Friday, September 30, 2011

Afflicted with boring dreams.

Sometimes I do this thing where I just sort of dream about reality. I mean, I have cool dreams too, all the time, but sometimes my dreams just stupidly mimic reality.

Like when I first started playing World of Warcraft, I started having dreams about running through the woods and killing wolves. But not even in a sweet real life way; it was in a pixelated-computer-game sort of way. Or when I worked at the TNT fireworks stand, I had countless dreams where I was just working at a register, checking out Bottle Rocket after Climbing Panda, offering people extra punks and bagging pop-its. And don't even get me started on the types of dreams I have when I start playing too much Tetris. There are few dreams less interesting than a whole night-time expanse of falling geometric shapes. Let me tell you.

The worst reality-based dream I ever had happened at my grandma's house a few summers ago. I had just taken a red-eye flight to North Dakota, and exhausted upon arrival, I took a little nap in my grandma's bedroom before doing anything else. In my dream, I was just sleeping in my grandma's room. The only reason I knew that it was a dream and not just me never actually falling asleep was because in the dream, I got up and put a blanket over myself because I was cold. When I woke up for real a bit later, there was no blanket over me. And I was still cold. Stupidest dream ever.

So keeping with this annoying habit, last night I dreamt I was grocery shopping. Like - just grocery shopping. I was walking around my usual Safeway, picking all the items I actually need in real life (bread, deli-meat, cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.). I woke up and realized I didn't actually do any of that shopping, and now I'm annoyed because it just means I have to do it all over again. And I hate doing the exact same things more than once. That's why I am awful at side-scroller video games.

The worst part is that now, since I bought all the fixin's for sandwiches in my dream, all I really want right now is a sandwich. But I can't make myself a sandwich, because all I have is dream-bread. Dream-cheese. Dream-sliced-ham.

Guess I better go to the store. Sigh.

Flights taken: 24

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 3

I fell a little behind in blogging about my trip because I ended up correct in my assumption that I was going to be sick. I haven't been sick in about 7 months which has been really nice, but let me tell you, blog readers -- being sick on vacation is the WORST. There's no medicine anywhere, you can't lie around in bed all day, and flying with a cold is one of the most miserable experiences a person will ever have.

But. I braved it all for Lauren and Matt, and I am happy to report that their wedding was one of the most magical, beautiful events I have ever been to.

The soon-to-be-newlyweds picked Eia and I up on Friday morning and took us over to the hotel. It was kind of nice to get there a bit early; we got to have lunch with Lauren and Matt and chat with them for awhile before everyone else started showing up and things started getting really crazy. Eventually all the bridesmaids had shown up so we checked into our hotel room and got dressed up for the rehearsal dinner. That was a lovely event in itself; we heard embarrassing stories about Matt from his dad and then Nina and Sammy and I had an eating contest because the food was so good and there was so much of it.

Then we went back to the hotel and practiced all the wedding march walking in formalities, headed upstairs, and went to bed kind of early. Lauren stayed in our room since it's bad luck and all that for the bride and groom to see each other the morning of the wedding.

Sure as all hell, Saturday morning I woke up feeling like absolute crap. I dragged myself out of bed about ten minutes before we needed to head down for hair and makeup, and even though they did transform my sick face into a work of bridesmaid worthy art -- the makeup artist had to keep touching up around my nose every hour or so up until we did pictures.

Lauren looked completely stunning. I kind of wish other people got to see her transformation like we did... she was wearing this adorable little bridal robe while she got ready, and most of the morning her hair was up in these ridiculous rollers. We had a good laugh about the idea of her just walking down the aisle with her hair still up in them rather than finishing the hairstyle. But when the seven of us girls emerged from our dressing room, sure, the bridesmaids looked great, but Lauren was just drop dead gorgeous.

Pictures took awhile, as usual with weddings, and then the ceremony breezed by. We did start by marching out to an orchestral version of the Zelda theme, so as far as weddings go, it was off to a good start. Sammy and I teared up a bit when Melissa Anelli got onstage to do a reading from Harry Potter -- in turn we caught Matt's eye and made him start to sniffle. I don't think I've ever smiled as hard as when I stood up there behind two of my best friends and watched them marry each other. Really. For as sick as I was feeling, it was one of the best moments of my life.

