Sunday, December 2, 2012

For The Kids

Because I'm about to inundate your Facebook news feeds, I decided that I owed everyone a reason for why I'm about to shamelessly beg for your money. No, wait, don't go anywhere--it's for a good cause, I promise.

This semester, I'm raising money for Dance Marathon, which is a student-run philanthropic organization here on campus--the largest one, in fact. Each year, they host a 24-hour dance marathon to raise money for the NC Children's Hospital. Let's be honest, at first, I only signed up to dance because who doesn't want to reenact this epic Gilmore Girls episode?

But on Saturday, as Allie and I dragged ourselves out of bed, cursed the cold, and participated a 5K for DM, I got the opportunity to hear from a parent and child, who had both personally been affected and helped by Dance Marathon, I was surprised by how much her story mirrored my own.

Her father spoke to all the runners after his experience with the Children's Hospital and the 107 days he and his wife spent there with their daughter. Hearing his perspective made me realize for the first time what my parents must have gone through with their 52 days in the hospital with me. I thought about the emotional, mental and physical toll this takes on parents and I know that mine spent 1, 248 hours eating take out, sleeping in uncomfortable chairs and watching me to make sure I was still breathing--because there were times when I wasn't. My parents made it through those 7 weeks and 3 days with the support of family, friends, doctors, nurses and groups like Dance Marathon.

As a public institution, the NC Children's Hospital only receives 6% of it's budget from the state, so the money from DM truly makes a difference. Over 15 years, this single organization has donated over 3.3 million dollars to this institution which serves over 70,000 children from right here in North Carolina. The efforts of Dance Marathon have improved the Neonatal Critical Care Unit, one much like where I spent the first month and a half of my life, and begun the hospital's first pediatric palliative care program (I will fully admit to tearing up just at those words), as well as providing funds for smaller projects, like a program that brings hot meals for parents who have a child undergoing treatment at the hospital, so they don't have to worry about getting it themselves.

A lot of times, when you donate to a cause, you don't know where it's going. For this, I promise you, 100% of the fundraising total from Dance Marathon goes right to a building approximately six blocks up the road from my dorm.

So, yes, I'm asking you for money. I'm asking you to help me improve the life of a child and their family, who have much more important things to worry about than where their next meal is coming from or if their child is getting the best care. This way, we can help reassure those fears.

If you have an extra dollar or two, please donate here:

If not, please send up a prayer, good thought, support, love--to all those families spending their holidays seasons right up the road from me.

For The Kids,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November, Part Two

I'm learning that I'm not so good at daily blogging. As in, I constantly forget. So, weekly? Sounds good to me!

November 8: I'm thankful for chill bosses (yes, I said that) and understanding what's actually happening in Latin (or understanding the homework, anyway)! Totally something I could get used to.

November 9: Today, I'm thankful for ALL of my amazing friends here. I have met so many people that I never dreamed I would have so much in common with. I'm also thankful that I got to spend my Friday night celebrating Carson's birthday with these awesome people:

November 10: I'm thankful for football! (But really, when am I not?) I'm also grateful that if anyone had to stomp was the GA Tech jackets and not State. It's all about putting things in perspective, sometimes.

November 11: On Veteran's Day, I am always reminded of how thankful I am for my dearest cousins and grandfather who have all served in the military. I'm always thankful for everyone who helps, serves or protects our beautiful country in some way or another.
(Honorable Mentions for today: Allie, who lets me crash her Notebook watching party and Devin, the best RA ever, who never fails to make me laugh.)

November 12: I'm thankful for UNC CLD-FLI and the friends I made and the things I learned through this program.
(More Honorable Mentions: (help! I'm overflowing with thanks.) re-watching The Lion King and all the amazing childhood memories that were all brought back.)

November 13: Today, I'm beyond thankful for that feeling of accomplishment and the thought that maybe, just maybe, studying helps. And lights at the end of tunnels (read: the beautiful afternoon after a test). That's nice too.

November 14: Why has someone on this campus not started selling buttons that say: "I survived the great UNC registration of _________ 20___"? Along those lines: I am thankful that I survived the great UNC registration of spring 2013 and even getting some of the classes that I wanted!

What are YOU thankful for today? There's always something, even if finding it requires a little searching. (:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Month of Thanksgiving

I have a full page of draft posts to be written (really, there are probably 12 or more), but today, I was reminded by an incredibly wise English professor how important it is to write, even if it's five sentences. I'll probably go over that, but for what's left of November, my challenge to myself to write one post every day (my ulterior motive is also to avoid pissing off my Facebook friends with a daily status on what I'm thankful for; yay, happiness!).

