Friday, October 31, 2008

Change of Life

A lot of people don't like change. They're in their own little comfortable bubble and if anybody bursts that bubble, they don't know what to do and all of a sudden their lives are chaotic and in all sorts of distress. Not me. I love change! I thrive off it, I have to consistently have it to survive. I told Lance I don't know if I could ever handle buying a house because after about 2 years I'd want to move again. We're nowhere near buying a house stage of life, but we are moving 2500 miles next week. I really enjoy moving because it changes every aspect of life. Where we work, go to school, where we live, shop, drive, what ward we're in, what callings we have, the culture, the climate, the people we interact with everyday. I love all of that. But, change is hard. I think that's why most people don't care for change, because its hard and requires effort and a little bit of faith. Change effects the way we think because of our surroundings and because of the people we interact with. That to me is a miracle.

I cannot say enough about how great moving to Charleston has been for us as husband and wife, but specifically for me. I have a whole new outlook on life and the gospel. I am so much more open minded and "free." I feel like a completely new person and I'm honestly scared to leave Charleston because I don't ever want to lose the things I've learned. I don't ever want my memory to fade of all my experiences here and the things I've come to learn and love. Yes, I'm terrified at the thought of moving away. I still love change and because of change alone, I'm excited to move. I often ponder of the things I'll be faced with in the next few years whether good or bad, and wonder how certain things are possible? But I leave it all in the hands of the Savior. He is my Maker and the Creator of heaven and earth. Surely if anyone knows, He does.

I really love this quote by President James E. Faust,"Each new day that dawns can be a new day for us to begin to change. We can change our environment. We can change our lives by substituting new habits for old. We can mold our character and future by purer thoughts and nobler actions. As someone once put it, “The possibility of change is always there, with its hidden promise of peace, happiness, and a better way of life.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What A Week

This past week my parents and younger brother and sister were in town visiting for 5 days. It was a lot of fun and due to too many pictures in a few jam packed days and lack of time, I will only include a few details. The first few days we spent in Charleston. We toured the city, the Aiken-Rhett house, Drayton Hall Plantation, Provost Dungeon and Old Exchange Building, Fort Sumter, Calhoun mansion, went on a walking ghost tour, shopped at the market and ate out a lot. WHEW!! It was definitely a busy week to say the least.

I wanted to post this story about the Hunley, a submarine that was commissioned in July 1863 and never found until 1995, only four miles off the coast of Sullivan's Island (next to Charleston)..........ok so I just summed it up for you but really, read the caption that's on display at Ft. Sumter seen below.

On the ghost tour we walked through parts of downtown as we listened to (mostly) true ghostly Charleston lore. I loved every bit of it and most tour guides will tell a tourist anything because lets face it, tourists are gullible and will believe anything. But after we got home, Lance and I looked up the stories and indeed they are true. This picture is in the Circular Congregational Church graveyard. This is the oldest grave in Charleston, buried in 1695 (the round brick tombstone). In the 17th century all of the building material was brick because stone had to be imported from Europe, therefore this unusual tombstone was made of brick. (Just FYI, most buildings downtown have stucco over the brick with lines scored in the stucco to give the appearance of stone). I thought this was so cool to see the oldest grave in the city, way awesome!
Do you see the sign with the arrow pointing to the brick wall? This is part of the original brick wall that surrounded the city in 1703 and is located underneath the Provost Dungeon. The city was eight square blocks, had a mote and a draw bridge and the wall was primarily for protection. I found it unbelievable that something so historic is still around over three centuries later.

Thursday we drove up to Asheville, NC to pick up my sister at the airport and toured the Biltmore Estate. Yes, ginormous doesn't even come close to describing this house and because its so large, I couldn't fit it all in one picture.

This is the largest privately owned home in America built by George Vanderbilt completed in 1895. He inherited all his money from his father and grandfather who made their money in the railroad industry. George's father was a brilliant businessman, doubling his fortune in only 8 years and in today's money that calculates to over 96 8 years.....................can you imagine? The house is 175,000 square feet or 4 acres, whichever way you want to look at it. His property sat on 125,000 acres and he planted over 3 million trees. The house was equipped with all the 19th-century novelties such as elevators, forced-air heating, centrally-controlled clocks, fire alarms and an intercom system. I must say it is expensive to visit, but this is our second time going and definitely well worth the trip. It's astonishing and completely mind boggling. It's definitely something you have to see in person because the grand size and detail of every nook and cranny has to be viewed in person, pictures don't do it justice. This is a sneak peak of a picture of the grand dining hall I found on the internet (pictures are not allowed in the house so it wasn't my camera).
The three amigos - me, Scott, and Christine - we had an awesome time together!

Waiting for Mom and Dad to get done shopping at the gift shop.