The reception was amazing. Everyone looked so lovely -- Rosi, Eia, Sarah, Hayley, Alex, Mike, Sam -- all my best friends were there and we ate food and toasted to Matt and Lauren and danced the night away. It was like a conference, but classier, and somehow even more meaningful. The night was just perfect. Matt and Lauren ended the night by letting us all come up and hang out in their suite for a few hours (a hotel room party -- it really was a con) which was completely out of order for a normal wedding but fit so perfectly for this wedding.

I spent most of the evening just chatting with all my beautiful friends, and then we had a bit of a fiveawesomegirl snuggle on the couch. I can't believe one of the five of us is married. We were such little girls when we started that channel and now look at us! Marrying off Miss Tuesday. It makes me a little emotional even thinking about it.

We've all come so far in this whole internet lifestyle we've created. Watching Lauren and Matt get married to each other just made it feel all the more real, especially since they asked me to stand up there with them as a bridesmaid. It really is real for us. I would never trade this life in for anything.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, but still nice. We rode back to PA with Sam and her family, napped most of the afternoon, and then watched a terrible movie together called "Youth in Revolt". The next morning we slept in until at least noon and then watched another, better movie together called "Going The Distance" (Sam and I were wigging out the whole movie because it's about long distance relationships and it was a little too close to home for both of us, even though we thought it was a great movie) and then we went to the airport. The journey home was rather.. bad.. but I'm home now, so I survived, and that's all that matters.

It was a fantastic week. I'm still smiling. I love my friends so much and I feel so happy to know them. :)

Flights taken: 24

Friday, September 23, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 2

I haven't been sick in a long time and I've been really proud of myself for keeping up that streak, but I woke up this morning with one of those annoying pre-runny nose sniffles, and I am really nervous about it. I don't want to be a sniffly bridesmaid. I have to look pretty for Lauren ALL DAY tomorrow and nobody looks pretty with a red nose.

I'm going to try to happy-thoughts it away - that works, right? I'll mind over matter the crap out of this runny nose. In the mean time, let me tell you about yesterday.

Eia and I woke up kind of late again (don't judge us) and took the NJ Transit to what we thought was going to be Penn Station. Halfway there, however, they informed us that due to a power outage, no NJ lines were going into NYC and that we were going to Hoboken. Um. Okay. Hoboken. Cool. Luckily it was easy enough to transfer to a Path train back into the city, but it set us back at least another half an hour on our journey into the city.

When we finally got to the right station, Eia and I stepped out into the street and did that sort of spin-around-in-awe-now-we're-in-a-giant-city thing, taking in all the people and sights and buildings and smells. Not quite sure where we were exactly, we walked a few blocks before ducking into a little boutique and doing a bit of random shopping. I think clothes are the best souvenir, really, because then every time you wear them, you think about the good time you had there on that particular trip.

Anyway, shopping bags in hand, we continued to wander in the general direction of Time Square. Along the way we stopped in various other stores (including the Strand bookstore and a giant Forever 21) and we ate lunch in a "Goodburger (Home of the Goodburger)", which we couldn't figure out if it was affiliated with the Nickeldeon sketch/movie or not.

We ran into some interesting people as we ventured around too, including a bum on the street who asked me, "Can you help me get to Hawaii?" to which I replied saucily, "Can you help me get to Hawaii?" I quite enjoyed his retort, which was, "I asked you first!" We also saw a really frail old man on the subway who I'm fairly certain was blind singing for tips, and the whole situation was hilarious because he was singing, "If you want my body, and you think I'm sexy..." I can guarantee no one on that subway wanted his body. Haha.

We met up with Robyn a bit later and headed to Time Square (after doing the standard nerdy tourist picture in front of all the flashing lights) because it was time to see "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" ... with Dan Radcliffe! This was one of the things we were most excited to do on this trip, and I'm so glad we were able to get tickets. The show was incredible. The choreography was amazing, the sets were stunning, the costumes were perfect and all the actors were just fabulous. I was so blown away by Dan. He had so much character on that stage, his dancing was flawless, and he just played such a lovable leading man. I'm really happy for him and his broadway career, and I hope I get a chance to see him in more shows.

