Why yes, I am aware that my broken hair needs some help. But hey, at least I've got length!
This evening, as the sun was slowly setting, I took my Kindle out to our veranda. I’m reading a series that I really love (it’s called Wool, written by Hugh Howey—the first book is free on Amazon so go read it!), but after just a couple of pages I was finding that I was much more interested in just enjoying the perfect breeze and looking at the beautiful pink sky and thinking. And for the first time since moving here, I loved Grenada. And that’s significant.

Oh sure, I’ve liked Grenada before. Liked it as a friend. A friend who’s nice to talk to and fun to hang out with, but it’s not like I wanted to be with it 24/7 and grow old together with it. So sure, I've liked Grenada often enough, but I never really like liked it, and I certainly didn’t love it. But as of tonight, I do. (Maybe not in a grow-old-together way, but at least in a long-term-relationship way.)

Sitting out there in my shorts and t-shirt on the veranda, looking out on our gorgeous, very private backyard and letting myself enjoy the breeze, I felt at home. The palm trees were comfortable. The sky was comfortable. The fact that I'm surrounded on all sides by vast oceans was comfortable. I enjoyed the fact that I can literally do whatever I want here most afternoons (more often than not I want to sit in my air-conditioned room and read or write or sort laundry, but I’m coming to terms with the okay-ness of that), and I even enjoyed the sounds of the chirping insects (but not the tree frogs).  It was the feeling that I get when I go on a summer campout, but minus the sleeping on the ground part. You know, the feeling of sitting by the fire at dusk and watching the stars appear, and taking in the beauty and quiet of the surrounding forest, and just being at peace.

Tonight was significant not for the excellent weather or for the especially lovely sunset. It was significant because it was a turning point. I truly believe that once I decide that I love something (or someone, or some place) and I remind myself of that feeling often, there’s no turning back, even on imperfect days. When I began working at Campus Floral after my freshman year in college, I loved the job immediately. I loved my coworkers and being surrounded by flowers and learning new skills every day. I remember walking from the library, up over the bridge, and past the Marriot Center on my way to work and consciously thinking, “Wow, I love my job.” Daily! And I think that by telling myself that every day, it made the long days, or the days when an angry customer called in, fine. Sure there were sticky parts of the job, but unlike most other jobs I’ve had (not the dream job I have now though), I never really thought to myself, “Nah, I don’t love this. Please let it be time to move on to something else.” If today is any indicator of how I’m going to be feeling during the next year and a half in Grenada, and I think it is, then all the insane ups and downs (and more downs) of the past 7 months will have been worth it.

Up until today, I’ve put on a happy face when I left the house, but there was always this subconscious feeling of being trapped and counting down the days until we would be able to move on to the next phase of life. To the phase that is in a more familiar country, and where I can text my family members at annoying times of the night. But not anymore. Because now I love it here. Even if only by myself, during those perfect dusk hours, looking out from our back veranda. I love it here. And that is significant.

One of my favorite things about living in Grenada will always be the abundance of amazing fresh fruit. While the prices on imported items at the grocery store sometimes make me cry, I can always count on the Wednesday Market or the L'Ance Aux Epines (our village--we live in a village!) fruit-stand man to give me a bag full of produce goodies for a dollar or two.

The fruit in the above pictures is called a French Cashew--or at least it's called that in Grenada. They just recently came into season, and let me tell ya, they are hands down my new favorite exotic fruit. On the outside they look similar to an apple, but the inside is white and fleshy and has the texture of a pear. The best part is the taste. The French Cashew, no joke, has the flavor of a delicious rose. That's the consensus that Jared and I came to, at least. No, it does not taste like perfume. Yes, it is probably a direct descendant of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I hope you all get to try it at some point in your life!
This is a mini grapefruit. It has the appearance, texture, and flavor of a grapefruit, but mini-er. That's really all I have to say about that. I just had to post a picture because anything in mini form is adorable. Also, I feel really cool when I eat these with a tiny spoon. When I cut this grapefruit open this afternoon, I wasn't really in the mood to eat it, so instead I squeezed the juice into my mini blender (because why break with the mini trend now?), tossed in a few dark cherries and frozen peach slices, poured in a slosh of orange juice and a cup of water, and blended it into a seriously amazing smoothie. Grenada smoothies = heaven. Sometimes I have three a day. And then my digestive tract is like, "But why?" And my stomach is like, "Just because. You'll get over it." And the world keeps spinning on.

