14 December 2010

Welcome to the world!

Here is my new favorite boy, the beautiful Charlie. Welcome, my wonderful nephew! And congratulations to Rachel and Will!

06 December 2010

An Update

It's been quite some time since I've posted, so here are some interesting updates in my life:

1) I moved back to Oakland.
2) I cut off all my hair
3) I started working for this amazing organization.
4) I am eagerly awaiting a new nephew.
5) I am figuring out a new, very unique ward.
6) I started working on this.
7) I've started attending 5:30 am boot camp classes at the YMCA.

Hopefully, this will give you enough fodder to keep you interested. If not, check out this video to see some lovely singing:

12 April 2010

Baltic Tour Highlight #4: The Fab Four

The fab four: B, Estonian Buddy, Amazing Roommate and me in Tallinn's Raekoja Plats.

While there were many wonderful people on this tour, the four above were my standby, stalwart, Baltic pals. I’ve already blogged about my Estonian Buddy, and my Running Buddy, but rounding out the four was my Amazing Roommate.

She and I braved many things together, including, but not limited to: cold showers, sinus infections, early morning excursions in the cold, strange jet-lag, masses of black clothes, oddly-shaped key chains, sleep talking, and a conspicuous lack of clocks (apparently they don’t believe in having them in rooms in Estonia, Latvia, or Finland). To top it all off, we had some great late-night talks, and found we had more in common that we may have thought. Sharing a room with her made this trip just that much better.

All together, the four of us explored the Baltic cities, tried to make the bus rides less boring, did our best to stay warm at all times, endured each other’s humor and hand gestures, and somehow ended up in leadership roles none of us had particularly planned on.

The four of us in front of Tartu's Kissing Fountain.

The best parts, however, are the unplanned ones. After singing for the president of Latvia, all of us were tired and semi-cranky and we chose, instead of going on another group outing, to sit down to dinner together in a random Riga restaurant. We sat there for over three hours, gratefully next to a heater, talking about all kinds of things, but NOT about school. It has been some time since I have had a discussion like that, with people of that intelligence and caliber, where everyone left the table feeling enriched and happy. And full. Of really good food.

Thank you to the three of you. When people ask me what I loved the most about this trip, I say you.

Three of the four of us at a Latvian castle.

03 April 2010

Baltic Tour Highlight #3: Running in Foreign Lands

B is ready to run. I am protesting having my picture taken. What's new.

Readers of this blog will know that I am a runner. If you are a new reader (I may have some as of late), you can read about it here or here. Or my personal favorite, here. But I have never run in a foreign country. Until this last trip.

I had no idea how much I would enjoy two things:

First, there seems to me no better way to enjoy a new city than by running through it. Mostly, when I have run in new cities before, I have run on routes suggested by those who know the area or on roads I have scouted out beforehand. Here, I was able to really explore totally new places with no preconcieved ideas of where I was going. We just decided how long we were going to run for and left, finding the route as we went. As a result, I got to see some of the following things:

Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) in Tallinn

The Russian Orthodox Church in the Tallinn old town. When we went back later on, there was a beautiful service taking place.

One of the towers of Tallinn's medieval wall. They all have names, and while I don't know the name of this one, my favorite tower-name is Paks Margareeta, or Fat Margaret.

Second, running with a partner (pictured above). I have only run with others a couple of times, and, generally, I don't love it. My pacing is off, I can't listen to my podcasts, and I don't get that time alone that I really crave when running. Even when I have run races, I have mostly done it alone. But my lovely friend B and I both wanted to run while away, and we decided to do it together. It was way more fun than I anticipated. We chatted together, we explored together, we got cold and wet together (from the snow), and we were able to keep some kind of a normal routine together.

My favorite run was in Helsinki, when we joined by another and ran in a large loop around the city. The three of us had a great talk, the sun was out, and we saw some really fun stuff. Unfortuately, I didn't take any pictures there, so you will just have to take my word for it.

The funniest moment occurred after our first run of the trip in Tallinn. Just as we returned to the hotel, we ran into our advisor, who also likes to run. He looked at me, looked at B, and then asked "So B, could you keep up with Laney?" B, who is very much in shape and works out as much as I run, was not a fan of this particular question, which was asked in complete seriousness. He made a point of mentioning to multiple people later that he was not out of breath, or looking tired in any way (which was true). When we went on our next run in Tartu, and B beat me to the top of the hill, he was elated.

I made sure to tell our advisor.

31 March 2010

Baltic Tour Highlight #2: Actually Being in Estonia

Me, hanging out in Tallinn's medieval wall.

I have been studying Estonian for about 18 months now, and I started doing so for reasons too complicated to get into at this moment. However, one of those reasons was NOT that I had been to Estonia.

Needless to say, I was very excited to actually visit the country, after I had heard so much about it and spoke its relatively obscure language in class everyday for the last five quarters. I saw many things I had only read about, heard about, or seen hand-drawn pictures of. I spoke the language. I had whole interactions without English, even though almost everybody speaks English. I understood signs, and announcements, and random drunk people on the street. I bought Harry Potter in Estonian (For those interested, the Estonian title is "Harry Potter ja Tarkade Kivi" or "Harry Potter and the Smart Stone").

All of this was enormously satisfying. Me and my Estonian-class buddy began speaking to each other in Estonian almost as soon as we landed in the country--granted, he spoke much more than me. Mostly our conversations consisted of him saying something to me about where we were going, or describing something, and me replying with "Ja, on küll" (Yes, of course), or "Oh, Jah?" (Oh, yeah?). We even had an entire conversation in Estonian with Veljo Tormis, even though he wasn't that interested in talking to us. (This is a big deal. Ask any choral musician.) I was pretty anxious about my approximate-Estonian-age of about 4 1/2 years-old, but I managed to pull it off.

Me and my Estonian-class buddy, happy to be in Estonia, speaking Estonian (sort of).

29 March 2010

Baltic Tour Highlight #1: Unexpected Stop in Frankfurt

As many of you may know, I recently spent a week in Estonia, Latvia, and Finland with the UW Choirs. And, as far fewer of you know, we flew directly from Seattle to Frankfurt, Germany, which took a really long time.

I was not a fan of the long flight, but I was even less a fan of the six hour lay-over we had in the Frankfurt Airport waiting for the flight to Tallinn. Luckily, some very smart people thought ahead, and most of us made the 15-minute jaunt into downtown Frankfurt, where it was a surprisingly lovely day.

Beautiful old things:
Some very nice old monestary/convent (I can't remember). What I really love about this picture is all the beautiful flowers!

A square. We think this is the town hall square, as we saw a wedding party exiting across the way.
And even older things:

A church built on grounds dating back to the 9th century.

The inside of said church. Although it looks brick, actually all of the stone had been painted red with fake white mortar painted on. Don't ask me why!
And even some interesting new things:

The outside of a mall. Pretty neat stuff.
All worth the 3 Euros and the short train ride!

27 March 2010

Sweet Meet 2010

I know many of you are waiting on bated breath to see what happened to me in the Baltics last week. If you need a fix, check out this blog:

I promise, I will post my own personal highlights soon. However, I have been meaning to post about my experience at the Sweet Meet. About six weeks ago, I attended the Sweet Meet. You may refresh your memory about this event by reading my post about it from last year. In any case, this year, it was time for the ladies to bake, and I was excited. I made two kinds of cookies, and some amazing brownies, but I couldn't figure out a good way to display them. Half of this is about how good your dessert looks. I finally decided on the following:

Not only did it go for a good price, but it won a prize. The Eternal Perspective prize.