We went to the stage door after the show (come on, of course we did) and managed to get him to sign both our playbills; Eia got to touch his hand (lucky duck) but I was filming the whole thing, so I'm not too jealous. He was so sweet to his fans, which made me really happy. This was my first time ever meeting a big Potter star (aside from Scarlet and Evanna at Leaky) and it's just really nice to know that they haven't become jaded or anything.

Waiting to meet Dan after the show was pretty fun in itself -- I haven't ever really gotten the chance to wait in line and fangirl over meeting anyone like that before, so Eia and I just soaked the whole thing up. We made friends with another girl who was waiting with a Harry Potter book in hand -- after a few seconds, though, her eyes widened and she asked me if I was Kristina Horner, which was kind of cute. Then another girl behind us recognized me as well and even had ME sign her playbill, which just felt really, really wrong. I'm sure the people who were standing around us were thinking "who the crap is this person?" Embarrassing.

I loved the whole experience, though. The musical, I mean. I had a difficult time convincing my brain that we were actually seeing Dan in person, the guy who played Harry Potter - that he was in the same room as us and playing a different character. But it was so amazing and fun and I'm so glad we could go. :D

After the show, we literally ran into Alex Carpenter on the street. I mean, he knew where we were, so it wasn't that huge of a coincidence, but it still felt pretty funny to be walking around a big foreign city where we know pretty much no-one, and then to just see our good friend standing on the corner. He was with some other friends of ours (Becca, Mary Beth and Nikki) and so we decided to hang out a bit longer in the city, rather than taking the early train back in. It's actually been kind of a long time since I got to hang with Alex, so we had a very fun evening. We ate food at Junior's (I tried a potato pancake! And ate strawberry shortcake cheesecake!) and had an appletini and we ran around and the whole evening was just a nice way to end a really lovely day.

Eia and I made friends with one of the ticket guys on the way back to New Jersey that night, so we spent most of our long train ride being silly with him. He was trying to teach us how to read the complicated pink ticket sheets but we weren't having it. I told him I thought the part that said "CENTS" meant you could add on a scratch-n-sniff option. He laughed at us.

I'm having so much fun here, and the wedding hasn't even started. Lauren and Matt are actually on their way right now to pick us up, so the good times are REALLY about to begin. :D

Flights taken: 23

Thursday, September 22, 2011

East Coast Adventure: Part 1

I'd actually almost forgotten how much easier it is to blog while you're traveling. It's so funny; while I was home these last couple of weeks, despite all the good times I was having, nothing seemed quite noteworthy enough to warrant a blog post. But as Eia and I have been running all around the East coast the past few days, my head has just been spinning trying to keep track of everything I want to write about. It's taken me right back to the BEDA mindset, in a really good way.

Anyway, our trip! We're currently in New Jersey, though we didn't begin here. Two days ago, the two of us hopped on a flight to Philly. As much as I was mentally resisting the idea of enjoying another flight whatsoever, it was pretty alright. We spent the first leg going through old pictures on my computer, and the second leg (after a layover in Chicago) was spent playing Peggle on my iPad with Eia watching and rooting me on over my shoulder. Peggle is my airplane game. I only ever play it when I'm flying, so it's kind of a little treat I give myself when I do have to take another obnoxious flight somewhere.

We landed in Philly around midnight and then took a cab to our friend Robyn's house. On the way there we realized we had no idea what Robyn's living situation was, and were pleasantly surprised to find out that she lives in the most adorable house of all time. Everything is ornately decorated with things like leather chairs and old books and antique knick-knacks. I especially enjoyed the pull string toilet and claw-footed bathtub. I was tickled by the European-ness of the house (separate spigots for hot and cold water is always a dead giveaway) since it's something I just never get to see except for when I'm IN European countries.

Even though it was incredibly later when we arrived, our girliness took over and we stayed up much, much later than would normally be acceptable, drinking tea out of a fancy tea-set, eating macarons and gelato, and generally girling out and chatting well into the night. So late that when we finally stumbled out of bed at 2pm the next day, I was only a little ashamed. I never do that! I'm always an early riser! I'm blaming the new timezone.