Blogging about Fruit

Wow, it's been a loooong time since I've had to just throw in the towel, stop what I'm doing, and stomp on over to my computer to have a good ol' vent session on my blog to just let out all the rage and feel better about something. Whatever. I do all my best writing when I'm angry and exhausted. (sarcasm.)

I am exhausted. Early morning seminary has turned into this thing where the boys I teach will sneak out during the lesson and break into my car (I lock all the doors and triple check them, so this is concerning) and press all the buttons and steal my pepper spray and spray each other and then somehow I never see my pepper spray again? (Scary.) And when seminary's over and I'm like, "Guys, get out of my car and walk up to the bus stop. You have to go to school and I have to get home to work." (Because we are broke. But to them we are rich Americans. Which is why they always try to steal my iPod. And my ghetto car. And everything form the "spare change" compartment that has/had 20 bucks in it.) And then they'll have a little sit-in in my car with those little grins on their faces while I try to drag them out and eventually throw little pieces of candy out into the parking lot so that they'll scramble for it and I can hop into my getaway car and screech away down the left side of the road. Don't get me wrong, they're awesome kids, but when you get half a dozen teenage boys together in a little church room, crazy things start to happen. Like comic books. And paper airplanes. And strange drawings on the board while my back is turned. Guyz, sign me up for motherhood. (sarcasm?)

Ok, not even the point of this post. ANYWAY. So after seminary this morning I came home and claimed some papers to edit, and clamored to finish them before their 20-minutes-away deadlines. That little cycle of accepting and rushing to finish papers went on for about three hours, and all the while I'm trying my best to keep my eyes open because if I fall asleep now, there won't be any papers left this afternoon and I won't be able to make any money today since I was at seminary when the early-morning rush of papers came in (this is why I probably will not be teaching seminary much longer--it's making me be broke).

I'm nearly finished with my editing when I look up and see that there are thousands of tiny little ants crawling in a line from our vaulted bedroom ceiling to the chair right by the computer. There isn't a crumb of food in our bedroom, so I can only assume that they wanted to eat our furniture? Yes, probably that. But nothing I could do about it until I had finished working, so I threw some vinegar at them and carried on.

Eventually I finished and went out to the kitchen to grab a snack. But oh wait, ants swarming everywhere in there too? A reasonable explanation for this might be that I didn't wipe the kitchen down last night, because exhaustion, but the kitchen really wasn't that dirty. I went back to my room and the ants were back in there with double the numbers. I marched out to grab a box of ant traps from the closet, but by the time I had brought them to the bedroom, my arm was covered in tiny little bitey evil ants. Yeah, they'd already broken into the ant trap box and swarmed it to eat all the fatal sweet goo inside of it. Can they exercise no restraint?? At that point I dropped the traps on the ground, washed my arm off, and stomped out here to write this blog post. I wish I could say that this is the first time that has happened, but alas, no. Yesterday I got out our securely closed Costco-sized peanut butter jar. Opened the lid to scoop some out, and boom, thousands of ants doing some sort of angry dance ritual on my hand. Goodbye, peanut butter. Just an hour ago I pulled out our bag of several dozen instant oatmeal packets that we brought from home (where that sort of treat is affordable), in double bags and sealed shut. Ya, so much for that.

You guys! They are eating everything! Food is expensive here! And I enjoy my flesh! Whyyyyy won't they leave? We're cleanly people!

Phew. Rant over. Not because I got it all out of me, but because I need to go look for caffeine (there's not any) and wipe vinegar over every surface in our entire apartment. My professional-level bug-killing uncle is sending some hard-core ant killer my way. Too bad it takes mail weeks to arrive. It's ok though, they'll still be here. Oh! Just opened my purse. Guess what poured out? Yup. You got it. There was one (one!) wrapped hard candy in there. It is now a sticky mess of a million little demons. Also, an ant literally just crawled out of my pants.

Are there ants in Alaska? Or giant flying cockroaches? Because Jared's been trying to talk me into moving there after med school, and right about now that's not sounding terrible (well, other than the isolation and 20 daily hours of darkness thing). Waaaaah!

p.s. I just opened my clothes closet and found a horror movie inside. I think it might be time to call an exterminator.

Happy Valentines Day! I'm posting because my Valentine is studying and if I don't post, then I will just be looking at everyone's Instagrams where they're like, "Spent alllll day with my love getting couple's messages and now I'm arranging my 24 dozen roses!" (You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.)

I love Valentine's Day. Even though Jared and I got engaged on March 14 (pi day), we actually got engaged on Valentine's Day. Except it was sort of unintentional and the ring didn't come until March 14, so I guess it wasn't official. But hey, I'll tell you the story anyway because I don't think it's written down anywhere, and also it will keep me busy.

