Oh hey world! Sorry for going MIA there for a bit. Remember last October when I went to Disneyland with my family and left Jared at home and then told myself I would never do that again? Well . . .

This last week I headed up to Florida to spend some time hanging out and going to Disneyworld with  Jared's family! Jared wasn't invited. Actually he was, but we all knew that with med school it just wasn't going to happen. Boooo. We've been joking about making October the traditional "Laura goes to Disney without Jared" month every year for the rest of our lives. We're off to a great start2 for 2!

It was soooo fun! I'll just do a brief recap here because (A) I didn't take any pictures on the trip so I just have a few from my mother-in-law to post, and (B) I'm supposed to be working on editing a seriously huuuuge paper that is due at midnight. It feels a lot like I'm back in college, but now my editing deadlines come with paychecks. Real life is great.

I'd never been to Disney World, or even Florida, before, so it was so fun to see everything for the first time. On our first park day, we checked out Harry Potter World in Universal Studios.  I loved the Hogsmeade/Hogwarts Castle side of Harry Potter World. There's a new section, Diagon Alley, in another part of Universal Studios, but I didn't love it quite as much as I loved the Hogsmeade setup.
Jared's brother, Will, was my cool little buddy on this trip. We loved to go on all the rides together and, of course, watch cartoons every time we went back to the hotel. Those Lambert boys and their cartoons . . . it's the best. I'm going to stay a kid forever if those two have anything to say about it.

In Hogsmeade they have lots of fun shops from the book, like the 3 Broomsticks (the frozen butterbeer was definitely everything I hoped and dreamed it would be), Ollivander's Wand Shop, Honeydukes, and more. I brought back some Fizzing Whizzbees from Honedukes candy store. Not only do they really fizz and crackle, but they're also really tasty. Wizard candy win!

Bonus: The Harry Potter soundtrack just came onto my Pandora station. Magic, people. Magic.
Why yes, my hair did look like that during a good 80% of the trip! Why do you ask? Haha, I've definitely gotten into some bad habits in Grenada, like never doing my hair. Also, because I'm used to the most humid climate in the world (I'm pretty sure), Florida felt bone dry to me. Like, my heels were almost cracking. Man, it's going to be a rough Christmas break in Utah for my spoiled feet . . .

Funnily enough, the only pictures from the trip where my hair looks normal is in the screenshots Jared would take of me every night when we Skyped. Love that guy. Our chats are the best.
My favorite part of the trip was when we spent an evening in the Magic Kingdom section of Disney World for Mickey's Halloween Party. If you're ever going to go to Disney World, go for the Halloween Party! It's so magical and decorated, and the fireworks show was amazing. Also, you get to go trick-or-treating. They give you bags and then employees grab handfuls of good candy out of giant barrels and fill your bag up. Plus, the ride lines were way short. Perhaps it was because the party was from 4:00 on and most people want to spend all day there? Or maybe it was because mostly little kids showed up for the party and they hung out on the kiddie rides? I don't know, but pretty much the longest we ever had to wait in line was 10 minutes. It was nice to spend time with family in the lit-up Magic Kingdom. Such a magical feeling! (I promise I'll stop saying "magic" now.)

I don't have any pictures from that part of the trip, but in case you aren't sick of seeing pictures of me in various oceans and pools yet, here's a picture of us in the lovely hotel pool! I ordered a new swimsuit and sent it to the Lambert home in Washington. My mother-in-law was kind enough to bring it to me instead of keeping it for herself.
Other highlights of my Florida trip included a trip to Costco (the other happiest place on earth), finally satisfying my hot wings craving at a really cool sports bar, and seeing several pretty little jets in the convention center where Jared's dad spent much of his time for work. And, of course, that all of these fun times were spent with family (oh how I've missed family!) in America (oh how I've missed America!).
When all was said and done, I was grateful to be flying home to Jared, even though I was leaving behind a miraculous king-sized bed, American food (appreciate your food America! Appreciate it!!), some perfect weather, and so many other niceties. When I landed in Grenada and stepped off the plane onto a muggy runway, noisy with the sound of chirping tree frogs, it felt like home. I was so happy to see Grenadian faces in the airport, and also that the customs lady wasn't in a terrible mood so I didn't get charged taxes on random things, like my 150 lbs of Costco snacks. Excessive? Nah.