Robyn took us on the trolley (how adorable; I still can't get over it) and we headed into a more central part of Philly to go to the Reading Terminal Market. It was filled to the seams with all of these great little stands selling food, bakery items, books, jewelry; really anything you could think of. We marveled at the different options, wandering for at least thirty minutes before deciding on something(s) to buy. I ended up with a fried macaroni and cheese ball, a hunk of cornbread and half a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sandwich (not to mention a bunch of jams and pumpkin butter from the Amish stand to take home for later). And that's not even counting the red velvet and oatmeal whoopee pies I took to go, as well as the cookies that were given to me by a girl at one of the bakeries who recognized me from ALL CAPS, hehe. So, it was kind of a food day. You know. Know big deal.

The only negative part of the day was that I was carrying around my favorite black cardigan, and then suddenly I wasn't. The place was such a maze of vendors that I didn't know how to begin looking for it, so, defeated, I just sort of said a mental goodbye to it and went back slightly shivering in the autumn rain sans any sort of jacket.

Completely stuffed, we took the trolley back. I grabbed another jacket from my suitcase (this time with a hood) and we set off despite the drizzles to the big old Victorian graveyard behind Robyn's house. The three of us spent the next hour or so wandering aimlessly through the cracked and aging headstones, reading the names aloud to each other and wondering what the people were like, since many of them died back in the 1800s. We investigated particularly strange collections of graves in fenced off family plots and ones nearly hidden over the years from trees growing and overtaking their spots. The saddest ones were the graves so weathered you couldn't even read who they were for anymore, or the ones that had fallen over with time and age, now lying face-down for all eternity. Or the ones with crying baby angel statues atop the headstone, with etched in lifespans that couldn't have been more than a few years, or in the most tragic cases, a few weeks or days.

After sufficiently weirding ourselves out, we rushed back on to the trolley to go to a wine and cheese bar Robyn loves called Tria, where we indulged in various delicious bruschetta and cheese selections, referring to them as the "sexy pillow one" or the "dark and sultry red", going off the descriptions rather than attempting the pronunciation of the real names. We had the best girly time there, albeit having to cut it short to race back in time to meet with our friend Colin and his girlfriend Mel who were coming to pick us up.

We got back just in time (okay, maybe a few minutes late) and since our friends were hungry, Robyn showed us a bit around U Penn in a search of food. We ended up going to this cute old tavern of which the name has escaped me. Since we were kind of stuffed from all this cheese, we girls just ordered drinks (hot toddies, which I wasn't a particularly large fan of) and desserts (bread pudding and ice cream, which I was a HUGE fan of). It was nice catching up with Colin and meeting his girlfriend (since he moved away from us we never really get to experience his new life at all, since our only reunions are generally back home in Seattle) and she was lovely. Eventually it was time to go (as we still had kind of a long drive back to New Jersey that night) so we said our goodbyes to Robyn and hopped in the car.

That brings us to now, where Eia and I are being the world's laziest people sitting here in Colin's living room (he and all his roommates are at work). Eia's currently in the shower though, so we are attempting to get our day started. Colin left us the information for two train routes to get into NYC this morning, and when Eia's alarm went off at 10 AM this morning, we both made the executive decision to take the later train (no discussion was necessary). We are still kind of running on West Coast time, so I feel a little better about our extremely embarrassing sleep schedule while we've been here.

We have tickets to see Dan Radcliffe in How To Succeed in Business tonight, so I suppose it is time to get a move on if we want to get in any NYC shopping time as well. :)

Flights taken: 23

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Catching up on the end of Summer.

Well, I gave myself a nice long break of nearly two weeks from blogging, but it just doesn't feel right letting it sit unattended for as long as I have. So here I am. Catching up.

Things I have been up to since I last blogged:

1. Dropping everything and doing outrageously summer-related things. The weather was so, SO nice last week that while I was attempting to be good and start to get my regular life routine back on track here at home, it just wasn't happening. Wednesday Liz and I went out with her mom on their boat, Friday we grabbed our friend Colin as well and went out with my dad on my boat, and Sunday.. wait for it. Liz and Justin and I went to WILD WAVES.