So in order to catch up on what I missed:
November 1: I don't remember what was going on that day, but I'm pretty sure I was probably just thankful to be alive. That's always a pretty solid bet.
November 2: I remember having an especially awesome conversation with Amanda that day, so in case the last 15 years haven't proved as much--I'm always thankful for my amazing, beautiful, funny, supportive best friend.
Reunited over fall break! There was probably a lot of ugly crying happening at this moment.
November 3: I'm thankful for my job and my amazing bosses. Saturday was our big scholarship awards brunch and it went wonderfully--thanks to all of their hard work!
November 4: Sundays, as every good football fan knows, are NFL Sundays. Unfortunately, as every college student knows, it's also Last-Minute-Forgot-About-Homework-Due-on-Monday Sundays. I'm thankful for my wonderful dad who texts me the scores of the Green Bay Packers games because he knows I can't watch.

November 5: I'm thankful for productivity and warm libraries. It was cold, rainy...and just the right temperature inside Davis to get the majority of my paper written.
November 6: I am thankful for the fact that in this country, I can wear whatever I want, say whatever I want, love whomever I want and stand up for these same rights for others.

And finally, today:
November 7: I'm thankful for inspiration; the inspiration to write, to be healthier, to go the extra mile when I just feel like giving up. I'm also thankful for the gym and Miranda, 'cause Lord knows this girl don't work out by herself at home.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Numbers 1 and 3

In the past month, Amanda and I have tackled not one, but TWO, items on our bucket list.

#1: We got our noses pierced.

It was exciting and scary and wonderful and I'm SO glad she was there to hold my hand. We'd done a bunch of research on nose piercings, places to get it done, talked to our parents, etc and just decided to go for it. A month later...we still love it. No regrets here.

#3: We went hiking!

With our friend Melissa from school, we trekked up to Moses Cone for a hike before heading to a waterfall trail nearby. While we were crossing various creeks to get to said waterfall, I fell in. Straight on my rear. Fun stuff.

Nevertheless, it was an awesome day--cold creeks, falls, good friends and everything else. 

We both leave for school on Friday, so I'm not sure how many more items will actually get checked off, but I think we're going to give it a try! Six days of summer left and counting...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paris, Days Four and Five - 6/28 & 29

Our fourth day in Paris, we took the day off and slept in, caught up on laundry, explored the village and just enjoyed the non-touristy life. Later, we realized we were exactly at the half way point of our trip, so it was the perfect day to just stay in. (:

Our batteries recharged, we tackled Paris again the next day. We searched for a boulangerie ("bakery") in the back streets behind Notre Dame and finally found one. More or less, each day started out this way and it was wonderful to explore the deeper parts of the city and not get caught up in the touristy shops and restaurants. We lunched and listened to the Mass being performed outside. They'd set up a little stage outside of the cathedral and the priest was surrounded by worshippers. Pieces of it were in French, others in Latin and every moment was beautiful.

After lunch, we headed down into the Archeological Crypt. It was so cool. If you're ever at Notre Dame, spend 30 minutes and 4 euros and do this. The crypt was built around the ruins of ancient Paris as the city grew and it was incredible; really, I have no words, just pictures.

Stairs leading down to the street

A well

Foundations of a house

Stairs leading into a cellar
After the crypt, we booked it over to the Louvre, where we spent the rest of our day. In four hours, we made it through 2 of the 3 wings and called ourselves successful. My little Da Vinci Code heart was in love.

The Louvre used to be a royal palace and this was the dining room
Dining table
My favorite painting in the entire museum; it's also the museum's largest canvas;. It depicts Napoleon crowning himself Emperor. The painting was commissioned by Napoleon and he demanded that the artist paint in his mother, even though she disapproved and had refused to attend his coronation.

No flash, got it.
It was the perfect beginning to the second half of our trip and, yet again, another awesome couple of days.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paris, Day Three - 6/27

To start our third day in Paris with a delicious bang, we came croissants for breakfast. Yum. The trains were (again) running late, but we eventually made it into town. Once we go there, we got off at our trusty Saint Michel/Notre Dame stop and searched for a bolangerie for an early lunch. It's actually more difficult to find them than one might think--not because they're not there, but because they look so much like everything else and it's all squished into the same general area.

Once we'd bought our baguette, we found a good spot at...Notre Dame and ate. Have to say, it was a pretty spectacular view.

