Tuesday, June 30, 2009

what have we been up to?

a lot. Here's the run-down on the past couple of weeks.

~Jonathan finished his 40-page magazine for Ascend. Printed and ready-to-go.

~We took a weekend trip to Quito.

~We ended our month-long stint without a camera. Thanks to Mom and Dad for the new camera a to Sarah Ligget for bringing it to us and showing us around Quito for an evening. Back to taking silly, random pictures.

~We slept in a hostel for $6. It was even a private room. One of the many reasons to love South America.

~We explored beautiful Quito. All the colonial Spanish buildings reminded me of living in Spain.

~We took pictures of tons of cool doors.

~We saw the site where Simon Bolivar arrived on his first visit to Ecuador. I expressed to Jonathan my excitement about this location and the thrill of seeing it in real life after studying so much about Simon Bolivar as a Latin American History minor. He expressed to me his excitement about recognizing the font on the plaque… Trajan, apparently. Ah, college.

~We accidentally got in the way of the changing of the guards ceremony at the capitol building. Oops. Oh well... it wasn't nearly as grand as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

~We saw a statue of Bolivar’s chum, Mariscal Sucre (won the decisive battle for Ecuador's independence from Spain), that I swear was really Joseph Smith. See for yourself.

~We got poured on by the rain.

~We saw a kid selling nooses whips?

~We went home to Riobamba and on with the work.

~I translated Ascend’s bylaws into Spanish. Yikes.

~I had a Skype job interview with the Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Cross your fingers and pray for me; I would love this job.

~Jonathan had his first Young Men activity. Pizza, a movie, and popcorn. A success!

~I continue to read home design and DIY blog after blog after blog.

~I dream of living in my great-grandma's old house. Love that house... If only we had the money to buy.

~Jonathan writes songs on the guitar and always has a new melody going through his head.

~We got stuck on a steep hill while trying to deliver a too-big-for-our-truck load of bricks to a remote community.

~After the men, women, and some strong little kids from the community hauled up a good portion of the bricks on their backs, we pushed and finally made it.

~Jonathan played with some boys in the community and they shared their scythe with him.

~We played in the nursery.

~To thank us for the bricks, the community leaders gave us lunch. Potatoes and cuy (guinea pig).

~I cut my long bangs with dull kitchen scissors… no pictures, please.

~We missed Matt and Heather’s wedding. :( We heard it was beautiful, though, and are so happy for them!

~We went for a walk on the outskirts of Riobamba… got caught in a rainstorm and drenched.

~I made spaghetti for the bajillionth time. WHEN will Jonathan get sick of it?! Please!

~We talked to family on Skype.

~ We went with our coworkers to check out a new community that needs some help. We hiked with the community leaders through the countryside so they could show us their aquifer. Beautiful and exhilirating. That's me in the pink, taking a dramatic bow after I slipped and almost slid down the mountain.

~This community fed us a huge lunch of toasted corn, chicken and rice soup, potatoes with peanut sauce, rabbit, and fresh Babaco (Mountain Papaya) juice.

~We, along with the Ascend team, continue to tirelessly organize agenda, projects, supplies, menu, transportation, lodging, etc. for the expedition.

~Jonathan and I watched Disney sing-along videos one after another on YouTube before bed last night. We recommend it. Always a good time. ...I know you; I walked with you once upon a dream....

~This afternoon we stared at each other in disbelief as we sat through a ten second earthquake. It wasn’t strong enough to knock you off your feet, but definitely shaking the buildings and definitely spooky. According to some seismic tracking websites and some volcano websites, Tungurahua, the active volcano near Riobamba, has been a little more active than usual the past week… spewing molten rocks and ash and such. And apparently causing little earthquakes. UPDATE: The Riobamba newspaper this morning reported the earthquake as 4.5 on the Richter Scale.

Here’s a picture of Tungurahua erupting in 2006. Photo taken in Riobamba and courtesy of scienceblogs.com.

(Mom: even if the volcano starts erupting like this again, we are not close enough to be in danger of lava nor flying molten rocks. just ash in the air.)

~I continue to perfect my very convincing bark to rile up the neighbor dogs. Never ceases to entertain.