For those of you who don't live around here, Wild Waves/Enchated Village is our themes park/water park duo, and it's amazing, but most people don't really go past middle school. Why this is, I couldn't tell you, because it is SO MUCH FUN, still, at age 23. It was the last day the park was open of the year and the temperature was somewhere around a high of 85 or something, which was just... glorious. We spent most of the day in the wave pool (naturally the best part) but we also waited in a 45 minute line to go down a water slide that lasted about 30 seconds (humans are bizarre) but it was kind of worth it because all three of us got to share one giant four-seater tube. We spent the rest of the day eating dippin' dots, riding roller coasters and lying out in the sun, saying our final farewells to the last warm day of summer.

2. Attempting to get back in the swing of things. It's been kind of tough, I'll be honest. Since I returned from North Dakota, one of my best friends (Liz) moved into one of the empty rooms in my house. Simply put, we've just been having a lot of fun. There have been card and game nights, TV-watching, video-game playing, general good-time-having and shopping/eating out/etc. I know things will start to settle down, but when you're constantly on the go all summer and then you come home and you're living with three of your good friends, life tends to stay pretty hectic.

3. Starting new projects. Come on, you know me. I can never let my life stay the same for too long. I can't really delve too deeply into any of the new things I am doing quite yet, but I'm in the planning stages for all of them and they're all pretty exciting.

4. Filming a music video. I spent all of yesterday filming with my roommate Gabe and friend David. This particular music video is a surprise, so I'm not going to spoil what it's about yet, but I'll tell you it's coming out in early November. Yesterday we filmed a lot of slow-mo running and yelling, hiked to the middle of a forest and out to a lighthouse on a beach, and got kicked out of a graveyard (who knew filming there would disrespect the dead? xD). We're about halfway done with filming and I am very excited about this video. I haven't gotten to do a lot of music-related stuff at all lately, so it's nice to sort of return to that briefly. And no, I promise, I didn't have to sing for this project. At least not recently.

5. Preparing for Halloween. I'm aware that it's only September, but my roommates and I get really overly excited for the holiday. We always throw a big awesome Halloween party at our house (fun fact: at least one decoration from each Halloween party gets left up each year, giving our house a slightly spooky vibe year round. This explains the black cat on the mantle and the red "spider webs" that adorn the painting above the couch), so naturally our costumes need to go above and beyond. A bunch of us are teaming up and dressing as ponies from MLP this year, so I've been feverishly working on my Pinkie Pie costume. It's gonna be great.

Next week is Lauren and Matt's wedding (!!!) in which I am a bridesmaid (!!!) so after getting a bunch of my other work done today that's going to become my primary focus. I can't wait. Not that I am in any particular rush to hop on another flight, but seriously. How often do you get to see two of your best friends marry each other?

Flights taken: 22

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On being a Hufflepuff.

As many of you probably know, I did my Pottermore sorting last week, and while I've boasted a proud Slytherin for the last 8 years or so, I was in fact sorted into Hufflepuff.

I know a lot of people are saying "It's just a test on a website it's not a big deal" but for one, this test was written by J.K. Rowling herself, and moreover, we'll be representing these houses for the next 2-3 years as more books are released and we play through the remainder of Pottermore. It's also been suggested to me that I start a new account when the beta is over and try to get Slytherin, but to me, that's very outside the spirit of Harry Potter and being sorted at all. Students at Hogwarts don't just get to defer their first year, come back the next year, and get sorted again. You get sorted once. And that's your house.

So I'm a Hufflepuff.

People used to ask me all the time why I thought I was a Slytherin at all. They said, "but you're so nice!" or "you're not evil at all!" But, just because a lot of evil does come out of Slytherin doesn't mean everyone who gets sorted there is inherently so. I was (and still am) a huge believer in the good that could come out of Slytherin house, with the right personality type. I think it's easy to fall into a more crooked lifestyle in Slytherin, but that the strong willed could avoid that.

I always thought I was a Slytherin because there's a certain level of narcissism you need to have to be a vlogger, an artist, a writer, or a creator in general. To be a successful artist, you need to truly believe you're worthy of creating things that deserve to be seen by others, or, in the case of a vlogger, you need to think you're awesome enough to justify basing your whole career around talking about yourself. All the time.