My new job has been keeping me really busy since I got back, and all of a sudden, for no really good reason, I love life on this island. Perhaps it's because I sat next to this rich British lady on the flight to Grenada, who spent the entire flight telling me how much she adores Grenada, and how she and her husband just bought a boat and will be living on it in a Grenadian harbor. Perhaps it's because I know that Christmas and Utah are just around the corner. Perhaps it's because I have a job now and know that our living arrangements next term will be much more ideal than they have been this term. Whatever it is, I'm happy. We may be living something of an unconventional life down here, but I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. Unless I could choose to banish the mosquitoes and franchise a Cafe Rio. Then I would do that. But otherwise, things are peachy.
A Vacation from Vacation

*"Wids" is an abbreviation I just made up. It's short for "med-school widows." So, yaaa . . .

Grenada can be a cruel lady when it comes to food.

>> One time I bought a bag of plantain chips that were so stale that I'm pretty sure they were shipped here by a jolly good friend of Christopher Columbus back in 1492. We considered holding on to the chips in case we ever need to use them as kindling to start a fire for burning other stale foods, but in the end we just invited our BFF over for dinner and made him eat them for us.
>> I like to keep frozen chicken and frozen fruit in our freezer. Too bad we experience power outages every few weeks that give the frozen goods just enough time to melt and then freeze back together in one giant unbreakable food block. Chicken blocks and fruit blocks can only be penetrated by being forcefully hurled against walls. Good thing we don't have downstairs neighbors. I just know they would think we have a ritual of brutally murdering someone every third Tuesday after brunch.

>> Other island food tragedies include local beef that tastes like sour grass, corn on the cob that has the texture of bouncy balls, a chicken I bought for $20 EC that came packaged with a cute little baggy of its liver and gizzards and brain (and a truly horrifying amount of blood), and odd ingredient substitutions I have to invent whenever I need something that hasn't come in on the most recent shipment (so . . . every time).

It's really not all as bad as I just made it sound though. I've had some excellent local food here and some downright fun adventures at the grocery store. (My favorite days are the days when local men hit on me in the "ethnic foods" aisle and then offer to be my personal grocery store tour guide. Then I say, "I'm murried," and they say, "Can I have some money?" Seriously, grocery days are bomb.)

PLUS, Grenada totally blows America out of the water when it comes to my favorite cereals. Remember when Trix used to have awesome shapes and taste, oh, good? Well, thank you Grenada for returning my childhood! All is right with breakfast again. Dear America, I'm genuinely sorry that you must tolerate those colorful "Trix" balls of yours, made of whole grains, styrofoam, and LIES.
One of my favorite memories of settling down in Grenada happened in our second week here. I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the newness of everything, but then in the bulk foods store I saw something old. Not like nasty plantain chips old, but like throwback to the good times old. When I was a kid, my favorite cereal in the world was Post's Blueberry Morning. It was kind of like Honey Bunches of Oats, but actually five trillion times better. Unfortunately, Post "stopped making it" when I hit my junior high years. I'm going to blame junior high for that one instead of Post. Thanks for nothing, junior high! Turns out, Post was just moving their beautiful product to Grenada.
I'm winning some food battles and losing others, but overall things ain't too bad on this lovely little speck of land.

Silly Rabbit, Trix are for Wids*!

>> Husband rocked all his midterms last week and was free as a bird for two whole days.

>> We made a trip to downtown St. George's with friends. Jared has lived inside a 2-mile-wide bubble these past few months. He was giddy to go exploring and in awe of how beautiful Grenada's ports are.

>> I was offered my dream job! I am now a part-time editor for an awesome online company and I get to work in the comfort of my own bedroom. This means unlimited snack breaks and freedom to wear pajamas to the office. Guys. This is the most excited I've been about anything since I found out I would be living in swimsuits for two years!

>> On Saturday we ate a celebratory lunch at a cute restaurant overlooking the beach. The waitress accidentally gave us the wrong sandwiches, but they were delicious so we ate them anyway. Then we realized that the couple behind us had been waiting for their sandwiches for well over an hour. We paid and booked it out of there before they could realize that we had eaten their orders. If we had stuck around any longer our heads might have been machete chopped off.

>> Jared and I went on a trail run to Hog Island. The trail took us through a rainforest path surrounded on all sides by paranoid crabs. Some were orange. Some were navy blue. Some were tiny. Some looked like they could bite our legs off. All scurried into their holes the second we got near. After about twenty minutes, we crossed a long bridge over the ocean and arrived on Hog Island.

>> From Hog Island, we looked out and saw another little island in the distance. It looked to have a beautiful beach and a picturesque resort. It wasn't long before we realized that the island in the distance was Calivigny Island, a private island where Kim Kardashian and Kanye West vacationed a few months ago. You should definitely check it out here. It's glamorous stuff. Plus, you can see the Grenada mainland in the background of much of the video. This island of ours really is a lovely place.