It was Valentine's Day of 2013. I was working as a florist at a flower shop, so naturally I was mega exhausted by the time the shop closed, and my feet were like, "Girrrrl, you ain't goin' nowhere tonight." Luckily I had anticipated this exhaustion weeks in advance, and so I was able to tell Jared, "For Valentine's Day I just want you to make me dinner and we'll watch a movie and I'll probably fall asleep during said movie."

When Jared came to pick me up from work, I walked like a zombie to his car. He opened my door for me, and in my seat were some chocolates, my favorite flower, and a festive balloon. Ya, he went all out. I smooched his face and gave him a stuffed red octopus that we named Christofeln and still take everywhere with us.

When we arrived at Jared's apartment in The Village, it smelled amazing (Jared's roommate had offered up his "masculine candle") and the last of the dinner Jared had prepared was cooking in the oven. We had a "5 course meal," which started out with saltine crackers with cheese on top (hors d'oeuvres, duh), then went to some roasted veggies, then grilled chicken , then baked sweet potatoes, and then some chocolate for dessert.

After dinner we popped in the movie The Princess Bride and settled onto the couch to watch the movie/cuddle and not pay attention to the movie. Every so often Jared's one roommate who was still at the apartment would cautiously walk into the kitchen to get a snack, and then hurry back to his room. He must've known this date was serious bidness. This was the first Valentine's Day that I had ever had an actual Valentine, and it was awesome. After the movie was over, we snogged during the end credits, and I'm sure we said some nice things to each other and were just generally the happiest people ever. After a few minutes, Jared looked at me and quietly asked, "Would you marry me?"And I nodded and said, "Yes" (and then made sure that "would" meant that this was tentative, not official). It was all very simple, but incredibly significant.

We'd talked about getting married several times before and both knew it was bound to happen, but I had a call to serve an LDS mission in New Hampshire, and I wasn't sure if I should go and pick up where we left off 18 months later, or if I should marry Jared and forego the mission. But on that Valentine's Day, I knew there was no way I could risk him being gone when I came back, and I think we were both a little shocked when I was able to give that concrete, without-a-doubt "yes." We immediately started discussing where and when we should get married (we chose our date around when Jared was scheduled to take the MCAT, so basically med school was already looming large and in charge over our lives), and I think we booked the Salt Lake LDS Temple like two days later or something.

And that is why Valentine's Day is my favorite. Now, just for kicks, let's compare that with our 2015 V-Day. I'm sure that an island paradise is the most ideal place to spend Love Day--if you're on vacation. Living and working and going to school on an island paradise presents a slightly different situation. We were able to enjoy a lovely Saturday morning biscuits-and-gravy breakfast together on the veranda before Jared had to plunge himself into the deep end of his studies. His teachers scheduled all his big tests to be this coming Monday, because they are evil.

Round about 5:30, we put a pause on school and work to make time for a date. There are very few good restaurants on this side of the island, and all of them were booked full of reservations made months ago by all the retired sail-boat couples. We had expected this, so we weren't too devastated when our date (as most of our dates do) turned into a grocery store run. We grabbed some steaks and caught the bakery next door just before they closed, claiming their last pieces of chocolate cake and cheesecake. We went home, made and ate our meal together (quickly!), then took our cake into our room to watch The Princess Bride. Although I was happy to have these few precious hours with Jared, he's never completely relaxed when there's studying to be done for an upcoming test (test scores make up 100% of med school grades), so I wasn't too surprised when he bolted after the end credits to cram in another hour or two of neurology.

But you know what? It really is ok. Island life is different. Holidays are way more chill here--it's not like there are Valentine's commercials and decorations popping up a month in advance. It's not like everyone's walking around in pink and red and girls are parading their flower bouquets around campus. It's more like, "Oh hey, tomorrow's a holiday. Let's celebrate it however we want to, and no one can tell us we're doing it wrong." And our own interpretation was perfect for us. There will be plenty of years in the future for extravagant holidays. For over-the-top decorations and unnecessarily pricey  gifts. I love these simple years we're living. I definitely wouldn't want them for the rest of my life, but for now they provide the best kinds of memories. I hope you were all able to have the happiest Valentine's Day, no matter how simple.

Oh, and even though flowers were out of reach today, Jared got me some lovely tropical flora on Monday, and they're still going strong! High fives for tropical water-bottle arrangements.

Twue Wuv

This picture is one of my favorite Grenada pictures because it embodies everything I want to remember about myself and this place when I look back on these two pivotal med school years.