I assumed I had to be a Slytherin, because I definitely have a lot of those qualities. But as Dumbledore said, it's "our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities". A lot of the time, I use the online power I have to connect with people, to talk with fans about their lives, to entertain others, to help with charity -- I guess I had always seen myself as a Slytherin based on what I do because I didn't even notice the very innate Hufflepuff qualities I actually possess in how I act.

So, the whole sorting experience was very interesting for me. Secretly, I always felt kind of split between Slytherin and Hufflepuff (though I never made that common knowledge!) but - I thought the nature of my job and relatively narcissistic lifestyle condemned me to being a Slytherin. I know I have a lot of the cunning and ambition and drive-for-personal-success of a Slytherin, but at the end of the day I care about people way too much to step over them or use them to get what I want. I could never sit back in the Slytherin common room listening to my peers talking about how they cut corners and made things happen for themselves the easy way -- I would much rather be proud of the hard work I put in the honest way. That's something that's only really been made clear to me in the last couple years, though.

So while I loved playing a Slytherin onstage these past 7-8 years, and while I know the Sorting Hat would probably lean a bit toward Slytherin with me just like it did with Harry -- when I saw that Hufflepuff crest on my Pottermore quiz, I knew deep down it was time to embrace who I truly am. And now, I'm really okay with it.

Besides, for as much crap as Hufflepuff House gets, I am really proud to represent the group that's loyal and fair, patient and hardworking. Those are all the aspects of a human-being I think people should aspire to be. To be told that's where I actually belong is more of a compliment than most people realize. :)

Have you been sorted yet? Did you get the house you wanted? Did your sorting make you learn anything about yourself you maybe didn't know or see before?

Flights taken: 22

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Post-BEDA ND trip wrap-up.

On a plane... again. Thankfully after this flight I am not going anywhere for nearly three weeks. I couldn't be happier about that, though my next trip is for Lauren and Matt's wedding and that's worth coming out of flight hibernation.

Anyway, I said my goodbyes today and left the rest of my family in North Dakota. I wish I had more time there, but it's also going to be extremely nice to be home. Now, where did I leave off...

Tuesday we checked out of our hotel and went back to my Grandma's house. She had lunch waiting for us (as well as more delicious caramel rolls, I just can't get enough) and my mom and I helped her with her laundry. Between loads, my Grandma showed me the trail they have around their senior center for going on walks, and we took a few pictures by the gazebo and by this statue of a deer she particularly liked.

By the time we got back we had a surprise waiting for us -- Nick had shown up! My brother wanted to take his first big road trip so he actually drove his little pick-up to ND all by himself. It was nice to have him there with us; he showed up right in time to drive with us to the small town my other grandparents live in. I rode with Nick and we followed behind our parents, stopping a few times along the way to take pictures by the sunflower fields and the old falling-down houses.

It was so great to be at my Grandma and Grandpa Horner's house. I have so many good memories from being a kid and visiting them; playing down by the old tires with my cousins, sneaking a stray kitten into their shed and taking care of it, helping make all sorts of traditional German food. It's such a happy place, and I definitely don't get out there often enough anymore.

Grandma was singing that night in the senior choir out at the park, and my mom and I decided to join in. We grabbed the songbooks and joined all the old ladies up near the front, chiming in whether we knew the songs or not. Tis was especially funny when the songs we in German.. which at least 3-4 of them were. We sang one of my favorite old songs (Wooden Heart) and I discovered a new favorite song (Schnitzelbank). Oh we had a hoot talking to all the old German folks about what a schnitzelbank is.

My grandpa is getting older, and parts of this trip were kind of difficult for me (seeing him so much more frail than I am used to) but it was very, very cute to see him sitting at a picnic table out at that park, singing along to German songs to the accordion accompaniment. So much of North Dakota is still so rooted in German culture, but especially so in the small towns like where my grandparents live. I love still being able to experience that.

That evening my Grandma's friend Eva (who's this zany old Russian/German lady) came over and had me teach her how to use Facebook - it was her idea, not mine! It's such an interesting experience trying to explain to someone not only how Facebook works, but why they should want to use it. Older people always seem so concerned that everybody is going to come and try to add them; I can't even tell you how many times I assured her (and others on this trip) that "you can deny anyone you want on Facebook! You only add the people you want!"