So what have you been up to?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the king of pop (and grabbin' his crotch)

this is how i always want to remember michael jackson...

endearing...cute kid...amazing voice

you know, i'd even love to remember him like this...

but, sadly, i'll probably mostly remember him this way:

nevertheless, i'm a little sad to see him go.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Growing up it seemed that whenever my dad had a moment to himself, he enjoyed making music. These moments usually only came after a long day at work, then helping kids with algebra and science projects, wrestling with the boys, church calling responsibilities, and maybe even a quick little repair of a leaky faucet or trimming the lawn. Many times it was only after his kids were all tucked into bed that my dad had those moments to himself in the living room with the piano, a notebook, a pencil, and sheets of staff paper waiting to be filled.

I remember lying in bed many nights during my childhood and teenage years and hearing piano music drifting softly in from the living room. Falling asleep to the hushed tones of my dad's voice and the piano serenade was always comforting.

Every now and again, my dad would call the family into the living room after he had finally completed one of his songs, the accompaniment, lyrics, and everything. He'd tell us he wanted to show us his new song. We wouldn't tell him that we already knew it by heart, that we already loved it, that we'd all fallen asleep to it for the past month. We'd just stand beside the piano and softly hum the melody as he played.

When I moved out of my parents' home, the comfort of my dad's late night serenades was one of the things I missed the most.

Later on, as I got to know Jonathan, one of his qualities that drew me in was his love for music. From any decade, any genre, there was just so much that he loved. His wide range of music taste was fun and endearing. He loved playing the guitar and singing.

These things helped me fall in love with him, but I never would have thought that Jonathan and his love for music could bring me that same joy and comfort that I got from my dad while I was growing up.

At four o'clock this morning, I woke up and realized Jonathan wasn't in bed with me. I heard the faint tones of a guitar coming from the front room. I smiled. He was at it again... writing that song.

* * * *

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thanks for your warmth and soothing music.

Happy Father's Day, Kerry. Thanks for your kind and welcoming spirit and for raising my awesome husband so well.

Jonathan, thanks for playing music all the time, just like my dad.

In the spirit of Father's Day...

Jonathan bought this shirt in Quito this weekend and wore it around all day Saturday. He really does love his dad.

I love my dad too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

happily ever after?

I was poking around this cool site today and I stumbled upon this interesting project by photographer Dina Goldstein.

Maybe this will make you feel sad, maybe it'll make you laugh, maybe it will offend you or make you angry, but I love it. The project is called "Fallen Princesses."

Take a look...

you have to notice the detail in this one... the horse race on the old television, the 70's looking house, the dog eating chips that have spilled on the floor, prince charming with a hole in his tights, snow white's bare feet, multiple children in soggy diapers... amazing. can anyone relate?

gotta love the dark socks with tevas

this one caused some controversy on the website.

this just makes my heart hurt, but the photo is amazing

this one might be my favorite.

The idea of putting our well-known and well-loved fairytale princesses into modern day situations that loosely reflect their plight/character in their original stories fascinates me. Here's what the artist had to say about it...

"These works place Fairy Tale characters in modern day scenarios. In all of the images the Princess is placed in an environment that articulates her conflict. The '...happily ever after' is replaced with a realistic outcome and addresses current issues.

The project was inspired by my observation of three-year-old girls, who were developing an interest in Disney's Fairy tales. As a new mother I have been able to get a close up look at the phenomenon of young girls fascinated with Princesses and their desire to dress up like them. The Disney versions almost always have sad beginning, with an overbearing female villain, and the end is predictably a happy one. The Prince usually saves the day and makes the victimized young beauty into a Princess.

As a young girl, growing up abroad, I was not exposed to Fairy tales. These new discoveries lead to my fascination with the origins of Fairy tales. I explored the original brothers Grimm's stories and found that they have very dark and sometimes gruesome aspects, many of which were changed by Disney. I began to imagine Disney's perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues."

So what do you think? Did you recognize each princess? Do you have a favorite photo? What are your feelings about the whole thing?

Me? I guess life really can be a fairy tale...

(hey guys, i'd really love to hear your opinions. you don't have to have a blog or a gmail account to leave a comment. you can just post with your name if you want by clicking "open id" and then typing in your name and comment.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

the post you might wish you didn't read

(warning in the title. mention of bodily fluids.)