After our lunch, we walked across the street (ish; it felt like nothing in France was ever direct) to Sainte Chapelle. We managed to sneak in just before they closed the line for lunch, because in France, most things/some exhibits in museums, close for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon. Awesome if you like long lunches/naps...not so good if you're trying to tour. While we were standing in line, we started talking to the American family in front of us (the family behind us was Portuguese; it was so much fun listening to them talk!); turns out the girl was a senior at UNC! UNC Encounters in France: 2. CRAZY. There was a whole lotta school spirit happening.

Also, we noticed a little pigeon nest in the ledge above the waiting crowd. Mama was across the walkway, calling to them and trying to convince them to fly. Little moments like totally what make trips so special. (:


If you've never been/heard anything about it, Sainte Chapelle is known for their stained glass. As we overheard one of the (British! Squeal.) tour guides saying, "Sainte Chapelle makes Notre Dame look like a tiny little country church". Oh my, was that true.

The ceiling of the Lower Chapel
The Upper Chapel

Closeup of one of the rose windows


Even the floors were gorgeous.
 After Sainte Chapelle, we Métroed (is that a verb?) our way over L'Arc de Triomphe. It's pretty funky--because of the ridiculous traffic around it, you get off on the Arc d'Triomphe Métro stop, venture up from the depths of Paris onto Champs-Élysées...and then go immediately back down again underneath the street and, after buying your ticket in this giant tunnel, emerge in the middle of the Arc. I guess I'd just never thought about how to navigate 100 lanes of traffic.


There are 284 steps, that spiral just like this, to the top.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Paris from the top
After the Arc, we stopped (read: spent three hours) at the Musée d'Orsay on the way home. The museum itself is really cool--it's in a renovated train station. Also cool is the full-scale model of the Opera House they have. Weirdest award definitely goes to their model of Paris though; it's embedded in the floor underneath panes of glass. I saw more than one person walk on the glass floor to get to the Opera model, notice the lights, look down and jump. Too funny.

Graffiti in the Métro station
It definitely seems like there's always something new to discover in Paris; like, you can do so much and see so many things and hear so much history...but there is always something else, some little tidbit you missed. Loving it all.

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Four Posts and Counting...

Hey everyone,

Just letting y'all know, we are still alive and loving France. I'm working on four posts to upload, but I have pictures in about three different places and sporadic wi-fi, so I'm hoping they'll be up soon...but making no promises. (:

We've been busy sightseeing after arriving in Paris Sunday night. Details will follow (in these posts that I hope to have up soon, haha), but the places have included Notre Dame (multiple times), Arc de Triomphe and more!

For lunch two days in a row, we've had baguettes, cheese and fruit. It's a hard life in Paris and I love it.

A little teaser of what's to come:

It's almost 11 here (oh...just kidding, it is 11...crap.), so as the French say: bonne nuit!

More tomorrow,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Paris, Day Two - 6/26

On our second day, we got a bit of a late start because the trains were running half an hour behind. Of course, this also meant that they were 10,000% more jammed (obviously, this number was based on lots of research).

We got off at the St. Paul Métro stop and set out for the Carnevalet Museum. The museum is actually spread out between two old mansions right in the center of town. We followed a sign into the edge of the neighborhood, wandered around...thought we'd missed another sign, turned back, ended up on the main street, turned back around. We eventually found it and I wish I'd nabbed a picture of the outside because, honestly, I could have totally walked past it without knowing there was a beautiful museum inside.

Louis the XIV 

I know I'm short, but that fireplace was huge

Don't quote me on this, but I think this was one of the faces from Pont Neuf. Either way, I adore it and want one for my room.

The courtyard in the center of the two houses

Half of the courtyard

We wandered around the museum with our trusty friend, Ricky Steves (seriously, for anyone considering European travel, Rick Steves is the way to go). After we were done, we went to the courtyard for a snack--we're like Boy Scouts; we travel prepared--before winding our way back to the Métro station. We got a baguette and had lunch in front of Hotel de Ville.

Saw this on the way to the Métro. Amen.

Our lunching spot.

After lunch, we headed to Les Halles--an indoor market that Sylvie had recommended to us. It's a huge underground mall--so huge it has it's own Métro station. We looked around, stopped in one of the stores. Mom spoke French to the cashier and they chatted for a minute, then when she went to pay with her credit card, the cashier saw it and switched to English. Even though Mom continued speaking in French, the cashier stuck to English. It was very sweet.

We headed home and I went with Axelle to her riding lesson at the local pony club. One thing I noticed: many more boys ride there than they do here. I firmly believe that should be fixed here. (:

Even though it was late when she and I got back (8-ish or so), we had dinner with the family and all headed to bed. It was the perfectly wonderful kind of exhausted. (:

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Paris, Day One - 6/25

This morning, we woke up pretty early and went with Axelle to get our Metro passes and to see her school. After walking around, she went to class (they're only just now doing exams here!) and we took the train to Paris. We got off at the Saint Michel stop, because we really didn't know what we wanted to do.
(After we saw Maylen's initials as graffiti on the train. It was fun to see them and think of her!)