Elements of a Really Great Weekend

Earlier this week when I went outside to hang some clothes on the line to dry, I was met with a piece of paper, folded in half and tucked into a hot pink clothes pin. It was a notice from Grenada Electricity Services Limited, announcing that the power would be out on Thursday 9th October from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm. It's a tribute to the patience I have learned in Grenada that instead of moaning when I read said notice, I fist pumped because they had let us know a full two days ahead of time instead of letting it be a surprise like it usually is! We were prepared to leave the house when everything shut off and not come back until the evening.

When the computer went down at 8:50 sharp (the equivalent of 8:30 in island time), our apartment got blazing hot in ten seconds flat and we high-tailed it to Jared's blessed air-conditioned campus. Jared memorized every anatomical structure in the entire human body while I pinned every fishtail braid on my entire Pinterest feed. By the time I had pinned every braid in existence, Jared still hadn't memorized even half of his anatomical structures (not that it's a contest or anything, buuuut I totally kicked his trash). At that point I was feeling so high on life and so low on ideas for things to do in the library that we went and got victory hot dogs from the campus hot dog stand man. A paradise lunch at its finest. I relished it so much. (<<< nailed it!)

At this point I had the epiphany that a cancerous amount of hours spent at the university club pool would be the only way to fill the rest of my day. So off I went. Five hours and three strange tan lines later, I went home to shower and wait for the power to return. Jared came home around 5:20 (the equivalent of 5:00 in island time) and the power was nowhere to be found. We didn't want to open the fridge because we knew the food inside was already struggling for survival, so I said, "I have the smartest idea. Let's go back to the pool and split a kid's meal for dinner!" (No promises that we will ever grow out of kids' meals. Or cartoons. Or gummy vitamins. Or "truth or dare.")

So we put on our swimsuits and hopped on a bus. The driver was speeding like he had a death wish and he almost killed a few roadside goats, but we made it safely to the pool just in time for an unreal sunset. We didn't swim, but we did share a fancy drink (lemon-lime with bitters) (actually just Sprite with ginger ale with cranberry juice) and split a delightful meal of chicken tenders, fries, and watermelon. Then we blew bubbles and had a cannon-ball contest. Just kidding. Then we sat real close and watched the sun set into the ocean. It really felt like we were on a honeymoon, at least until the mosquito sprayers came around with repellent smokers and gas masks. But really, tonight I am thankful for prolonged power outages. It made for the loveliest evening with the handsomest dude.
p.s. After three sun-filled days in a row, my hair is turning blonde! I'm actually feeling really okay about this. I also have a really obnoxious sunglasses tan line. Considering how much fun I've been having though and how little appearances matter here, I'm not even bothered.
Minor Setbacks are My Fave

Yesterday I made a brief trip "downtown" with some friends. "Downtown" is the heart of St. George's, where cruise ships arrive and you can visit all sorts of fun markets for food and souvenirs. 

One of the best highlights of downtown is the smoothie shop in the mall. You can get familiar flavors like chocolate or strawberry, or you can go local with flavors like five fingers (starfruit), sea moss (algae), paw paw (papaya), or passion fruit. Each smoothie puts Jamba Juice to shame, and the prices aren't half bad either. This time around I got a sour sop smoothie. Sour sop is a fruit with a fleshy white interior and a spiky green exterior. It's sweet, but as the name suggests, there are also some sour undercurrents. It's not a fruit that I would want to attack with my mouth every day, but every once in a while in smoothie form it hits the spot.
My other favorite thing to do downtown is walk around the spice market. The first time I went, I came home with a little bag of fresh nutmeg and a tiny metal grate to grate it with. I use it in soups and smoothies and pumpkin things, and it tastes GRATE (haha . . . grate). As far as souvenirs go, I'm going to bring my brothers back bamboo everything for Christmas. I hope bamboo is in style in the states, but if it's not, they'll be wearing it anyway.  It is all the rage over here.

Finally, the fruit and vegetable stands (pictured below) are a superb place to find fresh roasted peanuts, green oranges, and if you're lucky, tomatoes. (Oh how I miss fresh tomatoes!) Next time I go I'll be sure to have someone hack off the top of a coconut for me so I can drink the insides. So far I've been hesitant to do this because of the horror stories I've heard about women having their faces chopped off with machetes and never seeing their noses again, but I'm not sure I believe those stories. I need to just man up and try it.  Hopefully my next St. George's blog post isn't a picture of me without a nose, sipping coconut water happily through a straw.
Downtown

Jared with our sweet niece, Mae. She is currently the desktop picture on his laptop and the topic of many conversations about "cute things." Jared might love blood and guts and Bigfoot and guns, but he positively melts around baby girls.
The first thing Jared said to me when he woke up this morning was, "I was thinking about our future babies." No introduction, no good morning--he just dove right into it.