So those of you who have followed my blog for awhile (hi mom) know that I've had some issues with some local Ecuadorian parasite friends. I even had a poll on my blog asking all of you what I should do about this painful and annoying problem.

I had previously come to the conclusion that I would just deal with the annoying little symptoms that my friends Pepito, Juan, and Enrique were causing in my intestines for the five months that we would be living here, and then take some strong pills when I get home and kill them all at once (sorry guys). No use taking the pills twice or even three times when the new friends came along.

Well I caved about a month ago due to an especially painful symptom (which I won't go into here, you're welcome) and went to the pharmacy to ask for some parasite-killing pills. The nice pharmacist gave me something and I took it and... not much changed. Maybe the pills took out Juan, but he wasn't the painful one anyway.

A couple of weeks went by and the symptoms still hung around, but were manageable. Even last week I thought to myself, "I can handle this. Maybe I don't even really have a parasite. I don't need to get tested (poo in a cup) to see which types of friends I really have. I'll just wait until I get home and take some strong pills, and goodbye friends."

Then the horrible, painful, awful, unbearable symptom came back! No! I must have gained a new friend, Guadalupe. And she's even more painful than the rest! I couldn't take it anymore.

The problem was that now I didn't trust the pharmacy to just give me something that would kill all of my friends. So the past couple of days I have sat and cringed from the pain and Jonathan has been trying to convince me to go ask the pharmacist where I can go to poo in a cup. I told him I was too embarrassed and that he should pretend like it's him with the problem and to go ask and I'll wait at home. He agreed that he'd do it but then I felt dumb. Be brave, Amanda!

So after spending the morning in pain, I remembered that just down the street from our apartment there's a doctor's office. I would just go ask them where I can go to get tested. When I arrived at the doctor's office, I realized that the sign says that they do... poop analysis there! So I rang the bell. The doctor came and opened the door for me. When I told him about my little problem, he suggested that instead of a poop analysis, I just come in for an exam. In my desperation to feel better, I agreed.

Luckily, all he wanted to do was listen to my stomach with his stethescope. The first words out of his mouth were, "Mucho gas!" (er...) And then, "Ay, muchos parásitos! Ay, pero bastantes! Ay, síííííí."

I didn't know that one could hear parasites, but I'll trust him because I sure feel like crap. He seemed to think that I'm hosting a lot more friends than just Enrique, Pepito, and Guadalupe. Aahhhh, validation.

He gave me some strong pills that apparently kill any kind of parasite you could ever find in Ecuador, charged me 15 bucks, and sent me on my way.

So I guess what I'm saying is, Pepito? Enrique? Guadalupe? All you other pesky guests? Prepare to DIE!

now i'm off to teach the relief society how to sing. if that doesn't kill a parasite or two...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

more adventures with mormons in latin america

I think I'm onto a series here. The LDS church is way more exciting in Latin America. I love this culture.

Even though we've lived here three months now, we still haven't figured out everyone's names in our little branch. I was sitting next to Jonathan in Preisthood/Relief Society on Sunday, trying not get too distracted by the trail of ants crawling out of an old lady's purse on the row in front of us. I noticed that Jonathan seemed to be taking notes. I looked at his notebook:

Brother Colostomy Bag (yeah, he showed it to us)

Brother "de igual forma" (a frase he uses as least 100 times in every lesson)

Brother Ponytail

Elder Mexico (missionary from Mexico... creative)

Elder Braid (missionary that's allowed to keep his hair long because his culture is so awesome)

Sister Teenager with twins

Sister Cries-at-the-drop-of-a-hat

Sister Sounds-like-Alvin(andthechipmunks)-when-she-sings

Sounds really rude, huh? Well it is pretty rude I guess, but how else are we supposed to refer to them if we can't figure out their names? Granted, we have figured out a lot of their names, but those nicknames just stick.

Later on, during Sunday school, the lesson turned to a discussion about home teaching. Brother Ponytail raised his hand and said that Brother Colostomy Bag hadn't been to visit him in over five weeks. Brother Colostomy Bag turned to look at him, a little disgruntled, and said with his booming voice that Brother Teaches-Every-Class hasn't been to see him in over 5 years!

You see? Things like this just never happen in the Valley View 8th Ward.