We sat around visiting the rest of the evening before calling it a night.

The next day we got up and Grandma was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. She made us potato soup, blachenda (this baked pumpkin pastry I love) as well as home-made fleischkeikle. I told her I'd been eating it quite a bit on this trip and she insisted I try it the way it's meant to be eaten, haha. My grandpa ate most of the blachenda; I can see now where I get my appetite for dessert-foods.

After eating, we played cards. Card-playing is my favorite thing to do with my Grandpa Horner, because for some reason it really brings him completely back to earth. Talking with him and cracking jokes and keeping score while playing cards feels so much more like how it used to be with him, and it's amazing because his mental math and ability to make straights and keep score was even sharper than mine. One of our favorite card games is called "Golf" and a huge highlight of the trip was when my Grandpa went out early and left Nick with a 55 point round. That's a really, really bad score, haha.

Nick and I snuck away for a minute to head up the street to order a birthday cake for my Dad - his birthday is Saturday but I won't be there and I think Nick is heading south to visit some relatives before then as well, so we wanted to do something nice for him before we leave. We also stopped at the Honey Store (yes, in a town with so few shops I can count them on both hands, they have a whole store dedicated to honey!) so I could buy my favorite body wash I only get to restock when I visit there.

That night my Grandma outdid herself again with the German cooking and made us another old favorite, halupsie. That's rice and raisins wrapped in cabbage and cooked with cream, and while it may sound funky, it's absolutely delicious. We also had cucumber salad, which I also love. I don't know why I always forget how much I love cucumbers. It seems like people in North Dakota eat them with every meal, and with good reason.

Some family friends named Fefe and George stopped by to visit for a little while which was nice, and then my parents went out with them for awhile. I stayed in and watched TV with my grandparents (including Minute to Win It, which is just about the stupidest idea for a show I have ever seen, haha. At least shows like "Who Wants To Be A Mllionaire" require you to be SMART).

Then we watched "America's Got Talent", and another funny highlight of my night happened. Flow Rider and Nikki Minaj were performing, and my adorable little old German grandpa says in his very German accent, "Oh, that music's so nice." I could barely stifle my giggles before my Grandma AGREED with him and the proceeded to ask me what the song was called. I had to say to my grandma, "It's called 'Where Dem Girls At', Grandma." I had to say it with a straight face. She just smiled at me and said, "Oh," with a little chuckle.

After my Grandpa went to bed, I stayed up with Grandma and she showed me all the websites she likes to go to on her laptop. I am really impressed with how good she's gotten; granted she doesn't use a lot of websites but she can check her email and she reads my blog (:D) and she has is gaming site she loves to play on. She showed me how she picks her bingo card numbers each night, and the scratch cards she can tar her points in for, and we played a few rounds of mah jong together. Computers, to my friends and I, are such a necessary and commonplace part of every single day -- I really, really liked seeing one from the point of view of my grandma. It was a lot of fun.

My grandma also gave me a gift on this trip, something I had asked for years ago but had forgotten about. She gave me a notebook filled with her memories she'd written down for me. Stories from her life, etc. I actually haven read it yet (saving it until I get home) so I'm not positive what she wrote about, but no matter what I know it's going to be incredible. My grandma had an amazing life, and living so far away from her, I don't actually know much about it. So this book is a very, very special present. Someday I will need to type it up and give it to the rest of my cousins, too.

This morning I ate some rhubarb kuchen for breakfast (another favorite) before saying goodbye to the Grandparents and hopping in the car with my mom. She was driving me back to Bismarck for my flight. We stopped in to spend a little bit more time with her mom (my other grandma) and she gave me the sweetest present! She's been collecting all the state quarters for years and years now, and she gave me a complete set of them that he's been doing for me. I collected state quarters for about a year and then gave up, so this was a lovely gift. She rode along with us to the airport, I kissed them both goodbye, and started my journey home.

I have been traveling so much this year, but this was a very different trip than the rest. I'm very glad I got to see so many of my relatives, since I was really only in ND for a short time. When I get home I have a pile of work to do to catch up on my regular schedule of things I have o accomplish each week, but regardless, I was glad I was able to take this time and just spend some time with some very, very important people in my life.

Flights taken: 22