We saw the fountain (partially to get our bearings, since neither of us especially knows the city real well), stood by a tour group led by a guy with a wonderfully strong British accent and learned some nifty facts about the fountain before walking over to Notre Dame.

It was a couple of blocks away, so we also ate chocolate while we went. (: (Sylvie is the best and put a bowl of Ruchard chocolate in our room.)

We also stopped at one of the bridges before the cathedral and took pictures. 

When we got to Notre Dame, we decided to go on in and stood in line. Fortunately, since it's free and they let in big groups, it moved pretty fast. We were there right as the last Mass of the day began. It was  incredible.


This picture is one of my favorites. Something about seeing the priest kneeling in front of the window just...totally got me.
I am a ridiculous romantic who notices crazy juxtapositions like...old historical buildings  in front of skyscrapers.

We were there for three weeks and I never got used to seeing soldiers with semi-automatics patrolling the crowds.
After we toured the cathedral, we found the line to go up to the North Tower and followed it...and followed it...and followed it. After we found the line, we stood there for two hours. I'm not even kidding. They only let 20 people in at a time, which makes for a very slow going. Eventually though, we did make it up. All 402 steps up!

Most people use the Eiffel Tower as a landmark; Mom and I decided to use Sacre Cœur.

Then we ventured over to the South Tower to see the bell (all 13 tons of it!).

 After the South Tower, you keep going up!

View from the top

The Seine, the Tour Eiffel...

In front of the cathedral

The spire and the groups of apostles

The red circles show the first and second levels
After we climbed all 402 steps back down, we decided it was time for food. While we were in line, Mom had ducked out to get Nutella crepes, but our group went into the tower right after, so we shoved it in my purse. Bad idea. Warm Nutella ended up speckling the inside (although it could have been much worse; hooray for wrapping!). Instead of leaving it, we rescued it and put it out of its misery. Yum.

While we sat there and ate our crepe, we noticed this guy feeding the birds (cue scene from Mary Poppins here). I moved closer to get pictures and he handed me a piece of bread and showed me how to hold it. It was wonderful.

It was so sweet. He wouldn't even let us pay him -- and took pictures for us! After feeding the birds, we decided to walk back to the other end of the island, but not after I saw some guy walking across the lawn with a UNC hat on. There was some intense school pride happening on my part.

After we literally walked down to the end of the island, we walked back and ended up at Shakespeare's!  For those of you who don't know, Shakespeare and Company is this wonderful little English bookstore that's been around since the 1920s (although this isn't the original location) when the Lost Generation occupied Paris. The woman who opened it, Sylvia Beach, offered cheap rent for American authors and published Ulysses when James Joyce couldn't find anyone else. Hemingway used to borrow books--and maybe not return them. Now, it's touristy, filled to the brim with American books and offers free rooms to struggling writers who need to be inspired. I was in love. They don't allow pictures inside, but upstairs are these wonderful reading rooms with comfy leather chairs and books galore. Shakespeare's is everything a bookstore should be.

The above apartments
After we left Shakespeare's, we walked all the way down the Left Bank and passed the Pont Neuf (the "new bridge"...and also the oldest standing bridge in Paris). This bridge was constructed under Henry III and the faces (which are absolutely hysterical) are supposedly either nobles and courtiers, Henry III's friends, or the city's pickpockets and criminals.

To get to the Tuileries Gardens, we crossed the Pont des Arts, which is the famous "love" bridge. Apparently, if you put a lock on the fence and throw the key into the water, your love will last forever.

I love street musicians and they were marvelous.
We ate our lunch at the Tuileries Gardens (even though it was late). 

And then we rode on this sucker. Hooooly crap. 

The Tuileries are right behind/next to the Lourve and this was the view of it about half way up.

Sacre Cœur

The Tuileries
After we got off the Ferris Wheel--and I double-checked to make sure that I hadn't died--we took the Métro home and had dinner with our host fam. During dinner, host papa told us that Paris is the #1 tourist destination, which definitely explained all of the other nationalities we saw. It's easy to realize how the tourist industry has completely changed the city, which was definitely a perspective that I hadn't considered (seeing it from the view of the "old" "real" city).

Altogether, it was a really excellent first day in the City of Light. As if it could have been anything but perfect (obviously, it couldn't). (:


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