Later still, in Sacrament Meeting, a little girl came and started pounding on the upper keys of the piano while I was playing the sacrament hymn. Then she started pushing on my fingers and talking to me. It sounded really beautiful. A couple verses later, after my futile attempts to tell her to stop, her mom finally came over to take her back to their seat. Man! That was the third time that's happened. Usually Jonathan comes up to get the little girl when she does that, but this time he was on the stand getting the sacrament ready. It's a good thing she's cute.

There's more! We just have the best time at church. Last Sunday, Jonathan was called to be the Young Men's president in our ward. So in Sacrament meeting, as they presented him for approval of the congregation, the Branch President said, "We'd like to present Jonathan Amand Grace as...." Jonathan Amand Grace? haha.... Well I'll help, I guess, if you want me too...

Just this past Sunday, Sister Has-the-cutest-baby-in-the-world was giving the lesson in Relief Society. It was about loving communication in the home. Patience, kindness, and what not. Her 4-year-old son came barging into the room in the middle of the lesson and went directly up to his mom and asked, "Mamá, ¿Qué significa SIÉNTATE!!!!!?" (Translation: Mom, What does "SIT DOWN!!!" mean?)

She said something to him in Quichua (native language). He replied with, "OOOOoooohhhh."

Hilarious. I wonder if his primary teachers know he's not understanding half of what they say to him. He came in another four times to ask her questions while she was teaching. Good thing she was teaching a lesson about patience.

In Sacrament meeting, it was announced that church next week will only be one hour. This is the second time since we've been here they've done this. The first time was so people could vote. I wonder what it is this time...

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Last week Jonathan and I decided to break up the work week and hit up a much-publicized concert to be held at the local bull ring. Lenin, who we work with, and Johnny, who goes to our church, both assured us that the concert would be "cheverisimo!" We asked what type of music would be played and were told it would be Reggaeton. We both immediately assumed "Reggaeton" was "Reggae" in Spanish and thus were easily convinced of how great this concert would be. We're both fans of the smooth, chill tunes of Bob Marley and Ub40, so we wanted to see what Ecuador would have to offer in this genre.

Upon arrival to the packed bull ring full of screaming adolescents, we became a little unsure of our assumption that "Reggaeton" really meant "Reggae."

When a gangsta wannabe wearing a huge, white, furry coat entered the stage with his silver-sequined dancers, we were... quite sure we had been expecting the wrong genre.

Does this look like Reggae to you? ....Didn't sound like Reggae either.

Turns out Reggaeton is an English word too. It's basically urban, hip-hop, R&B, electronica; to us, a far cry from that Jamaican music we know and love. However, we didn't let a little genre mix-up mess up our night. It was fun to just blend in with everyone and enjoy the show. Thanks to Carlos letting us borrow the Ascend camera for the night, I have some pictures to show you!

Since a lot of the songs actually sounded the same, I lost interest at times and attempted to entertain myself with self portraits. Usually what happens with Jonathan and I and self-portraits goes like this:

  • I hold out the camera in front of us and nudge Jonathan so he'll get ready for the picture.

  • I take the picture.

  • We look at the picture. I am smiling, he is inevitably making some weird/funny/scary face.

  • We laugh.

  • I hold out the camera and take another picture.

  • We look at the picture. Jonathan is smiling. I am making a weird/funny/scary face.

  • We laugh.

We rarely ever are both making weird faces or both making normal happy faces. This night was no exception.

Oh, and notice that girl above my right shoulder. When I am deaf in 5 years, it will be 80% her fault (the culprits of the other 20% are the girls who stood behind me at the Jimmy Eat World Concert last year).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Original

Good job to those deduced the truth (see below post). This picture was taken in Moab before Jonathan and I were even engaged. It was NOT taken in Ecuador after being involved in a street fight. Jonathan taught me some photoshop basics and I've been experimenting and reading internet tutorials. Soon I'll be a pro!

Oh and yes, Michelle, I did get punched by a crazy man in a bus station in Spain. Luckily, nothing like that has happened here yet.

Was I involved in a protest turned street fight in the streets of Riobamba?

Or am I learning some awesome Photoshop skills?
Click photo to zoom in.

Coming Soon: More adventures in the LDS Los Alamos branch.