This is the place where I go running when I'm feeling ambitious (it's only a half mile from our house though, so . . . ).

It's where I visit when I need to get out of the house and just think. It's one of the only places on the island where it is always breezy and a comfortable temperature.

This is where I brainstorm and make goals. It's where I can be alone and look out at the choppy ocean (I much prefer a choppy ocean to a smooth ocean when it comes to looking out).

These tide pools are where Jared and I go on sunset walks when he's not locked up at school, and where we fly kites. Sometimes we just sit by each other wordlessly, watching the creepy black crabs chase each other around, and sometimes we dream together about our future family.

Jared got so excited one day when we were visiting these little tide pools during one of our regular sunset walks. "Laura, we have to come back here and take pictures of you flying a kite on those rocks. It'll be like you're flying a kite in the ocean!" He was stoked.

And I was stunned because never in his life has Jared ever been the one to suggest taking pictures. But last Sunday he brought it up again, so off we went. We decided that this would be a cool photo-shoot to do with a long, flowy maxi dress falling into the ocean and a giant mane of wavy hair flowing out behind me. You know the dramatic photoshoots--the ones you laugh at but are actually kind of cool? Unfortunately (actually, probably fortunately), clothes shopping isn't a thing here. I could go downtown to the cruise-ship mall and buy a tourist shirt or a skirt that looks like it was made in the 90's, but that's about it here as far as clothes shopping goes. That's why I don't even feel guilty about expanding my swimsuit collection any chance I get.

But anyway, here are a few other pictures Jared took (all candid, so don't make fun of me):
^^I thought this picture was cool because it's got that straight line going almost exactly from corner to corner. So artsy, Jare! (Also, keep in mind that neither of us is a photographer, and we don't pretend to be. We just enjoy capturing moments and places so that we can remember them later, and so that our mothers know that we haven't been swallowed in the sea. [Coldplay, anyone??])
You guys, sometimes living here is hard. I think I occasionally make that a little too clear on this blog, and I apologize for that. It's far away, and it's lonely, and it's out of my comfort zone. But living here is also wonderful, and I hope that's what we'll remember when we're done with these two years. It's never cold, there are tons of amazing fruits, and Jared and I are building this seriously solid relationship as we take on the tough living-abroad issues that most couples will never have to deal with. Oh, and down the road, traveling will seriously be a breeze for us. Thick accents? We can decipher them. Driving on the left side of the road? Puh-lease, I can do that in my sleep (and often do at 5 a.m.). Trying strange soups made of breadfruit and pig snout and oil (guys, that is legitimately the Grenadian national dish)? Feed it here. Jared is thrilled to finally be learning all the medical things he's wanted to know for years, and I'm getting crazy good at cleaning and keeping giant tropical insects out of the house. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!


Hi. Let's talk. So first of all, comments are back because that was making me feel weird when they were gone. (You're welcome, Ashley :))

Second of all, I reeeeally wanted to bring a tripod with us to Grenada after Christmas because I was like, "Haaay, we can take couples pictures on the beach every day." But it's pretty much been sitting in a corner for a month, so I decided I should probably break it out.

Which brings me to third things third. The only thing that I can take pictures of with a tripod that I couldn't take without the tripod is myself. So . . . . ya. You're welcome Mom. I love myself a good vanity post. (Get it? I love myself? Because of vanity? Ohhh, the word plays. So many chuckles.)

(Fourth things fourth, I've already started cheating on my internet goal from last time. But, I'm being much better about how I use my time and I'm still keeping it minimal, so I don't even feel guilty.)
Crown braid, meet my readers. Readers, meet my crown braid. Oh, you've already met the crown braid? Twelve times every day on all of your social medias? Well shoot.

The thing is, I've been wanting to do this braid for months. I tried it a while back but it looked nasty on me and I was doing it wrong and thought my hair had to be nine feet long. Turns out it could be nine inches long and I'd be fine. I used this tutorial.

The other thing is, even though I love this braid 50% of the time, the other 50% of the time I think it makes all the ladies look like Russian women named Helga. Like so:
What do you think? Yay or nay on the crown braid? Some people pull it off beautifully. I'm not convinced that I'm one of them. Even disregarding that last picture.

Ok, now I want to talk about lipstick. Because crown braids are for Russian women, and Russian women are sometimes models, and models wear lipstick I think. Boom--topic shift justified.

Jared got me my first ever real lipstick for Christmas. I think it's just lovely that my first real lipstick is from the love of my life. I always feel special when I wear it, because it's pretty and because Jared picked it out for me. Oh, the feels.