"Oh really?" I asked, "What were you thinking about them?"

"Oh, just how I'm always going to play video games with them and stuff."

Other statements that Jared has recently made about our "future babies" include the following:

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Jared: "I'm going to teach our babies philosophy and we'll have rooms for different trades so they can all learn a trade. There will be a wood-working room, a video-game room [because video-gaming is a trade now?], a metallurgy room . . . " 
Me: "What about the girls' trade rooms Jared? Do they get any special rooms?" 
Jared:"Ya, those are the girls' rooms." Silly me.

-----

Building on that last one . . .
Jared: "We're only going to have girl babies, ok? Lots and lots of little girls. But we should also I guess have one boy baby so we can pass down the family name." 

-----

Laura: "What's your favorite color today, Jare?"
Jared: "Babies."

-----

And finally,
Jared: "I'm excited for when we'll be able to move back to America. We'll be so strong. And you'll be so pregnant." Wait . . . what?? 

(Don't necessarily count on that last one, guys. He's a big talker.)


On Jared's Mind

Fall is a thing that, well, isn't really a thing here.

The leaves don't change color.

Halloween doesn't exist.

It would be frowned upon to wear cute boots and suicidal to wear a sweater.

But gosh, I love Fall so much that yesterday I said, "What the heck. I have twelve free hours and a pad of scrapbook paper. I'm going to watch movies and decorate."

It's amazing how a 6x6-inch pad of pretty papers, cut into shapes and sewn with the needle and thread from my sewing kit, turned our boring white-washed house into a semi-festive home. The only decorations we brought with us were a large wedding picture, the aforementioned scrapbook paper, and that white picture frame that we got as a wedding present. It came with a cute insert for every season. This week I learned that it really doesn't take much to liven a place up, or to keep myself entertained.

I'm so crafty. (But you already kno-ow).
Autumn

Reason #1:
Reason #2:
Hanging clothes out to dry is like washing your car: it always rains right after you 
finally decide to do it. (At least we have a covered porch so the damage is minimal)

Reason #3:
Similar to reason #1. Sometimes I'll go out to collect our dry laundry after dinner when it's just getting dark, and I'll find cockroaches and other strange creatures weaving in and out of the beach towels. It's like a not-for-profit insect ballet.

Reason #4:
It's 90% humidity here most of the time. Thus, even when our clothes have "dried," they'll always remain a little damp when they come off the line.

Reason #5:
The crusty factor. Doesn't matter if I add fabric softener; air-dried socks are just crunchy.
(And also a little damp. I don't understand how it works either.)
Despite the cons of drying clothes on a line, I'm glad to be doing it. Like living without a dishwasher and not having a car, it's giving me some fun memories and making it so I'll be that much more grateful for the luxuries we'll have back in our life when we return to America.

Reasons I'm Excited to Get a Dryer Next Year

video
₪ Tropical rainstorms with lots of thunder (as long as I didn't just hang my clothes out on the line to dry). I wish I had been able to catch some thunder in the above video. The clouds hang really low to the ground here and the thunder shakes the house. The rain alone on our tin roof is loud enough that the first time we heard it, we thought the whole island was flooding and about to sink into the ocean. Probably because of the sinfulness of the people who were taking so long to set up our internet.

₪ Mornings when the loud rain wakes us while it's still dark outside. Without fail, such mornings call for a lit candle, waffles in bed, and a cartoon or two together before Jared hits the books.

₪ Our best friend who walks us home and protects us on our sketchy road after it gets dark. This best friend has four legs and wags her tail when she sees us get off the bus. Also she might have fleas.

₪ The ten-year-old local boy who stands by the roundabout and scolds Jared for holding hands with "my wife" as he follows us home from church. When I'm alone, he professes his love for me every time I walk by. I'm pretty sure he's learning how to work the Americans and make money for it someday, but for now it's mostly just harmless and cute (but also 25% creepy).

₪ Gummy vitamins for lunch.

₪ When I get to the grocery store right after the ship comes in to restock so I can buy important items like milk and eggs and brownie mixes and Jared's favorite Tostitos lime tortilla chips.

₪ Fresh spices. Fresh coconut water. Fresh pineapples.

Dear American Pineapples,

You think you are cool but you have no personality.

Sincerely,
The Island Pineapples
_____________________________________________________________________________

Dear American Pineapples,

I'm sorry that the Island Pineapples are hurtful (really, those spiky leaves are merciless) and rude. Unfortunately though, they are famous for their honesty. I still think you taste pretty good though.

Sincerely,
Laura

A Few of My Favorite Things (Grenada Edition)

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