My mom and dad on the bus ride back to the parking lot from the Biltmore. I think Dad got a second wind of energy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Board Games

Cranium is a relatively popular board game nowadays and its no exaggeration by any sense that I'm quite horrible at it. I'm one of those that would rather sit on the sidelines and make fun of everyone doing what's on the cards. I had to post this because it was so good and clever. Forgive me for not knowing all the technical terms of the game but one of the cards asks every team playing to draw with their eyes closed. The clue was thing and we had to draw a toilet. Poor Lance doesn't even stand a chance when he's on my team, we always come in dead last. But Krystal is quite the artist, so much so that I had to take a picture. She drew this toilet and Matt had guessed it in seriously half a second, it was hilarious! He only guessed toilet because of the awesome action going on with the stick figure.

I think Michelle quickly learned I'm no good at this. Perhaps it's bored game instead of board game?

Josh is trying to act out Death Valley.

No explanation.

Halloween Extravaganza

Last night we went with several friends out to Hollywood to a Halloween Extravaganza put on by the local high school. We've never been before so we really didn't have any expectations but we knew there was a haunted house and that was reason enough to go. The price was a little misleading so we ended up paying more than double what we were prepared for. But we went on a haunted hay ride through the woods - it was awesome! I mean, I really don't get scared, every now and then I'm a little jumpy but not a whole lot. Well this got a good scream or two out of me! It was very well done with costumes, skits, lighting, music, pyrotechnics, creepy clowns jumping into the trailer, plenty of chain saws, etc. Oh man, it was awesome!

Afterward, we waited in line for about and hour and a half, yes, AN HOUR AND A HALF just to get into the haunted house. By the time we were up to the front, I was done. I was so tired of waiting and standing, I was hungry, I was exhausted from the day. But I must say, it was worth the wait. I mean this was no ordinary haunted house, they went to every extreme you could think of - dead girl on the bathroom floor while another girl washes in a tub of blood, a demented doctor eating the guts of his screaming patient, scary fingers crawling up your back to your neck (and I knew it wasn't Lance's fingers because he was in front of me), skeletons jumping out at us from the muddy swamp, a mental guy chasing us with a chain saw, etc. I mean, very well done, probably the best haunted house I've been to, ever!

Some pretty neat outdoor decorations.

Matt and Krystal were the only brave ones to go through the haunted house with us.....and wait in line for so long. Who's that guy in the middle?

Drayton Hall Plantation

For some reason summer decided to end and winter sneaked up on us overnight, it was FREEZING all day! Of course, in comparison to Idaho weather we were blessed with a nice fall Saturday, but seriously, it was really cold! Nonetheless, we didn't let that stop us from touring the Drayton Hall Plantation. Can I just say that I feel bad for people who live in Charleston and never take the chance to visit the plantations. It's sad, they're missing out on so much history and culture. With that said, this is our favorite plantation and we really enjoyed every bit of it.

John Drayton built his plantation in 1738 just off the Ashley River. He was raised on the Magnolia Plantation with a silver spoon in his mouth and eventually came to own 30 plantations, tens of thousands of slaves, and many, many other properties and mansions including those along East Bay St. His family was among the first settlers in Charles Town and this plantation is one of the largest and the only one that has completely survived all the wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and military bombardment.
This is the privy. It obviously is not connected to the house but is much larger than most middle class home's back in the 1700's. You can see in the drawing below what it looked like inside. It was a seven seater, made of mahogany wood so all the guests would know of the wealth that the Drayton's had. Notice the little child's potty on the ends and even the back and arms rests for added comfort. I think the Drayton's brought new meaning to the phrase "party pooper."

We're getting cozy in the privy!

The following few pictures in the interior of the house are of the intricate detailed woodwork done by hand, mostly from slaves.

This is the grand double staircase. It was painted a bright red so that when guests entered they new a lot of money was spent on the stairs, red being the most expensive paint color. The actual hand rail was left unpainted so guests could see the Drayton's used mahogany wood.

This is the basement where the slaves did most of their work such as polishing the silver and ironing. As you can see it obviously is no where as lavish as the the other levels. Just a fireplace and few walls for separation.

Unfortunately, most of the other tourists in our group decided not to stop at the slave graveyard. It was unbelievable! They had about 30 known grave sites, only 8 of which were marked, but most of them you could see because the ground was so sunk in. It was astounding to see and since the weather was not cooperating that day, I couldn't really get a shot to show the depth perception. It was actually a very peaceful place, being several hundred yards away from the house in a little wooded area.

Archaeologists just started this excavation. This is the parking lot about 50 feet away from the slave graveyard. They've found remnants of bodies underneath the parking lot but since it was raining, it was all covered. It was very humbling to see this.

Friends and Food

We had an awesome chance to hang out with several friends Friday night. We have a missionary from California who's family owns a Mexican restaurant and he's been to culinary school. It was neat to have the missionaries over and have them cook for everyone instead of the other way around. Elder Redston, I'm beyond impressed! He made a Polynesian chicken dish with fresh ginger, pineapple, and rice while Matt and Krystal made their usual yummy spinach salad. Of course Matt and Debbie graciously hosted and provided most of everything, it was fantastic!

The head chef.

Matt and Krystal really love food.

Josh, I'm not quite sure if you're blowing on your chicken or serenading it?

Thanks so much Matt and Debbie!