I've tried out a few drugstore lipsticks in the past and inherited some from my mother and grandmother, but I never thought lipstick did much for me since I have thin lips. Like so:
Then I figured out yesterday that I had been putting it on wrong this whole time. How does one not know how to put on lipstick?? Maybe the same way that my husband doesn't know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I always thought the correct lipstick application method was to do one light swipe on the bottom and one light swipe on the top, and I was way too focused on not going outside the lines (my kindergarten teacher would be so proud). NOPE. That is how you get lipstick to last for approximately 25 minutes. Turns out you can do many swipes! I'm sure there are more professional methods, but the many swipes method is revolutionary enough for me. Oh, and of course lip liner also is good. These are the things I am learning now that I have earned a university degree.
Jared got me a MAC lipstick. Admittedly, I told him that it would be a nice stocking stuffer and then I showed him exactly where to find the MAC counter in the University Mall. But then I told him that if he decided to get me one, I wanted him to pick out whatever color he thought would look good on me. Voila! The perfect blend of surprise and also getting what I want. He picked out the perfect color for me. It's not too bold, and it looks nice with my skin tone and blue eyes. The color in the picture above is a little off because I didn't care enough to wait for good lighting. In case anyone was wondering, this color is "lovelorn." The ladies at the counter when he bought it were like, "Are you sure this is the exact shade she wants? Ok, but if you get the wrong one make sure she knows she can bring it back with the receipts and exchange it." Apparently lipstick is serious business.

I know this is not news to anyone, but holy cow, MAC lipstick is way better than the drugstore stuff I've tried. I don't know if that's because it's actually better (I don't even know if it stays on longer), or if it's just because it smells wonderful and feels like butter on my lips.  Either way, our budget is definitely happy that we live thousands of miles away from the nearest MAC. It'll be a few years before I can expand my collection of one.

I tried to do a cliche teenager selfie lip pucker, but my lips really are little and they cannot make a respectable pucker.

This is as close as they get, and it would be a poser fail if I pretended to take this seriously:
It pains me to look at that. It's like, "Ehhh, almost girlfriend! A little poofier! A little sassier! Ok, now close your eyes! Add four hashtags!"

Wow, longest and pinkest and selfiest post in ages. I'm not even going to try to come with any closing remarks.

The end.

Ya. The end.

Non-soggy Oreos (after opening a package of Oreos here, there's a ticking time-bomb of 24 hours before they start to go nasty soft) ||| Going for a hike and seeing no one but a dead-looking Grenadian man napping on the beach/in the ocean ||| Finding three insanely adorable baby goats in the wild, bleating and clamoring over each other to see us (we tried to lure them to us with bread, but after we snapped a picture they went running for their mom) ||| The shy boy I teach in seminary giving me a creepy slow wink during my lesson (Grenadian men are wink happy, and it sometimes gives me the heebie jeebies) ||| Parentheses (can't stop) ||| My giant brother Jordan getting home from his mission and Skyping me every day to talk about life ||| Getting chewed out by my cleaning lady, amazing 70-year-old Yvonne, every week for buying the wrong brands of cleaning supplies ||| This pear smoothie ||| Jared choosing "start writing our books" for our FHE activity ||| Iguana I-Spy with binoculars every morning as I eat breakfast on our veranda. See if you can spy them! In the following picture, there are three iguanas hiding in the trees. You'll probably have to click on the picture and zoom in to spot them. In the final picture there are four of them. I circled those for you so you'll believe me.

This month I'm trying this thing where I try not to interact with the internet all that much. In this life I'm living, it would be really easy for me to sleep in, then pull up my computer, read a million blogs, check my Instagram feed, watch half a dozen shows on Netflix, scroll through Pinterest, and repeat all day long. And believe me, I have done that before! I know, some of you think that sounds awesome, but after months upon months of having completely unstructured days, it's actually the worst. One of my best friends and former roommates, Sarah Kay, did this thing with her family where one month out of the year they all went without electronics. No Facebook, no TV, no browsing YouTube for videos of baby sloths, nothing. Except for things they needed to do for school and work, of course. I'm not going to be quite that strict with myself. I'll keep writing blog posts, but maybe I'll turn off comments, and I won't read others' blog posts. I'll keep browsing Pinterest for recipes, but I won't check it every day. I have to keep checking Facebook (my least favorite social media) for messages from branch members, but I won't scroll through my feed. And I'm going to try really hard to plan out my days and stick to the plan! Join me if you'd like. It's only been three days so far, but I feel lighter already.
A Happy List 2: Animal Edition


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