued colors.  The light makes it feel as if there is as an ethereal white haze over everything.  I decided to take a walk in the back yard to see what winter had wrought while I was gone and this is what I found!

Why do you think that the rose hips change color when it's cold?  Do you think that like their fruit bearing neighbors, they think to attract animals in search of food, or is it Natures way of being festive....your guess is as good as mine.

I think that our plants are going to have a very confusing winter this year.  It snowed pretty hard around Thanksgiving and now this morning it was raining, which hastened the already melting snow.  I hope that it doesn't end up hurting the leaf buds on the trees.

It seems that the moisture and abnormal temperature changes, are also encouraging lichen and moss growth.  I would laugh if we ended up with greenery on our soil and cement like they had in France and Croatia, even during the winter.

Well, sorry for the lack of profound thought today, I was just mesmerized by nature's pallet and tableau.

Hope that you are enjoying the winter scenery where ever you may happen to be.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making Adjustments

Well it was an adventure.  Sorry to leave you high and dry for three days, but I felt that I should give myself a little bit of time to recuperate and reajust to my life here in the States again. Needless to say that after flight delays, missing flights, sick kids and 24 hours without sleep, it was a necessary respite. 

I am excited to start December, it has always been a special month for me.  It reminds me of years past attending the Nutcracker with my mom, cardboard sledding with my younger brother, and decorating for Christmas.

It's a time that most associate with good will and commercialism, but I like to think of it as a time to use my talents to bring a smile to those around me.  It has always been fun to sleuth out what each family member might like or need and come up with a creative way to give it to them.  Be it a scarf for my mom. or a painting for my dad, I always like to put a lot of thought into Christmas gifts each year.

Most of all I think the things that make me smile the most are the almost magical transformations of the winter season.  All that might have been dirty, or confused, is covered in a pristine blanket of white.  It adds a mystical quality to the same neighborhood I see every day.  As if the events of the past are made clean in preparation for the coming new year.

I wish you a happy beginning of December, and hope that you are warm and cozy tonight!


Monday, November 29, 2010

1 Day and Counting

Today I ended up mostly walking around down town on my own.  I went to lunch with two of the friends that I had made at church and then decided to shop around a little bit.

I was nice to be able to get out and see things one last time.  I suspect that most of tomorrow will be spent packing and cleaning and getting ready to go.We already weighed on of the big bags and it came out at 22,5 kilos, and the limit is 23.  We may have some rearranging to do.

Zagreb is really a wonderful city, charming and full of such a rich history.  I has been such a pleasure and a priviledge to be able to come here not just as a tourist but to be able t get to know it, a little from the "inside," by living amongst some of it's people and being able to share in their customs and traditions, and well as share some of my own.  I have come for the most part to think of Marina's family as my own extended family.

 Me, Zdenko, Tete Ana, Marijah, and Mirna

I think one of my goals when I get home is learn more about the country of Croatia, and to learn more about Zagreb itself.  I know for now I have only scratched the surface.  I will miss getting to know it better personally, face to face.  I hope that I will be able to return here very soon.

~ Fraise

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Last Sunday

It's hard to believe that I leave in only three days.  It seemed like I would be here forever when I got here!  It seemed to slip away so fast.  Today was my last Sunday to attend church in this delightful branch of the church.

 Me, back: Elder Pasche, Elder Hadley, front: Elder Nita, Elder Wood

I decided to give the missionaries a final parting Christmas gift, and drew some visual aids for teaching the Plan of Salvation, as some of them mentioned wishing for something like that.  I also wrote down some of the activities that we had done when I was in the mission field to encourage members and investigators.

 Sister Nelson, Me, Sister Stratton

They were so happy!  It felt good to be able to contribute to the missionary work here.

Me, Daniel, background: Ljubica (Daniel's mom)

I have made some awesome friends here.  They have been so kind and have made me feel really at home.  I got the chance to spend a little more time with Daniel and his mom today as we were riding the same tram, they even waited with me until Zdenko came to pick me up.

 Jasna and Me

I have come to realize that there are two kind of people in this world those that are content to stay where it is comfortable and safe, in surroundings that they are accustomed to.  The other type is one that can fit in and feel comfortable almost anywhere, even if they don't speak the language or know the local customs, they adapt and grow through their experiences. Marina said that for her she needs the support system and comfort of her family and friends to help her feel at peace.

I'm coming to realize that I am more of the latter.  It's true I will always miss my family no matter where I am, but I feel at home, and an adjust my life to where ever I happen to find myself.    I think the reason that I am able to adapt so easily is not just my love and excitement for the adventure of discovering a new culture and language.  I think it is also the way I "find my center," as Marina puts it, is in the local ward or branch or ward in the church.  I feel like I belong no matter where I am and I feel connected through the members and the friendships I make there.

Maybe it helps that I am a free spirit too.  Always to some extent "doing my own thing."  What ever that special something is, my genuine personality and and original zest shine through and I find my place even when I am quite literally "out of place."


Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Little Shoe Therapy

Yesterday after a long and boring day waiting at a clinic for Gabby the see a doctor (she has the remnants of a cold and has not been able to kick it) Marina and I decided to go with one of her friends, Branka, for some good old fashioned "shoe therapy."  We went to a new shopping center called Garden Mall.  It has a lot of fun stores inside, including a favorite of mine from my previous European life: Promod.

It is a french store that I have long followed ever since my first January sales on my mission.  I was so excited to see it.  Unfortunately, they seem to run the same trend here that they do in France, in that they may have a little bit of a sale on merchandise here and there  but their big sales are in January and July.  Things start off at 25-30%and then move through the month to 75-85% at the end of the month.  Of course even though the prices may be great at the end of the month, the selection usually isn't. All of us had a good time going through the store, neither Marina or Branka had ever heard of or been to a Promod before and they were delighted by it's originality and compatibility with different styles and layering.  Unfortunately the pricing still wasn't in our favor.  I told Marina that either the next time we came to Croatia we would need to come in January "or," she said, "we need to bring enough money!"  Still to see a store I love here, made me smile.

We had fun going to a few other stores to look at things, and then to Müller, a German sort of grocery store a where I found some really pretty straw Christmas tree ornaments.  While we were at Promod I had explained to Branka, who was struggling to remember my name, that Mirna had taken to calling me Sisi instead of Lacee, as a way to make her laugh.  Well the name stuck and when we were in line at Müller she picked up some chocolate santas saying, "One for , Mirna, one for Gabby and one for Sisi."  It made Marina and I giggle, but in the end it was easier for her to remember than my real first name, and frankly I didn't mind.

Our main order of shopping was to help me find a more suitable substitute for my current, walking long distance and getting around in the wet, shoes: my 8 year old worn out sneakers.  I mainly brought them to exercise in but unfortunately most of the other footwear I brought caused pain if worn and walked in up and down hill and all over the place, as well and could deal with the semi constant rain we've had.  So I have shoes for going out to look nice and shoes for church, but not much else.  This just would not do, and my dear friend thinks too highly of me to let me substitute these grungy old things for everything else.  We were on a mission.

We were lucky enough that Branka also knew about a magazine for sale at the news stand that had a 30% off coupon for Banta, where coincidentally I had found a pair of ankle boots that I really liked.   Then as luck would have it I found a British brand pair of walking shoes that fit perfectly and looked really nice. 

It felt so good and liberating to get new shoes and to go shopping with friends.  Marina even mentioned that This really as theraputic.  Mission accomplished!